[STORY] Latiya

  • 1 year ago

The furthest reaches of the Delshire Kingdom's domain, in the southern continent....
The Jungle of Death, long thought to be uninhabitable.
Yet there was a tribe unknown to the outside world, whose magic allowed them to thrive.
They called themselves the descendants of the panther ...
...And thus named themselves the Eusi Kuja, which means 'the Black Claws.'
This tribe of supreme hunters did not fear the beasts of the Jungle of Death.
However, they felt the tribes of the outside world were warlike and untrustworthy.
Despite this, in the jungle's heart, a child named Latiya sat comfortably atop a towering tree.
She would gaze curiously at the outside world. Was there even better hunting out there? What were other tribes like? One day, her cat-like senses alerted her. In a village past the jungle's outskirts, she heard horns and saw smoke.
What is going on out there? Oh! A festival! They are having a festival today!
She was not allowed, but it was too tempting to the child. She ran out of the jungle for the first time.
It was there that Latiya found the freedom she had always longed for... but she did not find a festival.
The village was under attack by beings with jutting teeth.
Latiya had never seen Fomors before.

When a girl her age was about to be attacked, Latiya threw a rock at the assailant.
It struck the Fomor, but bounced harmlessly off the strange clothing he wore with a clang.
The girl got away, but he turned to stare at Latiya in shock and fury, soon joined by his fellows.
Latiya ran, frightened.
She was already a match for many jungle beasts, but who were these beings?
She tripped on a stray stone. Having caught up with her, the lead Fomor grinned and raised his weapon...
A large shadow flew over her, and in a sudden flash of light, her attacker was slain.

Latiya had no words. She had never seen horses before, and riding it was a knight in gleaming armor.
What she thought was a large spear was a lance. He charged through the Fomor ranks.
She was captivated by the strange new sight. His movements were too rapid to follow.
The glimmering armor scattered sunlight, making him look like a flash of light and motion.
Finally turning to the small girl looking up at him in awe, the man trotted over to her.
Relief brought confidence back into Latiya. She pointed back to the horde.
There are more attacking the village. You need to save them first!
As she said that, more knights rode over a ridge, charging the Fomors with their banners waving.
It looked like the girl and the other villagers were saved. Latiya turned back to the knight.
Wow! Awesome! Are you the legendary teacher, Shuja?
Shuja? No, kid. I'm just Roland. A knight from the kingdom of Delshire.
Night— Knight. What is a knight?
Well... a knight is someone who helps people that are in danger.
So are you like the stars that show the way? When you are lost?
The stars ?
Yeah. The stars are always there to help you not get lost.
Well... Er, yes, I guess you could say that.
Latiya gave Roland her pendant, a polished stone in the shape of a leopard, and ran into the jungle.
I live in there. Thank you for saving me.
She soon turned ten, and her tribe began to train her in the teachings of the great Shuja.
She learned how to summon the magical Kuja, a chain hook to escape from or hunt prey.
Despite becoming one of the best hunters in the world, Latiya still dreamed of knighthood.
Years had now passed.
Latiya, a young woman, knew it was time for her to leave the jungle.
She promised her sister Lua that she would return once she became a knight.
She reached the village she had seen attacked in her youth. It appeared to be doing well once more.
Latiya was glad to befriend Marie, the girl she saved back then.
She now owned the town shop.

There was also the Crow Knight, who nursed an old war wound with drink.
He seemed less than impressed with Latiya.
...You want to become a knight? Hmph. You sure did come to the wrong person. Go ask somebody else, kid.
The knight's disinterest was a mask. He made a show of tending to his injured leg as he spoke.
Kid, just... Look, you want to become some cripple like me? Think about what you're asking.
Yet Latiya was as focused as she was on any other hunt, and Marie was there to support her.
I am sure that injury came from you saving someone's life. That is why I want to become a knight.
The old man was taken aback. He continued dismissively, though there was recognition in his eyes.
From the jungle, huh... Okay. See that tiny leaf, hanging by its lonesome on that branch? Go pierce it.
If you can charge and hit that leaf, I'll help. But miss, kid, and leave that lance. Find a happier life.
He thought the target too small to hit, and his horse was terrified by Latiya's strong hunter's aura.
Instead, the Kuja chain flew out of her hand as she jousted without a horse, hitting the leaf.
The Crow Knight began training her in proper jousting, and Marie joined in their travels.
If Latiya could win the grand tournament, then she would earn herself a knighthood.

