Flickering Sparks

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Flickering Sparks Preluding Lights
Sarkaz Mercenary B icon.png
Sarkaz Assassin
Sarkaz Mercenary A icon.png
Sarkaz Mercenary
Minoan Soldier
Acahualla Village A
Cold Forest
Heavyrain, in a rush, collapses on the border of Minos. Upon awakening, she meets a Minoan priestess, "Pallas".
<Background black>
This place will no longer shelter you.
Begone, dear warrior. Turn about and flee. Your pitiful destiny is already set in stone. You have no place in this world any longer.
Indeed, your existence has no meaning for us anymore.
......Thus, the warrior fled. She, who never once trembled in fear under the thundering of the enemy's drums, who never faltered against the roars of her cruel opponents, turned and ran.
<Background 1>
Akroti, a region in Minos bordering Sargon, comprised of many villages
<Background black>
Days of unending rain would sicken even the most tenacious of young warriors.
Not to mention this pitiable fellow, sunken to the darkest depths of despair.
What sort of experiences would have forced her to leave her home at such a young age?
What happened to her, such that her heart would ache in sadness whenever she looks back at her homeland?
She wishes no one to know.
Go on, flee. Head to that unknown land.
<Background 2>
??? What's the situation?
Sarkaz Mercenary Just stopped moving. She's been struggling there for two hours already, moved about ten meters since we found her.
If she really was a competent spy, she'd be playing dead to conserve her energy instead of drawing our attention like this.
It could also all be an act, to play on the Minoans' sympathy and lower their guard.
??? Yes, the Minoans would have trouble ignoring such a weight on the conscience. What do you think of this foreign warrior, and what she's done?
Sarkaz Mercenary Hmph, just a trick.
She's definitely acting. You know it's Sargon's fault, their tricks and lies, that these villages took so long to...
??? That's a different conversation. I want you to take a closer look at her. Set aside your suspicions and look at her, see her innocence.
I appreciate your concern for the villagers' safety.....
Sarkaz Mercenary (Sneer)
??? Whether it comes from a good place or not. You need only tell me, warriors of Sarkaz, how fares the outsider now?
Sarkaz Mercenary In short, she's at death's door.
Looks like she was crossing over from Sargon, judging by her weapon and equipment. Now, she just looks like a fish out of water, struggling helplessly on Minoan soil.
??? Is she alone?
Sarkaz Mercenary So far, she is... Though that might change later.
??? Hmm, if that's the case…
Sarkaz Mercenary Hey, Priestess, "Pallas".
[The Forte who talks with the Sarkaz mercenary is revealed to be Pallas, the former high priestess of the Minoan hero cult.]
Pallas What is it?
Sarkaz Mercenary It's not my job to say what's what, but since the Minoans hired me and appointed you to take command, I'll just remind you–
You're not a normal nurse, but neither are you a naive priestess who knows nothing but sympathy and forgiveness.
You're the commander of the Minoans, mentor to the budding warriors, the so-called "Goddess" worshipped by all these Minoan villages.
If you take her in, everyone must treat her with the same amount of respect and devotion that they give to you. After all, you were the one who found her.
Yet this little warrior is, without the slightest hint of doubt, of Sargon––
Until there is peace with Sargon, she remains an enemy to Minoans, one they have to stay wary of.
Pallas ......
Warrior, your words carry your intentions well, and reveal the breadth of your knowledge. I listen out of respect and duty.
But as you know, there exists a divide between your judgment and mine. It is a saddening reality, but it is one we must face.
I am indeed considering taking her in, and treating her wounds at the least.
Hers is a young life, one hanging by a thread. And I believe she means us no harm.
As for whether thousands of Sargon's soldiers lurk behind her shadow, that is for you to determine.
In the absence of danger, we may not fall upon the ongoing war as an excuse to abandon another's life.
Sarkaz Mercenary (How pointless.)
Pallas Some may think this a pointless act. That is why I let the others return to their duties, while you remain here, watching over her.
Sarkaz, oh poor Sarkaz. Your callous demeanor is known far and wide, and you rely on it for survival. In other words, many among you take pride in your indifference.
One must heel to one's proficiencies. I give my orders based on this principle.
You need only ensure your mission is completed. As for other matters... they will be resolved, one way or the other.
