Author: Magic Toast PM
Set in an unnamed valley, this is the story of one young warrior and her adventures. But with an uncooperative partner holding her back every step of the way, will she overcome the odds and become a great guardian like she always dreamed?Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Chapters: 5 - Words: 8,356 - Published: 10-30-12 - id: 3069970
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The sun sat low on the valley's walls. Not so low that sunset was in a few minutes, but low enough to ensure it was just the right time for the small rural town to be at its peak temperature in the spring season. A young woman, barely 23, had stepped off a large horse-drawn carriage to arrive at the gates of a massive stone tower that blocked the afternoon sun. Her diminutive height of less than five feet was coupled with her excessive weight to make her incredibly round. Her fat cheeks were smooth and soft, complimenting her long auburn hair and brown eyes. She was easily cute, but not beautiful. Not in her mind, at least.
As she worked her way to the metal doors of the tower, the woman adjusted her metal-enforced leather dress and matching coat before ensuring her double-edged sword and wooden buckler were firmly attached to her back. She sighed heavily and opened the doors. She was greeted with an impossibly long hallway hundreds of feet long, hundreds more feet than the tower in fact. The woman was taken back for a moment before remembering- this was the Mage's Guild.
After receiving directions from a passing scholar, the woman eventually made her way to the end of the hallway and to a counter with a receptionist reading a book. Because of her height the woman went unnoticed for a minute before she cleared her throat. The receptionist looked up from his book before leering at the girl.
"May I help you?" He said.
"I, uh…" The girl started, avoiding eye contact. She coughed and cleared her throat again before restarting. "I'm here from the Warrior's Guild. I was told I need to partner with a mage? My name's Eo. Eo Stonewall."
The receptionist nodded before pulling a mauve notebook from under the desk and looking inside. He scanned his finger down before finally arriving on her name.
"Ah, yes, the newbie warrior. We've been expecting you. Your partner is fresh from the academy as well. I will fetch her." He said before getting up and heading to a door behind him. A few minutes passed before a loud commotion was heard from behind the walls. Eo jumped a little.
"What do you mean she's not here?!" The receptionist yelled. "We have a new warrior waiting for her partner, someone we've been expecting for half the season! How do you let her partner just leave without reporting it?!"
Another voice was frantically trying to explain itself to the receptionist, who sighed heavily and began again in a less violent voice.
"So is there anyone left?" He asked. The other voice said something that caused both to go silent.
"Anyone else?" The receptionist asked. Silence. He groaned.
"Alright, go get him. This isn't going to end well…" He said. Moments later he exited the door and returned to his desk, slumping in the chair and letting loose one more sigh.
"There is a bit of a…problem." He said, feigning a smile and patience. "It seems your partner left town about two weeks ago and no paperwork of her transfer was created.
"Oh…." Eo said, with confusion in her voice. She scratched her head before asking "Then…is there anyone with whom I can team?"
The receptionist nodded slowly. "There is…one person left right now, but I don't know if you want to work with him. He's a little…difficult. He stayed behind because the other apprentices didn't want him to come along with them."
"Is he really that bad?"
The receptionist was about to answer but was interrupted by a pair of metal doors on the side of the hallway bursting open. A tall, thin man in a brown robe and matching short hair swaggered through.
"Who dares request my assistance?!" He bellowed. "I am in the middle of an experiment that will revolutionize how efficient our spells will be. I do not have time for interruptions." A loud slam could be heard from the receptionist.
"Zephyrmanth, we don't have time for this." He said, rubbing his forehead where he hit his desk. "This warrior has been on our waiting list for two weeks. She needs a partner before she can partake in our quests and her original partner is unavailable."
"This is of no concern of mine." The tall man spouted non-chalantly, waving his hand before turning to Eo. "This is the so-called warrior you disturbed me for?"
Eo nodded before Zephyrmanth spat at her feet.
"Barbaric fat little meat shield." He hissed. "As far as I am concerned you only have two purposes: Failure and death." Eo could only stare at him in horror. She tried as hard as she could to hold back tears.
