For Glory and Honor

It is an age of warriors, kingdoms, and war. Battles are fought for control of the known world, and victory brings a kingdom one step closer to completely ruling the others. Centuries ago, in an effort to bring peace to the land, the gods summoned their most powerful wizards and sorceresses. Using all their magick, these mages created a weapon capable of conquering a kingdom on its own. It was sealed in a cave on a distant island, and legend says that only the most powerful kingdom can harness the power of this weapon. And now this part of the past has resurfaced in the form of great tales and laments from the people of this war-torn world. To this end, the six most powerful kingdoms each sent a warrior to claim the weapon. But only one will succeed, and receive glory and honor…

The seaport of Toltekk was unusually crowded as Sir Derek rode into it. "What are all these people doing here?" he wondered aloud.

"Probably waiting to catch a glimpse of the six warriors before they board the ship," his horse replied. Goldflame snorted and tossed his blonde mane, turning his head to look at the young Knight on his back. Derek was holding his helmet as he rode the palomino stallion, showing off his tan face. His hair was as golden as a sunray, and he kept it short to keep it out of his eyes. And what peculiar eyes they were; a violet like one would see in a field of irises. Most people didn't like the young man's eyes, but Goldflame thought they added a sense of mystery to his friend.

"I still can't believe there's only one ship capable of making the journey. If all six of us are on it, I foresee many problems."

"You must be psychic then," Goldflame teased. "But truthfully, you know that the Isle of Jerigal is dangerous. There are fierce tides that circle the island, and many people never return from it. We're the only dumb ones who want to go to Jerigal."

"Yes, but maybe if we retrieve the weapon, the world will finally know peace." They headed for the dock where the ship was, keeping an eye out for any of the other warriors.

Minsarra stepped into the seaport and scanned it for any signs of her rivals. She shifted her pack to her other shoulder and took up a fresh grip on her quarterstaff. Let any man bother her, and she would show them the ferocity that had earned the Amazon Nation the right to obtain the ultimate weapon. As she walked towards the dock where the ship was anchored, she stopped for a moment to admire herself in a large glass mirror. Though her traveling cloak hid her toned body from view, the bronze skin on her face glowed like a lamp in the night. Red hair that seemed like silken fire cascaded to her shoulders, and she tossed her head to keep it out of her face. Eyes as green as the forest leaves stared at the world, shrinking to slits at the mere sight of male warriors. It wasn't that she hated men, it was simply a matter of pride. Men thought of all women as weak servants, capable only of bearing children. The Amazons knew differently, and trained women to stand equally with men on the battlefield. Minsarra was one of their best warriors, and she was training her daughter to follow in her footsteps. A tiny doll slipped from her pack and fell to the ground, but Minsarra retrieved it quickly, clutching the cloth person to her chest. It had been Jennsira's gift to her mother before she'd left the 4 year-old with her younger sister Almya, who had a daughter a year older. "I won't fail you, sisters," she whispered a prayer to her tribe. Holding her head high, Minsarra headed for the ship.

'Daylight. Not the best time to be walking around,' Zun Li thought to herself as she crouched atop the flat roof of one of the shops in the bustling seaport. 'But a great time to try and locate my rivals.' Scanning the crowd that was gathering by the large ship, she saw a young Knight on a gold horse. If there was anyone else already waiting, they didn't stand out as- Wait, who was that woman in the hooded traveling cloak? She was carrying a pack and a quarterstaff, and when she turned, Zun Li saw that she bore a tattoo on her arm that marked her as an Amazon. 'Hmm, a Knight and an Amazon. Including me, that's only three so far. I wonder how long it will take before- Ah, there's the Samurai. I was wondering how long he would take to show up.' Her dark-brown eyes narrowed as she pulled the black cloth down from around her nose and mouth. She was dressed in black from head to toe, and when her face covering was up, all anyone could see were her piercing brown eyes. Pulling down the hood of her uniform, she allowed the waist-length braid of raven-black hair to fall freely. Her mouth quirked in a small smile as she watched the Samurai wind his way towards the ship. Her left hand rest on the pair of sai daggers she kept in her belt, and her right hand touched the bag of throwing stars she kept as well. Her pack consisted of a spare change of uniform, a small bit of food, and a tinderbox to start a fire. The Clan of the Silent Wings needed little else to survive. Her Clan ruled all the Ninja, and she had been honored when they chose her to search for the legendary weapon. Leaping silently from roof to roof, Zun Li started towards the ship where her rivals were gathering.

