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Nanarex -- Child Archer-to-Be Faces her Bullies [Story Complete]

Three in the Field (555 words)

The setting sun turned the sky a bedazzling red color. In the field behind the village, children were at play, or so the villagers thought.

Three children stood in the center of the field. Two of them were shoulder-to-shoulder, squaring off with the third, who wore the look of a determined soldier on her face. The singular child was holding a toy bow in her hand, with a few blunt-ended wooden sticks for arrows clutched in her fist. The girl’s hair was shockingly bright blonde, and was styled in an exotic set of mouse-ear buns with tufts or hair hanging loose. Everyone in the village knew the girl by her hairstyle. Her name was Nanarex, but her hair earned her the nickname Mouse.

The two kids in front of Nanarex were boys who stood slightly larger than her. They were brothers, and they loved to pick on the smaller kids of the village. Nanarex was their favorite victim, because she was the only kid who ever tried to fight back.

“'Ey, Mousey, you gonna play hero again?” one of the boys teased. “We beat up your little friend from yesterday. He squealed like a sow.”

Nanarex knitted her eyebrows together. “Excuse me.”

“Yeah, excuse you,” said the other boy. "…For what?’

“I farted.”

The boys threw their heads back in laughter, just like Nanarex thought they would. She was a painfully honest child, who freely admitted all of her faults and blunders to a tee. Endearing, this was, to grown-ups, but to other kids it was neverending humor.

As the boys were laughing, Nanarex nocked a fake arrow into the string of her toy bow, pulled the string back, and let the stick fly. It caught one of the boys between the eyes. He yelped in pain. He was not laughing anymore.

“I’ll end you, Mouse!” he roared, surging forward with his big, meaty hands reaching for Nanarex’s throat. Nanarex backpedaled as fast as she could, narrowly evading the boy’s attempt to choke her. His brother followed up with a wild swing of his fist at Nanarex’s head. She jumped dextrously out of his fist’s path. Without Nanarex’s head to connect with, the boy’s fist found its way to his brother’s skull. The impact knocked his brother unconscious; his brother tumbled to the ground, landing face first in the grass.

Taking advantage of the momentous distraction, Nanarex nocked another false arrow, and she whispered, “Laima guide my arrow true.” She released the string, and the stick sailed right into the tip of the boy’s nose. The stick bounced off the end of the boy’s nose and flew, spinning end over end, a short distance away and landed concealed by the green blades of field grass.

The sight of his own blood dripping from his nostrils made the boy weep. He turned tail and ran away from Nanarex, abandoning his unconscious brother, crying out for his parents.

Nanarex now felt like the bully. Dropping her toy bow at her feet, she walked over to the unconscious boy who tried to choke her earlier. She knelt beside him and nudged him until he awoke, dazed and confused.

“I guess Laima favored me this round,” Nanarex said cheerfully. She patted the boy on the head, stood, gathered her bow and fallen arrows, and ran back to the village.


The Bullies Hunted Nanarex Down (534 words)

Some time ago, when the sun stood at its peak in the blue sky above the village square, a young boy was beaten black and blue by two larger boys. The reason: his unnatural ability to evoke clairvoyant sight, sometimes against his will.

The beating began when the boy mistakenly predicted to his two bullies’ faces that, tomorrow evening, they were going to fight a girl by the name of Nanarex—and they would be defeated. The boy said that Nanarex would first win the bullies over with words, and then she would cause them great pain and humiliation with the instrument in her hand. The two bullies knocked the boy to the floor in the village square and proceeded to punch, kick, and stomp on him, relenting only at the intervention of a grown-up. The boy was left shaking on the ground, bleeding from the corner of his mouth, bruised in the face, and whimpering like a crippled canine.

“Squealed like a sow, didn’t he?” the boys chortled as they were led away by the grown-up. “Mouse must be his friend. Let’s get her the next time we see her.”

The two boys knew Nanarex from a time they encountered her in the village square. She caught them stealing money from an elderly villager. With the little bow in her hands, she fired her toy arrows at them, missing every shot. The bullies ended up chasing Nanarex away.

The next day came.

The two bullies spent the entirety of the next day menacing the village square, mugging smaller children for what little silver they had, and hiding from the guards. They were fired up and ready for blood, determined to prove the little oracle’s prediction to be false.

The sun began to set. The two bullies made one last round through the village, searching for Nanarex. They found her in the last place they dared check: the field out behind the village. Nanarex was playing alone, shooting toy arrows into the air with her child-sized bow and trying to catch them in her hands. For a moment, the two bullies hesitated. Then they walked out to the field, initiating a dangerous confrontation with the girl who would soon be their foe.

Nanarex had just shot an arrow into the air, and she had her hand out, ready to catch the arrow when it came back down. One of the bullies caught the arrow above her head, snapped it in two, and threw it in her face.

“You,” Nanarex said, sounding mildly surprised. The split shafts of her toy arrow lay at her feet. She had several more toy arrows in her free hand. She clutched her bow tightly. “What are you doing here, guys?”

“'Ey, Mousey, you gonna play hero again?” one of the boys teased. “We beat up your little friend from yesterday. He squealed like a sow.”

Nanarex knitted her eyebrows together.

She had no idea whom her supposed “little friend” was. Nanarex believed these two bullies were here to exact vengeance for that time she got them in trouble for stealing from that elderly villager. She decided she would try to distract them by doing something only bullies would laugh at.


Come on guys! She needs our help!


