Miles away, Laurence awoke. He looked at his surroundings, saw the corpse of Roy, and sighed. There was nothing to be gained from the corpse, but he was sad. The fight was far closer than Laurence would have liked to admit, and after looking at the scar that Roy’s sword had left in the earth, he could not help but feel he had only won by fluke. If he had been a moment slower with the release of his hammer, that hole would have gone through him instead of through the wall.
If he had not snapped himself out of his berserk state, then it was highly likely that he would have been killed as well. It was true fortune that he had survived, but he knew he needed to become strong enough that fortune never played a part. He needed to get better, and the last thirty or so hours had proved that to him thoroughly. He needed help.
Ascending the now thoroughly ramshackle building that used to contain the Arrows mess hall, Laurence got the first glimpse of the damage that he had wrought. The sun was rising over the streets, giving the world a steely blue hue. It crested the houses and slowly spread over a truly desolate strip of land. The thick line that shot to the north of where Laurence stood was made of collapsed buildings and caved in roads. It stretched for almost a kilometre, splitting off like the veins in a leaf. It was truly devastating.
Laurence could not help but raise his eyebrows in surprise at the sight. It was well beyond his expectations. He sighed, this was not what he had intended to do. The collateral damage was a fact that he would have rather avoided causing, but as he could not avoid it he moved on. He lowered his hood and took off his mask. They had done their job. If anyone saw him now, they would simply assume he was a survivor of the mess. The blood had long since been shed by his clothing, but the ruddy tone of his skin was undeniable. He just hoped no one would ask why it was on his hands and neck, but not his face.
Laurence slipped out of one of the many holes in the building and began the long walk home. Half way back, he stopped. He had spent a large chunk of the journey just watching the people he had affected try and move on with their lives. He watched how the injured took care of the sick, how the strong watched over the weak. He looked at the way the people were suffering and thought I need to make it so the people I care about are never in this situation. The plight of others had not motivated him to be kinder, it had pushed him to become stronger; stronger than ever before.
He turned and began walking away from Spring Street, the journey would be longer this way, but it was finding that Laurence needed to do. He walked and walked, over thirty kilometres in a single day, but eventually he found his target. He found the place he needed to be. If I want to get strong, there is only one person I trust to actually help me, he thought as he stood beneath a great sign. The boy knocked on the great oak doors that stood as testament to the building’s majesty, and was quickly greeted by an acolyte in a grey uniform.
“Tell your master that the child, Laurence, is here to learn”. He paused, then waited for the acolyte to leave. After a few minutes the acolyte returned with a man Laurence recognised well following him. Laurence smiled at the man, and when the man saw him, he could not help but winkle his nose. “Hello Alistair,” he said.
“You smell of blood. Something big has happened, hasn’t it?”
“The Arrows are gone”.
Alistair nodded, sliding his hands behind his back. “And Damien?”
“I don’t know. Maybe he got out, and he will raise his head in a few months, or maybe he died. I don’t care either way. All I know is that when I fought Roy the Blade, I was pressed more than I am comfortable with, and you’re the only person I know who can help me with that. So help”.
Alistair laughed. It was a deep, booming laugh, one with a surprising amount of warmth behind it. “It just so happens we have a spot open thanks to your friend, Jim was it?” He paused, looking sorrowful for a moment before his demeanour relaxed and he smiled again. “So if you’re willing to learn, I will welcome you in”.
Laurence nodded and walked through the large oak doors, stepping foot in the Empty Throne school of combat for the first time in his life. It was time for him to get stronger.