Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 192,587,585 Issue: 654 | 18th day of Swimming, Y16
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Marked


by stararan

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The purple Grarrl laid there - on the freezing Ice Tunnels floor... defeated but not destroyed. He drank a healing potion an waited for the opportune moment. When the commotion had driven all his foes to deal with another problem in another part of the caves, the purple Grarrl slipped out of sight and into the lower tunnels and made his way to Tyrannia.

     Tyrannia would always be the homeland of all Grarrls, and it was a great place to get a fresh start. The Grarrl stopped for a moment to take off his cape, his gloves, his mask, and his elbow protector's, he tied them carefully together and carried them using a stick. Walking into any Tyrannian town looking like his former self would not do at all. He couldn't hide the scars, but he could at least blame them on being attack... which was somewhat true. Though he did resolve to acquire paint brush - not being purple would help him hide his identity more than anything.

     And what about his name? Surely his real name should be left behind... but something... perhaps a nickname? "Marked Glade" suddenly rushed into his mind - fitting, considering the scars. And Glade rhymes with blade, his beloved weapons.

     But now what story to tell? Let's see... what would make sense in Tyrannia? The Lair of the Beast - that would be good, nobody would ask too many questions about that. He practiced his story aloud a few times as he walked closer and closer to Tyrammet. By the time he arrived and explained what had happened, even he had almost believed it.

     "My name is 'Marked' Glade, you know, 'cause of the scars. I was on my way to get some food when I heard this massive roar... I didn't know what caused it, I didn't even see it. I just hid in the nearest place I could find... which unfortunately was the Lair of the Beast. I wasn't exactly a welcome visitor and was chased out of there. I ran into some brush escaping, that's what caused most of the cuts and scratches." The purple dinosaur told Tyrammet's elders.

     They look at each other and shook their heads and one of them stated: "We're sorry to hear that this happened, we've been trying to make Tyrannia a safer place, but it's not going as well as we would have hoped. Please stay, we have a guest hut you can call your own until you've recovered... then we can talk again."

     Glade had little difficulty getting used to his new name; his old profession required the use of aliases. The one thing he had trouble with was accepting the kindness of others. Glade knew that when he was the most powerful and feared leader, it was because he was ruthless... the events that lead to his downfall showed his weakness to be too trusting. Now he didn't know how to act normal. He was also afraid that his possessions would be discovered and his real identity would be made known. For these reasons, Glade fell back on his old habits. He stole what he needed, and stowed away on one of the boats leaving the docks. He felt that Tyrannia was just too close to the terrible memories he had of Terror Mountain.

     This turn of events, however, turned out to be quite fortuitous. Glade listened to the pirates talking to each other. He could see them talking about their latest treasures and comparing each others scars to see who among them was the toughest. Glade could now picture himself as a pirate Grarrl, it would be a perfect disguise, and best of all, serve as a way to continue his thieving ways. whatever neopoints he could steal, he could use to train up and buy better weapons... then he could have his revenge.

     During the brief stop at Krawk Island, 'Glade' stole and used a Pirate Paint Brush. He smiled that, at the very least, his skills were not entirely gone. He also purchased a bag, in which to carry his possessions without drawing attention to them. The plan now was to find a house within walking distance of Mystery Island Training School - it would take years of training for Glade to become a much stronger fighter.

     Every Spring, Glade would join a pirate crew and seek treasure throughout the Summer. By Fall, they'd sell off the treasures and divide the NP equally among them. Come winter, Glade would return to his Mystery Island hut and spend all day training at the school. He didn't sleep well at night, too often his last battle would haunt him. Year after year, Glade steadily became stronger. And slowly, the nearby villagers began to accept him. His first year was rough, but after awhile, their kindness had broken through his thick, defensive walls. Some would stop by hear his pirate stories - about the places he had been and the adventures he had on the way. A Young Island Shoyru named Tobbie (who was named after Tobbie Fruit) had come to see Glade as his friend. (Though Glade would never admit it, the kid had sort of grown on him.)

