Battle Report Contest Winner - No Substitute for Experience
Seattle, Washington, United States
With every drawn breath and throughout each strike,
Persisting through time and trial alike.
Enduring long past the norms of my craft,
Bring foes to their grave, a darkened black shaft.
I whispered my Mantra of Persistence silently under my breath, lips barely moving, but I could feel its powerful drain on my will. I was weaker, certainly, but stronger in the knowledge that my illusions would hold to greater effect.
Our party moved out from our guild’s shelter, keen on meeting the enemy at the disputed neutral ground. Drathius took the lead, sprinting ahead to scout our adversaries. He called back that the area was undefended, and we warily moved into the clearing. With no opposition, we took the tower, and I felt my spirits uplifted: my first guild fight, and my first – albeit small – victory.
My smile broke out despite the stress of the situation, and I couldn’t hide it before Reno saw. He walked next to me, leaning in close to tell me it’s likely they’re just fighting a defensive battle, or worse yet, lulling us into a false sense of security only to slip past us. It was sobering, surely, but my morale was still high. I had to hide my half-smile from our more hardened veteran guildmates – I didn’t want them to think their new recruit was so wet behind the ears as to think holding the center meant a surefire victory. …I could still hope, though.
We approached the gate, and I could see the archers lining the walls notching arrows in preparation. Drathius drew his own bow, approaching to just outside their range before launching his battle cry to spur us into battle. “CHARGE!” rang out, and we rushed against the gate. The arrows came crashing down, a heavy rainfall of piercing agony. I concentrated despite the onslaught, and slowing down my body and mind…then separating that slowness from me, projecting it out against the nearest archer. I watched the Imagined Burden take hold, and his actions became more tired, as though there was a heavy weight on his shoulders. His eyes met mine briefly, and he changed his target to exact revenge. We both knew the burden was a hallucination, but my will had been strong enough to convince his mind otherwise, my manta powerful enough to hold his attention for a long while. He would be little use this fight.
The arrow-fire was a sea of pain. I willed Kinetic Armor into existence, hoping to take some of the bite off the blows. The earth purred beneath me, fueling my armor. Each blow against me was a blow against the very ground I walked on. I would not be stopped. Suddenly, the tides turned in our favor. In a show of force, a member of their ranks threw open the gate from within, allowing their numbers to swell out of the gate. Seeing our opportunity, our own army surged through the opening. I pushed past the arrows and blood towards the rapidly closing entrance, and arrived just in time to see the portcullis descending, locking out the majority of our unit. Only three of us had made it in: Reno, Drathius, and myself. We heard word called over the gate that the remainder of the guild was running to get the Guild Thief, who would pick the lock and let the rest of our force join the battle. But that was a long way off… and there were still enough enemies within their guild to make our attempts at survival vain at best.
I fought furiously, throwing illusionary threats into the minds of my enemies. My armor was being ground back to the dirt it started as, arrows chinking away at it until it fell, my concentration lost. My mantra became little more than words, and lost its effect… I was faltering. The enemy pulled towards us, pleased that we foolishly took the fight to their home turf. Suddenly, an arrow ripped through my leg, pinning me to my spot. A volley of fire, and I could feel my grip on life slipping, my head hitting the ground with a thud. I thought I could hear Reno release a small sigh, but I can’t be sure.
With lifeless eyes, I watched him cast a spell, arcane incantations spilling from his mouth. It burned, furious forces taking hold of my body. They coursed through my veins, and made my will surge. I turn to look back at Reno, confused by his aid. He acknowledged me only with a gentle nod, shouting out a final spell before being silenced by another flurry of arrows. My body was still broken, unhealed, but the holes puncturing my flesh were temporarily sealed with magic. But most importantly, I was angry. Tremendously angry. Even before I stood, I could feel the magic that gave me life again unweaving. I knew I had to act fast, to take vengeance. I flew into a rage, lashing out at anything and everything, working beside my ally Drathius, my gaze never wavering from my prey. He looked startled at my renewed vigor, the fire burning in my eyes.
I was a madman. The pyre burning inside me was subsiding, and I knew I didn’t have much longer. I was a dead man given a brief ticket back. Drathius fell to their blows before my reckless charge ended, and their new concentration on me made my short life shorter. I felt the magic holding me unweave fully, and I dropped.
Why was I doing this? Why endure such abuse? The answer rang out through my mind and body: Blood, Sweat, and Cheers. The vision of my guild's prestige, becoming the best in the land. That's all the reason I'll ever need.