“Kyaaaahhh!” A sharp piercing scream echoed in the forest, creating an unsettling feeling in the group.
“That sounded close.” Tyler spoke a bit spooked by the blood curdling cry. “Best to go away from the scream.”
“But what if they need help?” Jasper asked. He was glancing in the direction towards the cry.
“You’re kidding right? We’re no superhero.”
“I know, but having more people staying alive is important in completing these games and surviving. How long do you think one person can win this game by themselves?”
Tyler was silent and he was not happy with the thought of saving someone’s life, when he could barely save his.
“Fine, you don’t have to do anything. I’m going instead.” Jasper ducked under the fallen tree and ran towards the sound.
“You gotta be kidding me.” Tyler stare in disbelief.
“Leave him be. He wants to die.” Rose folded her arms and shook her head.
Silver walked past Tyler and Rose. Even though Jasper ran towards the sound in hurried footsteps, she didn’t bolted after him herself. Instead, she followed Jasper.
“You know this is not a good idea!” He called from behind trying to stop her.
“The two of the strongest are trying to get themselves killed,” said Rose. “Better them than me.”
“Damn it all. Fine!” Tyler ran after Jasper and Silver.
“Hey!” Rose chased after not wanting to be left behind.
Silver cut through the forest without much difficulties, she hide herself in the thick plants. She observed what Jasper would do for a moment. What she really wanted to know was how strong Jasper has gotten.
Out before her, she saw a group of five people, defending themselves against a large number of Kashas. In total, they were ten. Three of the people were dead on the ground mauled over by the Kashas.
The other five people were in a circle, watching each other’s back. One of the Kashas jumped forward and bite into a young man’s leg. He was viciously pulled out from the group kicking and screaming, while the others were barraged by the other Kashas..
“Nooo!” Jasper gripped his teeth and rushed forward, startling the Kashas. His fist bashing into the first monster that came towards him.
He flew towards another and was boxing the two Kasha’s at once. Ducking under a swipe, he punched one of the Kasha’s squarely in the face. Even his footwork was complex and quick.
Silver felt that Jasper had a good grasp in his foot works and even his fist. He had the experience of a martial artist for someone with a small body. His skills reminded her of Kick Boxer. His sharp hits that struck with accuracy and his kick had power that pushed the Kasha’s back.
His foot lashed out into a roundhouse kick, causing of the Kasha to fall backward in pain. He then took a couple steps forward, switching to his opposite leg, and did a perfect axe kick. A sharp crack could be heard, and the Kasha’s skull was broken. It didn’t take long for Jasper to kill all three without any problems.
The other Kasha who weren’t mauling the downed young man turned towards Jasper. Five more rushed over and surrounded Jasper.
“Watch out! Behind you!” A young girl cried out towards Jasper.
Jasper luckily dodged out of harm’s way, he twirled around and punched the Kasha in one hit. Its face caved in and bloodied. The other Kasha stepped backwards wearily. Their fur stood up as they hissed. With steady breathe, he calmly observed the Kasha in front of him. A Kasha from behind, struck from the side by lunging forward. Strong claws slashed forward in attempt to shred through Jasper’s body.
Jasper raised up his hands and blocked the Kasha’s attack, deflecting it with his gauntlet. He then aimed at the Kasha’s throat, crushing it in one hit. The Kasha hacked and coughed up blood, it stumbled falling onto the ground unable to move. His silver gauntlets hummed with a buzzing sound, cutting through the air.
Slowly but surely, the Kasha’s fell from Jasper’s vicious attack. The Kasha’s cautiously attacked Jasper, but even still this gave Jasper the advantage of killing them. He didn’t allow the Kasha to get the upper-hand.
“Is that Jasper?” Tyler was awed at what was happening in front of them.
Silver nodded, but didn’t say say anything else. Her eyes was glued at Jasper’s abilities. She knew that Jasper had the talent to become someone strong, and the proof was before her eyes.
“That brat got skills.” Rose finally arrived from behind.
“Might as well join in. Hunting for those crystals now would be the best time.” Tyler bolted forward with a wicked gleam in his eyes. He was excited at the battle in front of him, even though they were still quite a bit of Kasha.