     It was Tobbie that told Glade about the War of the Obelisk and how the Thieves Guild was challenging the other factions. Glade realized that it was an opportunity to see for himself if his training had paid off - so he sailed with many Mystery Islanders to the aide of the various factions. Obviously, he could not choose to fight for the thieves. The Seekers had some strength, but not enough for the task at hand. The Brutes seemed tough, but they had no thought as to strategy. The Awakened seemed to be there to have a good time, and the Order's magic might be unpredictable - so that left the Sway. The less questions asked - the better.

     Glade fought well through each round of opponent... finally it was time to face each faction boss - but he couldn't fight the Gelert too soon, he had beat the other bosses first. The battles were somewhat challenging, but the victories felt... empty.

     Finally, there was just one left - he couldn't bring himself to say the name, or anything at all... he just approached his enemy - his rival - with drawn swords... ready to begin the fight. But it was not to be - at this time, the final bosses appeared and Glade was called back to deal with Pride.

     How fitting, Glade thought to himself, that his foe was almost a personification of him... holding up a mirror to see her own reflection. Glade looked at his reflection from his blade. It felt like his old life was fighting his new one. He wasn't fighting Pride... he was fighting a giant version of himself... and he was losing.

     Glade woke up awhile later on the Battleground. He was being tended to by a fellow member of the Sway. She explained that one by one, the bosses had fallen... but when it was all said and done, the Sway had won.

     Glade carefully looked at the prize shop... but only one thing called out to him as 'his' prize - Galems Cloak. He carefully wrapped it up in a package and treasured it. When the time was right, he would wear it when he faced his nemesis.

     He quietly made his way back home – to Mystery Island. He had a lot to think over, primarily how and when to begin the final phase of his revenge. Perhaps his revenge would come one day - but it would be on his terms.

***

     Tobbie found life on Mystery Island extremely boring when Glade was away. Even though he had no doubt that his friend would do quite well in the war, he couldn't help but imagine how exciting it must be. Glade trusted only Tobbie to 'look after things' while he was away, and that was just usually to check whether the door remained locked. When Tobbie approached the hut, he turned the knob and the door swung open. He walked into the quiet building to see a massive Blue Gelert waiting. He looked surprised.

     "Hey kid! What are you doing here?" the Blue Gelert asked.

     "I'm supposed to be here – making sure that nobody else is here... What are you doing here?" Tobbie asked.

     "It's a long story... let's just say I'm visiting an old friend. He is said to live here these days," the Gelert answered.

     "Glade never mentioned having any friends – how can I know for sure that you know him?" Tobbie asked.

     "You can't... but there is something you can do for me..." the Blue Gelert stated.

***

     Glade had taken the scenic route home; he had done a lot of thinking. In a lot of ways, his new life was a vast improvement over his old life. Perhaps he could forget his true name... perhaps he could really be Glade. He felt an odd emotion – his old self would have called it the joy one gets from stealing a great treasure, his new self might call it a hopeful happiness. He was even whistling as he approached his hut. His tune halted abruptly when he looked at what was left of his door. It had been broken in half... and a message was secured to the door by his old dagger:

     "My friend, I have stolen something you will, no doubt, be anxious to recover. Meet me on the battlegrounds so that we can settle an old score."

     Glade searched through his things – and everything important seemed to be intact – he couldn't figure out what was missing – but he could not ignore the message. Glade decided that he risked nothing by making an appearance... and that the note was asking for his true self to reply.

     The battleground was quiet – there were a few challengers, but nothing out of the ordinary. Glade walked around the obelisk, wondering what he was waiting for. Soon, a group of Neopians appeared on the far ridge, the walked steadily towards him. The Blue Gelert spoke first when he approached.

     "I recognized you here. It was the way you fight that gave you away, more than anything else. Ruthless as ever, yet more precise. The scars just confirmed my suspicion."

     "Kanrik, leader of the Thieves Guild, been keeping busy stealing things?" Glade asked, wondering what his old friend was up to.

