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Using their enhanced elfin senses, Anwen and Knox made their way through the forest, following the faint sounds of the fierce battle happening ahead of them. The tall bushes and unstable ground forced them to be wary of each step they took unless they wanted to slip and injure themselves. Knox led while Anwen struggled to keep up with the pace. It was clear who was the strongest and fastest among the two of them, seeing how the first boy ran like that despite his injuries from the previous battle. Then again, Anwen could excuse himself because of his sheltered life in the previous world, where the most dangerous enemies he could face were the bullies, teachers, and exams at school.
“NOOO!” the girl’s scream was heard louder this time.
“Damn it! What’s going on?!” asked Knox both worried and angry.
Anwen couldn’t answer, but he feared the worst. Despite how strong Luca was, maybe he got overwhelmed by too many Dayuks. The one they fought was a simple cub, who at the end was more frightened than fierce. From his point of view, the battle had always been in their favor from the very beginning, but if more than on puppy showed up, Anwen doubted they would have won.
When they finally reached Lira, there was a trace of blood on her face, and her sword was broken at the hilt. Knox immediately rushed over to her.
“LIRA!” he called out.
“Knox? No… stay back! STAY BACK!” she shouted.
“What?” he stopped and blinked surprised.
Looking to his left, he froze.
Unlike him, Anwen didn’t see the girl first but the beast who attacked them. It was a Dayuk with a big, red horn, and dark pelt covered in blood. It was missing an eye, and a broken sword was left stabbed in his right shoulder, most likely Lira’s.
Is that an adult? Anwen thought.
From what Luca told them, there weren’t supposed to be any more adults left in this area because all of them had been killed off in order for the new recruits to be able to hunt safely. If that was true, then the Dayuk they were facing now should have been smaller in size, but this one reached with ease four meters in height while standing on all fours.
The moment Knox shouted, he caught the beast’s attention, which didn’t hesitate and ran towards him. The elf was frozen in place, so Anwen had only a split second to decide what to do. If he ran away, the others would certainly end up as its meal. If they fought, they probably didn’t stand a chance.
Clenching his jaws, he ran towards Knox and jumped. The Dayuk aimed for the elf’s head with its sharp, bloodied claws, but they didn’t connect.
“Ugh!” the elf groaned after he was pushed to the ground, the pain in his wounds sending a wake-up call throughout his body.
“Roll!” shouted Anwen, and they body rolled in opposite directions.
The paw of the Dayuk landed between them.
“GRRR!” he growled.
“Where’s Luca?!” asked Anwen as he got up and took out his sword.
“Luca… Luca… He…” Lira tried to answer, but when they looked towards her, they saw their instructor’s remains.
In the spot from which the Dayuk came charging at Lira, the boys saw an arm ripped up from the shoulder. A sword with a cracked blade was held between the clenched fingers. A piece of his foot was left not far from there, and the whole place was covered in blood. The rest of him was probably in the monster’s stomach.
This meant the blood on Lira’s face and armor wasn’t hers, but Luca’s.
“GRRR!” the growl of the beast caught their attention again.
This can’t be right… This… Am I to die here? Anwen thought and then remembered the smile of the goddess. Did she trick me? He shook his head in denial. No! I trust her… I think. She wouldn’t have sent me here just to become food for a monster, right? Then… what can I do?
While the boy’s mind spiraled in circles and refused to sit still, the Dayuk jumped for an attack. With big eyes, Anwen saw the opened jaws of the wolf ready to gulp him up and rip him to shreds. He felt like his heart and everything around him simply stopped.
Is this it? was his last thought… or so he believed.
“Anwen!” Knox shouted as he slashed the wolf from the left, pushing him to the side.
The Dayuk rolled over and yelped as flames burned part of his fur. It was the boy’s Pendrax ability. He unleashed it from where he stood, a few feet away from him, but it wasn’t enough. More annoyed than injured, the Dayuk got up and growled furiously at him.
“Damn it!” he said and then prepared to launch another attack.
“My name is my power! My name… Ugh!” Knox stopped in the middle of the chant and fell on one knee, bursting into a coughing fit.
“Don’t push yourself too much! You can’t gather the power of your name so fast!” shouted Lira.
Name power… Then my name… Anwen… What was my family name again? Ugh… Can’t remember. But my name, do I have a Pendrax power as well? I should, shouldn’t I? Anwen thought as he looked down at his sword.
“I’ll protect you!” Lira said stepping in front of Knox, but she wasn’t holding anything else other than a stick she picked up from the ground.
The girl was trembling from all of her joints and even the boy was aware of this.
“Don’t be crazy! Get out of here! Run away!” he shouted at her, but the pain in his chest brought him to his knees again.
Anwen gulped and looked towards the Dayuk. It had yet to attack, it was merely circling them. Maybe Knox made it wary of them. His Pendrax attack might not have killed him, but it certainly made it cautious of them.
This a chance… Anwen thought and took a stance.
Looking at the wolf, he sheathed his sword and clenched the hilt hard. With a furrowed brow, he focused on his body and most importantly on his chest, trying to find and distinguish the power of names everyone spoke about.
Doing something like this in a situation like this one was nearly impossible, unthinkable, but also the only chance they had.
“My name is my power! My name is A… A…”
As he spoke, he felt the energy gathering from his chest into his sword, creating small gusts of wind around him, but then something strange happened, and the power was cut. He couldn’t maintain the flow and stuttered. The energy dissipated quickly before it ran amok.
What just happened? Anwen thought surprised.
The Dayuk flattened the ears and lowered its head, analyzing his prey’s movements. Barring his sharp teeth at them, his focus was now on Anwen as well. The monster feared their Pendrax, but didn’t know if they could still use it or not, which was the reason why he didn’t attack yet.