“You gotta be kidding me.” Rose frowned. “Why are men all out for blood?”
“You should join.” Silver spoke. She still didn’t move and just sat there watching.
“You serious?” said Rose baffled. “I don’t want to die.”
Tyler jumped in on the fight and knocked out two. He used his Earth magic to lift up the a lump of earth from the ground. The Kasha tripped from the raised ground, giving Tyler a chance. With his quick hands, the dagger slid across the throat, leaving behind a gush of blood..
“Hell yea!” Tyler ran forward and tussled with another Kasha that was twice his size. An angry snarled erupted out of the Kasha’s throat, he was suddenly pushed back from the powerful attack. His reached forward, grappling the brunt of the Kasha’s body before it could chew on him. They were having a power play with each other, trying to overcome the other.
Tyler bite his lips and blood rushed up his face. He look like a red tomato ready to burst. Snapping towards Tyler neck, the Kasha snarled at him with the intent to kill him on the spot.
“You muscle head!” Rose rushed forward and threw the burning pine cone into the Kasha’s mouth, before it could attempt to take off Tyler’s head.
A rush of fire burst forth from the Kasha’s mouth and its whole coat quickly caught on fire.
“Come on!” Tyler pulled himself apart from the burning Kasha. He turned behind him, scowling at Rose. “I could‘ve killed him.”
“Really? You didn’t seem like it.” Rose frowned. She threw another flaming pine cone at the nearest Kasha. With a growl, the Kasha leaped backwards not liking the flames.
“You seriously get on my nerves!” Tyler rammed into the Kasha that slashed towards Rose. With three slash, Tyler killed it without a problem.
Tyler, Jasper, and Rose got rid of all of the remaining monsters. Majority were killed by Jasper himself.
Silver knew that the Kasha’s weren’t as difficult as the Dresden. Yes, they were a bit faster, but they weren’t as powerful. She knew that her small group could handle them without much trouble. She got up and started to walk over, but suddenly a piercing howl was heard behind her. Instincts cried out for her to dodge, she listened and ducked. A large Kasha, three times its size, jumped over her and ran straight for the small group.
Silver was struck with surprise. She never seen such a creature that was even larger than a Dresden’s that they recently fought. The angry Kasha jumped over and mangled a man. His scream went silent a loud crunch like sound was heard.
“Get back!” Jasper yelled. He punched the side of the Kasha. It’s tail whipped towards him, smacking him by his side and crumpling him to the ground.
Alarmed, Silver ran forward. She threw her dagger, impaling it on its die. With a howl, the Kasha stumbled and snarled. She then took out her sword, and willed energy to encased the sword with ice and dark magic. It wasn’t as thick as her dagger. Even still, the draw of magic siphoned quite a bit of magic from her, leaving behind just enough to fight. She took this chance, when it was distracted, to attack. With hurried steps, she ran and strike in-between the Kasha’s ribs. Her hand twisted, the sword send out a sickening crunch.
A howl echoed throughout the forest as the Kasha thrashed around in pain. It’s silver paw came swiping to the side, she jumped out of harm’s way as it shredded through the trees as if they were paper. Silver pulled back and lunged forward, cutting its arm in half, she then twirled barely inches away to the point where they were touching. Her hair trailed behind her like fire, and she swooped low to the ground.
Black blood splattered around the ground as the Kasha hopped around on three legs. Rage filled its eyes, and it cried out to call out more of its kind. Rustling sound could be heard from the trees, and nine more smaller Kashas jumped out from the bush, surrounding the group.
“You kidding me!” Tyler were crinkling his eyes with displeasure as he saw the sudden reinforcement.
“I shouldn’t have followed you guys!” Rose cried out in fear and desperation. She was throwing fire pine cones one after another without really paying attention to where she was throwing it.
Jasper shook himself awake and pushed himself back onto his feet. Silver could tell that Jasper was wounded from the small hop he had in his walk. She knew that she had to finish this fight as fast as possible or all of them were going to die.
“Kyaaa! Nooo!” A girl screamed out. She was being dragged by her legs by a Kasha. A man rushed over and swung his metal bat at the Kasha’s head. The Kasha stumbled backwards and barked out in pain. It fell over to the ground knocked out temporarily.