     "I most certainly have, most recently, I stole something I never though you would ever have – a friend. In all honesty, I didn't steal him. I made him an honorary thief and brought him with me for a tour of the battlegrounds," Kanrik said.

     From the back of the crowd, Tobbie appeared, wearing full thieves gear. "What gives? I thought Glade was going to be here!" he asked.

     "You don't recognize your friend?" Kanrik asked Tobbie, motioning to Glade.

     Tobbie looked carefully at the Purple Grarrl before him, he was about the same height as glade, and the eyes were about the same, but they were hidden behind a comfortable looking black mask. The only thing he was sure that the Grarrl had in common with Glade were the scars. Then it dawned on him... Tobbie pulled out his deck of NeoCards and found the one of Galem Darkhand. The rest of the cards fell to the ground. "Whoa! You're Galem Darkhand! You're the baddest of the bad! The worst of the worst! They say you're so ruthless... hey wait, aren't you supposed to be dead?"

     Galem shook his head. His voice was just like Glade's. He said softly, "I'm not the same Grarrl that I once was – there's this Island Shoyru who showed me true kindness and friendship. Now he knows the truth – the lie of 'Marked Glade' was stolen. But I still have a lot to learn about friendship."

     "How touching, Galem Darkhand has developed a soft side, I never thought I'd see such a thing. But I can't just let you leave. You see, my claim to rightful leadership of the Thieves Guild is that I beat its last leader... I have to finish the job that I started in the Ice Caves all those years ago," Kanrik said, smiling as he pulled out his freshly-sharpened dagger.

     "I warn you, Kanrik – I have something worth fighting for... my friend. You'll soon wish that you hadn't challenged me!" Galem said.

     Like Galem, Kanrik had been plagued by a sneaking suspicion that Galem had survived, every night he dreamt of their last battle... when he saw Galem on the battlegrounds, he realized that his foe had refined his technique, but he wasn't prepared for how much stronger Galem had become after a few years of training, it was his youthful energy that kept him from losing outright. Their battle went back and forth, strike for strike, blow for blow, their swords and shields seemed to constantly ring with the impact of each hit. Kanrik was fighting to win, but Galem fought only for a draw – something they could both walk away from and continue later on, when others were out of harms way.

     Galem borrowed from the pirate fighting style – and did a tricky maneuver, Kanrik was caught off guard and his weapon had been thrown clear aside – the ruthless Galem would have finished the battle then and there... but the new Galem caught Kanrik by surprise... Galem cast down his weapon, picked up Tobbie, and ran from the battleground, shouting, "I forfeit!"

     Galem and Tobbie talked together on the ship bound for home. Tobbie was thrilled to have such a famous friend, but Galem was worried that the other villagers wouldn't accept him. After all, he had a very bad reputation. "I'd be honored if we could always be friends, but I think I'll have to go away for awhile, somewhere I can be the new Galem Darkhand and be accepted as me. I don't want to have to worry about Kanrik going after my favorite Mystery Island village," Galem said.

     Tobbie understood and suggested, "We can always write, that would be a good way of making sure each other is alright!"

     Galem smiled; that was a great idea.

***

     Weeks had passed and Tobbie was back in Neoschool. They were learning about the history of Terror Mountain, and more specifically, the Thieves Guild. The teacher told the class: "And that's where Kanrik and Galem Darkhand had an epic fight. Kanrik won and as a result, now leads the Thieves Guild. Galem was presumably lost at about the time the Bringer was destroyed."

     Tobbie held up his hand.

     "Yes, Tobbie?" the teacher asked.

     "Actually, Galem Darkhand survived, he escaped Terror Mountain by going through the tunnel to Tyrannia. At first all Galem wanted was revenge and to fight Kanrik again, but he changed not that long ago when..." Tobbie began correcting the teacher but she interrupted him.

     "Tobbie, you have such a vivid imagination sometimes, but don't let it run so wild," the teacher said, which meant, "if you keep this up, you'll get detention."

The End

 
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