Sarkaz Mercenary Since you refuse to change your mind even after listening to me, wouldn't it be the same if someone else was looking after her?
Pallas You've been working as a mercenary here for three months now. I'm sure you're aware of the situation.
If it were left to the Minoans, this would be over in ten minutes, much less two hours. Their guilt would gnaw at those pure hearts of theirs, bidding them to lend a hand, regardless of the danger...
In such a scenario, how badly shaken would those sincere hearts of theirs be, if that betrayal really came to fruition?
Sarkaz Mercenary Hah. In the end, even you admit that those villagers are way too soft-hearted, to value the life of a potential enemy.
Pallas I understand you, Sarkaz. Some of the villagers have accepted you, and the elders view you as one of our own. You have their goodwill to thank for that.
However, your needs do not lay there. Between love, or at least this love that exists between we of different races, and the payment of money that you receive, you do not believe that it is worthless.
Sarkaz Mercenary There's nothing to discuss about that.
Pallas You live life your own way, and I have never questioned that.
But I think that Sarkaz demeanor I mentioned––perhaps you were like that, once. When we first met, you harbored a kindness not altogether pure, and a heart not completely vile.
Yet, that has changed. Your interactions with the Minoan soldiers and the villagers have spurred your thoughts. You have become an intelligent warrior brandishing your weapon of your own free will.
Your vigilance is warranted. It's just that I believe Sargon has no reason to attack right now, and neither is there a need to use such crude "bait."
Rather than formulating a trap to prey on others' kindness, the Sargon's troops would be far more willing to march in brashly, declaring their cruel intentions to plunder and slaughter for all to hear.
Sarkaz Mercenary Right, right. Let's just go with what you said.
Pallas For now, let us turn our eyes to this young warrior who's wandered over from Sargon.
Just as you said, though I wish to save her...
Just as you warned, it would be far from prudent to simply bring her back to the villages.
She has no visibly open wounds, and it does not seem to be any complex disease that would require surgery.
I will attempt to treat her wounds. The consequences of this will be mine to bear.
Sarkaz Mercenary You mean you want me to put up a tent here, so you can treat her wounds? In this place not even two kilometers from the border? Even the garrison is farther away!
Pallas Well, there's not much difference with the garrison anyway...
Sarkaz Mercenary Don't forget your place. You're the villagers' beacon of hope, the one who will free them from the threat of Sargon.
They love you, and call you the "Goddess of Victory", yet here you are taking such risks…
Pallas Watch your words, soldier.
Sarkaz Mercenary ...Tch.
Pallas A young woman whose guilt is yet unproven, who has waited for over two hours, struggling to keep herself awake, all for the sake of survival.
She has already passed your test––As the keenest and most vigilant Sarkaz, you are unable to bring out solid evidence of her duplicity.
And so, my heart is already filled with guilt. I cannot bear to leave her any longer.
Sarkaz Mercenary I don't object, if you really insist on it. But... it's hard to say if that girl will even talk to you like this after she wakes up.
Just be prepared for an attack once she wakes up.
<Background black>
At this moment, the young Sargon warrior is suffering in her dreams.
She drags her body onward with naught but sheer determination, but in the end her vision disappears in a fog of darkness.
As she loses herself within the rest that has long eluded her, she is wrapped in a blanket of warmth. Yet, this warmth is unfamiliar to her, and she remains vigilant even in her dreams.
Thus, she escapes from her dreamland, escapes the trap of comfort, escapes the warm touch on her skin.
<Background 3>
Heavyrain ......Who?
Pallas Ah. You're awake?
Heavyrain ......!
Pallas Calm down. You've been sleeping for quite a long time...
The Kuranta soldier immediately rises, swiftly inspecting her surroundings.
The narrow space contains only herself, the Forte woman and some scattered items.
Pallas ...I understand. You're looking for your weapon, yes? Here it is.
Heavyrain ......
The Kuranta soldier snatches the weapon. With seemingly no hesitation, she swings the flail towards the Forte.
The narrow space limits her movement. The weapon catches on the surrounding canvas, making a dull thud.
The Forte woman remains at the bedside, without a trace of surprise on her face.
Pallas Decisive and orderly moves. Mystery woman, I can tell you are a well-trained soldier, confident in your own strength.
