The heavy stone doors of the tower slammed shut, echoing up the stairwell that ascended towards the peak. As Mythal took a moment to take some steps forward and follow the stairwell that led up to the second floor, he snorted softly. The air in here smelled strange; like it had been resting inside a cave for a long time and had only recently found freshness. Based on how it looked outside, this probably wasn’t far from the truth. The room he had entered into was nothing more than an entry way, by the look of it. With no other choice, the God Slayer made his way to the staircase and began to slowly ascend each step. His footsteps echoed as he went up, the sound of it reverberating back down to him as he approached the second level. He slowed his pace as he stepped into the top half of the first room, disappearing onto the next platform.
“Hello there, young man!” Mythal was just a little bit surprised – okay, a lot a bit – to find a man sitting behind a bar. There was a sign above the open window of it, with letters and words that he didn’t recognize. The man looked fairly human in comparison to most, though one eye was a bit droopy compared to the other. He chuckled as he set his gaze upon the God Slayer, rubbing his hands together. “Come to challenge the Tower?”
Mythal blinked and cocked his head. “I’m just here to find out what it’s doin’ here.”
“Ah but the tower is the utmost challenge to worthy fighters. It is meant to bring the strongest warriors from the lands to face our grand champion, Demi-God of the Storms, Susano,” the man explained, bowing his head as he named his lord. “And I am here to provide aid to those that ascend higher and higher to his throne room.”“Provide aid? Like heal them? Give weapons?”
Mythal asked, walking over to the counter to look the man over.
“Oh no, I’m not healer. But I can provide weapons especially useful against certain creatures in this tower. Or stones that can unlock your locked away powers. You can even-…”“Wait…”
Mythal said, holding a hand up. “Locked away powers? The hell is that?”
“You are a wizard, I can tell. One of impressive might. But to challenge Susano, you must go through trials and build up your power once more. Your connection to your magic has been hampered, for a time. Defeat creatures in here and they will return.”
Mythal scoffed. So not only was this Tower some kind of proving ground for a selfish god looking to test his might but he also cut down wizard’s powers when they entered. No wonder people had come in here and perished – relying on their strengths quickly became a crutch when their spells had been taken from them. “And what would Susano think if I just knocked his stupid tower to the ground?”
Mythal asked, his hand curling into a fist.
“You wouldn’t be the first to try but you’re more than welcome. This Tower was constructed by the gods and to strike it down is to insult them personally. I’ve seen many a man and woman break their limbs trying to punch their way through. Doing so left them quite unprepared to ascend the challenges. But do as you wish,” the man waved at the wall beside his shop.
Even better – he could hurt himself trying to break the structure to the ground. Mythal growled and let his arm drop back to his side. “So how do people buy your goods?”
he asked, nodding to the various items behind the shopkeeper.
“Ah with gold, of course. The creatures in this tower drop both gold and stones to return your power. Each item has a price and if you have the bags of gold required for it, I’ll happily make the exchange,” the man explained. He made use of a pouch he had on the bar, moving it from one hand to the other to symbolize it changing hands. He then pushed a small item from the previous hand to the one that had traded the gold.
It was like he didn’t think Mythal knew how purchasing items worked. “Fine. Let’s take this challenge. Where to first?”
The shopkeeper waved behind Mythal and as the God Slayer turned, he found a small but steep staircase that led to a door. He glanced back at the shopkeeper once more before he climbed up the stairs and pushed his way through the door. What he found beyond was a bar – much like the ones that Mythal had been in over his years. As the door slammed shut, he took a moment to look around the room and see what he could see. Nothing seemed out of place, nothing was popping out that would make him think he had entered enemy territory. He stepped over to the bar and leaned over to look behind it. Nothing hiding behind. The back cabinet and shelves were empty though…
As he turned to survey the rest of the room, he spotted a chest in the corner of the room. Actually, it was three of them set right next to one another. Slowly he walked over, his head cocked as he looked them over. As he stood before them, he took a moment to lean each way to look around them. Maybe they were inside? Best to get the drop on them then. He widened his stance a little, prepared to attack as soon as he opened up the top. He hesitated only for a moment longer before he grabbed the edge of the top and pulled upwards.
