Chi" means Knowledge. True power can only be obtained through knowledge. Without Knowledge, one cannot obtain Wisdom. It is the starting point for all virtues. The purest form of Knowledge can only be obtained through deep reflection. This reflection is essential in the pursuit of understanding.
Childish voice- "Are you certain this is the one?"
Low-pitched voice- "Of course I am. When am I ever wrong?"
Childish voice- "But... Is she not a little too young? And she does not seem to be the same as all the others."
Shaking voice- "That's the point! She's an outcast! She'll be easier to manipulate. Those without Faith are fresher meat. If we tried this with one of the sheep, they would not give in as easily, and their meat would be tough. It would not be worth it, in the end."
Calm voice- "But how may we get to her? We cannot just storm into a Nyarian base and pick her up. You know that as well as I do."
Low-pitched voice- "We wait here. She will come."
Childish voice- "And then may we head to the-"
Calm voice- "Right now our sole priority is the Nyarian. Once we're through with her, then I shall consider your proposal."
Childish voice- "You would position the incect over your ally!?"
Calm voice- "Enough. The Nyarian may be able to hear us. We are in her mind, after all. While she would be unable to comprehend our plan, we would be better off being silent for the time being."
Shaking voice- "I wonder how she tastes?"
Low-pitched voice- "Patience, my psychotic friend. We are not going to eat this one. Or have you been listening at all?"
Shaking voice- "...Fine. I will search elsewhere."
Childish voice- "Do not devour any more humans. We must not gather too much attention. This plan cannot fail."
Nue woke up with a jolt.
"Ah... You've returned to us, have you, Nue? You will not progress any further in life by lying with your head on the desk." said a familiar voice.
"I apologise, sir. Won't do it again." Nue replied, with a hint of bitterness.
"Yes you will. Now, as I was just saying, Nyarian Valkyries obtain their name from one of the eight virtues which we live by. For example, our clan's Valkyrie is Chu XXVI, named after the virtue of Loyalty. Since there's eight clans, it would make sense to say that each clan has a Valkyrie appointed to it."
Nue could feel an aura of utter boredom surrounding the room.
The man standing out at the front of the class was Setarn, Nue's teacher. It was easy to tell he was even more bored than the whole of the class combined. Perhaps he was aware his lessons were painfully tedious, yet he could conceive no other way to teach his students.
Nue rubbed her mandibles. This was going to be a very long day. As usual, she had not got much sleep the night before.
"Now, this may seem like obvious information, and that's because it is, but I'm willing to bet half of you dumbasses didn't even know that."
Most of the class twitched nervously.
"As I've told you a hundred times, the ultamite goal of a male Nyarian is to progress to Elite status. For the girls though, you're expected to go beyond that and become a Valkyrie. It definetly won't be easy to do both of those things, but that's why I'm going to teach you to master the eight virtues and..."
Setarn continued to sprout dirvel for what seemed like days. Nue was barely listening, and even if there were any reason to, the pounding of her headache drowned out all other sounds. She felt like a Giggi had burrowed into her brain and had suddenly tripled in size, and her limbs felt like lead. She remembered having a dream during her short slumber, but the only detail she could recall was a single image of five human girls apparently speaking to one another. Suddenly, Nue felt herself slipping back into sleep.
"Nue! why don't you come up and answer this question. I'm sure you of all people will know the answer!" Setarn said sarcastically.
Nue hesitantly stumbled up to the front of the class.
"Now, what is the first virtue any Nyarian must master before they can attempt any of the others?"
Nue groaned. Of course, he chose a question he knew she would not know the answer to.
An awkward mood quickly fell as all heads in the room pointed to her. Just when she thought it could not get any worse, the door opened. "Nue, time for training." a voice rang out from outside. The whole class burst out laughing. For Nue, suicide now felt like a good idea.
"Oh well, I suppose we'll have to ask someone else, then" said Setarn, audibly trying to contain his laughter as well. "Have fun out there!"
Nue stormed out the classroom.
"They pissing you off in there?" said Elza, Nue's hunting tutor.
Nue said nothing, only staring at the ground. The two headed out of the schoolhouse and into the streets of Garphra, Nue's home. The highly decorated buildings, patterned with beautiful colours and carvings of swords, coupled with the mouth-watering aroma of sizzling Aptonoth steak and the sound of metal impacting upon metal at the blacksmiths may have been perfectly homely to any other Nyarian, but not Nue. Though she had lived there all her life, she knew this was not the place for her. All this warmth, this passion, it was alien to her.