Unfortunately, this place is not fit for combat.
Heavyrain ......
Answer my questions, and do nothing else, or my flail and shield will smash you... *cough*
Pallas Alright, alright. I shall do naught but answer your questions, till you're satisfied.
Heavyrain Where are we?
Pallas In my tent. To treat your injuries, a place of rest is needed.
Heavyrain Save it! Where is this tent? Who else is here?
Pallas Our soldiers, Minoans.
Heavyrain (Al'ama,[note 1] how did I end up with the Minoans?)
Pallas You arrived from Sargon, collapsing on the Minoan side of the border. When the soldiers found you, you were still determinedly inching forward.
Heavyrain This is... Minoan land?
Pallas I've packed your possessions, they're by your feet.
You must have been extremely hungry and tired, not being aware that your compass had malfunctioned as you struggled to make your way here and that all your navigation equipment was damaged.
Heavyrain ......
Pallas As you can hear, there are only Minos soldiers outside. You are alone, and it would be unwise to force a discussion using violence.
This would depend on the manner in which you wish to leave this tent. We may come to an agreement and you can leave this tent assured of your safety. You may also refuse to negotiate and leave immediately, foolish as that may be.
Heavyrain Can you prove that?
Pallas I am a priestess. The villagers and soldiers will follow my orders, out of respect to their faith.
Heavyrain I know well enough to know none of that is true.
Pallas This place is in the midst of a war with the tribes of Sargon. If your home isn't far from here, you should have heard of this.
Heavyrain We are... near Akroti?
Pallas Absolutely.
Well then, visitor of Sargon. How may I address you?
Heavyrain Don't ask.
Pallas Oh? This is a rather unfair exchange then, at least in regards to me.
The Kuranta soldier furrows her brows, as if trying to clear her thoughts and scrutinize her situation.
Heavyrain Just now, you said that after I fainted on Minoan land, you'd been treating my injuries all this while?
Pallas Compared to the cold interrogation you would face with the soldiers, there may at least be a chance to come to an agreement with me instead.
Heavyrain An agreement?
Pallas An agreement with you, young Sargon soldier.
Appearing suddenly by the border, hungry and disheveled, with no trace of any pursuit. I had come to the conclusion that, perhaps, you were not, in fact, an enemy at all.
Heavyrain I recall that the lord ameer here doesn't have a particularly good reputation.
The war is between you and them, don't drag me into it. I'm just passing through.
Pallas Aha, as I thought! In that case, pray lower your weapon, innocent one. I wish for a conversation between equals here, at least until I have fully expressed my sincerity.
Heavyrain You... You're pretty hard to understand, with the way you speak.
Pallas Oh? The warriors complain about it from time to time, but it has never been my intention. In fact, I used to be called the most approachable priestess in the Hall of Heroes...
Heavyrain In any case, I don't want to meet your soldiers, officers, or anyone really. I'm no longer in service to Sargon anyway.
I just want to leave, quickly. I don't really care about anything else.
Pallas Alright, alright. If so...
Heavyrain (Guh...)
Pallas Hmm.
Innocent warrior, young as you are, you have bravely traversed the dense forest to arrive here. Will you not lay down your weapon and have some food?
Heavyrain I'm fine... Ugh...!
Pallas Don't waste your energy standing up. You need not worry, for I am the village's priestess, and will only be helping to treat your wounds here.
Until we come to an acceptable agreement and leave this tent, neither I nor those outside will act against you.
Heavyrain I've already said that there's nothing to discuss.
(I can't bear it, I'm too hungry...)
Pallas Please sate your hunger, unnamed traveler. Though your weapon remains pristine, your body is overly taxed. It would be unbearable to one such as you, who trains strictly in the path of the warrior.
You may not have had much interaction with Minoans prior, or you may have merely heard rumors. In Minos, our soldiers take neither a single step forwards nor backwards until ordered.
I do request your understanding, as some precautions still need to be taken against you during this period of wartime. It's just that the Minoan soldiers are all extremely polite...
Heavyrain Why'd you save me then?
Pallas It's probably an ingrained virtue, as we sometimes allow objective and rational decisions to accommodate kindness still.
Heavyrain Then, what is that weapon there for?
Pallas Ah... Yes, you wield a similar weapon to mine, of course you would notice.
