The sun hung high overhead. The smell of salty sea-wind filled the nostrils of Knight as he lay in the crow’s nest. A year had passed since he set sail with his crew…or so it felt. The Ice Elf blew and icy sigh as he looked down to see his crew showering themselves, throwing gold coins into sky and letting them rain down upon them after another successful session of plundering a navel compound. With nary another thought, the young man threw himself from his elevated position, the world a brief flurry of wood, water, and as he landed, grass.
Regaining himself, Knight looked about at the vast landscape around him. Pure…barren…changing…endless. The vearth before him lay, as always, ripe with possibilities. The same possibilities that lay before him time and time again. “This can’t go on,” Knight said as he looked outward at the dreamscape before him.
One year had passed, since he’d failed to take the prize of the Zenith tournament. In a blur of wind and shadows, his dream of creating a sea-faring guild to patrol the seas of Zenith had gone up in smoke. The defeat had set in motion a journey of soul-searching that Knight himself couldn’t have predicted. One that had brought him into what could only be described as another world. One in which every dream the occupant had came to be…if only momentarily.
A reprieve from the harshness of reality at one point, over time this dream world had grown into a nightmare of boredom. “But I’m stuck here…” Knight crafted a tree from his mind and leaned against it. It had become a near daily(?) exercise for the former assassin. After an evaluation of his circumstance, he would try with all his might to conjure a way back to reality. Knight closed his eyes and breathed deeply.
Around him, the world began to throw itself into a tantrum of sorts. The various landscapes began to dim into dark reflections of their previous perfection. The ground quaked and thunder rumbled, but still Knight refused to cease his destructive thoughts. “There has to be a way out,” he thought to himself, beads of sweat starting to form across his brow. “Gotta find it…”
Just as Knight began to find himself doubting an escape again, he felt something he hadn’t in a long time. A kick to the small of his back sent the long-absent sensation of pain coursing through his body. A surprisingly not-unpleasant experience.
“What…the fuck…are you doing!?”
Knight reached around, attempting to sooth the pain on his back, before turning to question who or what had struck him and called him out. Standing over him was a tomboy with several piercings, and a scowl on her face. “Well,” she questioned, seeming like she wanted to kick him again.
“What are you doing here,” the woman asked, narrowing her eyes at him.
Knight, unintentionally ignored the girl, more astonished at the world that lay before him. Not entirely dark, but not entirely light…not even twilight was the correct term to describe the environment he found himself in—at the crossroads between some sort of hostel and a small town a ways off. “Guess it worked after all…supposedly,” he mumbled.
“Hey, dumbass! Are you just gonna stand here and loiter!? Cause there’s a loitering fee that I’m about to take it out of your teeth if you don’t answer me! Who are you, and what are you doing here!?”
Knight was brought back to the present by the girl’s harsh tone. “Oh…ah…yeah, sorry about that, I was…distracted. I’m Knight,” he said reaching out to offer his hand, only to have her slap it out of the way.
“OK, Knight. You want to explain why you’re lying around on my property…and where exactly you’re from,” the red-head asked, still scowling.
“Clearly not someone I’ll be swooning,” Knight thought to himself, with a deep breath. “Yes well…I’m from the South Pole…I was…fight…ing…” Knight placed his hand on his head, confusion appearing across his face as he realized something. His memories of his life after the tournament were fragmented. Fractured images of his travels into the dreamscape were all that he could recall. “I…I don’t remember.”
“What do you mean you don’t remember,” the girl growled. “You mean to tell me that you just would up here from this Zenith place with no memory of how you got here?”
“I have memories, but they don’t make sense…they don’t fit together right?” Knight wasn’t entirely sure how to speak. Was he questioning thing or explaining them? “How long was I gone…then again, have I really returned to reality?”
“Are you gonna keep mumbling to yourself or what,” the pierced woman asked, raising her eyebrow. She noticed however that something was indeed troubling this stranger. “…Hm…alright…guess I know where this is heading,” she said with a sigh, before grabbing Knight by his long hair. “You’re coming with me!”
“Ow, ow, ow, ow” Knight was shaken from his troubled thoughts by the pain of this woman pulling his hair, “escorting him” towards what appeared to be some sort of multi-level building. He noticed a sign reading “Hotel de las Arañas” as they entered. “Uh, lady…this is…painful and all, but I don’t even know your name!”
“Veronica…and stop struggling!” Veronica called back, as drug the Ice Elf up the stairs. “Alright, so it’s like this. Until you get…whatever your deal is, figured out, you’re staying here. No ifs, ands, or fucking buts, you got me!?” Upon reaching a hallway, Veronica pulled a key from her pocket and shoved it into one of the doors, before flinging Knight inside, a few of his silver-white hairs still in her hand as he landed at the center of the room.
Knight looked up, narrowly avoiding a key to the eye as Veronica tossed what he could only surmise to be his room key, slamming the door behind her. “…What just happened!?” Knight removed his bandanna, and ran his hands over his stinging scalp. He looked around the room, noticing the dark and dreary interior was reminiscent of his room at the Guild House in Zenith.
The young man sat down on his nearby bed, noticing a note on his pillow. “Hm…wonder what this is all about.”
Knight looked over the note, noticing several remarks made in red, likely from Veronica herself. “So unrefined,” he thought as he continued reading. “Competitor, huh…? Alright…I guess this will have to do for now. If there’s one thing I remember how to do, it’s fight. This may or may not be reality…there’s only one way to find out. So for now, I’ll play along.” Knight lay back on the bed, looking forward to meeting his competition and perhaps making sense of where he was and who else was here. For now though, sleep called his name.