The Nyarians were a race known far and wide for their hunting ability. One sole highly trained Nyarian warrior was ten times more powerful than any human hunter. The whole of their society was based around hunting- it was its sole full-time occupation. There were other duties, of course, but they were only for short times, before another big monster rears its head. Everything in Garphra was made from the materials of monsters, from the buildings to the food and everything else between. All Nyarians were taught from a very young age how to kill, and then how to kill some more. Most Nyarians took this in stride, but Nue could not grasp anything beyond the basics.
"It's not that I don't like fighting" Nue shouted out of the blue, as if expecting Elza to say something to the contrary. "I just hate this idea of being in a group of people dedicated to it" Nue drew her sword and swished it around, as if to prove her point.
Elza stared at her. "Hmph... Too bad. whether you like it or not, a Nyarian's purpose is to kill. Killing is what we are, and we cannot do it alone. That is the code written into our very being. Without the hunt, we are not Nyarians, just another speck on the tree of life."
"Unlike you, I don't feel really patriotic about my species. I don't see why I should, anyway." said Nue sadly.
"Well, this is something you just have to do. You are too young to make your own decisions. It's hunt or die- that's the only choice you have at the moment. That goes for me too. And these lessons will keep happening until you play along to everybody else's tune"
As Nue and Elza neared the edge of the village, they saw an unordinary sight. A Nyarian who smelled differently- from a different clan. She tried to stick to the shadows of the buildings, but was quickly spotted by a guard, who promptly whipped out a bowgun and fired a crag round at the invader's head, not only obliterating it, but the whole of her body. Then the guard put the gun away, wiped some brain matter off his brow and returned to his position. Elza laughed. "Our guards always go for the overkill. It's practically their motto. I don't know why the other clans even bother trying to invade us. We may be the smallest, but we have some of the best warriors on our side."
Soon after, Nue arrived at a small open grassy copse in the middle of a group of trees. Some Mosswine were shuffling about, eating mushrooms as usual, while a trio of Velociprey were debating over who would get to eat the carcass of a Kelbi. Elza pointed to them. "There's your target."
Nue cocked her head. "I've had enough of small fry. Give me something bigger to kill"
"You're weak. If you can't have Faith in your own species then you cannot progress as a Nyarian. You just need to grow up and accept your fate!" Elza snapped.
Nue's muscles tensed. "Why the fuck are YOU telling me to grow up!? You're only a few years older than me!"
The sound of the two Nyarians bickering managed to dislodge the Velociprey from the dead Kelbi. Looking over at the duo, the Velociprey were intrigued by this new prey that had stumbled into their hunting grounds. They had never eaten a Nyarian before, so they might as well now.
"I'm telling you to grow up because you're acting like an infant!" Elza screamed.
Nue grabbed the hilt of her sword. "At least I'm not a fucking knuckle-dragger who has to be a trainer because she can't do anything else!"
Elza drew the massive hammer slung at her back. "That's it! If you won't grow up yourself then I suppose I'll have to make you!"
Elza was about to slam the hammer on Nue's head when the Velociprey stepped in. One jumped at Elza, knocking her out of the way just before the hammer made contact. Nue quickly turned, unsheathing her blade and slashed at another Velociprey jumping her way. Falling back, it barked at another of the 'preys to focus their attention on the attacker.
"Looks like you'll be doing as I tell you anyway." sneered Elza as she picked herself up from the ground. Ignoring her, Nue stood still as the Velociprey circled her, waiting for her to make a move. All was still for a few moments while for the second time that day, all eyes were on Nue.
Suddenly, a lone Velociprey plucked up the courage to jump at her. Nue reacted promptly, swinging at it in the air. Her sharp blade sliced through the Velociprey as if it were hot Kirin cheese, and the bird landed, litterally in pieces. The Velociprey attempted to retreat again, but Nue would have none of it. She grabbed the head of one of them and punched it hard, caving its skull inwards, before fluidly discarding it, leaping over to the remaining raptor and biting it on the neck with her sharp mandibles, decapitating it.
"Well done, I suppose" Elza piped up. "Seen better, though."
