The Tip.It Times

Issue 26599gp

A Hundred Heavy Hearts - Part 2 (Honorable Mention)

Written by and edited by Arceus

*** Read part one ***

Those first steps were the hardest I had ever taken in my life. Bravely, I led on, never having led anyone before in my life. It was all so surreal, leading adventurers of all levels of experience, whereas I was just a commoner of Varrock, having never left its walls. Still, I was no stranger to duty, and it was my duty to lead these men and women.

Ahead of me, the path was dim and narrow, only wide enough for two people to walk shoulder to shoulder without becoming swallowed into the shadows. The shadow mass was like the night, all consuming of light and familiarity. It seemed to have no other quality besides that. Nevertheless, the imagination never failed to give its own opinion.

As I walked I felt the grass and leaves crunch beneath my metal boots. We were probably somewhere in the wilderness, a lonely and unlawful wasteland. There was such silence. There weren't the roars of dragons to be heard, or the creak of the skeleton creatures roaming around, or of any magic explosions from a fierce savage battle elsewhere. Sometimes as a child I had stood at the wilderness wall and heard such sounds all the time, but now, in the wilderness itself, there was nothing.

The journey became substantially more difficult as time wore on, the terrain becoming rocky and mountainous. All I knew about this region came from books and the drunken tales of adventurers at the Blue Moon Inn where I worked as a bartender. This was the land ruled by the trolls. I knew not of how close we would come to the Troll Stronghold. I prayed under my breath that we wouldn't be lead near Trollheim, and would hopefully skirt around the mountain on the east, and go straight north. I hoped that the trolls would be subdued by the Shadow of the land too, as everything else seemed to be in the wilderness, for our small army's sake-otherwise, we wouldn't have the numbers necessary to fight the Shadow Warriors.

Behind me, I heard others talking, whispering as to what they might be up against. Cringing, I listened to them talk of Aberrant Spectres, necromancers, Mithril Dragons, of the undead, and others as they tried to narrow down what they might be fighting against. I cringed because I knew of nothing they talked about. I had no other experience except for some training in the combat camp. It was then I began to question my judgment of volunteering. Had I been too hasty? Too sure of myself? Would I bring dishonor to this group from my lack of experience? I didn't want to be the leader who lost all bearing once the fight started. The leader was the one who could be the determining factor in winning and losing a fight, and here I was, the leader. My feet slowed, and ultimately stopped.

“What's wrong?” a woman's voice asked.

Others started asking what was wrong, unable to see what was going on.

I turned around. “Why am I leading? Why are you following me? I don't have the experience to do this. I've never fought monsters in Runescape...I've never had adventures, or anything. I'm just a bartender. I need someone to lead who actually knows what the hell they're doing, someone who's not me.”
Someone pushed through the line, and I noticed it was the guy in the red dragon armor who had been the first to volunteer. He stared at me. I noticed the long trailing scar down the right side of his face, noticeable even with his helm.
“Do you doubt yourself?” the woman asked, and I noticed her crystal bow balanced perfectly in one hand, and the black dragon scaled armor she wore.
It was obvious enough.

The man in the dragon suit spoke up, “We follow you, and that should be enough. Ninety-nine of us follow you without question, and therefor you are questioning our intuition to follow you. We follow you out of a sense that we have, that you are a leader. It doesn't matter the experience you don't have or do have. It matters if you have a good heart and a strong mind.”

I gulped hard, staring into his cold eyes. His eyes and face never waived from the sureness he felt from what he had said. Without another word, I turned around and continued walking with them following. I didn't understand what they felt, or what that woman had meant in the courtyard when she had said that she needed me to stay. The day was a day of questions about myself now, instead of the Shadow.

The air grew bitterly cold. The wind howled mercilessly, yet even with its force that jostled into us, it couldn't dispel the Shadow around us. My feet slipped a little. I looked down, squinting down to see ice and a loose powder of snow. I issued a warning to those behind me to tread carefully, which was carried down the line. We were getting close to the God Wars Dungeon. I had heard there were vicious wolves as big as bears that roamed the area and attacked anything that moved. I jiggled the handle of my sword to make sure it was ready to unsheathe from its scabbard. How I wished I could see something other that the accursed Shadow around me. I wanted to see where I was going besides this narrow path, and what was around me.

