Rydn, year of the Nilonian Empire 925
He knows a lot more than I thought he would. As a Nirad, I am supposed to be using sorcery in my attacks. But long ago, I ended up discovering magic instead. Fortunately, Nirad know next to nothing about the nature of magic, allowing me to keep my cover. Or so I thought.
Besides me, Nilonia has not produced any known wizards for centuries. Magic itself is practically a legend—a myth. So how can Jyrnn tell the difference between a dagger saturated with shadow and one forged with magic? One thing is clear. There is definitely a lot more to this Nirad than I realized.
I summon my two metal rods, razing them up to block and counter. Jyrnn moves out of the way for a strike from behind. I swing my rods, creating a concentrated sonic beam to shove Jyrnn aside. His combat style is very unique, I must say. Dealing with it will require a special touch.
I vanish into the evening twilight shadows, shrouding the field further with mist. With Justyn here, using more magnificent skills to end the fight would cast more suspicion upon myself. I shall just have to use that other skill set instead.
I try to lose Jyrnn in the mist, but that is proving to be more difficult. He is catching on fast. If I am to hit him off-guard, I will only have a small window to do it. I toss several daggers at once in his direction while circling to the right. With the dagger I gave him, Jyrnn bats every one out of his way, causing a small flash at each contact followed by a zing. I flip and twist out of the way. He is using the magic inside the daggers to track me. I absorb the light and sound with my own magic to counter his measures.
In one motion, I leap off the wall and pour my magic into my rods for one solid attack. Jyrnn whirls around, dodging one rod while parrying the other with the dagger I gave him. I release electrons from my rod into his dagger—just enough to add to the pressure. Jyrnn turns his head slightly so his right eye can see the growing crowd. My peripheral vision spots Taurek having returned, nodding his head once.
That is strange.
We leap off each other into a stand-off. Each assessing the other. Neither one moving a muscle.
“You said you have been searching. Do you really think you will find it at the tower?” I ask him. We Nirad live to conceal, keeping Nilonia and the whole Empire ignorant of dangerous threats. I have not lived a longer life than Jyrnn, but I often wonder if our efforts to conceal the perceived threats is futile.
“Do you know where it is in all this?” The question immediately plunges me into a memory:
Chills shoot up my spine as I enter the tower. It seems like a normal stone tower that is lit up more efficiently than usual; however, I feel like I am swimming in darkness. I barely notice the Nirad, the torches, or the windows as I swiftly trudge up the steps.
At the top of the tower is one single Nirad.
“Sir Keisn,” I mutter. Figures it would be him.
“Yes, it is me. I would not allow anyone else to test the strength of my pupil,” he states in his intimidating tone.
“How about we cut the chatting and get this over with?” I say, anxious to leave this tower. Something about this tower is causing a breath of foreboding inside me. This tower does not belong there. Or anywhere.
“I schooled you on the dangers of impatient anxiety,” Sir Keisn grumbles. My insides winced in memory of that lesson. “But that is not why you want to hurry, is it? You sense something about this tower that you do not like, do you not? A little darkness, perhaps?” I hate it when this guy reads my mind. I flick my wrists. Out comes two black metal rods of a special, natural snake design. I made them myself, so I know they will not easily break.
Easily. A shadow mist spreads out under Keisn’s feet and seemingly begins to engulf his entire body, leaving only a silver-white flash to outline his form and eyes. His low-tone battle voice resonated throughout the tower.
“Since you are so anxious, why do I not show you the power that resides within this tower?”
After that so many things happened. I have never been so terrified in my life, but I…that Wind, whatever it was…I became afraid of something else. Someone else. I try to search for that someone so that I may have hope in all this fear. So far, I have found nothing. Why can I still not shake that touch? Why…?
“Well?” Jyrnn pulls me out of the memory. I have been hesitating too long.
“I do not know,” is my final answer. Jyrnn raises his arms into a ready position.
“Then we understand one another,” he tells me. I crouch into a stance. It is time to seriously fight out this Duel.
“It seems we do.”
I have never seen Rydn this serious in a very long time. This Nirad Jyrnn has only shown enough skill to barely defeat Nirad way below Rydn’s rank and skill, yet now he is forcing Rydn to reveal increasingly more and more of his inner wizard skills to the point where both are a rival of the other. Which one of them will win? I honestly have no idea.