Heavyrain I knew it...!
Pallas No, please allow me to explain. Firstly, innocent guest, your weapon appears to be of exceptional craftsmanship. I believe it is the work of an esteemed Sargon craftsman.
You must have cherished and trained with it often, so, please look... I believe you can determine how this weapon of mine has been used, or perhaps how proficient I really am.
Heavyrain ......
Pallas You see, just as you harbor suspicion towards me, so too did I doubt your identity.
But, just look at you now! Your deep exhaustion is etched on your face, and both your equipment and supplies have been run as ragged as you are.
Most importantly, your weapon shows no signs of recent damage. You have not been in a battle for quite some time. Based on this, I have no reason to fear you.
Heavyrain So in the end... we're still gonna fight.
Pallas Oh, definitely not! I will not be using that as a bargaining chip in our discussion. In fact, I will lay my own weapon on the floor.
Observe! Dear traveler from Sargon, please feel free to partake in this nutritious food. I am fully convinced that you are unrelated to our true enemies.
In consideration to your current state, this free and delicious meal should not be left for too long, regardless of any choice you may make later on.
<Background 2>
Sarkaz Mercenary Oh, finally out huh.
Heavyrain Sarkaz...
Sarkaz Mercenary What, my horns alone enough to scare you?
Heavyrain You...!
Sarkaz Mercenary That look of fear and disgust... I've been judged at a glance too damned many times.
Pallas I seek your forgiveness, brave warrior. Your existence is not at fault.
Sarkaz Mercenary Hmph, I'm sure you think so, priestess. But what about her? She won't listen to you.
Heavyrain I... Priestess, you said that there were Minoans standing guard outside.
Sarkaz Mercenary They went for lunch a while time ago. They'll probably be drinking wine, singing and reciting poetry right after too, so they got me to help stand guard here.
Pallas Ah, it appears that my admonishments were still not taken seriously. I had wanted to show you the magnanimity of the Minoan soldiers...
Heavyrain Probably better this way.
I'll be leaving immediately. I don't want to loiter around your battlefield.
Pallas Oh? Are you leaving now, fearless traveler?
The famous village of Akroti is but a stone's throw away. You might find it worth your while to pay a visit.
Heavyrain No.
Pallas E-Even if there are theaters and cinemas? There's also a really good Minoan restaurant...
Heavyrain No. Thank. You.
Pallas *sigh* There's also our warriors' favorite baths...
Heavyrain ...Bath?
Sarkaz Mercenary Forget it. Mixed gender bath.
Heavyrain No way.
Pallas Y-You can also use the small bath reserved for the priests. For a traveler on such a long and weary journey as you, taking a well-deserved rest is...
Heavyrain I said no! I... I'm not traveling.
It's better if I'm not seen. I have a bad feeling about this, I'm leaving.
We're still too close to Sargon.
Pallas Ahh... But, it's so rare to see so rustic and pitiful a foreign youth...
Heavyrain Huh?
Sarkaz Mercenary Ignore her. It's been a long time since she left the big city she used to live in. She's probably going insane from having to stay in this backwater for so long. It's pretty amazing you can stand that tone of hers.
The villages of Akroti are not safe for you. If you are running from something and want to avoid trouble, you should probably leave now.
Pallas However, foreigner, where lies your destination? To be traveling in such a harried state, could it be that you committed some unspeakable crime, or perhaps insulted an important noble?
Heavyrain No, I'm just... a mercenary... and I'm free.
My destination doesn't matter, as long as I get further away.
To the north, and further to the east. This place... I will not survive long here.
Deserts, battlefields, Sargon... I don't want to face any of these right now.
Pallas Ah... A pitiful youth who shoulders the terrible weight of her painful past.
Please at least leave your name, so that I may pray for you, whether it be strength to face the dangers ahead or guidance to the place you may find happiness.
Heavyrain Are these prayers any good for people from Sargon?
Sarkaz Mercenary Heh. I don't believe in it, for what it's worth.
Pallas (Stomps on his foot)
Sarkaz Mercenary *Hiss*... Pallas...!
Heavyrain "Pallas"?
Pallas (*sigh* The blame for exposing me lies with you, Sarkaz warrior.)
It is not a name worth remembering, at least for now.