Kai Shek glanced about warily as he entered the gates of Toltekk. Many people stared at him in wonder, but he paid them little mind. He was more concerned about the warriors from the five other kingdoms. The Samurai Clans had recently been challenged for control of the Eastern region by the Ninja Clans, and fighting had been fierce the last few months. Even so, the numerous Samurai Clans had found the time to have a tournament to determine who would have the honor of searching the ultimate weapon. Kai Shek had bested all of the other Clans' warriors, and the Clan of the Dragon Fire couldn't have been prouder. His wife, Lao Ma and infant son, Shek Jun had stood at the door to their home and waved him on his way. He'd made a promise to return either with the weapon, or die in the attempt. Placing a hand on the hilt of his katana, Kai Shek stared at everyone with cold, brown eyes. His black hair was in a short ponytail, tied back with a red ribbon. Pants of black cotton and a cotton shirt of red and black gave him away as a member of the Dragon Fire Clan. They were known as the fiercest warriors, and were often the first to be on the battlefield. Keeping one hand on his katana and another on his pack, the Samurai wound his way towards the dock he needed to go to.

From out of the woods walked Thareni, shouldering her pack, quiver, and bow. She shook some dead leaves from her grass-green cape and stepped into the port city of Toltekk. She'd been here more than a dozen times in her life when her village needed supplies. Walking at her side was Spirit Walker, an enormous white wolf that stood a good three feet high. Thareni had found her when she was a cub; her pack killed by poachers and her siblings scattered throughout the forest. Those cubs had been found and raised at the village, where they now kept their growing pack. But Spirit Walker had wanted to stay with Thareni, and when her friend had won the archery contest that had allowed her to seek the weapon of legend, she had gone with her. Now they made their way to the ship, and took in the faces of the four other warriors already there. "I just hope there won't be any trouble," Thareni whispered as she eyed her rivals.

'You know there will be,' Spirit Walker replied, sitting on her haunches and staring at the humans with icy-blue eyes. She looked up at Thareni for a moment, taking in her friend's thin but strong frame. Her chestnut-brown hair was in a low ponytail, and her short bangs fell into her sapphire-blue eyes for a moment. Thareni shook her head to clear her vision, then adjusted her cape and fixed the green tunic she wore. Hanging from a black belt was a short sword in a sheath, and black-leather boots came up to her knees. The pants she wore were of brown doeskin, and she carried an extra pair of clothes in the small pack she carried. The Rangers' only hope for peace lay with Thareni and Spirit Walker, and neither were about to let their people down. So they waited patiently for the sixth warrior to show up and their voyage to get underway.

Frel'dom breathed in the many smells of the sea as he entered Toltekk. First there was the salty smell of the water, and then there was the distinct odor of fish that were being sold on every street corner. The smell of people and animals assailed his nostrils, and underneath it all was the smell of the stone that made up the city itself. "Lovely. I just love it here." A few women gave him wide berth, tugging children out of his way, but he was used to it. The Barbarians were widely misunderstood, as all people thought of them as mindless berserkers. But Frel'dom was far from a battle-crazed killing machine. He knew that sometimes it became necessary to fight, but he'd much rather spend time in the woods, communing with the many nature gods, than be on the battlefield. Lumbering towards the dock where the ship was, he realized he towered over everyone in Toltekk. At six feet, five inches and a weight equal to that of a horse, most people avoided him just because he could probably break them in half with one hand. And the double axe he carried over his shoulder wasn't something to be overlooked, as it had an enormous blade and two-foot handle. But despite all this, a little girl suddenly stepped in front of him and held out a small flower to him. He brushed a lock of jet-black hair back to his shoulder and stared at her.

"Good luck, big sir," she said to him shyly. He smiled and took the flower, tucking it into his belt.

"Thank you," he replied in a deep voice as she blushed and quickly scampered off. Gazing at her retreating figure with hazel-green eyes, Frel'dom smiled and shook his head. She reminded him of his brother's children back home. All eight of them had stood at the door of their tent and wished him luck, the girls giving him chains of daisies. His soon-to-be-wife, Gretta, had smiled and promised to fix him a big supper when he returned to them. She had also handed him a chain of flowers, which he had tied just over his heart. Unlike most of the other kingdoms, the Barbarian Nation wanted the weapon in order to bargain for peace with their neighbors. Rather than fight for control of the world, they would much rather just live their lives and not be bothered. However, that wasn't likely to happen unless Frel'dom succeeded. "Looks like the others are here," he said to himself as he came to the dock. Now all that remained was seeing if the voyage over would be peaceful, though he doubted that.