Voices of Belazar’s companions echo around him, blunted by the smooth walls of the rose quartz room. As their sounds are lessened yet drawn out, so his torchlight is dimmed but reflected. Everything that influences his senses is dispersed throughout the spherical space and stretched between the gaps of his breath.
“This place assaults my perception.” Belazar crosses his thick mountain-climbing legs and sits like a boy mesmerized by an all-night campfire. “I’m drifting.” Time spirals and thoughts from yesterday, last season, and his childhood compete for attention with parallel intensity.
Solaris waves her pale arm in front of his face. “Whatcha doing?” She holds the edge of her short skirt down as she settles onto her knees and reaches for his cheek. “Are you okay?”
Belazar is a ghost viewing his own conception and birth.
Below the earth, elves of dusk conspired to breed with orcs to create a hybrid race to serve their thirst for conquest. Belazar’s mother shared her aura with an orc warlord.
Rage grants reckless strength. It is a switch from one face to another.
Belazar’s mother discarded him with a curled lip as he reached for her, and his father turned his back, ignoring baby-Belazar’s cries.
“Yo!” Solaris’s fingers catch tears streaming from his eyes. “Snap out of this emo trip, Belazar. We need you swinging your axe, not sniveling like a man-baby.”
He snarls and leans away from her. “I must commune with my ancestors and anchor my soul. This room threatens to unleash a storm from within me.”
She pulls her hand back with a smirk. “Elf ancestors or orc?”
“My spiritual ancestors are of the human tribe that adopted me, while my storm of rage arises from the disgust both orcs and elves showed.” Belazar slaps his palms together. “Now leave me be.”
Solaris huffs and pouts, rolling to her feet and smacking his face with her fur cloak as she spins on her heel. “Amazing how rude men can be to a lady that can drown them in their sleep.”
As she walks away, her image stretches into fading copies trailing behind like sunspots on Belazar’s eyes. He stops blinking and stands, and a translucent copy of himself remains sitting.
“What?” Jacob bumps into the standing-Belazar’s side and kicks his foot through the sitting-Belazar. “An illusion?”
Belazar frowns down at the apparition that wears his face frozen in a snarl. “A ghost of an angry memory.” He shrugs, shoulders drooping. “I don’t know, but I’ve never felt so… peaceful, weightless, and clear-headed.”
Eyes wide, Jacob claps his hands and drops to the floor with his legs crossed. “This is going to be awesome.” He hums and claps his hands again. “Can everyone leave please, I’m having trouble concentrating.”
Armor clinking, Beorn stomps past Belazar and kicks Jacob’s butt. “No time. You want to meditate so bad, come back on your own.” Beorn shakes his head and marches out into the hallway.
Jacob hops to his feet and pokes Belazar’s bare chest. “You took my spot.” The martial artist pokes again, harder. “Not nice.”
Belazar tilts his head. “You are a gnat with a hyena’s mouth, and your finger does not bother me.”
Brown eyes twinkling, Jacob makes a fist. “Don’t tempt me, orcelf. I could knock your tusks out, and bust every one of your limbs before you hit the ground.”
Shrugging, Belazar strides to the doorway. “Coming?”
“You are different.” With a relaxed posture, Jacob follows into the hallway. “The old you would have snarled at least.”
“Yes, but the current me finds it obvious that you were baiting. If I had responded in anger, you would have the symbolic victory even while collecting your teeth from this rosy floor.”
Jacob slips past to the library door at the end of the hall. “Okay, people. How about some help with this next riddle lock?”
Following, Belazar reaches over Jacob’s shoulder and jerks a puzzle-tile down. “This is an easy one.”
“Not you.” The martial artist grabs for Belazar’s hand but misses. “Wait!”
Belazar jerks another tile to the center of the lock and slaps it with his palm. “See. The riddle is about building a foundation of knowledge on solid ground.” He pushes the door, and it opens to a large, long room full of bookshelves and glowing fungus creatures. “All the diagonal-line tiles needed to brace the jagged-star tile.”
Jacob slaps Belazar’s cheek. “Does that make you angry?”
Rubbing his stinging skin, Belazar shoves past the martial artist. “I’ll play with you later, little man. We have books to find.”
“You left your rage behind in that room.” Jacob shimmies up next to him while dodging tentacles of a fungus creature. “Anger is the core of your strength and the basis for my distractions. That room’s gift was meant for me, not you.”
“Rage is a tool.” Belazar draws his two-handed axe and chops through the nearest fungus creature writhing its tentacles about. “I have others.”
Belazar, warrior—rugged former Verdant crusader
Beorn, Ranger of Thorn—Colgrevance’s right hand
Jacob, martial artist—tumbling scout with mystic fists
Solaris, sea witch—whimsical lover of the grotesque