Although, there are such stories––On the border of Minos, a priestess bears the revelations of the twelve heroes, arriving to protect the honor and freedom of the Minoans, taking up the fight against Sargon's invasions and always able to clutch victory from the jaws of defeat...
Heavyrain Never heard of them.
Pallas *cough*–*cough* *cough*... W-Well, I suppose the war has not yet been won.
Apologies, I had no intention of declaring that name. I only hope that these myths of Minos may spread to Sargon as well, such that we can come to understand each other better.
Heavyrain You should save those words for the next visitor from Sargon passing by.
Pallas *Sniff*... Fine. It seems that besides wishing you well, there is nothing else we can do for you, traveler from Sargon.
I will gift you this working compass.
Though you know not where you are going... You must continue moving onwards. That is the only goal you have now, and the only way to escape your suffering.
To move onwards is a choice, one most miraculous. I believe that you will receive much help on your journey, traveler.
When the next kindly person appears, one who can devote their energies to you, one who can save you from the most dangerous of mountains, one who can help you escape the clutches of Death... You may make your choice then, or even decide to accompany them.
Sarkaz Mercenary Hey, watch out, priestess. What if those sufferings you just mentioned really happened to her?
The things you say are oddly profound, at times.
Heavyrain Forget it... it doesn't really matter.
Maybe the destination of this journey is the journey itself.
Pallas I will pray for you, young lady. The road you tread stretches far, very far indeed.
You are a warrior. A brave, persevering warrior. Your bravery is etched on your weapon, etched on your limbs, etched in your very soul itself.
Though your eyes are hazy now, a strong rain will wash it all away and your vision will be clear once more.
I apologize for not being able to devote myself to the task of earning your trust. We all have the same, more important things to do.
Heavyrain I'm still suspicious of you.
Pallas You, me, and that adorable Sarkaz warrior. We are all on a journey without a destination, struggling and suffering to move onwards for the sake of our souls, even as we seek that one thing we must experience, that most important thing––
To find a place for ourselves.
<Background 4>
Sarkaz Mercenary Hey, time to change shifts.
Minoan Soldier Right.
Hey, Sarkaz.
Sarkaz Mercenary What?
Minoan Soldier Shouldn't you tell us your name by now? Or do you really want to go by "Sarkaz"?
Sarkaz Mercenary A name's just a name. You call your priestess "Goddess". She calls herself "Priestess Pallas". Does that really make her so?
Minoan Soldier Whatever. Though, after we win this war, the only name you'll be leaving to the legends would be "Sarkaz" then?
Sarkaz Mercenary Hah, let's see if we even survive! You're pretty confident, Minoan!
(It's not really important whether I'm hailed as a hero in history.)
(As long as I'm a Sarkaz, as long as I'm treated as a Sarkaz no matter what I do...... It's not too bad to be fighting alongside heroes.)
Priestess Pallas, what are you doing here?
Pallas Ah, Mister Sarkaz.
Sarkaz Mercenary Don't call me that. Why are you standing night watch? Did something happen?
Pallas Not something to mobilize the masses, I hope.
It's just that today's events have been weighing heavily on me. I have had an urge to come here, to find the answers I seek.
Sarkaz Mercenary What, are you still thinking about that Sargon Kuranta soldier? What's so special about her?
Pallas No, it's exactly the opposite. She's normal through and through.
She's normal, yet she hurries along, as if running away from some evil spirit while keeping everyone at arm's length.
She does not seem predisposed to such behavior. I would presume that a great change has occurred recently, one that has left her despondent.
Mister Sarkaz, what do you think could have happened?
Sarkaz Mercenary No idea. I don't share your interest in going through people's life stories.
I only need to know what you're doing here. You act as if you want me to do something, while also looking like you're just loitering around. Tell me what's on your mind, mercurial "Goddess".
Pallas Shh.
Sarkaz Mercenary ......
[A rustling sound is heard nearby.]
Sarkaz Mercenary (Grabs his blade)
Who's there?
Pallas It's just as you said, Mister Sarkaz. It's difficult to discern one's heart, and my fateful encounter with our Kuranta visitor was sadly lacking in depth.
Even so, you and I have witnessed her fragility––Her fortitude is bent and broken, and she is at her most vulnerable right now. There isn't much we can do for her, with a good breakfast being the greatest courtesy we can confer.
