Revelry and partying continued for the day and through the night. So grateful were the fisherman and farmers of the village for being saved, that the next morning Boke Kin and Meihi were offered a pair of horses to speed them on their journey. They graciously accepted. Into the rising sun they rode, following the river and skirting the lands of death. Towards the famed city of Great Forks, city of temples and gods.
â€œSo, were those blooded?â€ a villager asked as the heroes rode off.
â€œI think so,â€ another responded, â€œone was clearly from the Realm. The other had the look of wood-blood to her.â€
â€œThey werenâ€™t exactly equipped like I would have expected...â€
â€œProbably outcastes, proving that the blooded are indeed heroes... itâ€™s the Empire that is decadent and corrupt. Glory to the dragons, and their true champions here in the threshold!â€ The villagers cheered and then cleared up from the previous dayâ€™s festivities. Having never seen the mark of the sun, they had no idea what the nature of their champions was.
Gradually the village faded into the distance. Both warriors galloped their horses across the riverside plains. Wind running through his hair, Boke Kin laughed from atop his steed. â€œThis chosen of the sun stuff if great!â€ He felt better than he had in a long time, maybe even years. â€œThose people loved us! I know not everyone will react like that, but it does feel great!â€
â€œWhat was up with the crying?â€ Meihi asked in between focusing on steering the horse. She didnâ€™t have the practice riding that Kin had received back home.
Boke Kin shrugged. â€œI guess I just couldnâ€™t handle seeing more people suffer. Donâ€™t worry, wonâ€™t happen again. Iâ€™m getting used to this I think.â€ Together they rode, stopping a few times each day to let their horses rest. The grass at the side of the river provided more than enough food for their mounts, and Meihi did some small game hunting whenever they stopped. Further south, the sight of desolation was ever present. It served as a reminder to Kin of the threats faced when not in the safety of the Blessed Isle.
Two weeks into the journey, Kin and Meihi had stopped around noon to rest. Boke Kin crouched near the edge of the river to wash his face and get a quick drink. After splashing water on his face, feeling the coolness drip down him, Kin looked down into the river. An enormous blue-colored face, long and crowned with horns, stared back up at him. â€œWow, surface distortions out here are really pronounced...â€ Kin remarked. Meihi looked over, and began to shout something when the water surged upward.
An enormous beast, easily over twenty feet long, covered in hard blue scales lunged from the riverbed. Its jaws opened wide like a crocodileâ€™s to reveal rows of dagger-like teeth. Webbed claws slammed down on the ground to either side of Kin. A low hiss came from deep within the animal as it twisted its neck around and snapped down with its massive maw. Kin rolled back out of the way in a display of agility that surprised himself, and the dragon-like creature. It stared down at him and he stared up at it.
Poker swiftly in hand, Boke Kin smacked the iron point into the river-dragonâ€™s front claw. It lifted the claw up and snapped at the air from the pain of his strike. Doing so cost it its balance however, and the animal stumbled and dropped onto its side with a loud crash. â€œHa!â€ Kin shouted victoriously.
â€œWait, stop!â€ Meihi called. She ran over to Kin as the river-dragon began to get back to its feet. â€œItâ€™s just hungry I bet.â€ A golden disk began to shimmer on her brow. She walked over to the animal and put a hand on its snout. It hissed slightly, with a somehow sad tone. â€œItâ€™s okay little guy,â€ she said to it, â€œhe was just surprised is all. You hungry?â€ It opened its jaws slightly and hissed expectantly. â€œOkay, hang on.â€ Meihi got one of the rabbits she had caught for lunch and tossed it to the river-dragon. It snapped the tiny creature out of the air and swallowed it. â€œThere you go... run along now, we have to eat too.â€ It turned and slid its massive bulk back into the river. Kin ducked the sweep of its tail as it came about.
â€œThat was startlingly cute,â€ Kin said. â€œHow did you do that?â€
â€œA trick I learned a while back, one of the many perks of being one of His chosen.â€ Meihi smiled and started making a small fire to cook the other game she brought back.
Boke Kin stood back up. â€œDoes show me something though, I need a better weapon. Poker has served me well, but...â€ He started walking over toward Meihi when he suddenly tripped. Agility failing him this time, Kin tumbled down onto his face. â€œOww,â€ he half-heartedly said into the dirt. As he was getting back up he rubbed his nose. â€œWhat did I?...â€ he began and looked back at where he had tripped. Stuck in the ground was some large object. A very small part of what looked like a sword-grip sticking up at an angle amidst the grass.
â€œHuh, didnâ€™t notice that,â€ Meihi said as she skinned the food.
â€œNeither did I...â€ Kin grabbed onto the grip and started to pull. â€œIn the ground pretty solidly!â€ he couldnâ€™t manage to move it. So he started digging away at the soil around the object. Hours later he had unearthed an enormous sword. The blade itself was over four feet long and half a foot thick. All together the weapon would be nearly as tall as Kin himself.
â€œWow,â€ he said as he grabbed hold of the grip again and hefted the weapon. â€œHoly Dragons this thing is heavy!â€ it took all his strength to pick the weapon up. Momentum didnâ€™t stop and as the weapon swung back past his head, Kin fell backward and landed with a dull thud. â€œIt looks like one of the swords the Blooded use... but itâ€™s got gold inlays and tint to the metal, instead of jade.â€
â€œThatâ€™s great,â€ Meihi replied, â€œNow come eat something before it gets cold. Wash your hands first, and watch out for river dragons.â€ She chuckled at his expense, but Kin laughed along as well. â€œThough it does seem the gods were listening, huh? Well good, a warrior of His should have a greater weapon.â€
Boke Kin and Meihi dined on rabbit and squirrel next to the river while Kin idly wiped more sand and dirt from his new sword.