I stood before the cavern; hands trembling. I haven't even started the tribulation and already I'm scared! The village looks down on me because I'm weak and small. They don't say it but I know the sentiment is in their hearts. The Hitensatsu has no room for the weak. I have to prove my worth to them . . . and myself.

My heart burned with the courage than my flaming head of hair, but then why am I so anxious? Even though I'm only twelve, I am not a frightened newborn! A bead of cold sweat trailed down my stern face.

I must steel my wavering heart if I want to pass this trial. Breathing deep, I thought about my parents. My mother was a songstress for the cathedral in the old town, and my father was a fierce warrior of the village. His wild crimson mane was his distinctive trait. Personally, I inherited his hair color, but my fine quality of my straight hair came from my mother who sported a beautiful long hair. The rest of my traits I got from my mother. My elegant slender facial features, even my sinewy muscle structure is from her side of the family. Unlike my father's bulging physique, I'm a lot smaller. But that also makes me very quick on my feet. I know my weaknesses and strengths.

A confident smile found its place on my now-composed face. I can do this. He's waiting deep inside. Best not keep him waiting. With that thought, I headed into the darkness of the cavern.

After the fading light of twilight failed my eyes, I took a deep breath and focused my energy. Sending a pulse to my finger tips, I snapped my fingers. Immediately, an orange flame engulfed my hand. Further concentrating myself, I mentally wrapped the flames into a ball of energy and lobbed it into the air. Focusing at a fixed point in front of me, the makeshift lantern stayed levitating to my will. With one last bit of concentration, I expanded the luminosity of the orb, making it burn bright instead of hot.

Pleased with my control, I continued into the darkness. I began noticing the natural rock formation slowly gave way to elementally-molded stone footing, like that found in temples. Cobwebs, covered most of the walls as local insects could be seen and heard throughout. I heard this cavern was once a hidden path way to the battle front back when the old town wasn't overtaken by NightShade. If that is true, that means there must have been booby traps to stop intruders.

As if on cue, my footing faltered as a square stone began slowly sinking in a mechanical nature. By the Goddess . . .

Not waiting for the surprise to find me, I darted deeper into the unknown. Suddenly, a high-speed object wisped by my face. Looking down at the source, I saw the first of what would soon be a barrage of arrows. Speeding up, I limberly skipped through the cross fire. Tracking dozens of arrows and calculating their flight paths, I pounced in and out of harm's way. Like a dancer to the rhythm of the beat, I dash towards a stone walkway in sight. Leaping in, I came to a skidding stop.

Standing up, I started collecting my thoughts when the walls started shifting. Startled, my orb that followed every subtle movement of mine flickered. Drat! I need to stay focused. Concentrating on my feet, I shot forward prepared to find my adversary no matter what the cost. Without a moment to spare, the right wall started closing in on me. With 20 meters to go, I concentrated on my goal. The encroaching wall was now an arm's length away. I raced through the narrowing hallway confident in the speed this small warrior frame offered.

Vaulting into the chamber before getting crushed alive, I stopped to catch my breath. As I was, I gazed up my surroundings. The antechamber was an enormous circular space with two levels to it topped off with a dome. A few buildings could fit here with ease. Thank the Goddess for the torches aligning the stone wall of the upper level I was at.

Looking down at the lower level I saw the man I came for. The behemoth of a man was meditating in the center of the chamber; crouched, legs crossed. Stone armor adorned his giant frame. Lord Vaga of the Flame, was a giant among men, standing at nearly seven feet, he towered mere mortals. His physique matched mine, but due to the dimensions, the scale of his musculature was matched his height. His arms were the size of my head in terms of girth. His armor appears to be made of limestone found in abundance inside this cavern. Limestone is not a big deal; I can break through it with ease. His technical skill is something to worry about. I heard he was able to make stone molten in an instant. Better be careful.

"Are you just going to hide like a coward?" the meditating giant echoed.

My eye brows twitched with apprehension. I should have known he would have sensed my presence by now. Without a viable plan of attack, I detest unknown combat odds.

Rising to his feet, Lord Vaga slowly stood up, viciously eying me like a rabid dog. Fear began seizing my limbs as I saw his full frame. One punch from an opponent like him could break my bones. . .