Even so, even so. That poor Kuranta soldier. Her only pursuit right now, is the power to grasp her own fate. To choose a destination of her own, or to end it on her own terms.
No matter what, she possesses the same goal as ourselves. To search for freedom, that is our mission.
Try as I may, I am unable to imagine how vile it must be, that evil spirit behind the loss of her freedom. I never believed I would face such a saddening scene.
Ah, "Mister Sarkaz", do you weep for such a tragedy?
[A Sarkaz assassin reveals himself.]
Sarkaz Assassin ......
Pallas As things are now, perhaps I should make my warning clear in advance, so that the approaching battle will reach a more direct conclusion––
Malign one, you are different from the earlier traveler. Your body reeks of the stench of blood and evil. You have a cruel plan, and the target is one much weaker than you.
You wish to carry out a murder, a hunt, a dirty plan to brag about, upon this holy land of Minos. This, I will never allow.
Without warning, a shadow leaps out of the dark night and rushes towards the Minoan priestess.
In an instant, his attack is blocked by an opposing blade.
The attacker immediately falls back.
Sarkaz Mercenary ......
Sarkaz Assassin ......
Stand aside, my kin. This obnoxious priestess who keeps rambling on about inane topics annoys me.
Sarkaz Mercenary It seems that you didn't understand her words, which is to say you don't know why she's so unhappy right now.
Sarkaz Assassin I have my own task. I believe it should have nothing to do with you.
She seems to want to stop me from finding a "Kuranta soldier." I can see that she's been anticipating a battle since before I tracked the clues here.
Since she wants to protect my target, she must die. What are you doing here then?
Sarkaz Mercenary I'm working as a soldier, helping the Minoans here.
Sarkaz Assassin Ah, we are not enemies then. We both have a job to do, so let's go our own ways.
Is that witch's life part of your responsibilities?
Sarkaz Mercenary That's not something you need to think about.
Sarkaz Assassin Indeed. Every swing of my blade has a price, and I have no reason to waste my energy here.
––Unless, that absurd speech of hers has displeased me. Maybe I want to drag her horns along, to point a faster path to that Kuranta soldier.
I haven't guessed wrongly, have I? Witch.
Pallas What an uncultured and ill-manned beast.
You view yourself as a dirty blade and refuse all counsel. Is that really the case?
Sarkaz Assassin *spits* That's enough. Kinsman, I have no quarrel with you. Close one eye and leave, if you know what's good for you.
The assassin prepares to strike at the priestess. However, the mercenary steps in front of her, not moving an inch.
Pallas ......
Sarkaz Assassin Oh, what's this? You're a Sarkaz, do you really think that you'll be treated as an honored bodyguard, with nothing but the blessings of the Minoans?
Sarkaz Mercenary Nothing to do with the priestess. I just think that you've lived a really sad life.
Sarkaz Assassin Don't tell me you've never done such things. Frankly, you're no match for me.
Pallas Nay, ruthless intruder, wicked pursuer. It is because of that blind arrogance of yours that you will lose.
Heroes do not await death meekly. Moreover, heroes do not stand aside as monsters chase their prey about.
Blinded by money and power as you are, you have already forgotten how shameful it is to persecute and kill.
Sarkaz Assassin Whatever you say. If you really have the stuff, I'll stop after cutting off one of your horns.
To be honest, I think my talents are being wasted on a simple deserter. Wouldn't I get a nicer reward if I brought back a Minoan head?
Pallas Since you have cursed and insulted me so, I no longer hold the slightest bit of remorse for that devil-bewitched heart of yours.
For the sake of that Kuranta traveler's safety, I will not let you leave alive, cruel assassin.
Pitiful, tragic Sarkaz warriors. Your once chaotic hearts are no longer the same. You have each stepped on vastly different paths.
Sarkaz Assassin There's only one ending for Sarkaz. Salvation does not exist. Just shut up, witch. Here I come––
<Background black>
This battle in the dark night was never recorded in the annals of history.
Some souls continue running, becoming ever purer in their journey of life.
In time, they will shine with the brightest light.
In time, these sparks of light will gather about the traveling Rhodes Island, becoming a glorious blaze that moves ever onwards.


  1. Literally "blind(ness)" in Arabic (العمى), but in this context means "Damn"