Sunday, May 26, 2013

In Which I Really Enjoy Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen

We were exhausted.

The weathered sword in my hand felt suspiciously heavy as I stared up at the beast more than twice my height, looming over us with a weapon that could have simply been a tree re-purposed, smoothed from days, perhaps weeks of use into a cudgel.  Days ago, I had been a simple man, and yet here I stood among two others, beings who I still don't comprehend, with a Cyclops as our quarry.  And now, locked in battle with it as we were, only now did I consider the notion of it as ridiculous.  Not when my blade had tasted the blood of two foul harpies before our current foe announced itself.  Not when I watched a man, or what looked to be a man, appear from nothing and introduce himself as Rook and as my servant.  Not when I awoke with a hand to my chest, yet felt no heart beating within.

It was a bad thought to have, of course, as I barely noticed the club coming down on a location that would have held me, had I not run to the side to avoid it in time.  I barely had time to catch my breath, knee-deep in the waters of a stream running off the nearby cliff, before a voice I knew all too well already ripped the air about us.

"Be careful!  The beast is wrought with fury!"

I watched with a grimace as Zero did not heed her own warning, finding the wind knocked out of her by a sharp blow that sent her flying feet behind her and intently looked to see if she still drew breath.  The poor girl, I felt for her so.  She had appeared much as Rook, and upon introducing herself as Zero, I could almost see the wince that years had not yet trained her expressions to contain.  I knew that her name troubled her so, that it hung over her head as almost a curse, a silent reminder of what she could be in the eyes of any.  Yet I had come to learn that it was more powerful a motivator than anything I, the Arisen, the man she swore the utmost fealty to, could have provided.  It was her life's goal to see that her name was not an indicator of her being and, much to my benefit, it made her a warrior that was as much my equal as any could have hoped to aspire to.

Relief washed over me, mixed with my anguish, as I saw her struggling to stand, panting heavily with the effort the action took.  The fire burned brightly and hotly in her eyes and said to me that she would die before she ever willingly failed me, even though I had not wished as much of her.  It was that fire, that passion, that brought new life to my body once more, a new grip to the hand that bore my sword and a new intention to every stitch of my being.


I am no hero.  I am sure I will be hailed as one, that I will be spoken of as a saint, a God among us, but I am no such thing.  I am simply a man, apparently caught up in the cruel threads of fate, who is doing the only thing I can in these times.  I fight.  I destroy.  I kill.  Any who stand in my path, be they wolves, be they beasts from the beyond, or even a giant as we fight now, I will end them, because it is what I must do.  Because the very tale, the legend, of the Arisen, tells only of violence wrapped in the shroud of 'justice'.  I care not for it.  I care for nothing in this moment but to sever the tie of this Cyclops to this Mortal realm.  Yet it was a harder goal than I would have liked.

"The creature is most dull!  Magic will be effective against it!"

Rook shouted this to myself and Zero, only to find the both of us silently glaring at him.  He knew that he was the only one among the three of us that could weave the arcane and oftentimes I wondered if he touted his ability as a mark of superiority.  Zero and I, we had naught but our swords, our shields for combat, yet he could summon fire from nothing and set our foes ablaze as if it were simple as a yawn.  He could set our blades alight with fire that did not harm us, but made us more deadly, that burnt the insides of our foes as we ran them through.  Truly, magic was something that was all at once amazing and terrifying, and it had not been my boon to bear it.  I am thankful, however, for I would likely see it a curse.

As ill-suited as his information was for us both, the momentary lapse did bring new vision to my eyes as I looked about the field where we fought.  By no small fortune, the creature stood next to a cliff that I could climb to, and I knew that if I timed a jump correctly, I could land upon him and bring him a swift death.  I already knew that my hands could find purchase on the beast's leathery skin, that I could climb his back that I might sink my steel into the flesh of not his legs, not his feet, but his chest, his shoulders.  My earlier attempts had hacked off the two tusks he bore that made attempts at his eye difficult, yet now it stood open.  With my new course in mind, it was almost providence.  This whole battle had been drawing to this very moment, and it was my time to grasp victory.

My feet worked faster than my mind and I swiftly found myself charging towards the hulking brute, currently focused on Zero and Rook below who did their best to distract it.  Perhaps they knew of my intents, or perhaps they simply expected more out of me than I would myself.  Or perhaps they simply only knew of fighting til the end, not of retreat, and that ignorance shielded them from any action but the one they took at this time.  I ran up the rock that almost seemed built for this very purpose, this single moment and leapt as time slowed for me.  The wind whipping through my cloak, my hair, it was if I could feel every wisp that breezed by before I landed upon the shoulder of the Cyclops, gripping tightly to stay attached to the beast.  He thrashed, he fought with rage, but I was unshakable.  I drew my blade, I hefted it back and surged it forward.  I hacked away at the single eye of the beast, over and over again, bringing shrieks of pain to the hills around us.  I was winning this fight.

"Master!", Rook again.  My mind told my ears to not listen, to allow my single focus to remain on my task, but I was too late.  "Its eye is vulnerable!  Strike it!"

I could not help myself.

"Rook!", I shouted through gritted teeth, staring down at the man, the 'pawn' of mine with a look of fury that out-paced that of the creature I was trying to slay.  "I swear by my very title of Arisen that the next blood my sword tastes will be your own if you do not be silent!"  It was the wrong thing to do.  Not because of any effect it might have had on the man who looked quite chastised below, but rather because it gave the creature a moment of respite and that was all it needed.  My hand failed as it shook this way and that, throwing me from it and very nearly off of the waterfall that I could not even see the bottom of.  Drenched in the waters of the river, yet burning with rage, I climbed to my feet once more.  I would not be denied.  My sword would not be denied.

I scarcely remember the details now, but Zero did later describe to me the vigor that I displayed in my assault.  Caring not for his weapon, not for the high ground, for strategy, not even for my own regard it seemed, I charged the beast and jumped til I gripped the flesh of its belly.  I slashed my sword along its skin as I climbed up and up, seeking my prize once more.  She spoke with pride the next part, the three sword strikes to the eye that I landed next, followed by one last strike that surely would've rent the beast in twain had it been a much larger blade.  She described the creature as dead on its feet, yet only for a moment, as my final strike, the final touch that brought our conquest to the ground was a single swipe of steel along its heel, taking the very footing out from under it.  I do remember it crashing down, the sound of it, the shock it sent through us, being so close to it.  And I remember the breath I took thereafter and exhaled in a sigh.

And then I remembered the Guild charge that bid us to slay one more of its ilk.

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