The snow was now wearing us down. We would not have the strength to fight if we didn't reach the God Wars Dungeon soon. The snow reached close to our knees now, and our pace had slowed significantly. I could hear everyone panting since it was an effort with the heavy gear and weapons.

Suddenly, as if by a miracle, the snow ceased, replaced by a thick layer of ice. It seemed that we had come across a well used path. The Shadow lead in the same manner, seeming to let us follow it.

Then abruptly we came to stairs. This was the dungeon. The stairs looked centuries old, built in the ancient fashion, and true to that, they held strong as we descended. The woman behind me whispered about how there should be deafening sounds of fighting, of teeth and claws, spell against spell, sword against sword. Yet there was absolute silence. It felt like death itself had descended, but without the smell of it. I wondered what this all meant.

The stairs wound down in a tight spiral until we came to the middle of the first level of the dungeon. The Shadow had receded for the first time to a sizable distance. My attention wandered elsewhere as I finally realized where I was. I was in the legendary God Wars dungeon, a place of immeasurable danger, a place where only the bravest ventured into. I looked at the finely done stone work, the arrows and shatter swords and shields littering the ground, the crumbling structures that had probably been buildings with some sort of purpose at one point in time. This was where the loyal followers of the gods still fought, unknowing of how much time had truly gone by.

Someone close to me uttered, “Look! There, a shadow person!”

I looked to see a human-like figure shrouded in shadow standing a few yards away. It had made no noise.

“You come to fight?” its voice sounded, echoing with force. Its voice was neither male nor female.

I stepped forward dutifully.

“If need be,” I replied with a strong enough voice to be heard by everyone.

“Then what do you seek?”

“I seek peace.”

“No one seeks that anymore.”

“I do.”

An army of shadows materialized behind and to the sides of this Shadow person. There were rapid mutterings behind me, and the sound of swords being drawn, bows notched with arrows, and staffs charged with runes.
“Wait,” I told my followers.
“Are you insane?” someone asked, a man in purple batwing robes, a wand ready in his right hand and a spell book gripped in his left hand.

“The Shadow is willing to talk. There are questions that need answering. If we rush in there, we still won't have answers.”

A female voice sounded, “We're going to die anyway, just like everything else. Don't you hear the silence, like the whole way here?”

“I know, just wait,” I insisted urgently, and turned around to view this Shadow person.

I asked, “Who are you?” to the Shadow person.

“I am one of the creators of Gielinor.”

“How can that be? Why then are you covering the lands with shadow then?”

Behind me, people were restless, talking about how this Shadow was lying and was probably a creation of a necromancer.

“You people do not know how to be peaceful; therefore I am reclaiming this land as an Elder God. Just like in this dungeon we stand in, creature against creature, and for what? Blood is spilled every day for silly notions of worship and loyalty. I have watched, and others of my kind, the happenings of this world for a long time. Now that Guthix is dead, you people have not a chance to live in peace or to act intelligently. This worship of gods leads everyone and everything to destruction. Do you have not a clue that gods all started out just like yourself? Guthix was a mortal too once, as were we all. You worship these gods and spill your sister's and brother's blood for a notion that is invented in your heads. You should know well enough that you should be your own gods, or your leaders in this world, independent and caring to others without the judgment and hate and anger and jealous that is spreading like a disease in Gielinor. I have walked among you people and seen it for myself. You people do not deserve to live in a world that you don't appreciate.”

“Just give us another chance.”

“The Ancient Pact was set in motion a long time ago, in what you now call Varrock, and your king decides to keep it a secret just like your own birth.”

“Wait, what? Explain please,” my voice becoming weak at the mention of my own birth. I had asked countless people for years as a child to find out what had happened to my real parents. All I had found out was that I was simply put in the orphanage, and my parents had disappeared after that. Never before had I gotten an answer, and this Shadow person knew.

The Shadow person answered with a slightly tired tone, “The Ancient Pact states that if the land is not cared for, and if the people don't live in peace, the Elder Gods have a right to reclaim this land that we created. The Pact states that only a hundred volunteers can fight the Shadow warriors, but unknowing to everyone including your king, that is a choice, a test to see if they are to seek peace or to fight. You all came here to fight because you believed it the only way to succeed. Your men and woman are only being spared right now because you have chosen to be peaceful.”