Teeth; sharp, jagged, blood-coated teeth met his vision as soon as he opened up the chest. All three chests sprung along, their tops opening and revealing the rows of teeth that wanted to bite in and tear at his flesh. They snarled and sprang at him, Mythal just barely ducking and rolling out of the way. His magic converged on his arm, luckily still capable of creating his reliable gauntlet. As he came up on his feet, he leapt forward and slammed his hand into the first chest’s body. His strength tore through the creature’s form and sent a spray of splinters flying all over the immediate area.
He turned just in time to uppercut the next one attacking him, ripping the Mimic in half with one mighty blow. The last one came at him from below, trying to chomp down on his feet. The God Slayer leapt up and landed on the nearest table, carefully balancing on the flat surface. The Mimic followed after him, snarling and snapping its jaws. Mythal flipped over it and came down towards the bar’s floor once more. But his hand came around and landed a heavy hammer strike through the top of the camouflaging creature’s top, slamming its own teeth into itself. And then he thrust his arm through its back, reducing it to wooden splinters as well.
As the spray of wood cleared, another door had appeared practically right beside him. And in front of it were three linen bags, full to the top. He opened one to assure that it was, in fact, gold. The sparkling coins glittered at him along with a single rainbow colored stone that rested on the top. He took the stone out and pocketed it before he tied the top shut and picked up the trio in his hands.
“Ahh look at that! It’s been a few days since someone made it past the first room!” The storekeeper greeted him as Mythal exited the bar, holding his hands high. The God Slayer walked up and dropped the three bags on the bar. “And with riches too.”“Something to give me my strength back. Physical strength,”
he explained. He could feel it in his attacks; his strength had waned too. He could go without his more advanced spells if need be. He’d just punch everyone in his way.
“Ahh of course,” the man said, taking the bags and depositing them behind the counter. He then pulled out a small, black stone and placed it on top. “This will give you back your speed and strength. But only for a little while.”“I only need a little while,”
Mythal said as he pocketed the stone. He turned back and found the door he had come in was gone and another steep staircase and new door had appeared. So be it.
He burst through this door, practically knocking it off its hinges. As he rolled to his feet, he found himself standing before five half-dead creatures. They were once humans and, by the looks of it, villagers of this town. One of them was even a former Rune Knight by the look of his uniform.
All five of them leapt at him at the same time, their gnarled hands stretching out to grab at him. Mythal rolled underneath them, sliding along the ground before he found a firm grip. He was back on his feet in no time, charging back at the creatures as they slowly got to their feet and turned to face him. As his armored hand tore through the first zombie’s face, rendering its head to nothing more than meat and bone chunks, he felt right again. His strength had returned and now these monstrosities would feel it. He pulled his chest back to avoid a swipe at his head and sent another life-ending punch to the aggressor, spraying even more gore with it.
He felt a sharp pain across his back, as a clawed hand swiped at him from behind. He turned and buried his fist into the torso of another zombie, this time the Rune Knight one. He followed it up with a hard punch to the neck, knocking the creature to the ground. Mythal spun around, holding his right hand out, and rammed it through the last two creatures one after the other, dropping their bodies to the ground to join their brethren.
He winced as he stretched his back, feeling the fresh cuts underneath. But he wasn’t going to stop there. A new door appeared and fifteen bags of gold sat before it. Mythal grabbed the bags and used the strings around each one to tie them together so he could carry them easier. He kicked open the door that led to a new level with the same shopkeeper there, awaiting him. He walked up to the bar but didn’t drop the bags. “Those were people; innocent people that didn’t deserve to die just for their curiosity.”
“It is the challenge of the Tower. Even Demi-God of the Storms, Susano, is a prisoner of this place. He ventured to challenge the Tower, surpassing each and every stage. But there was no grand champion at the time and so when he ascended to the last level, it was required he stay and challenge any that come his way. None have made it to him…” The storekeeper pointed behind Mythal. “Until you.”
Mythal turned to face the door, the final one leading to the top of the tower. He tossed a look back at the shopkeeper, still not happy about this entire ordeal. “That ain’t gonna happen to me if I beat him, is it?”
he asked, his voice fierce.
“Of course not. If the champion is beaten, the challenger is freed. And the Tower rests for another century until it is ready to take a new champion in.”
He didn’t like this shopkeeper. But at this point, he didn’t have any other options. With a sigh, he scaled the steps and pushed open the door, entering the champion’s domain.
|Hargeon Port||Fairy Tail|