Randidly winced and raised his hand to his chest as he walked through the illuminated streets of Hastam. Was it heartburn? To think that since he gave the recipe to Claptrap all that time ago, burgers would already become this ubiquitous…
Either way, the pain quickly passed, so Randidly paid it no mind. It did, however, remind him of Claptrap. His face fell into a scowl. At a corner of a busy street, Randidly paused and looked up at the sky. It was overcast and gloomy, but below there were dozens of people on the cobblestone streets laughing gaily.
Inwardly, Randidly felt himself smoldering. These fucking idiots.
But he set that thought aside for now and continued onward. He had asked the owner of the burger joint, and the old man and directed him to the Scroll Spire if he wanted to research the stories of the Spearman.
Just the way that the man phrased that made Randidly somewhat leery of what he would find when he got there.
What he actually found was that the doors were large and wooden and moved easily under his hand. After a bit of hesitation, he entered into the tall tower-like building. As the door shut behind him, the noise seemed to cease entirely. Instead, Randidly simply found himself engulfed in the oppressive silence of a library.
For that was what it was, but not one the like of which Randidly had ever seen. The entrance to the library brought Randidly onto a strange wooden catwalk that hung above the true portion of the library. About ten meters below was a dark and misty place filled with pillars. But as Randidly peered at the pillars, his eyes widened.
...were they truly just piling scrolls down there?!?
“Visitors are rare. You have business here?”
Randidly twisted his gaze away from the scrolls below and to a young man sitting at a desk in the center of the wide room. The catwalks were in the shape of a cross, and there was a staging area with ladders in the center. As for the young man, the first thought that struck Randidly as he looked at him was how skinny the man was. He was so incredibly emaciated that it seemed he must never take a meal.
But the intensity of the young man’s gaze was on a level that Randidly had rarely encountered before. Perhaps this young man was not strong in a traditional sense, but he was not one to underestimate. Besides, Randidly couldn't’ help but notice that despite his wispy frame, his limbs were overly long. His arm was practically draped across the desk.
“Yes. I’m here to research the history of the Spearman and the Hall of Stances,” Randidly said. Being honest was perhaps a risk, but Randidly couldn’t really find any disadvantage with being up front. He did, however, add the Hall of Stances as a method of sidetracking the man if what he asked transgressed on any social norms.
He had inquired with Skarch and Azriel about it, and they didn’t indicate there was anything to worry about. But that just made him more worried. After all, those two were unusual.
“Ah. Proceed.” The young man instantly relaxed and waved his hand towards the ladders.
Randidly paused and looked at the piles of scrolls below. “Uh… is it possible for you to point me in the direction of the scrolls regarding the topics I’m researching?”
“Ah?” The young man appeared shocked. He looked at Randidly for a long time before shrugging. “I suppose so. Follow me.”
Bemused, Randidly allowed himself to be led down amongst the scrolls.
“What does it mean to be a hero?”
Silo let his words hang in the air. He was sitting in the living room of rundown farm in the area North of the Hallat river. No one answered his question.
After all, how could they? The squatters that had been staying here were now dead.
Blood dripped off of Silo’s hands, but it was hard to consider it important. Everything was difficult these days. His images were inconsistent and shallow, his thinking muddled, even his vision was blurry most of the time. Still, none of that made much of a difference to Silo. It was hard to worry about such minor things when he finally had what he had searched so long for.
‘I wanted to be a hero so badly,’ Silo thought to himself as he considered the body in front of him. The back of the man’s head had been smashed inwards, and when that hadn’t stopped the man from screaming someone had ripped out his eyes and tongue. The twisted and swollen face seemed almost humorous as it looked up at him. ‘But now that I can me… I don’t know what to do.’
For all that his images were unreliable, Silo knew that it wasn’t doing much to really weaken him. Where his old habits were being broken and lost, new images were growing within him. Images of darkness and violence, of pride and blood. There, Silo was without peer. He was a man with enough strength to silence entire worlds.
In those images, his body had been torn and broken so many times his original form was lost. He became a twisted monster of violence. But in that image, his strength far exceeded that of everyone Silo had met.
Well, aside from his elders.
That thought focused his mind because it brought back the reminder of the previous few days. While his hands tightened to fists, Silo did his best not to bare his teeth. He failed.
Although it was difficult, Silo had achieved a balance with the strange energy in his body. He had grown far beyond his previous Level with it, to the point that he had true power. All the slights he had endured in the past, all the innocents that he had seen suffer… no longer was Silo powerless to help them. He had struggled behind enemy lines and obtained an impressive amount of accomplishments. So much that he was sure to finally achieve the recognition he deserved.
Remembering, Silo’s eyes turned red. Yet… his strength was equal to that of his inane squadmates who fled from the horde of Wights? While he remained and struggled so valiantly?
The only option was that he hadn’t struggled nearly as much as he thought. Silo needed more. A hero was not one half of a team…
...a hero was an existence to which there was no answer.
Silo hadn’t reached that height. So he was forced by circumstances to draw more deeply than he ever had before from his precious treasure. So deeply had he drew that he had briefly lost himself in a feeling of strangeness. His body no longer appeared to be his own. But that feeling quickly passed.
When Silo returned to himself, he noticed two things. The first was that he had reached Level 50. The second was that he was missing one of his fingers and his left eye was a different color. Naturally, the excitement of accomplishing the former overrode any small worries that Silo might have about discovering the latter things.
He was also delighted to see the two new Skills that he gained from the treasure his elders had given to him: Heinous Decapitation and Violent Impulse. Both gained Skill Levels easily in the following hours. Although Silo was largely overwhelmed by feelings, he had enough presence of mind to stumble back through the slums of Hastam to the place where he had been blessed with this treasure. No doubt the elders could give him guidance.
But they were gone.
The houses where they lived, eeking out humble lives… abandoned. Silo felt lost.
Then he heard a teenager bullying an older woman, and all of Silo’s confusion fell away. What replaced it was a dull headache and the irresistible impulse to punish the fool who would hurt an honored elder.
Needless to say, Silo had followed the young man out of Hastam, several kilometers across the countryside, and waited outside a tavern while the kid drank. Honestly, the whole experience was good for Silo. Breathing the chilly night air did a lot to numb his headache.
After he returned to this abandoned farmhouse with his friends, Silo could wait no longer. He struck and taught these youths a lesson in respect that they would never forget. It could be considered something of a generosity that Silo magnanimously taught them all the same lesson. The final lesson.
Silo frowned and tilted his head to the side. Then he carefully looked around him. For a split second, it had sounded like someone was speaking. Yet that was impossible. Silo had made sure that none of the people here had tongues with which to speak.
“What? Who is there?” Silo bellowed. The words were harsh in the creaky farmhouse, and in their wake, there was only the sound of the wind. His heart was pounding in his ears as he spun where he stood, sending small waves through the pool of blood on the ground.
….answering your question. A hero is one who teaches…
Silo blinked. The voice was within his head! How strange. Perhaps that was the source of the headache…?
But for all that the voice had dubious origins, it surely had some wise things to say. Silo smiled widely. “Yes… That’s right, isn’t it? A hero is an existence that can mold the rest. Only… I think that these sort of people will only learn in one way: through discipline.”
The voice in Silo’s head chuckled.