“What about my birth?”

“You will have to ask your father, King Roald about that.”

My legs felt drained of strength at this. I thought about this, turning to look at the uncertain men and women behind me. Their eyes all looked to me with fear laden stares.

My attention turned back to the Shadow. Despite the storm of desire to learn more about myself, the fate of everyone and everything in Gielinor was at stake.
I spoke again, “We are trying to heal the land by taking the energy that was fractured and released onto the surface, and putting them back into the earth. We don't know how to bring back Guthix, or if that can be even be done.”

“This act, that you call divination is not enough. More has to be done, and everyone seems to forget the one savor that they once had.”
“Give us time. We will find a way.”

“You will have to discover a way to use those memories and energies you find into more effective means of healing the earth, and hopefully restoring Gielinor's natural energy. Guthix was very intune to this world, and could possibly come back through the energy he bestowed upon the lands. Your gods you worship so much, Saradomin and Zamorak, have been your own undoing ultimately. They will not bring balance, and will fight until there is nothing left, and they will make you beings fight until your families and cities are ruined.”

“I am not a king, I can't change even a part of Gielinor. Why are you telling me this, and not a ruler?”

“You will be king once King Roald steps down.”

My mind raced. King? It seemed absurd that I would be. Behind me I felt the tension. Then someone shouted, “We didn't come here to talk, we came here to fight. EVERYONE CHARGE!!! UNITE AGAINST THESE LIES!!!

Ninety-nine warriors rushed past me. Darkness suddenly covered everything, and then receded. The battle itself was over in seconds because the shadow mass had swallowed them whole. It was a power that none of them had encountered before. Everyone had vanished. I was standing alone against this terribly powerful force. The Shadow had been proven correct that as humans we rush to fight, more than rush to make peace. The Shadow person stood there, unmoving, quiet. “Navarro, I will give you time. There is some small sliver of hope if you are to rule. In five years you will be king, and I will give you five years after that to find a solution. I will come back to Gielinor in ten years, and when that time comes I will not hesitate to restore bliss at all costs to this world.”

“Thank you, Elder God, I will do my best.” Ten years to undo a human fault of wanting to believe in those more powerful than they was surely an impossible undertaking. Hope lay only in being able to bring back Guthix, a force that would pacify this Elder God into believing that peace would be held as a priority.

I watched the Shadow person, the Elder God, grow and then explode in a shower of crystal blue light. A mass of confusion issued in those seconds that the Shadow disappeared from Gielinor, the men and woman adventurers who had followed me here suddenly appeared in front of me, and the creatures from Armadyl and Bandos and Zamorak and Saradomin materialized as well. The roaring sound that followed reminded of thunder, except that it didn't go away. Creatures and human-like beings all started to tear at each other. Their eyes on fire with rage, focused only on killing. Everything was a mass of movement, blood flying into the air from newly ripped flesh, dead bodies slumping to the ground, bodies hurling against each other with claws and teeth scissoring at each other. I knew now what that Elder God had talk about. I had never witnessed such brutality and blind hate in my life.

My attention finally turned to my followers. The ninety-nine warriors were all fighting off the creatures, one of the men becoming severely wounded in those few seconds that had passed. I drew my sword, in a trance almost, unfeeling, unable to think clearly.
An Aviantese launched itself at me. I yelled to everyone, “RETREAT, WE NEED TO LEAVE NOW!!!!”

I fended off the assaults that winged monster threw at me until I was in the stairwell. I stayed there, hurrying everyone to climb up. A hellhound with its red demonic eyes stared at me from where it had made a fresh kill a few yards away, and leaped to me. I slashed my sword at it. Its jaws snapped at me, hot saliva spraying everywhere. I couldn't leave, not when I was waiting for twenty others, some of them with injured people. While defending the stairwell for others to exit safely, I used every motion I knew of to fight against this hellhound. I slashed repeatedly at it, forcing it back with my shield. Its massive weight knocked me back. It leaped again for my neck. As it did this, I stuck my sword into its ribs. Blood gushed from its wound, and yet it didn't give up. A Bloodveld stumbled over, its tentacles trying to reach. The last adventurers made it into the stairwell. I went up the stairwell backwards, my sword out in front of me, shaking from my own shock, hoping that would be the worst we would have to face.