"If you won't make the first move, I will!" Vaga screamed as he dug his hand into the stone floor. As if he was scooping moist soil, he tossed chunks of heated, red stone at me.

Breaking my thoughts, I jumped down to his level of the battle field. Quickly glancing back, I realized I've fallen into a trap. One on one in hand to hand with a foe such as dropped my survival rate to below 20%.

"You are no better than a parasite clinging to the Hitensatsu. We have animals of more value than you." Vaga stabbed.

The prodding at my inferiority complex made me shake. I am nothing. My vision started blurring as the tears robbed me of my sight.

"You should never let your guard down! It'll get you killed!" Vaga shouted.

The ground began trembling as he began charging my way. Shooting back, I blinked my eyes to regain sight of my opponent. Before I knew it, he was in my face. A savage smile stretch across his monstrous face as his left arm swung towards my face. Ducking the deadly blow, the wind pressure sucked the air of my ears. Head bent down, I focused my energy on my legs in their current half-squat position.

The moment his arm cleared my head, I shot up. Twisting at the hip as I rose up, my left leg snapped full force into a kick aimed at above the back of his knee. The solid contact felt good. Smirking, I peered into Vaga's eyes.

My heart dropped at what I saw. He was smiling. His cruel fist started barreling back in a vicious backhand. Swiftly jumping into the air, I crossed my arms in front of my chest.

It was like an explosion went off at the point of contact. I was sent flying across the chamber before skidding to a stop on my back. Catching my breath, I quickly got back to my feet.

I know my form and execution was perfect. Why wasn't he even fazed by that kick? Most people have been hospitalized from that kick. As he slowly stood erect, it hit me. I'm just too light to hurt him. It's a dangerous proposition, but if I want to win, I'm going to have to throw my entire body into each blow if I want to disable him. If this comes to a blow by blow brawl, I'm finished.

"Where are you going?" he taunted. "I thought you were going to show me how pathetic you are."

It's all or nothing at this point.

With that affirmation, I went full speed at him. My vision blurred slightly at the speed. I could tell Vaga wasn't expecting it because he quickly tensed up his defensive stance; arm extended palm out. Closing in on him, I dove full-body towards his the same knee I hit earlier. Concentrating my energy on my clenched fist, I expelled enough energy to create a fierce on it. The heat from the flame was of no consequence to me. I round up swung at him as hard as possible.

I could feel bone snap. The sound resonated through me like lightning.

Suddenly, he was getting further away from me as I flew back. Head first; I crashed into the stone wall. I cradled my ribs as the tears began welling up. I've never broken a bone before. It was difficult to even breathe. My shallow breaths broke the rhythm of my steady moaning as I began to cry. In the fetal position I laid, destroyed and defeated. My vision got blurry again the tears streamed down my face in shame.

"Do you think I didn't know what you were planning?" Vaga began. "You were thinking of immobilizing me by taking my legs out. It was obvious from the first kick. Baiting you to come in was easy. You wear your heart on your sleeve. Did you think I'd wait to let you see the outcome of throwing your entire body weight at that speed at me? Never forget that the force can easily come back at you in a counter attack."

As he lectured me, he reached down and grabbed the scruff of my tunic. I should have begged for my life. I should have groveled at his feet.

But I didn't. Trying to regain my composure, I concentrated.

"The moment you entered this cavern you should have known I wouldn't stop." he relentless informed me with apathetic eyes.

Raising me off the ground, he lifted me to arm's height single handedly. "You are foolish for thinking you could face me." A broken smile stretched across his face.

Lips quivering, breaths shallow, I peered down at his stone chest plate; a vibrant scarlet orb glowed, a phoenix tear. It denotes the leader of the Hitensatsu. Hand shaking I reached out and touched it. The warm aura of the stone comforted me. I can't be this weak, can I?

The rumble of a stone wall shook the ground as the entrance to the inner chamber opened. With my glazed eyes, I intently watched. Two figures stood at the opening, a blonde man and a blue haired girl. A horrified expression stretched across her face as she gazed upon my battered body. Before she could intervene, the blonde haired man placed a hand on her shoulder.

"Not so fast," he said. "My master would be very upset if someone interrupted him."

"That kid is going to die if we don't stop him." the woman screamed.

Before I knew it I blacked out.