Nue was about to make a retort when a far larger Velociprey appeared. On closer inspection, Nue found it was actually the boss Velocidrome. Seeing the bodies of its subordinates on the ground, the alpha jumped at Nue, but she again drew her sword and impaled it as it landed on her. Pulling the sword out for a second strike, Elza withdrew her hammer and smacked the Velocidrome high into the air and into the darkness of the trees.
"What the hell!?" Nue exclaimed. "That was my kill!"
Elza wiped the blood off her hammer. "Until you decide to stop resisting the Nyarian way, small fry is all you'll be facing."
"Whatever. I'm done here." said Nue, turning to go.
"WHERE THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE GOING!?" Shouted Elza, grabbing Nue by the shoulder and throwing her to the ground.
"Every damn time I tell you what you need to do after a kill, you ignore me! Remember, the most important part of a hunt is not the kill, but the apology!"
"Shit! At least be a little less rough about it!" spat Nue, dusting herself off.
She then kneeled next to the corpses of the Velociprey, with one hand on the top of her head and the other on the Velociprey.
"I apologise for killing you, fallen Velociprey. I promise your death will not be in vain, your body will not go to waste, and I will never forget your passing. O Velociprey, though you were far weaker than most other monsters, you are no less deserving of life than them. May you become one with the earth, and may you rest in peace"
She then bent down to kiss the Velociprey briefly, and repeated the process with the others. "I still don't see the point of that" she said after she was done.
Elza shrugged. "Respect is something that is earned when your equals and superiors are concerned. With monsters, though, you obviously can't bond with them, and they can't win your respect in life. So this is just a way of showing them that respect. Anyway, you missed a step"
Nue was taken aback, and turned her back on Elza. "No way! I am not going to do that! Especialy not when you're around!"
Elza chuckled. "I was only joking! No need to get mad at me again!"
Silence fell for an awkward few seconds.
"Listen, I'm sorry Nue. For trying to hit you and for shouting at you and all. I should've been more patient."
Nue's embaressment turned to rage. "Yeah? Well I'm sorry too. For stooping to your level!"
Elza looked disenheartened. "Nue... You've got to try harder at this. Because you know what will happen if you don't..."
Nue began trembling. "No..."
"The Valkyrie will call for you..."
Had Nue possessed visible eyes, they would be filled with deep fear. "NO!"
"She'll tell you what a failure you are in life..."
"NO! Please... no!"
"And then she'll have you executed!"
"I KNOW WHAT HAPPENS!"
Nue calmed down, but signs of distress could clearly be seen on her. "You know, before today I thought I could trust you. But now I know... You're just like the rest of them."
Nue left the copse and headed back to Garphra. Elza made no attempts to stop her.
As Nue reentered the village, it felt even more alien to her than before. The cheery atmosphere... it made her sick to her stomach. She had no idea what to do. Just when she thought that this would be the end of the day's agonies, yet another familiar yet obnoxious voice cropped up.
"Hey Nue! In a mood as usual? C'mon! Loosen yourself up! Get rid of all that tension!"
Nue turned around to see the most pathetic looking Nyarian she knew. And it just so happened that he was her "friend".
"Can't you just take a hint and piss off, Terin? You are an annoyance."
"Aww, don't be like that!" Terin replied. He was the epitome of a runt of the litter- He was unusually short, any physical strength was nonexistent and he was painfully idiotic. And yet Nue had never met someone more passionate about hunting.
"Where were ya all this time? Were you out hunting with mistress Elza? Lucky bastard! I wish I could go hunting all the time! My bloodthirst cannot be quenched!" He then started jumping about, spouting various swooshing sounds as he did so.
"Stop calling her mistress! She's not a Valkyrie!" spoke a less familiar voice, the source of which Nue found difficult to pinpoint at first.
"Huh? Who said that?" asked Nue, looking for the speaker. "Oh, it's you, Seji."
Seji was Terin's sister. Like Nue, she did not fit in very well with the other young Nyarians, but for different reasons. She was hardly ever seen without her loudmouth brother, who appeared to be the only person to understand her fully. She did not exactly have a great presence wherever she went, but liked to make herself known by any means possible.
"She isn't? I thought she was! I mean, she's got the big cube and all!"
"The... big cube?" said Nue and Seji simultaneously.