Silver pulled out even more dark magic from her body. She could feel the struggling darkness that she normally kept in herself to a manageable size clash against her mind like a tornado. She knew that this was a gamble, using strong dark magic could cost her her sanity, especially for a beginner like herself. Her body couldn’t handle such strong force, and out of all the magic that one could obtain, darkness was the most chaotic and difficult magic to control.
She felt the turbulent force that she knew that would attempt to consume her soul, trying its best to take a hold of her body. With all her might and will, she pushed the magic in one specific location: the sword.
The sword erupted into pure black fire with cool ice coating its blade. Anyone who look at it would think they have seen a demonic blade instead of a regular sword.
Silver charged and swung. Black flames, trailing behind her. The Kashas lashed out, but even their attacks were temporarily stalled by the oppressive dark energy that her sword was giving off. They were weary of Silver’s black sword that glowed with black fire. She swung side-to-side, giving off a chilling power. Her energy was barely clinging on, she could feel the energy of darkness, sucking away at what little that she had. Now it was a complete battle of will, she gripped harder and held on. Each swing of her blade, they fell. The roar of the flames hissed with each kill, her body riddled with scratches from their claws.
The largest Kasha slithered in its attack in between the others. Silver sword clashed and shook from impact, causing her to be flung back. It’s claws grazed her side, leaving behind four streaks of deep red line. She ignored the sharp pain in her side, she twisted her body to deal a kick to the skull.
“Hiss-” Crack! The Kasha was sent airborne with its hind leg still connected to the ground, but after falling back, the Kasha’s body was unstable. She took this chance to get close to its body and sliced its head clean off. It flew a good distance away and landed with a thump with blood jetting outwards. She then turned away from the Kasha and ran after the other smaller ones.
“Get off!” Jasper seethed with fury, he continued to attack with his fist. The Kasha was ontop of him, trying to devour him alive. Slowly but surely, Jasper was losing strength.
Even Silver was starting to feel the drain of stamina. While Tyler and Rose watched each other’s back. Rose threw a flaming pinecone, and aggravated one of the Kasha’s, giving Tyler a chance to slip in and slit its throat. There were times when even their roles were reversed and Rose got a chance to strike. For the two, who hated each other’s guts, they were closely fighting together.
Jasper heaved in a heavy breathe. He knocked out the Kasha on the side, and was butting heads with another Kasha in the field. Grunting from pain, he threw in an punch. With great difficulties, he was able to grab a hold of the Kasha’s fur. With a burst of energy, he pulled the Kasha off balance, but in the process got nicked by the Kasha’s claws. His fist snacked in and knocked the side of the Kasha’s head.
The Kasha was temporarily stunned, Jasper used this opportunity to snake in his fist and pounded away at the Kasha’s head. He didn’t stop until the Kasha fell down dead with its head caved in and bloodied.
Silver was astonished at the overwhelming power Jasper gave off. She quickly dispatched the remaining Kasha’s in the vicinity.
“Hell Yes!” Jasper voice shouted out in pure ecstasy, prying the jaw out of his the Kasha’s mouth. He wearily got up, placed his foot on the Kasa’s body, and he threw his head back, shouting into the air.
“Nice kid.” Tyler gave him a thumbs up. His breath was heavy from the life threatening fight.
“Che. He got help from Silver. It’s not completely his win.” Rose clucked in disapproval.
“Hey, he did better than us. You should be ashamed that you only got two.”
“Don’t make it sound like you got a lot. I know you only killed three.”
“That’s better than two.”
“Whatever, its the same to me.” Rose kicked the gravel on the ground and slunk away towards the charred Kasha on the floor.
Silver had just enough energy to dismantle one Kasha’s on the field. Her hands felt sluggish, making cutting difficult. It took a lot longer than she planned, but was eventually able to wrestle out the crystal that she wanted. Eating the crystal, she was able to gain back the energy that she lost. With renewed strength, she went around to get the rest.
Jasper walked over towards the three remaining survivors. One was a young man with glasses in a high school outfit, another was a small girl with an elementary school outfit, and the final one was a man in a green gym shorts.