Once out of the dungeon, the deafening noise had been replaced with the whistle of the strong wind whipping around, and then the dreaded howling of Ice Wolves. My blood ran cold, and every hair stood up.

With dread, I turned around to see our group in a large circle, fending off the wolves with about ten warriors in the middle, too wounded to fight. The wolves were going crazy from the scent of blood from those injured.

I shouted, “Those with shields up front. Archers and mages get behind them. Take these things out,”

I forced my way to the front, “Those with meelee armor get to the front and form a solid barrier. Everyone scrambled to rearrange.
“Fire, fire!!” I shouted, sticking my sword out at the bold wolves.

A mage was behind me. I could hear the hum of his staff, firing off spells. A wolf regardless of the attack rammed itself against my shield. It bit into my leg. I could feel the warmth of blood from it ripping at the weak points in the armor. In pain, driven by desperation, I drove my sword into its neck, having to put my weight fully into it. There was the sound of a loud crack, and a piercing whimper from the wolf before it collapsed.

It took what seemed forever to kill off the attacking wolves. We gathered up the wounded, and made our way south. It was one nightmare after another it seemed like. On the way we were attacked by trolls, the undead, mages, outlaws, and even a dragon. Somehow we miraculously arrived in Varrock. No one had been killed. I breathed a sigh of relief.

An archer turned to me, “Thank goodness you kept your cool throughout all of that. We couldn't have accomplished such teamwork without you directing us.”
There were other thanks given to me. It felt good to have accomplished such a dangerous trip successfully. I sat down on the wilderness wall, tired. Feeling as though I couldn't bear my armor's weight another minute, I began to take it off.

“The watcher of the beacon just ran off, shouting that we had returned,” someone chuckled.

“Probably to tell King Roald,” another replied.

“Are you really of royal blood?” a guy in Adamant armor asked me.

“Well that's what the Elder God said,” I answered, still unbelieving of it.

A crowd then appeared of people clapping and cheering. They hadn't thought we would return. They escorted us into the courtyard where King Roald was on his makeshift platform of planks. King Roald himself looked at each of our faces in disbelief. He ordered off those injured for them to be taken care. He eyed me fondly.
“Come, Navarro, tell your story,” King Roald announced, waving his hand for me to come forward.

I came up to him on his platform and told him point blank, “How did you even know my name? I never told you it.”

His face went into shock. He quickly covered up this fact by requesting I tell all of what happened. So I did. I told everyone everything, leaving nothing out. At the end there was silence. No one knew how to take that Gielinor had almost been wiped clean of everyone due to their negative ways and fighting amongst each other.

I turned to King Roald, “King Roald, I now request that you tell me why that Elder God told me that you are my father, and that I will rule in five years.”

King Roald's face turned to absolute sadness, a sorrow that I too felt. The crowd was silent, all waiting and wondering too.

King Roald began, “As you all know, I had a wife-to-be, before Queen Ellamaria. Her name was Lady Elizabeth, someone I was engaged to marry. She was killed by the Wyrd, a very dark evil creature from Morytania. Before then, it was a secret that she had been pregnant. She had given birth, just before she was killed, to this man standing before me, Navarro.”

Mutterings broke out in small wildfires among the crowd. It was taboo to have a child before marriage.

“I was going to announce this, but was too grief stricken, and when there was a breach of security in the castle, an attempt on young Navarro's life by a Zaros follower, I couldn't risk baby Navarro being killed. I sent him off to the orphanage. From a distance I had him watched, and made sure he was always cared for.”

I caught the eye of that long black hair woman in the crowd. She waved at me. She was probably one of those caretakers who had made sure I was safe. King Roald turned to me, and hugged me. He withdrew and looked at me point blank, “Your mother was the one who named you. I'm sorry about so much, my son.”

“We have work to do,” I stated in a matter-of-fact way, “we have only ten years before that Elder God comes back.”

King Roald nodded, “You will make a fine king soon,” then to the crowd, “fire up the kitchens, we must celebrate!!!”

I stood there, King Roald's right arm around my shoulder. So much had happened in that day, it seemed surreal. I had gone from commoner to king and potential savior of Gielinor. Now the fate of Gielinor rested with me.

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Tags: Fiction Series

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