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The Nameless Warrior: Part Five


by moonlit_danaa

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The previous part of this series can by found here.

The little Usul poked her neighbor - a Gelert. "Hey. You're from Twin Plain village, right?"

     The blue Gelert turned around; they were in line at Illusen's Glade, getting their rations. "Yeah, why?"

     The Usul leaned closer to him. "Are the rumors true? Is there a new defender of Meridell, fighting like Jeran?"

     The Gelert's mouth formed an excited smile. "Yeah! A huge red Lupe, with a shining sword that flashes in the light like a steel tooth! He just walked forward, and Kass's forces backed away! He has a scar on his cheek from Kass's blade himself, and Kass bears an identical scar . . ."

     As the Usul's eyes widened with admiration, an Aisha across the refugee camp was whispering, "- and his sword is ten feet long, and when he steps, the earth shakes and Kass's forces run away . . ."

     Deep in the woods, the Lupe that had been embroidered into a legend lay tiredly against a tree trunk. A bloody bandage wrapped around his upper chest, and a long scratch adorned his left arm. Weak, exhausted, and more than a little discouraged, he sat there, staring at the trees that hid him and wreathed him in shadow.

     The fight had pushed all of Skarl's forces to the edge of their endurance - having no reinforcements from their king, having the villagers they were saving unexpectedly turn upon them, and having to travel through battlefields tens of acres long, filled with the stench of the dead and the moans of the dying, took drastic toll on the moral.

     He himself had not been exempt from such horrors; only, he would often have only his own company to brave these ordeals, and his moral was the lowest of the low. Fighting alone endangered his well-being and he stuck to the smaller villages to avoid attention. But not having companionship had struck him harder than he had first figured. Even when he was with Jhudora, he still was around another being, and he could go out and be surrounded by other people as well. Balthazar had treated him well, taught him much, and cared for him in his own gruff way. The Ghost Lupe had mentored him, monitored him, taught him, and talked to him.

     He heaved a sigh. Not only was he alone, he had no name. Even if he was around someone else, he had nothing to mark him as unique. Nothing that called him, defined him, and that was what hurt the most.

     CRACK.

     All his muscles tensed, and he whipped the ghost's sword upwards. More likely than not, it was a scout for Kass's legions, and to kill it might warn away the force following it.

     Standing, he picked up the shield and held it before him. The rest of the armor had not fit - he was unnaturally small, light, and the shield sufficed well enough by itself. Quietly, he stalked forward.

     Only to come face to face with a soldier - one as hurt as he was. The blue Aisha held a bow taut, pointed in his direction.

     After a moment, he lowered the sword point. "Who do you fight for?" he asked wearily.

     Hesitation only lasted a moment before the Aisha said proudly, "Meridell and King Skarl!"

     He slumped back against the tree trunk and slid back down. "Good. You're far from your troop."

     Eyeing him curiously, the Aisha asked, "Who are you?"

     "A warrior," he said shortly.

     The Aisha slowly relaxed her body and sat down as well. "No, what's your name?"

     Leveling an intense glare in the Aisha's direction, he ignored her question to carefully pack up his pouch. "I'm needed elsewhere. The villages need protectors."

     "Jeran's out there. They've sighted war-machines, with catapults and battering rams." The Aisha shivered involuntarily. "I hope King Skarl gets our message soon."

     About to snarl his thoughts on the worthless king who ignored the goings on in his own kingdom, he shut his mouth on the bitter comment and exchanged it for a note of encouragement. "Well, I know the villagers are eternally grateful to you, and I know that the message is closer to King Skarl than it has ever been."

     Hopefully, the Aisha looked up. "Really?"

     "Sure," he replied, hiding the pain he felt as he hefted the sword and slid it into his special sheath - one that lay across his back to give him a better freedom of movement. '"All his troops will be honored, and stories will be told over and over about this war and the brave fighters who risked their lives endlessly." Bowing slightly, he said, "I honor your selflessness." And so saying so, he slid into the shadows, feeling better in helping at least one soldier to regain her spirit.

     The village at the bottom of the hill had burned last night, but, thank the stars, he had managed to keep the damages to the minimum: only five houses had burned, and only twenty-two villagers had died. Stopping by the river, he splashed water over his face and gingerly repeated the motion over his wounds.

     Sounds of a fight caught his attention, and his ears went up. Jumping to his feet, he ran towards the noises.

     In a clearing he skidded to a stop. An Island ixi tried vainly to beat back an Eyrie Guard - and losing. Howling a battle cry, he barreled down on the Eyrie and slammed it backwards.

     It shrieked and whipped its sword around. Steel met steel in a thunderous clash, and then scraped away to jab under defenses and parry attacks. Within moments, the Eyrie lay dead on the ground.

     Panting, the Lupe turned around and looked upon the ixi, who looked at him in slow recognition. "You . . . should . . . be more careful," the Lupe panted.

     "Don't you recognize me? Oh, the lab ray. I'm ZipStreamer! You're that Lupe from Jhudora's cloud, right?" The ixi stood, wincing, and looked him up and down. "Where have you been?"

     His heart clenched. "Me? Around," he answered vaguely.

     "Why didn't you go to Fyora, or the Healing Springs? Or even Illusen?" ZipStreamer asked.

     "I tried," he mumbled, sheathing his sword and slinging his shield onto his back as well.

     ZipStreamer looked expectantly at him, but when he did not offer anymore information, the ixi tried a different route. "Found a name yet?"

     "No," he growled. "Look, I need to go places and do things. Stay away from the battle; it's lost anyway. Skarl won't move off his throne to care for his subjects."