“T-thank you.” The little girl replied. She couldn’t get up, because her legs didn’t have any strength left. “My name is Salphie.” The girl glanced up nervously at Jasper.
“I’m Jasper. The girl with Silver hair is Silver, the scar face is Tyler, and the other lady over there is Rose. I’m sorry we couldn’t come sooner to help you.”
“You already helped us the best as you can.” Salphie started to have tears, erupting down her face.
“Where’s your mom and dad? Do you have any relatives?” Jasper was checking her arms for any cuts, but found nothing.
“My brother, Ren, is over there.” Salphie pointed at the guy who was hunched over, breathing heavily for a breathe. By Jasper’s guess, he looked around eighteen years old.
Ren glanced up when he heard Salphie’s voice call out his name. He walked over cautiously towards Jasper. “Thanks for helping us. How did you guys kill them? We could barely put a dent in their fur.”
Jasper frowned when he saw how tall Ren was. The end of his lips twitched, he felt like his neck would break from looking up. “The right equipment and the right people, I guess.”
“You guys are amazing. Your group literally killed those cat demons as if they were noting.”
“There called Kashas.”
“Cat Demon or Kasha. They’re the same thing.”
“You got any injuries?” Jasper asked, he only saw superficial cuts on Ren’s body that wasn’t life threatening.
“Nothing bad, though I feel bad for those that got killed.” Ren pointed towards the back, where the mangled body laid. “I only known them for a day…” His voice trailed off.
A man’s voice from behind called him. “Do you have something to wrap my arms with?”
Jasper saw the man wearing a green gym suit, holding onto his arm.
“My name is Ronald J. Watts. Those Kasha’s got me good on my arm and I don’t have anything to wrap it in.” Ronald was holding his injured arm in his hands.
“Give me as second.” Jasper pulled out the first aid kit from his inventory and handed it to him.
Ronald walked over and sat in front of Jasper, allowing him to clean up his wound. “I’m curious though are you the group leader?”
“Me?” Jasper was taken aback. “I look like a kid.” He voice was deflated, when said the word kid.
“But you seem the most powerful out of the group and seem to know something about all this.”
“He’s our second in command. Our negotiator. Our little shining star.” A mischievous smile erupted on Tyler’s lips as he walked over. He smacked Jasper on his shoulder. Jasper couldn’t help but frown, wondering what Tyler would say..
“What are you talking about?” Jasper rebutted his statement, but was once again cut short by Tyler’s words.
“You are. I’m just tagging along, and mooching off of you. Rose over there as well. Silver…..Anyways, you’re our second in command, though your appearance needs a little work on.”
“So he is? Wait, then who’s the leader?” Ronald tilted his head, shocked that someone who looks so young would be considered the second strongest. “Is it you?”
“Me? Hardly. I barely killed as many as this squirt.” Tyler gave a crooked smile. “Plus, Silver over there doesn’t like to talk to people, so Jasper here is our designated leader for human interactions and negotiations.”
“What the…” Jasper frowned at Tyler’s statement. He felt like Tyler was pushing all the hard stuff onto him.
“By the way, what is she doing?” Ronald pointed towards Silver. Silver was finishing up on dismantling on all the Kasha. Her energy was slowly coming back to her, allowing her to feel more stable.
“I should go help her.” Jasper was finished with bandaging Ronald and got up
Ronald followed Jasper, wondering what they were doing. Ren and Salphie followed behind, wondering as well. They all surrounded Silver, who was diligently working. Her hands moved through the pelts without much trouble. When she felt others hot gaze, she stopped what she was doing and frowned at the large group of people surrounding her.
“Let me finish that. I feel bad if you skin my kill.” Jasper pulled out his knife and squatted next to her.
“It’s fine.” Sliver held up her hands to stop him. Instead, she gave him the twelve red crystals and a small orb.
“Thanks.” Jasper held up the orb in his hand, letting the light shine through. “What is this?”
“Don’t ask, eat it, now.”
Silver sighed. She didn’t wanted to explain to everyone that it was a elemental magic orb.