Oho~ Clever little Nanarex. I like her character. :grin:

The Oracle’s Warning (520 words)

Two days after Nanarex humiliated her two bullies, the former was out in the field again, standing against a soothing, gentle crossbreeze beneath a partially cloudy sky. Her shadow stretched westward, for the day was still in its earliest hours of light. Her stomach full with breakfast, Nanarex had come running to this place: her personal sanctuary, stretching outward, giving her plenty of room to run and shoot her toy bow and arrows.

But today, Nanarex was not alone. Behind her, she heard the sole of someone’s shoe brush along the tips of the grass. Nanarex whirled around, her bow ready, but her toy arrow not quite nocked. Where she expected to see those two bullies again, she saw instead a lone boy who was just as skinny as Nanarex. Bruises splotched his face tragically, giving him the appearance of someone who skirted the edge of Giltine’s great scythe and lived to tell the tale.

“Don’t shoot,” the boy said, hobbling closer. His ankle, too, seemed to be injured. Nanarex blurted her concern without thinking.

“Don’t walk around without a crutch, silly! Go back home and rest.”

The boy brushed her off. He hobbled up to Nanarex and stopped five feet in front of her. “My name’s Heizenbrach. You can call me Brach if you want.” Speaking sounded quite laborous for him. “I saw you here in a dream. Your name is Nanarex.”

Nanarex’s eyebrows rose behind a couple of loose bangs. There weren’t many people in this village who knew Nanarex’s true name. “I’m Nanarex,” she said redundantly. “How’d you see me here in a dream? That’s not possible.”

“It is possible,” Brach said. “I came to apologize to you. It was my fault those two idiots attacked you yesterday.”

“What’cha saying, Brach?” Nanarex said conversationally. She lowered her bow.

“I lost control of my—um… dreams, I guess.” Brach scratched the back of his neck, averting his eyes. “So, Nanarex? I’m sorry I told those bullies about you.”

Nanarex stared at Brach for a long moment, until the silence became nearly too much for the battered oracle to bear. Then Nanarex’s mouth spread into a big, toothy grin. “No problem, Brach! I’m kinda glad you sent 'em my way. That was fun!”

“Yeah, well, um, there’s something else I wanted to tell you…”


Brach drew in a deep breath and spoke his next words as if he were treading a rickety suspension bridge above a valley of spikes. “Today, at noon, I’m going to be killed during an attack on our village. I don’t want to die… could you please save me?”

A catlike grin appeared on Nanarex’s face. She tilted her head ever so slightly. “What?”

“I know it sounds crazy, but I’m telling you the truth. I knew your name, I knew you’d beat up those bullies. I know there’s going to be an attack on our village today, because I saw it in a vision. Brigands are coming to pillage everything. I tried to tell the guards, but they didn’t believe me. You’re good with that bow, Nanarex. I can get you some real arrows.”


Omg, omg, omg! Nanareeeeeex!

Don’t worry, I set up a Kickstarter, we’re gonna get you that Diamond Infinite Edge Compound Bow™! You won’t have to use a toy bow any more!

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To Secure Peace… (612 words)

The sun hung high above, and all had fallen dangerously quiet in the village. It didn’t take an oracle like Brach to inform the villagers that something was amiss. They sensed it for themselves. Nanarex could see it, too, as she served as Brach’s human crutch; Brach had his arm over Nanarex’s shoulder as she supported his weight, in effort to keep him from walking on his still-injured ankle. Nanarex allowed Brach to carry her toy bow and arrows while she walked him around the village. As Nanarex and Brach looked around, they could see that the village watch had become eerily absent.

Under the shade of a tree by the village square, Nanarex gently sat Brach down on the ground.

Brach said, “You don’t have to carry me everywhere, I can still walk,” in amusement.

“Oh, no you don’t, buster,” Nanarex scolded in a motherly fashion, even brandishing her finger to further play the part. “You have no excuse to be not resting. I should’ve shot all my arrows at those two guys for what they did to you. If only I knew at the time.”

“Don’t blame yourself. I knew it would happen. More importantly…” Brach shifted his weight on the ground, wincing as he moved his ankle. He handed back Nanarex’s toy bow and arrows. “My dad is a shopkeeper here in the village. He sells weapons and stuff to travelers so they won’t be helpless on their journeys. His shop’s just a few blocks away from here. We need to move now if we’re going to get you those arrows before the brigands get here.”

Nanarex scowled and sneered at the same time, scrunching her face up in an effective display of the feelings behind her words. “Why can’t the guards fight them off?”

“In my vision, buildings were burning, and the guards weren’t in the village. Everyone was getting cut down by murderers on horseback. I still remember the sound of the bell that came before the attack started. It sounded like—”

From somewhere in the village, somebody with a strong arm struck a large metallic bell three times in sequence, repeatedly. A man shouted, “Everyone! Clear the streets! We’re under attack!”

“—that,” Brach said miserably. “Oh, no. It’s already started. In my vision, I saw my dead body in the village square. Nanarex, we have to get out of here, fast!” Despite the pain in his ankle, Brach hoisted himself to his feet without Nanarex’s help.

The bell kept going off. Ding, ding, ding! Ding, ding, ding! Ding, ding, ding! Icy panic froze Nanarex to her spot. She was looking at her bow in one hand, and her false arrows in the other. Never before did Nanarex believe she’d be shooting at lethal enemies so soon in her life. Two snot-nosed bullies were one thing, but armed brigands? This toy bow, these arrows, they weren’t enough. Nanarex’s eyes met Brach’s.

