Ten years have passed... Strahl and Garth have left their home behind, and now travel the world of Camion. The vast plains and hills of Rodenia and the forests of Guildorn, to an extent, for these ancient woodlands are guarded by creatures said to have been created by Guilden himself for that specific purpose. They even attempted to enter the land of the Supernals, Lumenaria. Though fair and just, the Supernals were not tolerant of what they considered trespassing, and chased them out of their lands. Few of the mortal races would be foolish enough to travel to Havak's corner of the world. The Havaklands, bearing the name of the very being the mortal races have learned to fear, are a harsh and desolate wasteland. Inhabited by demons and corruption alone, it is no place anyone like the two brothers, looking for a new place to settle would ever go.
As Garth and Strahl travelled, they learned a lot more about their own unique talents. Strahl became known by some as a talented swordsman. He would occasionally bring in a bounty that had been set by some village, though he rarely troubled himself with bounty hunting. Garth gained a very different reputation. The only bounties he ever took were bandits. Whenever they began to run low on money, which was often, Garth would dress in a foolish ensemble of ragged clothes and hats. He would find a place in town where parents and children were present, and would do simple tricks with the children using his magic. Make their food vanish, only to reappear close by, and things of that sort. Adding his own brand of humor, children and adult alike were entertained. Though the donations they received from this were scarce, it kept them alive. Though Garth did play the fool, he practiced every day with his magic. It was his own way to remember the parents he lost. Over the long years, he became quite skilled in its use, though not a master by anyone's standards.
After ten years though, they had gotten tired of wandering. Garth looked at Strahl as they crossed another plain in Rodenia.
"How long has it been Strahl? How long have we wandered this planet, living from town to town, and cursing our lives?"asked Garth.
Strahl sighed. "Ten years Garth, you know that... Why do you ask?"
"I just thought it's been too long. Look at us! Two of the most badass brothers ever, wandering the land like common travelers!"
"Garth, we are common travelers you moron. Our family's legacy died with our village that night." Garth remained unconvinced.
"You need to open your mind Strahl, careful the few brains you have don't fall out though. We can rebuild our family name, maybe even make it better! We need a home first though." Strahl stopped, and grabbed Garth by the shirt.
"Garth, I could smash your head on that rock for what you just said, but I couldn't make money on my own. Not as good with people apparently. You do make a point though, as much as I hate to admit it... Perhaps it is time we settled into a new life." Garth smiled as Strahl held him a few inches off the ground.
"Glad to hear you're listening to sense. With your swordsmanship, and my magic we could get a job as mercenaries. We could get some money, and get a new home. Build it ourselves even! Then we coul-woah" Garth exclaimed as his shirt ripped and he fell to the ground. Strahl laughed aloud and turned towards the horizon. Garth rubbed his head and stood up. "Ha ha ha... Don't worry; my head broke my fall, so I'll be fine."
"Good, your head's pretty soft Garth, cushioned the blow I'll bet. As stupid as your fairytale version of our future was, it held some promise. I've heard that there's a mercenary camp just outside of Yazuu. We can try our luck with them."
Garth swelled up "Once again, the brilliant Garth has come up with a plan that none can call foolish. He runs off towards the town of Yazuu, his triumph known to all!" He exclaimed as he ran off towards the south. Strahl watched him go, sat down and took some food out of his pack.
As Strahl ate, he looked up at the sky and thought back to the day his parents had died. Thought about how much he hated his own species. The way they could kill and pillage, with no remorse. That day had changed him, had made him cold. Strahl didn't regret it though. Humans were an uncaring race, looking only for their own benefit. They cared not for the plight of those around them. No matter how much they deluded themselves, this much was true. So Strahl had made it a point to skip the formalities, to be the cold hearted human he was meant to be. Besides himself, Strahl's only concern was Garth. Fool though he was, Garth was his only family left. Strahl would die protecting him, if he had to. While lost in thought, hours passed and Strahl eventually dozed off.
When Strahl awoke, he found Garth glaring at him from across a campfire. "No Garth! Don't go! That isn't the way to Yazuu! You'll run for hours, get lost, and eventually stumble your way back here!" Strahl called to him. Garth continued to glare. "Oh yes, you're hilarious, and psychic. Guess what lost adventurer stumbled upon game? Guess how much he'll share with his brother?" Garth asked.
"It's your own fault for being such a moron Garth. Running off like some child... You're twenty years old, not twelve anymore!"
"Excuse me for enjoying life, oh sage. You're only a year older than me, and yet you lecture me like a parent... Perhaps our parents passed all the boring on to you and gave me the entertainment."
Strahl just looked up at the sky. "Whatever, it's getting late. We'll rest here overnight, and tomorrow we'll go the correct way towards Yazuu. Any complaints, oh grand adventurer?"
"Just one, the geezer I'm travelling with won't leave me alone. Here, have some food and lighten up." The brothers ate and conversed, and the atmosphere relaxed.
When morning came, Strahl came out of his tent, noting that Garth was still asleep as usual. "Get up, we're leaving."
