From the Background
Beyond the smoggy Ice Finger Mountains lies the place Zengis. The country with a view of the River Kok. Traditional marriage laws here called the ‘Warrior Chain’ is for most young men who prefer to marry royal daughters; they must accept and complete a mission given by the chief of their village. Sitting on a mat, crossed-legged, you await the village chief. You wonder what his business with you might be? He arrives.
"Another year has passed," he says, "and here another sits heavy on us all. You were chosen this year to undertake the Chain of Warriors. The lady in question is of royalty,
for she is the daughter of a baron." He hands you a scroll with a seal on it. You are confounded by this. You never registered for the tournament! "She will remain in her city
and wait for word of your triumphant return. If you do not return by Midsummer, she will take it that you have failed in your mission." He sits down in a chair. "Open the parchment."
You break the seal and unroll the fresh pressed paper. It reads that the emperor has agreed to join the Chain of Warriors and grant one daughter to any man successful
enough to venture into the Ice Finger Mountains and destroy a demon, search the lost catacombs of Ice Finger Mountain and retrieve the Sword of Gods if its resting place be
in there and bring it to the emperor.
"The sword of the Gods is only a myth," you reply.
"Yes. And many men have died trying to find it." He leans forward and whispers, "I have broken a rule, my son."
"You?" You ask, grinning to the idea that your chief would betray the rules that he himself had created.
"Yes." He continues to whisper and sits back into his chair. He is old now, and his bones under all those robes have become brittle. You offer him a pillow, which he accepts. "I
am old. I have not the strength to carry out these tasks anymore. The baron has requested one son per family to do his bidding- and all for this daughter of his. His daughter that
you have not met, a supposed girl that no one has even seen!""What have you done that is so terrible that we must whisper?"
"We?" He said. "Not you but I. I am to blame. A leader must never enrol an unwilling patron into the Chain of Warriors, but I did just that. I did just that knowing full well that
you would not reject what I have done for you. People fear the baron. He has not been courteous. He is corrupt. I want him to suffer. I want you to destroy that demon, and refuse the hand of marriage to his daughter. Bring the sword to us instead."
You realise now why he signed you up. It was not to marry you off, it was for his personal vengeance upon the baron.
"And... should I fail?" "You will not." He said. You stand up now. "Young man," The chief says, "I am corrupted myself for doing this to you." You leave out of the hut and stand outside in the night air. Above all the stars, all the
shards of a God’s broken sword, scatter across the black blanket. You understand that if you refuse to do this then the baron will send his men to your village. They will kill you,
your family, and your village. Your life will no longer be in peace. The baron would make sure that they all suffered. To refuse him after setting a deal is to insult him. Your
chief, you understand, has made a pact with the devil and has put your soul on the bidding table to carry the task out.
Your Maya Ling opened her eyes. It was still dark out. She was lying flat on her back in her bed. She stared at a bright yellowish orange light in her chamber. It grew brighter
and brighter as it neared her bed. She could not move. Her arms and legs were paralysed. A neck chain with a ring lifted up off her chest on its own and hovered there, it
was as if something was trying to pull it from her neck but wasn’t strong enough to break the links. Heat.
She could feel the warmth from this being. It looked like that of fire, of a phantom, of a person. She could see its eyes- it ghostly face. It breathed on her through wide nostrils, it
eyes fierce like a dragon. Maya Ling closed her eyes and fell back to sleep again. She was powerless to resist this
creature. You recalled that hour when her father grabbed you by the shoulders and shook you. Her mother accused you of kidnapping her and murdering her! You had only arrived at their
hut shortly after receiving the information from the chief that you were forced into the Chain. You only wanted to tell Maya Ling that you would not marry the baron’s
daughter- That you loved Maya ling. That you were forced into this- Her father tried to stab you with a dagger, but you grabbed him by the wrist and brought
him to his knees until his fingers let loose the blade.
"I did not kill your daughter." You tell him, and glare at his wife who is cowering in the doorway.
"She is missing. There was blood" "He sobs and shakes his head. He doesn’t even get off his knees. You help him back to his feet. "She was taken right out of her bed" blood
everywhere." "Who did this?" "I do not know!"
You go and look for yourself. There is blood all over her bed sheets, blood splattered across the walls and ceiling, and smears across the floor where her parents must have
been stepping. Nothing was broken, nothing was stolen, and apparently, there were no sounds of struggle.
"Please," her father implores you with his eyes watery. "Come with me to the sage. Let us ask of him what has happened."
"He is an old crone who knows as much as a roach. His predictions are not accurate." You say.
He shudders angrily at you and leaves you standing there. He and his wife have decided to go to the sage without you.