“Take me to your dad,” Nanarex said. “I’ll need more than arrows. I need a new bow!”

Horses galloped around the outskirts of the village. Lawless yelling, hollering, and whooping accompanied the thunder of many horses surrounding Nanarex and Brach’s home. Villagers everywhere fled in all directions, in desperate search for places to hide. And no guards were in sight.

Brach tried to run, but his ankle gave way. Nanarex caught up to Brach, lifted him to his feet, and supported him all the way to his father’s store. The heavy wooden door was ajar. The shop’s windows were shattered. The place had already been ransacked. Brach was the first one through the door. Nobody was there. Most of the weapons were gone… except for the—


…Prepare for War (517 words)

—strange looking bow that was mounted on the wall behind the desk and empty shopkeeper’s chair. Nanarex had actually never seen a bow quite as complicated as that one before.

“Dad…?” Brach started looking around the wrecked interior that was once his father’s shop. The sun shone through the unburdened window, sparkling off the shards of glass that littered the wooden planked floor. Various pieces of furniture were overturned or ripped. “I didn’t see this in my vision. Oh, Laima, no… dad…”

Nanarex slowly made her way around the edge of the shopkeeper’s desk, her gaze transfixed on the bow hanging upon the wall. She didn’t think that Brach’s father was trying to sell this bow, and it was a wonder that whoever trashed this place and stole the weapons didn’t end up taking the bow with them. The body of the bow appeared to be a mechanism of wheels, multiple bow strings, and there was a pink coat of paint on its grip, upper and lower limbs. The owner of the bow hung a wooden sign above the weapon.

The sign read Infinity Rose.

Nanarex had to rise onto the tips of her toes just to reach the bow. She carefully lifted the bow off the prongs protruding from the wall and took it in her grip. The bow itself weighed more than Nanarex’s toy bow. It was certainly larger, too, practically half the length of Nanarex’s body. The weapon felt so alien to her, but… it felt so right.

“Brach? D’you know where the arrows are? Brach?” Nanarex turned around and confirmed the reason for Brach’s silence: he was gone. Nanarex set aside her toy bow, but held onto her false arrows. Whoever was ringing the bell out in the village must have gotten tired, because the bell wasn’t chiming anymore. “Brach?”

“Dad!” Brach screamed from outside the shop. Nanarex moved to the doorway, but stopped as soon as she heard the sound of horses galloping past the structure. Crushing glass shards under her leather shoes, Nanarex crouched beneath the broken window. What she heard outside made her heart nearly stop.

“Ow! Let go of me!” It was Brach’s voice. “Help! Someone! Help! Help me! Nanarex! Shoot them! Shoot—”

“Oh, Laima,” Nanarex whispered, her heart jumping into her throat. “Oh, Laima, no.”

A rough-edged man outside could be heard. “Loud little bugger, wasn’t he? Shall I dispose of him?”

“Check his pockets first,” said another brigand.

Nanarex covered her mouth. Her thoughts caught fire. Everything hurt. At the forefront of her mind, all she could see was a dead Heizenbrach. She didn’t want to look out the window. She didn’t want to see for herself the body of the oracle in the hands of evil.

More horses came galloping through the village. Men, women, and children were screaming. Brigands were howling in euphoria. The metallic grinding of swords being drawn from their sheaths haunted Nanarex as she cowered here in the shop of Brach’s missing father. She lost all her optimism. She lost her nerve. She wasn’t brave. She wasn’t courageous.

She was helpless.


Nanarex’s Resolve (594 words)

Losing track of time, Nanarex sobbed silently into her hand. Ablaze in her eyes like liquid fire, her tears streamed down her cheeks, over her fingers, and dripped to the floor. Losing Heizenbrach changed Nanarex’s perspective about shooting arrows at people. If she started killing people, she would have been hurting their loved ones the most.

But still…

The odor of burning wood wafted into the remains of the weapon shop through the broken window. Just like Brach told her, the brigands were setting fire to the village. It wasn’t easy, but Nanarex started to move. With a trembling hand, she gathered her false arrows. If they had sharp heads on them, they would have been true arrows.

Nanarex gasped. Sharp heads. Moving her foot, she crunched a glass shard beneath her shoe.

Sharp heads…

Nanarex studied her newly-acquired multi-stringed bow. Among the wreckage of the weapon shop, several other items were left, one of them being a small hunting knife, hidden beneath a piece of furniture. Nanarex fetched the knife, and used its five-inch blade to sever one of the bow’s strings. Next, Nanarex picked up the biggest shard of glass she could find, and she used the severed bow string to bind the glass to the end of one of her arrows. This was going to make shooting her arrow more difficult, she knew, because the weight of the glass would surely alter the arrow’s trajectory. Next to her new hunting knife, which she slipped into one of her pockets, this one arrow was all she had.

“Burn it to the ground! We’ve killed the entire village watch! Let the fire consume them! Ha!”

Black smoke billowed into the weapon shop. The tips of orange flames flickered outside the window above Nanarex’s head. With newfound determination, colored by her fear of death, Nanarex whispered a prayer to Laima and stealthily approached the door to the shop. She peered through the narrow gap between the door and the jamb. Most of the brigands were riding through the other side of the village; every structure around the weapon shop succumbed to dancing flames. By Laima, or perhaps the grace of Gabija Herself, the fire stayed its hunger long enough for Nanarex to escape the weapon shop, because only once she set foot beyond the porch of the weapon shop did the fire consume the place entirely.

