So, this inspired me quite a bit, so I decided to try writing something for my own guild, the Ebenguard. Rather than focus on a single affinity, I was more interested in the way the different affinities would interact together, not only in using them separately to reach a whole, but I also thought that there would be special “side effects” that would allow combining different affinities to do things that they wouldn’t be able to do on their own. Anyway, see if you can spot them, and I hope you like it!
The Weak Warrior
Frederick had always wanted to be a fighter. There was something that drew him whenever he saw or read scenes of combat between masters of the martial arts, swordsmen clashing steels at midnight, or cowboys dueling at high noon. He wanted to do this, ever since he was a little kid. However, unlike other boys, this desire did not subside as he grew older, but strengthened. There was a single problem, though.
Frederick was, quite frankly, terrible at fighting.
Oh, of course, he’d never really had a chance to try it in the real world. However, he’d tried all sorts of combat sports, but dropped each after the year, noticing absolutely no improvement. His reflexes were too slow for fencing. He was unable to keep form for Karate or Tae Kwon-Do, incapable of throwing even a simple punch or kick. When he tried boxing, he ended up with a broken nose, as he was late to block every single blow, and when he tried Aikido, he hurt himself with every fall. Archery and marksmanship were out of the question; his pulse was so awful that he couldn’t hit even the closest targets. And yet, even after all the disappointments, he still kept going.
The teacher lifted the bokken, and shouted out “Migi-Men!” before lowering the weapon onto the top of Frederick’s head. Frederick lifted his own to stop the attack, but he was too slow, and it slammed on the right side of his helmet. They returned to the neutral stance, and the teacher shouted, “Hidari-Men!” He brought the weapon onto the left side of his helmet, and Frederick was too slow to stop it. Then, they returned to neutral position again, and, again, the teacher shouted “Migi-Men!” before, again, lowering the weapon onto the top of Frederick’s head. Again, Frederick lifted his own to stop the attack, but, again, he was too slow, and it slammed on the right side of his helmet again. The cycle continued for what seemed like forever, but the student didn’t seem to improve in the slightest. They continued until the class was over, while all around them, students were practising with their peers, and even those who had been there for just two months were already leaps and bounds ahead of him. When the class was over, and everyone was packing up, the teacher approached him and, laying a hand on his shoulder, said,
“Don’t worry. Everyone learns at different paces. If you keep practising, I’m sure you’ll eventually get ahead.”
Frederick smiled and nodded, but he knew what the man had said was false. He wouldn’t improve. It would be the same as it had been with all the other sports. He would never improve, and, at the end of the year, he’d leave the dojo, look for some other sport that he’d inevitably fail at. Still, he’d keep trying, all his life if he had to. He pondered on these thoughts as he put away the borrowed equipment and began the way home.
His musings were interrupted by a high-pitched scream.
Immediately, he ran towards the source of the scream. He turned a corner into an alleyway. A little child was in there, crying, held by a man in a suit who was bleeding from his side. A huge man stood threateningly in front of them, a knife in his hand. Without thinking, Frederick leaped onto the man’s back, grabbed him by the neck. The assaulter, however, was too strong, and easily shook him off. Frederick flew through the air and slammed against a wall, knocking the air out of him. As he regained his breath and tried to stand up, the man advanced, towering over him, and wound back his arm, preparing to stab him.
Then something weird happened. Frederick saw a strange blur, like an afterimage of the thug, except it somehow moved ahead of him. It attacked Frederick, and he raised his hand to try and grab its arm. He was, of course, too late.
However, he was perfectly timed to intercept the actual blow.
The man seemed shocked for a moment, and then tried to punch him with his free arm. The image moved ahead of him, however, and Frederick easily blocked the attack. Then his body moved on its own, twisting the man’s arm until he dropped the knife, then pushing him away. Frederick instinctively fell into a strange position, different from anything he’d practiced, but which seemed right somehow. The man turned around and, roaring charged towards him, punching wildly. The image preceded his blows, and so Frederick was able to dodge them, and planted his fist on the centre of the man’s chest.
The man seemed to collapse, and as he crawled to his knees, he looked up to see the fighter who had managed to defeat him. The warrior, for that is what he was, spoke,
“Turn yourself in. Think about your life, about the moment it went so wrong that you had to resort to violence, about what your cousin would think if he saw you like this.” Frederick’s voice had an intensity he’d never felt before. The words weren’t his, either, not fully. They burst out of his mouth with some sort of… Irresistible force, and they seemed to know the right thing to say, as the man appeared visibly shaken. He nodded, and scurried out of the alleyway.
Frederick turned towards the bleeding man and the child, and kneeled down. He moved the man’s hand toward his wound and told him to apply pressure. The man was, thankfully, conscious enough to hear him. He took out his phone and called 911, explaining the situation. Then he sat down, placing his hands over the man’s to help him, while fruitlessly trying to comfort the child, and waited for the ambulance.