Through the streets, which themselves were made of roughly textured glass, of Chiaroscuro walked Boke Kin, Meihi and Suker Khaljic. Kin grumbled quietly to himself while Khaljic quickly purchased a new bow and acquired a horse from a nearby stable. Meihi was thrilled just to have other chosen of the Sun with her. She asked Kin what was the matter. â€œOh, nothing important I guess,â€ Kin muttered. She pressed the issue.
â€œWell,â€ he explained, â€œI spent all of my life learning how the Terrestrials were the leaders of the world and the most powerful thing out there that wasnâ€™t a demon. After becoming a demon myself,â€ she began to say something, â€œI know, but after becoming what I had been taught was evil and finding myself not especially vile... I started to get doubts.â€
â€œThatâ€™s a good thing,â€ Meihi said with a smile. â€œSince we arenâ€™t evil.â€
â€œYes,â€ he nodded, â€œbut thatâ€™s not the problem. I was figuring that eventually I would get the chance to fight one of the Blooded. Just seems like one of those things a Solar would need to do as part of their early experiences. I figured it would resolve something, give me some perspective on my own nature and that of what I had been taught.â€ He sighed. â€œBut it was so easy. Proves that what I always thought I knew wasnâ€™t just wrong, it was very wrong.â€
Khaljic rode up to the pair on a fine white and black mottled stallion. Meihi put a hand on Kinâ€™s shoulder, â€œMaybe thatâ€™s the lesson. Maybe itâ€™s time to really let go of what you knew?â€ She looked over at their new ally. â€œNice horse, we should probably get some of our own.â€
â€œYes, I should snap think that would be a good idea,â€ Khaljic replied, â€œbut likely we will need to deal with that first.â€ He pointed back toward the edge of the city. A procession of Imperial Legionnaires marched through the city in their direction. At their head was the somewhat bruised looking black-haired Lisara. Her rage was nearly palpable even at that distance. â€œSeems fwoosh that they followed us.â€
â€œAll right!â€ Meihi and Kin both shouted. Meihi looked at Kin somewhat confused, â€œI thought you didnâ€™t like violence?â€
â€œUsually I donâ€™t like to devolve things to violence... but this is try number two! Maybe this time itâ€™ll be a real challenge like I always though my first Blooded fight would be!â€ Kin hefted his golden sword and reached for his poker but couldnâ€™t find it. â€œDamn. I left my poker back in the garrison.â€
â€œNo time to retrieve it at crackle the moment,â€ Khaljic said. He readied his new bow and as he drew the strong a glittering golden arrow appeared already knocked. â€œTheyâ€™re drawing close.â€
â€œWait, if you can make arrows from essence, how did they disarm you?â€ Meihi asked and drew a pair of knives.
â€œSizzle unfortunately an arrow is of little use without a bow,â€ Khaljic replied, â€œthough did you know there is a local snap tribe of barbarians, scavengers, who are know to make use of stray arrows after a battle? They often make warrior-necklaces out of arrowheads that hiss drew blood from a victim. Raiton tribe if I am remembering right. A most fwoosh interesting tribe, they use whatever they can find. Some have been known to even retrieve intact arrows to crackle use as close range stabbing implements. Takes substantial practice to not break an arrow used that way, but supplies are sizzle plentiful after most major battles. In fact, did you know that most Imperial fletchers deliberately snap make arrows just thin enough to be useable but to usually break after one use? That has less to do with supplying an enemy however, but because they originally intended to be paid again soon because then their supplies couldnâ€™t be reliably reused fwoosh.â€
The army had arrived by the time Suker was done explaining all that. Imperial standards rustled in the southern wind. Kin and Meihi stood defiantly while Khaljicâ€™s horse stepped back a few steps nervously. Lisara glared at Kin. â€œYou forgot something,â€ she roared and hurled his fireplace poker toward him forcibly. He caught his weapon in his left hand.
â€œThanks!â€ Kin shouted back. Lisara screamed a war cry and rushed toward them backed by hundreds of soldiers pouring through the streets of Chiaroscuro. Kin stood his ground and began to slam and slash his weapons through the press of forces. Meihi kept herself behind Kin and hurled daggers as quickly as she could into the mass, bouncing some shots off of one soldier and into another. Lisara focused her anger on Kin, and in between fighting off legionnaires he barely deflected her blows.
Khaljic fired conjured fowling arrows into the mob so fast that the colored silks of his sleeve looked like a blur. Despite their efforts, the onslaught was becoming too much for the three to stand against. â€œWe crackle cannot win this!â€ Khaljic yelled over the din of battle. â€œFollow me, I have an idea!â€ He turned his horse and began to ride from the battle deeper into the city. Kin grudgingly broke away from the fight and followed. He grabbed Meihi by the arm and dragged her along while she continued to one-handedly toss showers of phantom golden knives back at the pursuing force.
Deeper into Chiaroscuro they fled until they reached a wide and open section of street. Khaljic reined in his steed and turned toward the army once he was well into the wide street. Kin and Meihi caught up with him a few moments later. â€œSo, whatâ€™s the plan?â€ Kin asked. Right on their heels the army charged forward. They closed in on the trio with endurance fueled by their angry commander. Each second brought them closer to overtaking the Sunâ€™s chosen. â€œKhaljic? Whatâ€™s the plan?! Weâ€™re in open territory, they can surround us here!â€
â€œWhatever you do, do not attack... either of you fwoosh.â€ Khaljic didnâ€™t move from his seat. Kin lowered his sword and poker. Meihi kept herself at the ready despite the warning. The army came within yards of the trio. As they raised their spears and charged a wall of gold-white light erupted between them and the Anathema they were chasing.
â€œYou will not bring violence to my plaza!â€ a voice called out majestically, echoing off the flawless glass towers around them. In the air overhead formed the figure of an elegantly dressed woman with long hair, formed entirely of golden light. Her eyes belied an ancient wisdom despite their apparent healthy youthfulness. â€œBegone, lest you test my wrath!â€ she commanded with a wave of her arm. Obligingly the soldiers ran in terror out of the area, followed by an irritated Lisara who continued to glare back at Kin as she withdrew to rally her soldiers.
The figure drifted down toward the ground as the curtain of light dispersed. â€œDozen-lines-through-an-oval right-looking-womanâ€™s-face sizzle flower-blossoming-from-a-square,â€ Khaljic said to the golden woman in accented Old Realm while bowing to her. Glowing on his forehead in golden light was the mark of the Setting Sun.
â€œIs that the Sun?â€ Kin asked Meihi quietly, â€œI always thought he was a guy.â€
â€œNo, that isnâ€™t him,â€ Meihi replied and tapped Kin in the side with her elbow.
The golden woman apparently heard that. After returning the bow of respect to Khaljic, â€œI am Grandmother Bright,â€ she said to Kin, â€œand this is my Plaza. The only truly untouched part of the old city left.â€ She looked over the triumvirate of Solars. â€œI have heard of you, you are spoken of in the spirit courts. Destiny has singled out five warriors as important to Creationâ€™s future.â€
â€œYes,â€ Kin replied, â€œwe were told this by the Three in Great Forks. They said we needed to seek out the others across the world.â€
Grandmother Bright nodded, â€œThree of you are together so far. Now, go West young man.â€ She bowed one last time to all three of them, â€œI wish you well in your journey, for the sake of Creation. But do not bring violence to my Plaza again or I will burn the heart from your chest.â€ She smiled and faded from view.
â€œYeah, letâ€™s... letâ€™s definitely get going,â€ Kin said nervously.