Nocking her makeshift glass-tipped arrow awkwardly in her new bow, Nanarex ran for the highway. She weaved in and out of burning buildings, staying out of brigand sight for the most part, up until she reached the edge of the village. A female brigand was waiting there. She had no horse, but she was clad in maroon studded leather armor, a beige cape, and she was carrying a bow of her own. A real bow, with real arrows.

The instant she saw Nanarex running toward her, the brigand nocked an arrow and fired. Nanarex tripped over a stone and face-planted. The arrow sailed over her. Nanarex didn’t catch herself; she hit the ground with her arms spread wide, to preserve her glass-tipped arrow. No doubt, the brigand knew what Nanarex was up to.

“You’re gonna fight?” said the brigand, as Nanarex got back up and rearmed her bow with the arrow. Between freedom and the burning village behind her, there was only this brigand. “You’ll be wishing you died with your mommy and daddy when I’m done with you.”

“I have no mom or dad,” said Nanarex, pulling back her bow string. “And now, I have no friends.”


And the Winner Is… (646 words)

They stood off. The brigand nocked her own arrow and drew back her bow string, training the arrow’s fine metallic point on Nanarex’s heart. Nanarex stood there with her own bow string drawn, ready to shoot her glass-tipped arrow into the brigand’s eye. The string on this bow was much firmer than the one on Nanarex’s toy bow. Her arm was trembling from the effort of keeping her shot drawn, and she feared her fingers could give way at any moment.

Two large boys—the two bullies from several days ago!—came running out from behind a burning home nearby. They were in the brigand’s blind spot. She heard the two boys’ footfalls as they charged full-speed at her from the side. Pivoting, the brigand shot her arrow into the head of one of the boys, and down he fell, deceased. With a scream of rage, the other boy managed to shoulder-ram the brigand, knocking her off balance. She clubbed the surviving boy in the back of his skull with her bow.

That was Nanarex’s opening. She ran straight forward, getting as close to the brigand as she possibly could, before the brigand had the chance to shoot another arrow. The boy she clubbed was lying at her feet, groaning. The brigand’s hand reached over her shoulder, and she drew an arrow from the quiver on her back. The arrow found its way to her bow string. She was already pointing her arrow at Nanarex.

Nanarex’s fingers could no longer hold the string. She skidded to a stop. Her fingers gave way, and the arrow flew free. The brigand moved her head in reflex. The glass-tipped arrow did not find its destination, but it took a piece of the brigand’s face with it in passing, leaving her with a large open gash in the side of her jaw. Like a crimson valley, the brigand’s torn flesh drizzled blood upon the collar of her beige cape. The shock and surprise was enough to make the brigand lose her aim, and she ended up firing her arrow twenty yards to Nanarex’s right.

Nanarex went into overdrive.

Shouldering her Infinity Rose, Nanarex ran up to the brigand while she was reeling in agony, cupping her bleeding jaw in her gloved hand. Nanarex drew her hunting knife out of her pocket and, against all hope of survival, leaped onto the brigand’s chest. The brigand tripped over the surviving bully she’d clubbed to the ground and ended up with her back to the earth, pinned under Nanarex’s knees. Nanarex inverted her knife so that the blade hung from the bottom of her shaking, white-knuckled fist. Raising her hand up, she positioned the knife directly above the brigand’s face.

Nanarex was about to take this woman’s life… and she hated it. But the woman just killed one of those boys right in front of Nanarex. She deserved to die! But like this? Nanarex thought of the woman’s friends, her loved ones. They’d be just as sad as Nanarex was when she lost Brach. Nanarex wouldn’t have been able to live with herself, knowing she took a human life. So Nanarex, letting her tears fall onto the brigand’s pale cheeks (she was now weakening from blood loss), brought the knife down.

The brigand let a slow, shaky breath seep through her gritted teeth. The knife missed the brigand’s skull by an inch, the tip of the blade partially cutting into the dirt. Screwing her face up in a mixture of anger and regret, Nanarex raised her knife and stabbed downward once more, again missing the brigand’s face by a fraction. Nanarex couldn’t kill her. She just couldn’t. She didn’t want to kill her.

The surviving boy slowly roused from his stupor. “My head… agh…”

Nanarex climbed off of the brigand lady and scrambled over to help the groggy boy. “Get up, we need to run!”


Across the Plains into the Wood, the End is Nigh (568 words)

After nabbing the brigand’s quiver full of arrows (she tried to wrestle them out of Nanarex’s grip, but blood loss rendered her unconscious), the two children put a field’s distance between them and the burning village, and they were still running. Black pillars of smoke rose from what was once Nanarex and her former bully’s home like giant monsters ready to block out the sun. Caught up in that smoke, Nanarex was sure, were the souls of all the innocent people who were slaughtered at the hands of those brigands. Somewhere above, the oracle Heizenbrach was watching, alongside Nanarex’s parents, both of whom died of disease when Nanarex was very young.

As she fled, Infinity Rose hanging from her shoulder, the strap of her new arrow quiver slung across her body from shoulder to hip, a hunting knife in one hand, and her former bully’s paw in the other, Nanarex’s memories filled with the faces of the people in her village. She loved everyone, and nearly everyone loved her back. That was a village that worked together to raise the young. Those people shared parenthood with each other, despite no blood relation among them. Even though Nanarex was homeless, she was always given shelter by the good villagers.

Nanarex wasn’t the only one who was heartbroken. As she ran, she looked back. Her former bully was panting laborously, still dizzied from the blow he took to the head. He wasn’t as athletic as Nanarex, but he could still run. His sweaty hand held onto Nanarex’s as if he’d have been whisked away by the gods if he ever let go. Like Nanarex, he’d been mourning, too; his eyes were still bloodshot.

