— A Guild Saga Story which takes place in the year 1018, two years prior to the events in Guild Saga.
Luceit’s attendants took extra care to ensure that his suit of armour was properly fastened to his body. He was not usually one for overly cumbersome plate armour, but the occasion today — the final round of the royal guard selection, and its centuries-old traditions — demanded of it.
With his father’s sword in hand and the family’s namesake shield Dawnguard strapped to the other, he took a deep breath and stepped out into the arena.
The crowd roared, overwhelming Luceit’s senses. It didn’t help that the sun shone the brightest at this time of day; particularly so at this arena which had been built on top of the tallest highlands in Radiance.
He glanced to the stands where the monarchy and noblemen sat. The King and his wife (or at least one of them) were present, although neither of them seemed particularly enthralled to be there. Seated on the left of the King was House Dawnguard; and on his right, House Duskblade — both who have served as retainers to the throne since the founding of the Mazan Empire. Coincidentally, this is the first time in tournament history that both houses’ representatives have fought their way to the finals; with both contestants being rather well-acquainted with one another, having trained together since they were children.
Luceit’s father, who he was named after, briefly turned in his direction and nodded, looking less discontented than his usual today. His mother smiled at him, bobbing her head in encouragement. He waves back at her.
The seats on the other side were mostly unoccupied— save for a single maiden Leila, a childhood friend from an allied house to both Dawnguard and Duskblade. Luceit didn’t think too much of the empty chairs, as both retainer houses were often sent on covert operations that lasted anywhere from weeks to months. Upon noticing his entrance, Leila erupted from her seat and waved frantically at Luceit, who acknowledged by raising his hand just slightly above his head.
“Ladies, Gents, Noblemen, and His Majesty, the beloved King Allowyn the Seventeenth,” boomed the officiating jester who stood next to Luceit, his voice amplified by speaking through his fingers shaped into a cone and the help of a little wind spell. “Hm? We seem to be missing a contestant… perhaps they’ve turned tail and fled?”
The crowd reciprocated with boos and hisses of displeasure. Not too long afterwards, Luceit’s opponent stumbled out from the gate on the other end. A young man of sixteen (the same age as him) with unkempt, dishevelled hair that grew past his shoulders wielding a single sword in one hand. Had one not had any prior knowledge of his identity, they might’ve thought him to be a vagabond, as he most certainly looked the part.
“Did he just wake up from a nap?” Luceit thought to himself, with palm to forehead. “He definitely just woke up from a nap.”
“A-ahem. Without further ado, let me present today’s gladiators,” the jester resumed. “Representing House Dawnguard… this scrawny one on my right here. LUCEIT DAWNGUARD THE SECOND!”
Luceit gave the jester a bewildered look, who pretended not to notice and continued at his job.
“And representing House Duskblade… is this guy who could probably use a bath. ELETHOS ARCHIBALDE DUSKBLADE!”
The jester directed them towards him, and began to mutter under his breath. “Soo…. you guys know the rules — no senseless killing, summoning of demons, poison-coated needles; any of that dishonourable stuff. You don’t actually want me to go through everything again, do you? This is what, the EIGHTH round now? Let’s just get it over with.”
“Let the battle BEGIN!!” the jester yelled as he struck a large bell.
“Good luck, Luc.” said Elethos.
“You too, El.”
Elethos’ first blow with his blade landed heavy on the Dawnguard; the impact resulting in a light shockwave that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Though properly defended, Luceit could feel his feet sink into the earth ever so slightly.
“God. No one in this kingdom can swing a blade like that, you monster,” Luceit remarked, pushing his opponent back from behind his shield. He knew his odds of winning weren’t great. And though he would say otherwise if you asked, had kept a running tally of their sparring sessions throughout the years — with the score being 52–29 in Elethos’ favour.
Elethos continued to swing at Luceit unpredictably, often leaping, bobbing, and weaving between strokes, sometimes even pretending to trip and fall to the ground to sweep at his opponent’s feet — “styles” he fabricated on his own, if you could even call those that.
Conversely, Luceit is a strict practitioner of orthodox sword techniques, which makes it even harder for him to read such chaotic movements; though he had grown somewhat used to keeping on his toes while sparring with Elethos. And through that, his reaction speeds and combat senses had been honed for the better, and helped build him to be the formidable swordsman he was today.
The fight persisted as the two continued to trade blows, with Elethos having the upper hand, landing more than twice as many clean hits than he received.
Luceit grew more weary with each swing blocked, while Elethos’ blows continued to ramp up in strength and speed. Desperately needing to take back the initiative, Luceit called forth a bolt of lightning — which Elethos effortlessly dodged. He summons another — it’s dodged again. And again, and again.
“Ugh,” Luceit grunted in frustration. “How is anyone who trains as little as you this quick?”
Luceit quashed his inner lamenting and collected himself. His stamina was quickly waning, and he needed an advantage to turn the tide of battle. He waited for his opponent to charge at him again, and sent him flying backwards with a spell that summoned a powerful gust of wind—straight into a well-positioned lightning bolt.
“Come on Luc, you know I can’t do magic. Why don’t you play fair for once?” Elethos joked, scratching his head while recovering from the pain of the shock.
“I will, as soon as you put your sword down.”
Luceit chants an incantation and coats his blade in a sheath of wind. Chaining all those spells together took a toll on him, and he’d have to make do with his blade until he recovers. This time, he makes the first move — an overhead swing with his now enchanted blade at Elethos, who immediately raises his weapon to block. Their swords clash, but the wind on Luceit’s blade blows his sword arm backwards, leaving him open and allowing Luceit to strike him clean.
“Ouch… that’s not something I’ve seen before,” said Elethos, still reeling from the damage. “It’s a good thing I brought something new today too.”
Elethos tightened his grip on his sword and concentrated, and a convergence of fire and water manifested around its blade.
“What? I thought you didn’t have an ounce of magic in you?” said Luceit, now backing away while still marking his opponent.
“I don’t — but he does,” Elethos looked to his sword and tapped its blade in the air. “Here we go, then!”
He made a sprint towards Luceit, swung wide, and whiffed. Though he had seemingly missed his target, his weapon began spewing forth a torrent of boiling water in his direction. To protect himself, Luceit held up the Dawnguard and conjured a barrier of wind for additional protection.
The scalding blast of water magic had been deflected, but left behind a fog of steam which hindered Luceit’s vision, allowing Elethos to sneak up from behind.
Elethos hit the back of Luceit’s head with the hilt of his sword, and he crumpled to the ground. The jester skipped over to check that Luceit was indeed incapacitated. He performed an unmotivated mental count before shrugging and raising Elethos’ hand to a cheering crowd.
As his consciousness began to fade, the jester began his proclamation. “Ladies and Gents — your champion, and new Captain of the Royal Guard…”
“You’re really leaving, huh?” asked Leila.
“Yeah,” replied Luceit, as he laid down the last of his packed bags by the dockside. “I think a large part of why I lost was simply caused by a lack of experience.”
“What of your life here in Radiance, then? Is winning really all that important?”
“Perhaps not,” Luceit said while staring into the distant sea. “But it’s the one goal I’ve had for as long as I’ve lived. And it would have been nice for our house to win, after so many years.”
He paused for a moment and looked in the direction of his two newfound companions having a conversation on their ship bound to depart at noon, before continuing.
“And though my time over the last year or so with the Heroes Guild has been enlightening, broadening my horizons in new lands should serve me well in future, I should think. A settled life can wait until I’ve accomplished more.”
“You will be back though, right?” asked Leila, lightly kicking on the dockland with one foot. “After your visit to the Andra.”
“For sure. Three years — and then I’m home for good.”