What I would like to know is why Jyrnn is using that magical dagger as if he knows what he is holding. Nirad are usually insanely ignorant of anything to do with magic. This guy, on the other hand, knows his stuff. Question is, where did he learn it?
The two Nirad are moving so fast the crowd will never keep track of them. Flashes of blue and green lights shine all around the Glade, even a little outside of it. I and some of the other Nirad find ourselves having to dodge a blow or two from time to time. Multiple zings pierce the air around us as the evening twilight morphs into early starlight. Both Nirad vanish into the shadows. One time Rydn will swing a high attack only to have Jyrnn parry and counter with a complicated double and triple combo slices that only cut the cooling breeze.
Both of them are overdriven. It is difficult to tell anymore how much more this duel can escalate—how much more skill both of them have hidden. In spite of that, neither are attempting to kill the other. Rather, they are enjoying this fight. Ironic for Nirad who are supposed to care of orders.
Jyrnn’s father has made some sort of contact with Jyrnn. Why would a Nirad still have familiar contact with his father?
Mist shrouds the glade in a soft cloak. The Nirad are not even fighting on the ground now—it is all on the columns. I am still amazed at how much punishment those stones can take. Nine hundred years of Nirad dueling and the only cracks it gets are from the weather.
Unnatural pitch black shadow forms in the center of the glade, causing a deafening explosion that shoves the two Nirad apart. I stand myself up from where I landed, taking a sharp intake of breath at the silhouette form of another Nirad. His curved sword is drawn so its bloodstone gleams in the starlight. Everyone in the crowd falls back in terror. I step back, more than a little surprised. What is Sir Keisn doing here?
Sir Keisn’s authoritative voice resonates into the early starlight. “This Duel is over. Both of you will continue at a later date I will depict.” A later date, huh? That is unexpected. Knowing Sir Keisn, he has a solid reason for it. I shall have to keep a close eye on when that will be.
As for this Jyrnn, since when did he acquire that much skill? Rydn definitely made that dagger of his, and already he is using it to its full potential. If he has any sort of deduction skills, he will be able to connect the dots the true nature of Rydn’s secret.
There is definitely a lot more to him than I realized. Perhaps I shall stick around to find out more about him and his father Taurek.
Delayed to a later date? Why in Nilonia…who has ever heard of such a thing? What purpose could delaying this achieve? Why now? Why this fight?
I have only met Sir Keisn twice, but I know enough about him to keep from asking stupid questions outloud.
Still, that was unexpected.
“Sir Keisn,” Sir Rydn did not expect that either. “You are stopping this fight?” Neither is he smart enough to rule his mouth, it seems.
Sir Keisn’s only answer is a sudden expected flash of light that engulfs his form only to vanish, revealing his absence. One by one, Nirad slip into the shadows while the spectators rush away in absolute silence. All Sir Rydn and I can do is stare at one another, somewhat shocked at the turnout. In less than five minutes, only he and I stand under glow of starlight.
After a period of silence, I move my hands to place the dagger in my sleeve, holding my breath when I realize that the gem is not the tourmaline I have worn over a year. This is a sapphire. A real green star sapphire. My medallion is the same thing.
“So you did receive a rank,” Sir Rydn says. I look up at him, placing the dagger in my sleeve. “You are more capable than I realized.”
“Appreciate the recognition,” I respond. “You are not a bad wizard yourself.” Sir Rydn draws back a little then relaxes. I continue. “Though many may not use it, Nirad are trained to fear only Nilo and shun everything else. As a result they know next to nothing of actual magic. However, there is no way I would not recognize a magical dagger when I see one.”
“How do you know such a thing?” Sir Rydn asks me. He has no idea of the family secret. Father was clear that he should, though. If he is a wizard, then maybe…maybe…
“You are curious to know, right? Let me just say I have experience in that area,” my gaze wanders to the mountains in the east. In this autumn starlight, they are exceptionally beautiful. “There is a mineshaft near the eastern border of Lyka main. Head ten miles northeast of there. You might find something interesting.”
“I have been to that part of the region. It is near the forested mountains many call impassible,” Sir Rydn tells truthfully. It would seem only those who have been there before can actually find that.
I smile. “I will be there at morning twilight. If you are there at that time as well, I will show you what I am referring to.”