“Wh…what’s your name?” Nanarex panted. “I always called you ‘boy’ or ‘bully’.”

“I’m Raust,” said the former bully. “I better say this now… Sorry for giving you a bad time, Mouse! If we survive, I’ll… I’ll make it up to ya, okay?”

“I’m sorry about your brother—”

“Don’t,” Raust said sharply, sweat beading his forehead. “Don’t mention him. Please. Just keep running. Everyone’s dead… everyone… gone…”

It was a wonder that none of the brigands were on Nanarex and Raust’s trail. The two kids edged off the highway and took to the plains. Up ahead in the distance stood a forest of emerald hue; the highway led through that forest to parts unknown. Nanarex knew that travelers came and went through the forest.

They ran until they could run no more, and they stopped to rest just outside the forest’s edge. Nanarex looked back, finding no one on their tail. Raust collapsed from exhaustion, his chest heaving. The soft grass would soon be imprinted by his shape.

“Gods damn it,” Raust swore vehemently. “What I’d give to have been able to kill them. Any of them.”

Nanarex almost agreed with Raust. A part of her wished she could go back and shoot every single brigand through the eyes, especially now that she had a real bow, and real ammunition. Pointing at the forest, Nanarex told Raust, “We need to go through there, 'kay?”

“Mouse, we dunno if the brigands came from that direction. What if there’re more?” From the ground, Raust glared up at Nanarex.

“We’ll stay off the path. If we keep moving, we might find another village before night comes.” Nanarex goaded Raust back to his feet, and set forth into the forest. “Let’s go.”


A New Ally (429 words)

The day-long journey through the forest left Nanarex and Raust hungry, thirsty, and aching for shelter. The temperature began to drop as the sun made its descent in the west. In this forest, light was a scarce element. Still harder, the two children made their journey one hundred yards off-road, through the thick of the forest trees. If any brigands were to come riding through, Nanarex believed she and Raust stood better chance of survival if they were to travel out here.

“Mouse,” Raust moaned. “We’re gonna die…”

“No we’re not,” Nanarex replied in an attempt to sound like her old peppy self. “Keep moving, Raust, 'kay? We’ll be alright.”

“No hope… none…”

“Please, Raust, don’t give up on me. As long as you’re awake, as long as you can put one foot in front of the other, you’re alright. 'Kay? Come on… we’re almost there.”

They pressed on. Raust’s movements became slower and slower, and soon the two children were walking nearly blind; night had fallen completely.

“This is it,” Raust groaned. “We’re done. If we get eaten, it’s been nice knowin’ ya, Mouse.”

“We’re done,” Nanarex agreed, “but it’s not over. We have to stop and rest for the night, 'kay? Here’s a tree. Sit here.”

“It’s cold…”

“I know.”

Nanarex and Raust sat next to each other on the forest floor, their backs propped against a large tree. They shivered. Nanarex didn’t remember falling asleep.

“Mouse,” Raust whispered urgently in her ear. Nanarex barely opened her eyelids. It was still night. “Someone’s coming.”

Half-asleep, Nanarex pushed herself to her feet, reached blindly over her shoulder to draw an arrow, and she nocked it in her Infinity Rose. These arrows were longer and heavier than her toy arrows back home. Peering around, Nanarex spotted the source of Raust’s alarm.

On the road up ahead, a man carried a burning torch. He was a tall, sleek man with black hair and a finely trimmed beard. He was dressed in animal furs, and in his hand he carried a sword. The man was walking up the road, toward the village Nanarex and Raust left behind. He halted and turned Nanarex’s direction, raising his torch.

The man marched toward her.

“Damn it,” Raust whimpered. “We’re dead. We’re dead. Run, Mouse, I’ll distract him.”

“Wait,” Nanarex whispered. She drew back her arrow and called out to the man, “Hiya, mister! I’m Nanarex!”

He stopped again. “A child?” he said aloud, his voice deep and rich. “Ho there! I’m Agon! Come out of hiding and follow me! It’s not safe out here!”


Warwood (515 words)

Walking with Agon was a blessing for both Nanarex and Raust. Agon led the children from the wilderness of the trees to the road, and they accompanied him in the direction from which he came. He was so tall that the tops of Nanarex’s mouse-ear buns barely reached the level of his stomach. Then again, everyone was taller than Nanarex.

The radius of light emanating from Agon’s torch only lit the road so far. The trio was practically walking toward a world of darkness, surrounded by all-encompassing night. Insanity lurked within the black, Nanarex was sure. She and Raust told Agon about everything that happened to them earlier that day, about the people they lost, and the destruction of their home by the brigands.

Agon harrumphed. “Them, mm?” he said coldly. “You two were lucky to get out alive. I’m very much aware of that group in particular.”

“Huh?” Raust voiced.

Agon said, “The brigands’ leader is my brother. I am not one of them. I lead the Warwood Clan. We serve no king, and we answer to nothing but our own calling. We made our home here in this forest. If I’d have known my brother would stoop so low, I’d have led my people to your village.”

“Where were you going when we saw you?” Raust said quietly. “You were walking the way we came.”

“I sensed something amiss.”

Nanarex could tell by the tone of Agon’s voice that he was lying. She said, “Something amiss out here in the woods at night? You weren’t gonna fight the brigands alone, were you?”

