A Battle To Be Proud of
Tenderhorn, a magnificent Magma Tonu, sat in the sand, the shadow of the dune behind him hiding his presence to the forces below. Many moons ago, a mysterious obelisk had suddenly appeared in the wild land of Tyrannia. News of its existence had spread like wildfire and Tonu had been drawn into the fray just as many other Neopians had.
Battle after battle he waged, tearing through his opponents in his bloodthirsty quest for whatever secrets were hidden within the thick walls of the obelisk. But nothing had prepared him for what was contained within. The being of light, an Oracle, truly a lovely creature... she had emerged and brought a brief reprieve to the petty quarrels of the different factions.
Even though the Sway had made their way into the holds of the obelisk first, Tender was still enamored with the idea that he had helped discover the Oracle. Regularly he made his way through the expanse of Neopia to sit in the shadows of the empty dunes to admire the obelisk from a distance. He was not the only one for on his journey, he ran into many other pilgrims and often observed them from a safe distance.
Although the fighting was at a standstill as all the participants drooled over their spoils, he knew it was only a matter of time before their greed and lust for power got the better of them and they started bickering again.
Now as he sat yet again under his trusty dune, the moon above him casting the world in shades of black and silver, he knew that his concerns had been accurate. Though the factions had dwindled down, their numbers had swelled in size and were full of Neopians hungry for more treasures. Their battle cries and the clash of their weapons echoed eerily across the crystal sands, stirring his own blood in delight of the fight.
In his bones, he knew it was wiser to walk away, that too many Neopians had already suffered in the name of the obelisk but... he knew there was more to uncover. How could he simply sit by while war was waged before him, demanding that he dive headfirst into the fray? The simple answer was that he could not.
Rising to his glowing ember-like feet, Tender did a careful inventory of his weapons. While he still pretty much had his trusty set that had gotten him through the many battles before the Oracle had been revealed, he had now added a lovely jar of brains that healed him better than his old scorchstone. Admiring his hard earned treasure, he gave a sigh of relief. Everything appeared to be in order.
His eyes trailed down to the sands below. His faction was no longer assembled, having scattered back to the graveyards and tombs accordingly so in the meantime, he was willing to pledge his loyalty to another team. It was a tough choice for both the Order of the Red Erisim and the Thieves Guild held great intrigue for him.
The Thieves Guild was known for having their paws in practically everything. You could not go to any of the worlds without the expectation of running into at least one of the sneaky con artists in the marketplace. They were elusive, cut throat and mysterious... perfect for being involved in a clamber for power. However, their talents rested mainly upon what they were physically capable of accomplishing.
Tender was looking for something a little bit... more.
The Order of the Red Erisim also had the cutthroat quality going for them though they were often hampered by the quarreling old Neopians among them. Yet, even with their need to bicker among themselves... it was their magic that attracted Tender. He equated magic with power and although not exactly a powerful wizard himself, he was known for having a few tricks up his sleeve. As such, out of the choices of the factions that he could join, he wanted to be a part of one with "power".
Not to mention, having seen the number of brutes who joined the Thieves Guild, he figured the Order needed all the help that they could get. Having made his carefully thought out choice, he hoisted his weapon satchel over his shoulder and stepped out of the dune's shadow.
Prepared to take on anyone who crossed his path, he lumbered down towards the battle scene spread out before him. It did not take long for him to approach the outskirts where the tension in the air was so thick that you could cut it with a knife. The scent of fear in the air made his blood quicken with adrenaline. He had his Ylanas Blaster out in his hoof in a heartbeat, a wickedly devilish sneer upon his horned face. It was about to get real.
A petty pilferer, nothing more than a speed bump for a great warrior like himself, decided to take on Tender's challenge. Trying for the stealthy approach, the scrawny youngster tried to sneak in a blow from his right side. He may as well have been a fly from all the effort it took Tender to knock him out.
He did not even have time to admire his handiwork before yet another insignificant pilferer tried to take him down. As he moved away from his second easily won triumph, something tapped him on his head. Casting his eyes upwards, he grumbled in irritation at finding a small assistant scientist above him, preparing to throw a thermal explosive device at him. These weak little fighters were no match for him, why were they even trying?