“You idiot! Everyone has their own special chant! You can’t copy mine!” shouted Knox.
What? Special chant? he thought surprised.
Now the situation was even more dangerous. Anwen had a Pendrax ability, but he couldn’t use it because he didn’t know how to.
“You have to feel the chant… It’s in you.” said Knox, looking down at his chest.
Forcing himself, the elf boy got up and stepped in front of Lira.
“Wh-what are you doing?” she asked surprised with a trembling tone of voice.
The boy looked back at her and showed her a cocky smirk.
“Grrr!” the Dayuk growled.
Knox focused his attention on the monster. With his hand on the hilt of his sword, he closed his eyes and controlled his breath.
“My name is my power!” he began to chant, but the energy didn’t flow as furious and fast as it did before. “My name is Knox, and with it, I shall take down my foes!” he opened his eyes and pulled out his sword.
Bright yellow flames covered the blade. They spread towards the hilt and stopped at the boy’s elbow, but it didn’t burn him. Locking onto the monster with his gaze, Knox rushed at it.
“GRRR!” the Dayuk growled and lowered his body on his front paws.
Without screaming, Knox slashed at the wolf. The fire didn’t release itself from the sword as it did before, and there was no invisible slash either. Jumping back, he avoided a paw attack. The wolf then tried to bite him, but only caught the air.
“HA!” Knox shouted and then tried to slash the monster.
The fiery sword made a cut in his flesh, and the flames spread fast, forcing the Dayuk to jump away from him. He yelped and bumped himself into a tree, trying to put out the fire on his fur. As long as Knox had his ability activated, something like that would be quite hard to do. Unfortunately, the elf wasn’t able to last.
Exhausted from pushing his Pendrax to its limits, Knox dropped on his knees. His sword fell on the ground, and the wolf was able to put out the flames. It was still hurt and burned, but not up to the point where it wanted to retreat.
“Huff! Huff!” the elf breathed as though he had just run a marathon around a stadium.
“Knox!” Lira ran up to him, to help him out, but the danger wasn’t over.
All this time, Anwen watched the fast-paced battle and tried to understand just what exactly was this ability and if he could truly pull it off or not. Nothing short of a miracle could save them now, but at the very least, Knox offered them a bit more time. The Dayuk was keeping his distance from them, but since he didn’t flee and wasn’t willing to let them run away either, it meant that another attack was imminent.
Clenching the hilt of his sword, Anwen approached the two and watched the wolf.
“Are you alright? Knox! Say something!” Lira called out, pulling him into her arms.
The boy didn’t reply, he was breathing hard, sweating, and trembling.
Is this what happens when you overuse your Pendrax? Anwen wondered and gulped.
This ability was very dangerous, but right now, it was their only hope to get out of this mess.
What’s my chant? My name is… No. In the name of… No. he tried hard to concentrate, but it was hard and nothing seemed to click.
One thing was clear to him though, the Pendrak chants came instinctively to their users. Basically, the people of this world knew what it was only based on the way their own energy reacted to it. If they got it wrong and still forced it, then the power would cut off midway or not reply to the call at all.
I have to get it right! he shouted in his mind.
“GRRR!” the Dayuk made a step closer, drops of blood falling on the grass from the wounds inflicted by Knox.
“Anwen… I won’t run.” Lira told him as she looked down at Knox.
Clenching the hilt of his sword, he said “I’m not leaving either. At least, not without both of you alive.”
Any other of his friends from high school would have fled the moment they saw this dangerous beast, but Anwen knew that if he did so, then both Knox and Lira would end up as food for him. If he let them die, he would never forgive himself. It was true that he barely knew them, and he literally had no reason to put his life on the line for them, but it wasn’t about that. What sort of warrior would he become if he ran away every time the battle became hard?
If I run away now, I can forget about accomplishing her request! he told himself.
As he remembered the goddess again, her gaze, her lips, he felt the power of his name swirling inside.
I wonder? he thought and then closed his eyes.
“With the Goddess of War by my side, I fear not the End nor the Beginning! For I am Anwen!” he shouted at the top of his lungs.
The energy flowed into his sword. Waves after waves of cold air formed around his body and flowed outwards, rustling the leafs and raising the dust. His stern eyes were locked onto his target and when he took out his sword, the winds became stronger, faster, meaner. Invisible blades began to cut the ground around him, creating a menacing defense.
Anwen wasn’t aware of all of this. All he felt was the power rushing out from the core of his chest and into his sword. Without the smallest drop of hesitation, he rushed forward. The winds pushed him from behind, granting him an incredible speed. The Dayuk noticed him and tried to dodge, but it was too late. The moment his sword came down, thundering strikes hit the body of the monster. Deep cuts appeared on his body, slashing his muscles and bones.
“HAAA!” the boy shouted.
In that moment, all the winds and power of his name poured down onto the monster.
“YELP!” a final scream announced its demise, and its body was cut into pieces.
When it was over, Anwen was left standing as the victor on top of his now dead opponent. Looking back, he saw the look of surprise on Lira’s face. As for Knox, he was completely knocked out.
Is this… Is this my Pendrax? Anwen thought as he looked down at his trembling hand.
He made a fist and looked up at the sky. “Wait for me…” he said.
Far away from that forest, in the city of Tharasin, a redheaded beauty was having a drink at the bar. She slowly sipped from her glass without paying any attention to the people around her. Actually, it was more like she was completely invisible to them.
When Anwen activated his Pendrax, the woman smiled.
“It won’t be long now…” she said as she looked at the half-empty glass in her hand.
This woman was none other than the Goddess of War.
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