Agon hesitated. “I truly wish I’d have known. But even if I did, I… No. I couldn’t have. I’m out here because my son, Elyson, is ill. He needs the meat of a nocturnal beast that only lives here in this forest. That’s why I’m carrying…” Agon presented his sword.

“We’ll help you hunt,” Nanarex said, showing off her Infinity Rose. “I’m kinda good at archery.”

“She shot me in the nose once,” Raust said. Agon looked at him. “With a blunt arrow,” he added.

"You’ll help, will you? Very well. If you help me save my son, you’ll both be welcomed into my clan. You are, after all, the enemy of my brother. We’ll protect you from them.

“Hold.” Agon held out his sword arm. “Be still, children. Nanarex, was it? Ready your bow. Raust… do you have a weapon?”

“No,” Raust said quietly.

“Yes,” Nanarex corrected him, handing Raust the hunting knife that served her well during the attack on her village. Raust accepted the knife. Nanarex’s gesture rekindled a fire in the boy’s eyes.

Something large rustled its way through the trees in the blind dark beyond the radiance of Agon’s torchlight. “There’s one now. We’re in luck! Are you ready to witness a new horror, children? Survive, and you may no longer fear death!”

There came a loud clicking of mandibles as the beast of the night crawled down a tree and set not one, not two, nor three or four, but eight feet onto the scene.


Lunartick (523 words)

A hybridized spider the color of the moon stood at the roadside, half its pale, glowing body caught in the ambience of Agon’s torch light. The spider was large enough to swallow humans whole. Its strange body appeared almost ant-like. Its mandibles clicked, dripping with opaque venom.

“This is a Lunartick. Fan out,” Agon said. “Its eyesight is poor, so make your movements subtle.”

“What’s that mean?” Raust said with voice trembling harder than the hunting knife he clutched in both his hands.

“It means the damned thing is blind, so you sneak that way, Raust, and Nanarex sneaks the other way. Keep moving till I say stop.”

The Lunartick clicked hungrily. Nanarex and Raust did as instructed, and they both carefully edged away from Agon. The Lunartick didn’t seem to notice them; its attention was focused solely on Agon. Perhaps the flames of Agon’s torch held the monster’s interest. When Nanarex and Raust were so far away from Agon that the light of his torch no longer touched them, Agon said, “Stop.”

Nanarex shivered. She hoped Raust was okay. He looked twice as frightened as she felt.

The Lunartick ventured a little closer to Agon, now standing so invasively adjacent to him that the monster was practically breathing in his face.

“Nanarex,” Agon said slowly, tightening his grip on the hilt of his sword. “Draw an arrow, aim at the Lunartick’s abdomen, and wait for my signal.”


“Raust… when Nanarex shoots the Lunartick, the monster will be gravely wounded. I will cut off its legs. Once it’s immobilized… I need you to climb on its back, and stab it through the head with your knife. Can you do this?”


“Okay, then. Nanarex, fire!”

While Agon was speaking to Raust, Nanarex had a shot loaded and had been waiting for his signal, as he ordered. She released her bow string, and for the first time she shot a real arrow. The projectile whistled through the night and found its mark, puncturing the Lunartick’s abdomen with visceral beauty. The creature’s blood gushed richly, wetting the dirt road in a bile green goo. The monster threw its head up and let out a shrill screech. Agon shoved his lit torch between the Lunartick’s mandibles, drawing its attention away from Nanarex. With a veteran’s expertise, Agon danced around the Lunartick, swiftly de-limbing the monster with every graceful stroke of his sword, until the Lunartick lay helpless, unable to move.

“Now!” Agon shouted at Raust. The boy came charging in and jumped on the screeching Lunartick’s side. He climbed up to the top, slid up to the head, and stabbed the hunting knife inside it. The creature’s screeching died out, an eerie knell to mark the end of its life. “Good, Raust! Climb down here, quickly. And don’t touch your blade! It’s likely coated in Lunartick venom.”

Nanarex and Raust returned to Agon’s side. The man admired the corpse of the giant creature. “Good work. We can’t carry the whole thing back with us, so I’ll cut off as much meat as I can, and you two can help me carry it back to camp.”


The Final Confrontation, Part I (554 words)

The journey back to the Warwood camp didn’t last very long. Agon led the way, as the two children carried arm fulls of wet, raw spider meat. For something so disgusting, the meat smelled great. Agon said that Lunartick venom had a coaxing scent, which they used to lure in hungry prey. As well, he told them, Lunartick meat was packed with powerful anti-toxins, due to the immunity built up by the Lunartick throughout its life from being poisoned by its own potent venom again and again.

The camp lay nestled deep in the forest, far away from the road. Nanarex and Raust weren’t sure how Agon knew the way back home, even in total darkness, when none of them could see more than six feet ahead of them. Torches and lanterns burned on posts stationed throughout the camp comprised of sturdy wooden make, all-natural givings of the world around them to serve as the foundation. Nanarex and Raust dumped all the Lunartick meat in a large bucket, and then Agon led them to his home, where they were fed preserved fruits and given a comfortable place to sleep.

The next morning, after bathing and filling their stomachs with a hearty breakfast provided on behalf of the Warwood warriors, Nanarex and Raust came face-to-face with a boy who had a face as young as Nanarex’s, but who stood taller than both of them. It was Elyson, Agon’s son.

Nanarex and Raust were both dressed up in furs, like the people of Warwood. Nanarex had her bow and quiver on her person, while Raust kept his hunting knife in his hand, the venom-coated blade wrapped in a slab of leather. Elyson regarded Nanarex and Raust haughtily, peering down his nose at the pair of them. Under Elyson’s gaze, the atmosphere of the camp shifted from warm and welcoming to icy and villifying.