"Yeah! You know... the big cube where you... You know! The big cube! It's big!"
"Saying nothing but nonsense as usual, Terin Atekikuma! How am I related to you?"
While the siblings were focused on each other, Nue attempted to slip away. However, being an archer, Seji was not one to avoid details like that.
"Hold it, Nue Ikasuga! We're not through with you yet!"
Groaning, Nue gave up her escape plan for the time being. "What do you want with me? If you want to destroy my sanity, you're on the right track."
Terin cleared his throat and began to speak with a very dramatic voice, which was especcially uncomfortable when it came from such a weedy body. "I was asked, by no less than our Valkyrie Chu- somethingorother for you- yes, you!- to say that she wants you to visit her!"
Nue froze. "No..." she thought. "This can't be real... if she wants to see me of all people, then that must mean..."
Terin looked confused. "Nue? what's wrong? Tripped over a Hornetaur recently? I know I have! One time, I tripped over one and it hopped onto my back and stayed there for a few hours til it went away! I was so scared I could hardly move!"
Nue felt nauseous again. She didn't want to be here, but she didn't want to die either...
Terin continued his story, aimless of Nue's fear. "And then when I woke up the next day, the Hornetaur was licking my back! I think it was a dream, though, cause then the Hornetaur got off and it had a tasty lookin' slice of cake attached to it, and it started singing a song about mushrooms."
Nue tried to conceive a plan, but was unable to. Even if she refused to come to her, the Valkyrie would come to her to deliver final judgement upon Nue.
Still aimless, Terin reached the finale of his epic tale. "And ever since then, my dad's banned cake from the house. But then again, my dad did say that if a girl touches you in your private bits you're not supposed to do anything, so I dunno if I should follow him on that one."
Nue seemed to have no other choice. She would go to the Valkyrie and attempt to convince her not to kill her. She felt it was the only thing she could do. Pushing Terin and Seji out of the way, Nue decided to get it over with quickly.
If a human were permitted entry to a Nyarian clan base, they might be surprised to learn that Nyarian Valkyries did not live in beautiful castles or highly guarded fortresses, but lived as everyone else did, in ordinary accommodations. Guard would not be necessary, since a Valkyrie can easily fend for herself. They were not treated much differently from average Nyarians, barring the fact that Valkyries were forbidden from being in a sexual relationship with a man as they would most likely hold her back.
Nue arrived at the door to Valkyrie Chu XXVI's house. Unable to contain her fear, she entered. "You called for me, mistress Chu?"
"I am here,my dear. Turn around."
Nue turned to see the tall figure of the valkyrie standing over her, where Nue was only a second ago.
"I am always here, my dear. Connection to static existence is fragile. It can be easily exploited..."
"Mistress Chu! Please... Don't kill me! I've been trying my hardest! Honest! I know I may be a bit of a rebel, but..."
"My dear! Do you really believe we do these executions anymore? Not a single person has been executed within their own clan for five hundred years!"
Nue warmed up instantly. "Oh? well that's good to know. Anyway, what did you want me about?"
Chu leaned in, looking closely at Nue. "Your trainer... Elza. She has not returned to this village. Would you know anything about this?"
Nue's hands instinctively clenched in thought of Elza. "No... I do not."
Chu sighed. "I see. I would search for her myself, but my abilities are aging fast. I'm getting very old..."
Chu walked outside. "You may go"
Nue considered her position for a moment. "Mistress Chu, may I be blunt?
Nue stepped outside, trying to avoid the old Valkyrie's gaze. "I wish to leave the clan. This place, it is not for me. To be honest, I cannot stand yet another day of it"
Chu was surprised. "Well thing is, dear, you cannot. You are but a youth. When you become old enough to make your own decisions, then you will be permitted to."
"I told you that you may go."
Nue felt like screaming. She felt like lashing out at Chu, burying her blade in her old heart. She managed to overcome these wishes, though, and wordlessly walked away back to her own house. It had been a long, tiresome day. She knew she would get even less sleep than the nights before, but anything would be better than nothing.
Much later, in the early hours of the morning, Nue was awoken by the sound of someone entering her room. Getting up sharply, she realised it was Seji.
"Get out of here now!" She ordered, but tried to remain quiet. "There's a Dragon in the village! It's destroying eve-"
Seji's words were interrupted by the deafening roar of a monster from outside.