Garth stirred, grabbing Strahl's foot. "Just five more minutes? Pleeeaase?"
Strahl shook him loose, and gathered his supplies. "Idiot... Get up or I'll leave you here."
Once they had struck camp, they headed off toward Yazuu. Despite the occasional remark from Garth, the trip was uneventful. They arrived in the early afternoon. Yazuu was a small village, only slightly bigger than the mercenary camp nearby. They purchased a few things they needed in town, clothes and food mostly. The town was mainly composed of family members of the mercenaries, so there were few men in the village. It had a quiet atmosphere that bothered Strahl.
They left town and headed towards the camp. Upon approaching the gate, they were stopped by two armed men.
"What do you two want?" One of them asked roughly.
"We're here to join your merry band. Have you ever seen such warriors as us?" Garth asked. The guards stared at him as if he were insane.
"What he means is we're here to be mercenaries. My name is Strahl Felmoore. This is my brother Garth."
One of the guards seemed to recognize the names. "I've heard of Strahl. Word is you ain't half bad with a blade. What's that pipsqueak supposed to do?" He asked, pointing to Garth.
"Why, I sing songs! I'm a bard you see; I lull my enemies into a false sense of security. Shall I sing for you?" He asked.
The guards both looked at each other, exchanging a nod. "Get lost. You two have got to be kidding. Go find a job tending cattle, or something else that doesn't require intelligence."
Strahl grit his teeth. He pulled Garth to the side and pulled his fist back. "You explain why you acted like an idiot, or I beat you until you can't remember your own name."
Garth just smiled. "Let's go back. I'll "sing a song" for 'em. I'm thinking something with fire in the lyrics."
"We can't kill them Garth. Are you really this stupid?"
"No Strahl. Listen. If I made them think we were just a couple of pathetic travelers, and then we come back and wipe the floor with them, they'll almost have to eat their words and take us to their boss."
"And what makes you think they'll do that?" Strahl asked, lowering his fist.
"Let me handle that." Garth responded, walking back towards the gate. Strahl followed, wondering how this would turn out.
"Hey guys, how's it goin!" Garth called out as he ran back towards the camp.
The guards drew their weapons, turning towards Garth. "Damnit, we told you to leave. If you fools want to play mercenary, go find somewhere else to be useless." One of them called.
Garth stopped and made a show of thinking. "Well, how much can you guys even say? I mean you must have some throw if you get to decide who enters and who doesn't."
"Sure, we're pretty important. We're important, and we say you ain't getting in."
Garth frowned. "What if we get past you?"
"Not likely. You try and force your way in, we're gonna cut you in half. Your brother there we might consider letting in, but he'll have to prove he's really Strahl Felmoore."
Garth laughed. "Think you can handle the gatekeeper bro?"
Strahl drew his sword. "With ease."
"Tell you what, you let us both challenge one of you, and if we win, we get in. Sound good?" Garth asked casually.
"You aren't even worth our time. Your brother we'll challenge though."
"Oh come on. One of you gets to test your mettle against Strahl Felmoore. The other gets to beat the hell out of an annoying little punk. You know you want to." Garth coaxed.
"Alright, I'll shut you up." The other guard said, and turned to face Garth. "You take his brother, you're the better swordsman." He said to the other guard.
The guard taking Strahl suddenly leaped towards him, unsheathing his sword and swinging for Strahl's leg. Strahl ducked to the side and smacked his sword towards the ground as he landed. The sword point buried itself in the ground, hitting the guard in the stomach, causing him to double over in pain. "What was that?" Strahl asked. "You thought that was a good idea? I knew you were coming, and you had no control over your momentum. Have you ever even been in a swordfight?" The guard stood back up, and drew his sword from the ground. "Ok, so I underestimated you. You'll eat those words." The guard feinted low, but brought the sword up towards Strahl's head at the last second. Strahl jumped back and parried, but the guard used the strength of Strahl's parry to spin and lash out with tremendous strength. Strahl barely ducked the move, and stepped back. "Not bad, but I've just begun." The guard laughed.
Meanwhile, the other guard laughed as Garth stood watching the two fight. "Not even going to face me? This is gonna be easy." He mused, and strode toward Garth. As he walked, Garth shifted his hand saying "Shhhh. I'm watching this." The guard stumbled and fell. Looking at his foot, which coursed with pain, he noticed his foot was completely frozen to the ground on the bottom of his shoe. "You little bastard. I'll bet my ankle's broken. I'll kill you for that. Bard my ass." He said as he broke his foot free. Hopping towards Garth, he swung his sword. Garth turned and made another hand movement. This time the guard flew back and landed on his butt. "Are you going to keep pestering me? I'm trying to watch my brother win." Garth sighed, motioning with his hand. The guard yelped as his hair suddenly burst into flame. "Oh jeez, sorry. Quick stop, drop, and roll or something. Oh right, it's your head. Uh, do headspins!" Garth exclaimed as the guard howled and ran about.