“Thank you for helping my father,” Elyson said sincerely, giving them a small bow. “Because of you, he survived last night’s hunt. Mother was distraught, but it’s over now.”

“You’re not sick anymore?” Nanarex asked him. Raust raised his eyebrow at Nanarex; she was twirling a lock of her hair hanging free from one of her mouse-ear buns.

“I am not sick anymore,” Elyson said, stone-faced. It was like he didn’t know how to smile. “Thank you.”

“N-no problem! Hee… hee-hee…”

Elyson cocked his head at Nanarex, but said nothing further. He turned around and walked away.

“Let me guess,” Raust said. “You like him.”

“Hee… yeah, he’s cute when glares at me like that. Hee-hee…”

One Warwood clansman started yelling from some distance away. The people of the camp stopped whatever it was they were doing to gather and see what was the matter. Nanarex and Raust followed suit. A man was running through the forest toward camp, appearing to be in a state of panic. “Chief Agon! Chief—Agon—where… where is Chief Agon?!”

“What’s the matter?” asked one of the clanswomen who Nanarex recognized. The clanswoman helped Nanarex dress up in her Warwood furs earlier that morning.

“It’s—it’s Noga! Noga’s leading a—” From the distance, an arrow flew in and impaled the clansman through the back of his head. He fell face down. The color of the arrow’s feathers matched ones on the arrows Nanarex stole from the brigand archer back home.


The Final Confrontation, Part II (565 words)

Nanarex expected the people of Warwood Fort to falter at the sight of their brother being killed in front of them. Everyone around Nanarex and Raust began to loose battlecries, rallying the entirety of the clan to arms. The bloodlust in the Warwoods’ voices made Nanarex feel small and insignificant. Raust, on the other hand, joined along with them, shouting obscene curse words, and about how much he’d love to kill every brigand that ever lived. The boy brandished his leather-wrapped knife in the air.

Warwood warriors donning mixtures of leather armor and animal furs came running to the edge of the fort, bearing swords, shields, spears, slings, hammers, bows, crossbows, daggers, and, some of them, even bare hands. The large, ferocious men and women crowded in front of Nanarex and Raust, forming a human barricade between them and the impending danger. One of the larger men among the barricade looked back at the two kids and told them, “If you’re going to fight, fall in with us. If not, get your arses to cover.”

Elyson came running in with a longbow in his hand, and a quiver slung over his body. Nanarex eyed the boy’s bow. The weapon looked just as sleek and cold as its owner. Raust gave Nanarex a rough nudge of the shoulder.

“Wake up, Mouse, let’s fall in with these guys!” Raust pressed himself into the crowd of Warwood warriors, brandishing their weapons high and yelling so loudly that the forest could scarcely sleep today.

Nanarex’s eyes met Elyson’s. Elyson said, “Don’t. You’re not armed for frontal combat. Let’s go this way.” Elyson detached from the crowd, making his way south toward an empty end of the fort. Nanarex hesitated. She couldn’t see anything through the mob of bodies in front of her. She followed Elyson out the bottom way.

The warcries were all but distant now. Agon could be heard barking orders to his Warwood warriors, and Raust among them. Nanarex and Elyson darted stealthily from tree to tree, spying a group of brigands from their flank as they marched toward the awaiting resistance. Their leader looked so much like Agon that it scared Nanarex. It disoriented Elyson even more; his enemy resembled his father. Just as well, he, too, carried a bow in his hand.

“He’s not wearing a helmet,” Elyson said lowly. The two of them were hiding behind the same tree, now behind the brigands. The group was ten strong, including their leader. “We’ll turn him into a walking pincushion.”

Nanarex had no time to process Elyson’s words. The boy was already running to another tree, keeping up with the brigands. Nanarex followed him.

The brigands arrived at Warwood Fort, and the standoff began. The Warwood warriors fell quiet as Agon stepped to the front. Likewise, Noga, his brother, remained at the front of his respective crew. The battle lines were drawn.

“This is your only warning, Noga,” Agon belted, projecting his voice for all to hear. “Lay down your arms and surrender to us, or die here and now.”

“What are you doing, father? Just kill him,” Elyson hissed. Nanarex, again, hid with him behind the same tree, peeking out from the other side. She had an arrow nocked.

Noga projected back, “My wife was killed yesterday. Were you and yours the ones who stole her arrows and left her body lay amid the fire?”


The Final Confrontation, Part III (523 words)

The arrows… Nanarex looked over her shoulder. The feathers on these arrows, matching the same color as the feathers on Noga’s arrows…

Agon replied, “No. Perhaps it was one of the villagers you all so mercilessly slaughtered.”

“So you were there,” Noga snarled. “Men! Prepare for battle!”

“Warwood!” Agon yelled. “At my command, cull these bastards!”

“Good, they’re distracted,” Elyson commented. All the brigands were brandishing their own weapons, and the whole scene became one big, noisy standoff where no one stood still. “Come, Nanarex, we can move more easily now.”

The two kids ran through the open again, to one tree, then to the next, and then to the next one. Elyson instructed Nanarex to go one direction—to flank Noga from the right—while he went the other way to flank the brigand leader from the left. “We’ll shoot when we see an opening. Remember, aim for his head.”

