The Chronicles of Estiah

Chapter 9: Purpose

"Put her down!" Nikkum's enraged eyes were burning with such anger that he would not repeat himself. Adding another corpse to the carnage would mean nothing to him.

"Follow me." Saar's childish face remained perfectly calm as he started marching towards the main teleporting device.

Most of the earlier bystanders had fled from the spectacle of raining blood, and those who remained were either too frightened to run or too busy looking for a hole to hide in. Some shuddering bodies lying on the ground were desperately clinging to life, but perhaps the smile of the death was the best mercy they could be granted now. The colossal entrance portal was nothing more than a hell's gate, the newly arriving adventurers were frozen solid at their arrival, wondering if they took a wrong turn and ended up in purgatory instead of mighty Zeal. The scent of death in the air kept everyone in a state of shock, and the late, scurrying reinforcements had their sense of duty suppressed by the horror of death.

Nikkum dashed through the portal as Saar and Elissa disappeared in the whirling essence of teleporting particles, only to find himself alone in a remote forest. The floating city of Zeal was barely visible from afar, and the echoing screams could no longer be heard. Unsettled, bewildered, infuriated, every part of Nikkum's body was looking for the cursed man's presence. Like a hunting coyote being outrun by its prey, like a starving wolf left out of the pack, Nikkum's breath had never been so out of rhythm.

"A teleporting spell is merely a matter of connecting points of a single dimension; playing with it is so simple"

"Show yourself, now!" The voice could be heard, but Saar was nowhere to be seen.

"Some tweaks to the enchantment and getting you out of Zeal becomes trivial." Before Nikkum could hear the end of the sentence, Saar was standing right behind him. "Just like this".

A red light flashed, and Nikkum's axe was already at the young man's neck. A few drops of blood slowly ran down the sharp edge of cold metal. Forest birds held their singing, witnessing this scene of uncertainty.

"Why did you stop?" Saar was satisfied, even slightly smirking.

"Because you have something to say." Nikkum was panting.

"It could be that you are afraid of hurting your sister." Saar gave a sympathetic glance to the girl he was carrying.

"She's dead. And she's not my sister." Nikkum declared.

"Or maybe it is because you can't kill me, not right now."
Saar's smile grew wider at seeing Nikkum's face distorted by rage. Slowly, he whispered: "Try it..."

But even before the murderous edge of Nikkum's axe pushed further, an azure shade burst out from Saar's whole body, and projected Nikkum several feet away. The resonant sound of a stout warrior colliding with a wood trunk perfectly described the power of the spell. Nikkum coughed up some blood; the injuries from his mindless assault in Zeal were finally being felt. From his solid experience of various fights, he knew his life was completely at the mysterious young man's hands. And yet, his everlasting willpower was keeping the over-weighed axe tied to his hand, bound to the world, away from the Curse.

"First a potent fire spell... then teleportation... and now instant cast..." Nikkum had to pause between every few words, his body was beyond its physical limit, but his mind was still clear, "No one at your age could have learned all these high rank spells, even the most genius among the mages."

Saar steadily walked towards the exhausted bull, still carrying the lifeless body of Elissa: "Say, what do you know about my age? You can read as much from a face as from the mind of an Eclisian woman. Appearances are ever changing, ever distrustful, just like our world. Now tell me: you blindly charged in against the heavily guarded Hierarch, but did you really think you had a chance?"

"If I were faster..."

"Don't make me laugh!" Saar's face became a little agitated at seeing the mighty warrior resorting to such weak excuses, "If you were? If you were stronger, you would have beheaded me too, and taken her back? Or, do I have to point out that she wouldn't have died in first place?"

"I dare you say that again!" Easily taunted, the beast was quick to lose its composure.

Saar stepped up to Nikkum, his face only inches away, and stared directly into his maddened eyes, "I'll say it no matter how many times it's needed, till you understand it's entirely your fault that she died."

"You..." Even though it was partially disintegrated already, the deadly axe had never felt this heavy before. The swing was so weak that Saar stopped his arm with one hand.

"You've got still a lot to learn, now get some sleep. Void Burst!" A huge blast of wind ran through Nikkum, knocking him unconscious.

The giant tree which had been supporting Nikkum broke in half, and slowly fell to the ground.

The remote forest's calm only lasted the few hours before the beast laboriously opened its eyes again. Curious small animals were back to their playground, the earlier commotion seemed not to have been a danger to them after all. Every minute of peace was precious in a world with such scars and an uncertain future. Saar was sitting next to them, quietly watching the awakening of the warrior. However, things would have been even better if the warmth was ever to return to the small girl's body.

Nikkum didn't yet have a perfect grasp on the situation; the uproar in Zeal still appeared as a nightmare, until his eyes met the lifeless Elissa.

"Calm down." Saar didn't want to be forced to knock the beast out for a second time and have to waste more time. "My earlier words might have been a little too harsh for you, I apologize for that. Now just let me finish before your barbarian pride strikes back again."

Nikkum threw a cold side-glance to the young man.

"Ok, make that your 'warrior sense' instead." Saar would have to watch his words to prevent another useless rampage.

"Whatever." Nikkum was even less talkative after all these events.

"You are not an ordinary person, you may be strong but your mind is lost somewhere in the past. You are blindly living your life; you don't have a destination to reach..."

"Cut the nonsense already, just tell me what you want from me."

"To give you a purpose."

"For life?"

"Yes." Saar's answer was helped by the brightest smile. That could have passed for an interesting scene of comedy if it were a casual chat in a tavern.

"Don't waste my time." Nikkum stood up, shaking off some wood debris.

Saar grabbed Elissa's hand as he saw Nikkum approaching.

"Do I have to cut your hands off so you'll finally let her go?" The anger of the beast happened to be exactly like summer storms: violent and sudden.

"Can't you just sit down and let me finish?"

"Then spare me your endless philosophy."

Certainly Nikkum couldn't understand the abstract notion such as the meaning of life, or rather he didn't want to understand. While he was in a city's arena covered in blood and sweat, scholars were enjoying their afternoon tea in the shade of flower garden; while he was being assaulted by remorseless bandits, intellectuals were drooling in their bed during a quiet sleep; while he was fending for his life against shadowspawns, philosophers were babbling about the sky and stars that no man could reach.

Living steadily, to one's utmost, didn't always need a purpose.

A dark cloud slowly seemed to shadow Saar's face. The slightly arrogant smile was replaced by a serious and determined look.

"What if I tell you that I can bring her back to life?"