Jasper got the hint and ate the orb and majority of red crystals. Silver saw Jasper give off a tinge of blissful happiness from the surge of power. He understood then and there what he had ate. “An elemental magic…” He slowly worded.
Silver shook her head.
“What?! You can get Elemental Magic orbs from monsters?” Tyler was shocked to hear such information. “Really? What did you get?”
“Light and electricity.”
“Lucky bastard.” Tyler glanced towards him with jealousy. “I only got Earth. Damn it, I should have waited just like you.”
“The monsters don’t drop them frequently.” Silver spoke. “Jasper was just that lucky to get a dual elements.”
“Wait, what are you guys talking about? Magic? Why did you guys eat the crystals?” Ronald was questioningly asked.
“Magic are real.” Jasper spoke. He closed his eyes and brought up his palm upwards. A small orb danced above his hands. Seconds later, the white orb sent off a static electric spark off in his hands, causing the others to back up in surprise. “We eat those red crystals because it helps us recuperate our strength and makes us stronger.”
“Hey. Hey. Was that a good idea to tell such information for free?” Tyler frowned at Jasper.
“Yes.” Jasper opened his eyes and stared at Tyler. “I believe that being united will help us win through these games. Our goal is to win and if any one of us do, it gives the rest of us a chance to escape this hell hole.”
Tyler sighed and gave up. “A pipe dream for someone so young. That’s why you are a kid.”
“I told you. I’m not a kid!”
“We’re done here.” Silver was finished with dismantling all the Kasha’s on the ground. She had eaten quite a bit of red crystals, while she slink in three extra smaller crystals to Jasper.
“I’m so sorry Silver. I didn’t mean to ignore you. This doofus over here keeps calling me a kid!” Jasper rubbed his hands giving her a pleading apologize.
Silver stare at Jasper then back at Tyler who was smirking. He gave her a wink and Silver couldn’t help but chuckle. “You are a kid. Oh great leader, lead us the way.”
“Augh!” Jasper stomped hard on the ground in frustration.
“Wait. Is he really just a kid?” Ronald was asking confused.
“That’s up to you to find out,” Tyler wiggled his eyebrow.
“Well then our human interaction leader. What are you going to do now?”
Jasper pouted, but he let go of his anger and gave his attention to the three newcomers.
“Do you guys want to join us? The rules in joining us is really simple really. All we ask is do not steal. Your kill, your crystal. Same with items that you procure, but they will be exceptions later on. We won’t be running in to save you every second, that is not why I gave you those crystals.” He handed each one of them a red crystal. “These will help. Eat it and you’ll understand.”
Salphie quickly spoke. “Can we join them?” She glanced at her brother for an answer.
Ren nodded his head, though he was wasn’t to sure about the sudden kindness that Jasper showed.
Salphie excitedly smiled with relief and turned towards Jasper waiting for his answer.
“I’ll be tagging along as well.” Ronald replied.
The three look at the crystal for a moment, then they ate it. They were awed at the sudden rush of power from the crystals .
“How can something so small have so much power?” Ronald stated with shock.
“It also help heal your wounds,” replied Jasper.
“These small crystals are like Philosopher Stones.”
“Philosopher Stones?” Salphie cocked her head confused.
“A stone that grants you immortality,” said Ren.
“You know what, that’s quite an interesting thought. We should call them that.” Jasper broke out into a smile, he nodded his head.
“That’s not a bad idea.” Tyler replied. “I like the sound of that. Philosopher Stones, the pathway towards immortality..”
“Lame.” Rose finally finished dismantling her creature and walked over at the last minute, listening in on their conversation. “You guys are just handing out freebies to someone we don’t even know? Is that even a wise idea? They could become traitors later on.” She was eyeing them with distrust, crossing her arms tightly, making her chest spill out.
“We need to start trusting someone somewhere. Silver gave me those three extra crystals, so I can do whatever I want with them..”
“You knew?” Silver was a bit surprised that Jasper found out. She thought she did a good job in hiding when she gave him his.
“What, did you think I wouldn’t find out?” Jasper smirked. “I know how many I hunted down. Plus, I’m not going to take credits for what is not mine.”