“But, Elyson—”

He was already off. Nanarex pouted. She was about to kill a human. No… she was about to kill another human. If what Noga said was true, that glass-tipped arrow yesterday actually ended that woman’s life. Nanarex started chewing on the inside of her cheek as she followed Elyson’s instructions and took her place behind a tree to Noga’s immediate right, approximately twenty-five yards away from the imminent battle.

Noga nocked an arrow and drew back the bowstring, taking aim at Agon’s heart. Such a point-blank shot would surely kill the Warwood leader. Agon, however, came equipped with his sword, and a shield on his left wrist. Agon brought the shield up in front of him and sank into a battlestance. The shield covered his chest and part of his face.

The brigands were outnumbered at least two to one, but they didn’t seem to care.

Noga let loose his arrow. Agon moved his shield ever so slightly, preserving his arm; the head of Noga’s arrow passed through his shield almost entirely. The tip of the arrow would have rendered Agon’s left arm useless. Agon stepped in with an enormous overhead sword-stroke. Noga guarded his head by using his bow to deflect his brother’s sword arm. The blade hit the forest floor, leaving Agon’s body unprotected. Noga kicked Agon in the chest, nocked another arrow, and fired it in quick succession. Agon now had a second arrow protruding from his shield. Agon slashed at Noga once more, and Noga parried Agon’s arm with the limb of his bow. The two of them reached a temporary stalemate.

Meanwhile, neither brigands nor Warwoods made a move to fight. At least, not until a smaller Warwood came running out of the mob. A leather strap fell to the ground in the Warwood’s wake. The Warwood circled around Agon and sprung at Noga. That Warwood was Raust, and Raust managed to make a small cut on Noga’s hand with his knife, before Noga redirected Agon’s sword arm and retreated several paces.

Raust stood beside Agon, clutching his naked knife with both hands. His shoulders rose and fell as he panted.

Noga licked the blood from the cut on his hand and grinned. “Men! Kill them all!”


Damm … can’t like them all.

Stupid maximum count of likes ^^.

Will do later on~

The Final Confrontation, Part IV (690 words)

The hard pounding boots of the colliding warriors beat clusters and clots of debris into the air, as the razored edges of blades being whisked across skin let free their owners’ blood to meet the sun. Thusly did Nanarex bear witness to the carnage of a war between two brothers and their respective families. Lost somewhere in the storm of whirling weapons and misfired projectiles was Raust. With their followers battling all around them, Agon and Noga clashed again, Noga using the limbs of his bow against Agon’s sword-wielding arm. The scene that played out before Nanarex was like a glass-tipped arrow, gashing open Nanarex’s freshly sewn memory of the attack on her home village.

Nanarex could hear Heizenbrach’s final words resounding in her head again. Perhaps he could have been lost in the middle of them all, screaming for Nanarex’s help. A change erupted inside of Nanarex’s heart, like a great fire bursting from the peak of a mountain. A quiet anger coated Nanarex’s sharp eyes like a sheen of glass, through the sight of which she lay judgement upon each and every brigand in her field of vision. Drawing back the string of her Infinity Rose didn’t quite seem so difficult to do anymore. In fact, Nanarex’s hiding place behind her tree no longer served its purpose. Like a dreamwalker, Nanarex drifted out of her cover, and in the open she walked toward the battle with her loaded bow pointed forty-five degrees down. Her pace was a calm one, her footsteps gentle. Yet in her veins flowed the essence of a hot-blooded killer.

Death, death, death. A brigand fell, a Warwood fell, another Warwood fell, and a third Warwood fell… then a second brigand fell. For every brigand who died in the battle, three or four Warwoods went with them. Nanarex thought she saw Raust retreating to safety, escaping the heat of the violence, but she could not focus on him. She couldn’t focus on anything remotely good, except the thought of shooting as many brigands through their heads as she could. Nanarex could no longer rationalize; she thirsted for justice, and she would make any brigand survivor pay for every villager they killed back home.

A stray arrow missed Nanarex’s head by mere inches. Something about her miraculous survival reminded her of the brigand woman from whom she stole her arrows. Unflinching, Nanarex kept moving forward, recklessly, but slowly. As she walked, Nanarex lifted her bow, took aim, and fired her arrow into the heart of a brigand who was charging in to strike Agon in the back while he locked weapons with his brother in a test of strength.

As quickly as the battle commenced, the battle slowed to a cease-fire. Most of the bodies that littered the ground belonged to Agon’s Warwood Clan. The only survivors were Agon, Raust, (Nanarex and Elyson), and two other men whose names Nanarex never had the pleasure of hearing. The brigands suffered great losses of their own: the only survivor was Noga.

Agon cut away the two arrows poking out of his shield and leaped at his brother, performing a powerful looking technique in which Agon spun three hundred sixty degrees and delivered a huge backward slash. Had Noga not crouched and ducked beneath the back-swing Agon’s sword, the battle would have concluded with Noga’s head in the dirt. Still in his crouch, Noga expertly nocked an arrow and shot Agon in the belly. Agon did not move his shield arm quickly enough to block his brother’s incoming shot.

Agon sank to his knees, reeling in pain with an arrowhead stuck inside him. Noga let out a laugh and addressed the survivors of Agon’s clan, whom all were standing behind the latter. “Your great leader… broken!”

Noga reloaded his bow and pointed his arrow in Agon’s face. He was just about to finish Agon off when Nanarex stopped in her tracks, ten feet away from Noga, and shot an arrow of her own. The arrow stuck into the outside of Noga’s leg, causing Noga to yell out in pain. He held his bow tightly, looked around, and saw Nanarex.

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