His legs have never carried him so vigorously.
All he could feel was the dry soil and leaves crunching underneath his sandals as he ran. Step after step, keeping a constant beat. Sweat dripped down his forehead, his lungs begging for air. It was difficult to keep focus; his chest was slowly burning, running out of oxygen. He dodged the crowds in the way, jumped down steps, skipped steps up, ducked underneath structures and jumped over fences. He wanted to stop, but he knew he couldn’t.
He never knew he could run this fast. He imagined it, but he didn’t actually think he could.
He had to.
The timer ticked, the soft noise echoing throughout the quiet temple.
There was a loud bang. He had burst through the gates. In the center of the temple sat his master, who was holding a timer that looked like a pocket watch.
Once the fatigued student got to the thin mattress spread out for him, the master pushed the button on the timer.
“And...time!” he said, pouring two cups of tea.
It was a sunny day today. Rather enjoyable, really. The town was quite busy today, and that was a good thing, you know? People outside, enjoying life, children playing, birds flying, everything was nice. Vendors sold fresh fruits, musicians played joyful tunes, children laughed and ran around, families got together, this and that.
You could enjoy it too, as long as you’re not a Vanguard novice on exercises.
The Vanguards were warriors who protected the city. They were brave, fierce, strong, yet soft hearted. Like the knights of the castle.
Welcome to the city of Animulus, by the way.
Amidst all the people enjoying the great day, there was one, certain, panicked soul. Not panicked, but determined, rather. One very determined soul.
Determined to reach his goal.
And he did, he did. He’s a good student, really. Sometimes childish and reckless, but he had a heart of gold. But right now, that heart of gold could use some rest. Not just some, but a lot of rest.
“Well done,” his master said, taking a sip from one of the cups. He pushes one cup over to the student who’s legs were visibly shaking. “You beat your record.”
The student, who could barely talk right now, coughed and wheezed.
“By what?” he asked.
“By five seconds,” the master said, taking another sip. “Still, impressive.”
“Yes,” the student groaned, with a fist pump motion. He then fell to the floor with a big thud, lying on his back.
Even though he was barely functioning, he heard familiar footsteps heading towards him. Fast, familiar footsteps. A shadow of a person is cast over him. When he looks up, he sees an unforgettable face, the one that belonged to one of his best friends. He was grinning down at him.
“You did it, Keiralo! You beat your record again! I’m proud of you!” he said to the student lying on the floor. He gave his best friend a tired expression, with an eyebrow raised and a slight smile on the corner of his lips.
“Thanks, Hialsi,” Keiralo said, with a rough, gravelly voice.
Ah, yes, Keiralo and Hialsi. Two of our main characters.
They were both Vanguard novices, under the training of their master. Of course. They weren't the only novices under the master. There's a few more, but we'll get into that soon enough.
Keiralo, his origins were complicated, but he didn't care about that. He was happy with where he was now. He had friends, a good master, a place to stay, he was content. Lying on the floor now, deep down, he was thankful he even got a floor to lie on after that vigorous..."exercise".
He was known for practicing the blade with his master. Swords, daggers, that type of stuff. He was fairly good at it, too. What else are his notable traits? Right, right. He had a heart of gold, and...uh, horns of gold. He had two short nubby golden horns on the top of his head. His white hair would often be messy, even though he tries to groom it often. He had yellow eyes that always seemed to be curious, yet determined. His fangs would often protrude from his lips.
Hialsi was different. He had dark hair that he'd tie back in a ponytail, obviously so it wouldn't get in the way during training. He was good with hammers and maces, the heavy type of stuff. He'd often do this thing where he'd tilt his head slightly to the side whenever he was confused, or if he was curious. He's like Keiralo, but a bit lighter on the reckless side.
Their master, whom they called Master Mizzion, was a kind, not-so-young but not-so-old man. He had his own quirks, such as bringing pots of tea wherever he goes. Wherever he keeps it, well, his students don't know, exactly. But he always manages to pull a cup out. He enjoyed reading and meditation as well, just as he enjoyed training with his apprentices. He was like a father figure to Keiralo. He'd sometimes be goofy, and would use humor so people would feel good in his presence. But even though, he was a skilled Vanguard veteran, being able to train his pupils in various fields. With some help, sometimes, of course.
"Master Mizzion, is he back yet?" a female voice called out from a balcony. Her voice echoed throughout the temple's almost empty main hall. Well, except for the vases and potted plants, and the three guys in there.
"He's back, and beaten his record again," Mizzion replied. "Why, Mherla? Do you need help with the knife-tie again?"
"Yes," the girl, who's name was Mherla, replied. She jumped over the balcony's railing and landed down on the temple floor. This was Mherla, another student of Mizzion's. She's good with archery, the bow and arrow. She's smart, and often knows what she's doing. Well, smart for her age at least. She'd often get Keiralo's help to get her hair tied into a ponytail, held in place by a dagger, or Hialsi's help for lifting heavy things.
Why are all the descriptions about hair? She has hawk-like eyes that seem to pierce through you if she looked long and hard enough. She had this slight, bossy atmosphere towards her, but she also looked like someone you could be good friends with. She'd help with the cramming part of exams.
"Keiralo," she called out, walking towards him. "I need help."
"Hold on, Mherla!" Hialsi said, raising a hand to stop her. "He's exhausted! He's not a robot!"
"Yeah, yeah. I'll go get the soup," she said, walking away.