Strahl leaped aside as the other guard brought his sword down again. He spun, and swung towards the guard's armored leg. Though armored, the blow still caused the guard to stumble. Strahl spun back and put his sword to the guard's neck. "You're beaten." Strahl calmly stated, sheathing his sword. The guard stood up, rubbing his now bruised leg. "You really aren't half bad. Not the best I've seen, but skilled nonetheless. How come you let that idiot play you off as weak before?" He asked. "Garth is an odd one. It looks like your buddy's about had it as well." Strahl commented pointing towards Garth. The guard had extinguished his head, and was trying to crawl away as Garth chased him, hands crackling with electricity. "Wait, I think your heart stopped when you put out the flame! I'm going to shock you back to life!" He called. "That's enough Garth!" Strahl called out. Garth immediately stopped. "Good, I was about to run out of energy. Those showy spells really take it out of you." He said as he collapsed. The guard he had been chasing turned and screamed "Look what you've done! I'll see you dead!" Pointing to his wounded head and foot. Garth shrugged. "I made sure to save enough energy to fix any injury I'd given you. If you'd been nicer before our little scuffle, I would have made it a lot less painful."
The guard Strahl had fought had to hold the other guard down so he wouldn't flee as Garth healed his wounds. "Jeez, break a foot, burn some hair, suddenly people think you're trying to kill them..." Once healed, the guard stood up, observing his body. "It's like none of that ever happened..." He exclaimed with wonder. "Maybe it didn't, maybe I put your mind under a spell that made you think it did! OOOOoooOOOooo!" Garth moaned. Strahl kicked Garth in the back of the leg, causing him to topple over with a dismayed cry. "I think we've proven ourselves more than capable of being mercenaries. Though Garth does run out of energy quickly offensively, a good healer can save lives. I myself am capable enough with a sword." "Right. Show 'em to the boss would you? I'll stay and watch the gate." One of the guards said to the other. "Alright. Follow me." He said, moving into the camp.
As they were led to the leader of the mercenaries, they looked around the complex. There was a large barracks, where all the mercenaries slept, and a large mess hall for them to eat. Behind the barracks was a training field. Littered with dummies and arrow targets, it was full of rough looking men practicing with their weapons. When they were finally led into the leader's quarters, a large building, more ornate than the rest, they were told to wait while the guard fetched him. They didn't have to wait long before a younger man appeared. He was slim, but exceptionally well built. He had an air of command about him that left little doubt he was in charge, even if he did look a bit young for the job. "I hear you bested my guards in a fight." He said looking at Strahl. "Don't think that's anything special. We don't exactly let our best minds waste away guarding the gates. The cream of the crop is in the field, teaching and training. Although, the fact that you beat them does make you at least better than they are." "Much better, you shoulda seen the other guard crawl away from me. It was a riot!" Garth laughed, but a glare from Strahl silenced him. "Regardless," the mercenary continued, "We don't need any new fighters. We don't exactly get many jobs out here. This is a rather peaceful area lately; I don't see that changing soon." "Then don't pay us. We'll work for free for a while, till you're sure we're as good as we say." Garth pleaded. Strahl glared at him again, but it wasn't enough to shut him up this time. "Everyone could use some cheap labor. And what's cheaper than free?" "...I see. You really are desperate for this aren't you?"
The mercenary leader shrugged. "I can't really deny good fighters, and a healer to boot. Magic is a rare thing to come by, if you can prove you aren't the idiot you seem to be, you may even find yourselves in positions of importance around here." "Thank you, sir." Strahl said, bowing. "No need to be so formal. It kinda makes me uneasy. We aren't some spit and polish mercenary society; we're more like a family with clear leaders. Don't lip off, and you're pretty much free to do as you please. My name's Urvan. You two are Garth and Strahl I'm told." "Yup, that's us. The legendary Felmoore brothers!" Garth proudly proclaimed. "I've never heard of you..." Urvan commented. "You will someday, I promise" Garth responded. "Garth, don't be a pest. We're glad to be a part of your company Urvan." Urvan nodded. "Nolan here will show you around. Tomorrow, we're sending out a team to investigate a small town bandit raid. You'll go with them, and prove your usefulness. Mess this up and you're out. Understood?" "Yes, sir." They both responded, and followed the guard, Nolan, out of the tent.
"Urvan's a good boss. He cares about this mercenary company, and isn't a hardass like most mercenary leaders. Anyway, I'm sure you guys saw the barracks and the mess hall when we were walking to the boss's quarters. I'll show you which beds you'll be using in the barracks, then I'll take you to the training field to meet your superiors." Strahl and Garth followed Urvan to the barracks, then to the training field. After meeting a few of the higher ups, they were put in different groups to practice. Coming back later to the mess hall, they ate and talked awhile before turning in early. "This is our life now Strahl, no more wandering." Garth sighed contentedly. "I think I can live with this." "It would be better if we weren't working for free..." Strahl groaned. "Oh well, come tomorrow we get to start our new life for real. Don't screw this up Garth." "Yeah, blame the annoying guy. I'll do fine, don't worry. Now shut up so I can sleep." Garth said, mocking anger. "Yeah, good night to you to Garth." As Strahl drifted to sleep, he couldn't help feeling more content than he had for a while.