Silver couldn’t help but grin. She had putted her trust in on the right person. Especially someone who could possibly one day become a great leader of humanity. He or she didn’t have to become the most powerful, but someone who had a charisma and a strong kind heart. A person who could bring people together naturally, and someone who will fights along with the people.
She never wanted to be the leader, nor did she see herself ever having the talent for it. Compassion and kindness was not her strong point, her revenge and her goal was what kept her moving forward. She didn’t have time to constantly look back at the people who wanted to follow herm and instead she wanted to pave forward relentlessly towards her goal.
The challenge to bring together people was a difficult road, but she knew that Jasper could pull it off alot better than her.
“Hey, I want free crystals.” Rose was glancing towards Silver, begging her to give her some.
Silver averted her eyes away and didn’t even attempt to give Rose anything.
“Favoritism. Now we got shorty here being a humanitarian. What the hell is wrong with this world.” Rose was peeved that Silver didn’t give her anything.
“It’s life.” Tyler rolled his eyes. “Plus, if you became the leader everything will become hell.”
“Tyler, I have to wonder. Why don’t you lead? You seem the most capable in leading a group.” Jasper asked.
Tyler fumbled over his words for a moment, and he held in his breathe. “I have reason. I’m not worth leading anyone. Plus, I get the feeling Silver over there is better at helping us out in these tough situation, but at the same time I don’t do so well in interacting with people, while Rose here is considered an idiot. If we follow her we’ll all die.”
“Hey! I heard that.” Rose retorted.
“Is everyone really okay with this?” Jasper asked around even the new people that joined.
“I’m good.” Ronald spoke. “I saw how strong you guys all are. Plus, it seems you know what you guys are doing.”
“Whatever. Doesn’t matter to me.” Ren replied with an uncaring attitude.
“I’m okay with anything!” Salphie replied with relief that she joined in a strong group.
“Let’s go.” Silver replied as they left the area.
“Though, I have to wonder. Didn’t you stated that quality was more important than quantity?” Tyler asked with a bit of skepticism, he was next to Jasper, wondering what he would say. Silver was next to them, listening in on their conversation.
“There are always exceptions to the rule. The first is to gain one’s trust by giving a red crystals. Giving an good impression makes a person more willing to follow. We need to first weed out the people who aren’t willing to listen. A strong person, who is arrogant can jeopardize a team, especially if they do not follow orders, causing the team to break up and quarrel. We then have a test trial or should I say a baptism of filtering out the weak and the strong to see who is willing to move forward in this god forsaken hell hole.”
Jasper stopped for a moment to think. “What’s important is the mind and the will to continue living. Even if the person who is the weakest out of the group but has a level head, but a strong will and mind is a great investment in the long run. These type of people are the ones that becomes the quality people that we are looking for. What we need are ‘heroes’ in these people’s eyes. A symbol that shows that this game not impossible to win.”
“You think you can be this hero?” Tyler nudged him.
“I was talking more on the line of a group or even a organization. The flag that bears the emblem that differentiate us from any other groups out there. The more accomplishment that we procure under our belt, the more people will congregate towards us. In this time of horror and a loss of hope, we as a people, need that light that gives us hope. A common purpose is the key to ties us all together.”
Tyler and Silver was silent. Silver was quite amazed at how quickly Jasper was grasping things. His ideal on goal and a dream of defeating this game, once again stirred up familiar memories. The same words that her lover had stated and used was once again being said in front of her by Jasper.
“But that still bring the issue of quantity than quality.” Tyler rebutted his statement.
Jasper shook his head. “Not really, we’ll have an special expert team in the group. Those will be the ‘Heroes’ that people all strive to want to become.”
“And you have someone in mind?”
Jasper turned his head towards Silver who was walking a bit ahead of them.
“You got a point.” Tyler understood. He pushed aside some plants in front of him and continued walking.
“You have a specific name your thinking about for our party?”
“The Silver Valkyrie.”
Tyler burst out laughing, holding onto his stomach.
“What? Did I say something wrong?” Jasper felt a bit offended at his sudden burst of laughter.
“Nothing at all. That would be a good name. Let’s go with that.”