Chapter 1: Climactic Beginnings

In the desolate ruins of a city long past, a battle was about to end.

A slow, methodical rustling announced the movement of a hunter seeking her prey. The rivals had skirmished several times already with neither able to gain the advantage. Now the hunter's foe had taken to hiding among these time-worn slabs of cement and stone. Passing through a wide set of pillars, the hunter looked this way and that. To the right, the shrub scattered landscape opened up to a wide view of the sea. Her opponent had proven far too clever to run that way. To the hunter's left stood another row of pillars framing an entrance deeper into the city. That direction held many places for the quarry to hide. The hunter's serpentine tail moved again, taking her towards those pillars.

Her prey was just as much her hunter as the gorgon was his. A young man crouched on the far side of the end pillar. His helmet remained low on his brow. Staring into the face of this rival would be fatal. Instead, he gazed into the shield on his left arm. The man's own battle-hardened reflection took up half of his shield's surface. Just the right tilt of his shield allowed the man to view the adjacent pillars as well.

"Only a little more," he whispered. His pursuer slithered between the two center pillars. The warrior had a clear view of her lime-green skinned back. Every curl of her snake-filled head moved about as she glanced this way and that.

Fury rushed through the man's body as he caught the glint of steel in the creature's hand. His right hand's grip on his own weapon tightened. That gorgon had stolen his sword during a previous encounter. An abandoned spiked club was hardly a suitable replacement. After all, it hadn't prevented its previous owner from being another of the monster's victims. The man vowed that poor soul would be avenged as would every soul who'd fallen before this demon's leathery serpent tail. Sweat dripped down the warrior's face as he tried to find a way to aim the club while still keeping the gorgon reflected in his shield.

Hearing a soft noise, the gorgon looked around. Light flickered off the corner of the far pillar. Her eyes narrowed as she pretended to not have noticed it. She made a hasty slither around the other side of the entryway.

No! The man couldn't lose sight of the monster now! He strained to catch the gorgon in the shield's reflection again. "Where? Where'd it go?"

Once again, the reflection showed the creature sliding past the entryway. Now was his chance! He flung the club with every ounce of strength that he had. It connected with the gorgon, knocking it to the ground.

The shield fell to the ground as the warrior rose to his feet.

"Yes!" he cried as he ran towards his prize. His sword was the first thing to be reclaimed from the beast. He then grasped the gorgon's hair and pulled it back. Only a mass of leaves came loose in his hand. His eyes widened. "A fake?!"

Immediately, the man turned around. His heart leapt in his chest as he saw the gorgon now holding his shield. Her sunken eyes regarded him solemnly as she spoke. "Piecccce of advicccce, Hero. Ssshiny metal catchesss light jussst asss much asss it catchesss a reflection."

Panic replaced the young warrior's fury as he backed away. A bloody red color filled the gorgon's eyes. Each of her scalp-connected snakes also cast a red-eyed glare at the man. Her foe tried to scream as the gorgon sent a fang mouthed hiss in his direction. One quick 'polup!' sound overtook the warrior's cry as his body transformed into a single large block of solid stone.

A weary sigh exhaled through the gorgon's lips as her eyes faded back to their normal hazel coloring. She began to relax as she blinked at the lifeless stone in front of her. It was now just another thing to slither around in this decaying island prison. Like many of the others who'd come to claim the gorgon's head, this fallen warrior had left some items behind.
Perhaps they should lie as the man's memorial and a warning to other would-be opponents. Then again, good materials were scarce around here. The gorgon leaned over and picked up the helmet. A small roll of paper tied with a bit of cloth fell out of it.

Feeling a twinge of curiosity, the gorgon picked up the roll. She carefully untied the cloth and unrolled the paper. A loving note had been written on it.

To my beloved mightiest hero;
I pray this favor keeps you safe
until you can return to rescue me.

"'Mightiest hero' huh," muttered the gorgon as she rolled the note up again. She gazed at the cloth, wondering what usage she might have for it. "Feh! I could do better than these so-called 'heroes'."

Suddenly, a light shined in the gorgon's mind. A tingling sensation shot through her entire body. Her face lifted towards the sky. The thick clouds overhead seemed energized by a rainbow passing through them. As realization set in, the gorgon thought she heard a chorus of nymphs singing just for her.

Lifting the helmet over her head, the gorgon slipped it over her slithering hair. The cries of cramped snakes were muffled as the gorgon exclaimed, "That's it!"

She plucked up the former warrior's cape and fastened it around her own shoulders. Then she scooped up her foe's sword once more. Pointing it towards the clouds, the gorgon declared. "From this day forward, I shall becomeā€¦ the Gorguardian!"

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