With a well aimed shot of his trusty Ylanas Blaster, he took down the annoying little Seeker and left him unconscious in the sand behind him. There was a sharp cry of protest from his left and he turned to see a smug philosopher charging at him, his perfectly kept hair barely moving in his valiant run. Tender rolled his eyes.
He waited until the illogically dressed hothead was almost upon him before he released the stunning blow. The Gelert did not even know what hit him before he too lay in the sand, near the fellow battler he had tried so unsuccessfully to save.
This all felt so familiar. It seemed like a surreal dream that only about a month earlier, he had been doing the exact same motions, taking down the same enemies with just as much effort. Many of the pathetic creatures he was running through had even been already at the receiving end of his thrashings. It almost made him feel bad... almost but not quite enough to make him slow down. He gave a little laugh as he took down yet another smug philosopher.
Smashing through the throngs of battlers that tried to take him out, he made his way deeper and deeper into the fray. Scattered throughout, he saw members of the Order of the Red Erisim also battling forward but they were holding their own and did not appear to need aid.
Before long, he began to actually have to fight, breaking out his jar of brains to heal himself and coming too close to the point of exhaustion for comfort. Lost in the mind numbing motions of the war, surrounded by the roars and cries of his fellow Neopians, he was startled out of his rhythm by Kanrik suddenly looming before him.
His jaw dropped though he quickly shut it lest Kanrik sensed his awe and used it against him. Kanrik was the Master Thief, it was because of him that the guild was so efficient. If there were any thieves to truly fear, it was him. The confidence from the beginning of the battle that had slowly been leached away by his tougher opponents fled the scene completely. Kanrik was not like the other fighters of his guild, he had a dexterity to him that made it near impossible to land a solid blow.
Kanrik's eyes lit up when they met Tender's and he reached for his pirate cutlass. A twisted smile lit up his rugged face and if it were not for the battle hungry glint in his eyes, he almost looked pleasant. Tender's knees quaked a bit at the sight but this was what he had came for. It was a challenge that he sought and it was a challenge that he had found.
The first blow made his teeth clank together in his skull and his head spun from the noxious fumes that Kanrik had used upon him. It was a dirty underhanded trick but he expected no less of the Master Thief. Pulling his own dirty trick out, he flashed the vicious Gelert with Lens Flare but groaned in frustration at the Neopian protecting himself with a shroud. All of his blows were useless and the smug fiend knew it.
As the effects of their moves wore off, Kanrik deftly shot an arrow at him. Quickly he rolled to the side but not fast enough, avoiding most of the damage but still feeling the pain of the hit. Every strike that connected, every move they calculated simply made it painfully clear, they were equally matched up.
In a desperate attempt, Tender summoned an icicle to fall upon the skilled fighter while shooting off his own bow. It was not enough. Kanrik threw an Altador Cup Throwing Star at him and he felt the sharp bite of its blades through his armor. While he struggled to pull it out, the nimble Gelert slashed at him with his thieves dagger. Fending him off, Tender swiped at him with his axe, forcing the vicious creature to stagger backwards and away from him.
The two of them faced each other, each cowed over a bit with the exhaustion that threatened to drag them down. The Neopians panted with their efforts as they contemplated their next move. Tender was not ready to go down yet. With a wicked cry of exhilaration, he pulled out his beloved jar of brains and healed himself a few points. Kanrik's eyes widened and he pulled his cloak of darkness around himself for defense but he was too late. Tender landed the final blow and dropped the Master Thief to the sand.
There were cries of horror from his followers and Tender stumbled backwards with exhaustion, smirking at the fallen thief. It had been close, frighteningly close, but he had won the initial fight with one of the best warriors on the battlefield. Kanrik's Neopians were about him, pulling their unconscious leader from the fighting throngs.
Tender gave a long and loud bellow of satisfaction. The war had begun again, the question of the winners up in the air for all who participated but Tender was not thinking about the end result... not yet. No, he would focus on the short term triumphs and as it stood, he was going to have a lot of fun. If Kanrik could fall to him, the other battlers did not stand a chance. A nearby shady prowler decided to take her chances with him and he turned to face her... bring it on!