"Considering you're only level 5 yourself, you shouldn't be talking. She may be level 1 but she's on par with you." The receptionist said. Zephyrmanth laughed.
"On par? With me? With but a thought the very essence of life and nature is woven through my fingers as I command the death and destruction of those who dare to oppose my will! I am a magician- a master of all forms arcane! This blob of a woman is nothing more than a caveman, beating enemies to death with a stick like some sort of wild animal. I would be surprised if she could say anything more complex than 'me want food'."
"Zep, insult her all you want, but the fact remains- she needs a partner, and you've never experienced actual combat like she has. You need her just as much as she needs you. That's why the guilds developed this program- to promote cooperation amongst various adventurers. One person cannot do this alone. Stop making mages in general look bad and team up with her."
"I team up with no one! My purpose is not to trudge through poisonous swamps searching rotting orc corpses for trinkets. I am a scholar, a magician who must learn all he can about this world to benefit all of mankind. I am no one's partner."
The receptionist pulled a large coin from under the desk and slammed it face up on his paperwork. There was a giant blue P engraved into it.
"Do you see this?" He said, agitated. Zephyrmanth examined the coin closely before chuckling nervously.
"This is not real." He replied. The receptionist nodded.
"Damn right it is. The Archsage has given me permission to order apprentices under level 30 to be reassigned to any and all partnerships. It's funny, he mentioned he did that specifically because of you."
"That old sod knows not of my accomplishments. By forcing me to join up with this weakling you are denying the world advances in magical technology! Why I feel I am close to a breakthrough merely standing here!"
"Hang on, let me check something." The receptionist said before opening a drawer under his desk. He looked inside closely before closing it and nodding.
"Yep, just as I thought. I don't have any fucks to give you. Either you partner up or you're kicked out of the guild."
"What?!" Zephyrmanth roared, slamming his hands down on the desk. There was a long silence as the two looked at each other with intent to kill. Eo, devastated by what Zephyrmanth said, stared off into the distance. Zephyrmanth looked down on Eo for a few moments before sighing.
"Very well," He said with disgust in his voice, "I shall babysit the ape soldier. But be warned as soon as I hit level 30 I shall return here expecting a welcome with open arms." He began walking to the exit, but Eo remained motionless.
"Don't take what he says to heart." The receptionist said to Eo reassuringly. "He's a headache for us all."
"Is…is there no one else?" Eo said, her voice quivering. The receptionist shook his head slowly.
"I'm really sorry. This is the only apprentice left. You could wait, but everyone is out of town for the rest of the season. It'll be another two weeks before they return."
"Yes, please wait instead of making me follow you through forests and over cliffs. I would rather not tear my clothing for someone as pathetic as you." Zephyrmanth called out as he continued walking to the doors. He stopped and turned around when no response was given. Eo was eyeing him over and looking back at the receptionist before finally taking a deep breath and sighing.
"No. No, I can do this." Eo said, attempting to work her confidence up. "This is a setback, but I think I can manage."
She turned to the receptionist and bowed politely.
"Thank you for providing me with a partner." She said optimistically." I promise we won't let you down."
"You rebound quickly. Alright, if you think you can handle someone like Zep, then I wish you two the best of luck. Most towns have headquarters for quests between the five guilds, so visit one of them when you finish one. The questboard's at the front of town." The receptionist replied. Eo turned back to Zephyrmanth, who was now staring at her confused and stunned.
"Scholar Zephyrmanth, I look forward to working with you. As your guardian, I promise to do my best to keep you out of harm's way." She said without faulting.
"Harm's…way?" Zephyrmanth whispered to himself. He shook his confusion off and returned to his normal hubris. "Yes, of course. Very good, then. Come along, we might as well begin this ridiculous partnership. What do they call it? A party?" Eo caught up to Zephyrmanth as the two exited the tower. The receptionist rested his head in his hands.
"Gods help that poor woman." He groaned.