     "You're still fighting," ZipStreamer pointed out. "And people are starting to join in. I think over half of Neopia have joined in to drive back Kass."

     The Lupe snorted. "Not doing a good job," he grumbled.

     ZipStreamer shrugged. "I could take you back home; I'm sure Dhiibshowl will be glad to take you in. If you want."

     He paused, considering it. A home, no more watching people die or having to actually kill himself, and getting a name. Everything he wanted.

     But not what he needed to do.

     "No," he said heavily. "The villagers need me here. Jeran does what he can, but he can't be everywhere at once, and the small villages are the ones most often destroyed. I'm just a faceless defender, and that's all I need to be."

     ZipStreamer looked at him solemnly. "You're someone special, Lupe People owe their lives to you. I owe my life to you."

     Blushing from the praise, he waved a dismissive hand. "Don't mention it. Just helping out where I can."

     ZipStreamer opened his mouth, but the Lupe turned and left him to find others who needed help.

     Metal struck armor, slid down with a high-pitched whine, pulled away to slam into the other sword and then slide past shield to sink into flesh.

     The Lupe had grown hoarse long past from yells and shouts. Long past he had stopped feeling the pain from the numerous wounds that laced his being. Long past he had stopped being aware of anything besides the scent of death, sweat, fear, anger, and the forces that kept coming, unceasingly, overflowing the plains to overwhelm he and those that he fought beside.

     It was the last chance. The last attack. Skarl had finally been awoken from his enrapture, thanks to Lisha's quick thinking, and had managed to recall his knights and major generals to plan an attack. Also helping out were the citizens of Neopia, who fought alongside Meridell's forces.

     Another Darigan Skeith rose up, tried to slash at him, and mechanically he dodged, rolled, came up slashing, and the Skeith went down. He turned, slashed, ducked, rammed his sword forward, and turned around again.

     The thunderstorm had tempered off, but it had lasted long enough to change the battlefield ground from dirt to mud. He was liberally splattered with it, as well as blood, and the mud made his wounds ache terribly, but he kept on. Had to keep on. It was the last chance to stop the forces of Kass; if this failed, Meridell's fate was sealed. So he had to keep on. Had to go on.

     Sparks flew from the sky; Morguss's doing, no doubt. The main force was down here, on the ground, trying to stop the hordes of machines and fighters, but a light force had rode on to the Citadel, to confront Kass. Jeran had gone ahead, as had around a troop of light warriors. But he had been content to keep his feet firmly on the earth and fight for those who couldn't. Protect the villagers. That summed up his ambition, and he didn't have his sights set any higher. It was good enough for him.

     He knew, in his heart of hearts, he would not survive. He had lost too much blood, too many cuts called his flesh home, and too much stress on said hurts had sapped him of whatever strength he had in reserve. Right now he was operating on automatic - sooner or later, he would fall over. And be trampled. And forgotten.

     One who had no name.

     Still it hurt to know that. He had not named himself. He had not found the words to do so. And now it seemed there would be nothing that he left to even mark his passing.

     Another warrior came. Another fell. He cut, sliced, hacked, and cleaved, limbs aching. When did he get that cut on his stomach? He wondered to himself, lost in the haze of exhaustion and battle-fever. Onwards. Step forwards, duck sideways. Bring the sword up - no, don't think about the pain in your arm - slide it into soft flesh. He felt like throwing up, only there was no time, no place, and nothing to throw up.

     A brief, fleeting though: Would I meet Balthazar and have to fight against him?

     And then he knew no more.

     ZipStreamer came into focus, but not really. His eyes were open, but they wouldn't see right. Everything was blurry, running together, mixing together . . .

     "Hold on, we're trying to get you to Illusen. Hold on, we're almost there."

     He tried to move, tried to make his voice work, but he could not. Strong arms held him gently, deposited him on a bed of soft moss. He lay there, letting his mind sink into oblivion.

     "Is he going to be alright?"

     A new voice, soft and quiet, answered, "No. He is too damaged, has lost too much blood. The most we can do is make him comfortable. There are others who need help."

     And then ZipStreamer was by his side, trying to keep tears from showing. "You were amazing, you know. I think they'll sing praises for the next century. The villagers are as awed of you as they are of Jeran."

     "Did we . . . win?" he managed to force out of his throat.

     "Yeah," ZipStreamer looked up.

     A young Acara stood there, with a Shoyru and Gelert behind her. "Is this the Red Lupe?"

     He moved his head, turned to look at them. He vaguely recognized them; the three had lived in Meadow Plain village. Weakly, he smiled at them.

     "Thank you, Red Lupe," the Acara whispered, placing a flower by his head. And then they left.

     ZipStreamer smiled gently. "You have a name now, Red Lupe You made yourself faceless, and they still honor you."

     "You . . . alright?" he said hoarsely, consciousness slipping away.

     "Yeah," ZipStreamer held his hand. "I'm fine."

     "Good."

     And then he left, happy in the knowledge that he had managed to help.

     ~Never did the Red Lupe's name grow larger than it had. Very few knew of the selflessness and courage, and only two knew of the whole story. And after a year of searching, ZipStreamer's owner, Dhiibshowl, found a brief record of a red Lupe with the name of Samiel before it had been abandoned. No further records have been found.

     ~And though his fame never grew, neither did it wane. Still, in villages on the outskirts of Meridell, you can hear legends of a red Lupe who helped protect the villagers, who wielded a sword of silver lightning and struck fear into Kass's forces.

     ~And walked alone from the very beginning until the very end.

     ~As he wished it to be. ~

The End

 
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