After some time...
Her fans began calling her the Panther Knight, and lance skills won out over her poor horsemanship.
Her fame reached the capital of the Delshire Kingdom, and she was invited to the grand tournament.
This is what she had been training so hard for... If she won this joust, she would be a knight.
Latiya wondered what life would be like after finally achieving her dream.
The Crow Knight would retire once more. Would Marie return to her shop, or come with Latiya?
However, the crowd was about to be shocked by something unprecedented in jousting history...
During her final match a strange warmth emanated from the Kuja tattoo, and spread to her other arm.
The Kuja's highest form, the "Magic Unsheathed," filled one's spear with the power of an apex predator.
Only a few in her tribe had ever achieved such power... but now it happened to Latiya's lance.
If she continued, this friendly competition would turn into a massacre. Her old life could ruin her new one.
She knew that she could never endanger someone for her own selfish reasons. She'd have to give up.
Latiya raised her lance to the sky, conceding the match.
The audience had rooted for her to win, and could not understand this forfeit. They began to boo her.
Latiya and her friends had to flee the mob. They headed to Galon, where the next tourney would be.
The Crow Knight surmised what had happened, though Marie was confused and hurt.
Once she explained it to her, the two quickly grew close again.
Still, Latiya was plagued by doubt...
The Magic Unsheathed would happen every time she fought now.
How could she be a knight?
But then they came across another town being ransacked by the fanged Fomors, just like years ago...
Wishing to prove her value Latiya charged towards the village, heedless of her friends' warnings.
She steadied her lance at the Fomors...
Though she killed several pillagers, she had trouble controlling her frightened horse.
Latiya fell from her horse as it was slain, the Fomors advancing upon her.
She had struck her head and was drifting in and out of consciousness.
Just as the Fomors were about to set upon her...
...she felt the rumble from the ground, a thunderous gallop.
Latiya managed to turn her head towards the sound, but the sight shocked her further still.
The Crow Knight, long injured and past the point of battle himself, was charging the enemy.
His movements were rapid as he moved in a blur of light, parrying and attacking with quick slashes.
Unfortunately, his masterful display was short-lived.
His injured leg was still a hindrance, and whatever energy he had in his youth was being quickly spent.
He continued to push forward to save Latiya, even as he began to take grievous wounds.
Latiya had realized this and cried out loud, knowing he was trading his life for hers.
No! I am okay! Run!
He continued his assault, stumbling to her as he hacked through the last of the immediate threats.

The Crow Knight was too injured to continue on.
He fell from his saddle, and looked at Latiya as he struggled to lean upon his sword.
His body was full of open wounds from his reckless charge, and she could not hold back her tears.
Latiya, you never listened then, and you still don't listen now.
Please, do not speak. I am going to fix you up.
I lost that battle a long time ago, kid... so you'd better start listening to me now.
Latiya, do you still want to become a knight?
Yes. I want to become a great knight... like you.
Her honest reply caused both worry and love to cross the Crow Knight's face as he spoke.
...It's okay if you don't. You don't need the title to be a knight, Latiya .
Hell, you don't even need the horse. I shouldn't have forced both on you.
Marie came running from afar, shouting with shock.
The Crow Knight whispered his last words, with his breath fading away.
Latiya. Keep your head up and keep your composure. Also... take care of Marie, eh? This... is for you.
The Crow Knight passed away as he handed over the badge he used to prove his knighthood.
The badge was crafted around a polished stone in the shape of a leopard.
She was in shock that her mentor was actually Roland. More Fomors began to rush towards her.
But Latiya was no longer playing sport with the squires and knights she had befriended.
Her prey would see the Magic Unsheathed and learn what it was to fear. Now her hunt would begin.
The Kuja hurtled her in every direction as she attacked the Fomors with deadly force and no hesitation.
The destroyed animal pens were a fitting battlefield, because what happened next was a slaughter.
If they attacked, she flew into the shadows. If they fled, she charged straight through them.
They eventually tried to flee in all directions, so that some might escape.
Yet Latiya would not allow a single Fomor to flee. This was justice for all they had done.
When her hunt was done, she stood at the side of the fallen Roland until the sun began to rise.
Marie frantically tried to rouse him, but to no avail. At least he wasn't in pain any longer.
Latiya wasn't sure what to say to her. They did not speak to one another, even after dawn broke.
The Royal Army finally arrived at the village and assessed the situation.
One knight recognized Roland, taking his body for burial with honors as he explained why to Latiya.
In past days the Crow Knight was the Flash Knight , as he seemed to embody sunlight itself.
Thinking of starlight, Latiya was grateful to have so much in common with her mentor.
Marie was furious with Latiya, blaming her for Roland's death, but she could not hold onto it for long.
Yet it hurt too much to have her near. Marie asked Latiya to leave, to spare them both pain.
In a daze she stumbled back towards the jungle, and reached the field where Roland had saved her.
She fell to her knees in the soil. Had she lost everything? Had she ever truly had anything?
She was not a hunter of her tribe. She was not a knight. She had lost Roland. She had lost Marie .
This field was where she first tasted freedom, all those years ago.
It seemed so different then. The village was attacked, seeing the knights had filled her with hope.
She didn't know what she was doing anymore.
The sun had set once more, and the plains were filled with cold wind and darkness.
She had been brought up to see by starlight, so she looked upward reflexively.
The view of the night sky here reminded her of an old conversation with Roland .
Night— Knight. What is a knight?
Well... a knight is someone who helps people that are in danger.
So are you like the stars that show the way? When you are lost?
The stars ?
Yeah. The stars are always there to help you not get lost.
Well... Er, yes, I guess you could say that.
Latiya, who felt lost, now felt like Roland was showing her the path forward with starlight .
To help those in danger... To be there for those who are lost...
Staring at the starlight made her realize why she looked up to Roland , and tears rolled down her face.
I only need to be me. I just need to save those in danger, and be starlight for those who are lost.
With newfound pride, Latiya turned away from the jungle and walked back into the world. She would return to her tribe someday... once she finally found what she was looking for.
A few months later...
A hot summer bakes another city of the southern continent...
The center square of the city had a fountain surrounding a beautiful statue, gorgeously displayed.
The beautiful fountain was definitely worthy as the resting spot for the travelers to cool off by the trees... ...but only gasps of fear filled the space at the moment.
An assailant held a child hostage in the center of the town square.
Don't you come near me, you hear? Just one step, and this youngling is dead!
Suddenly Latiya stepped forward to save the child, and a villager broke the silence.
Wait, is that... Is that the [notice]Panther Knight ?!
People began to whisper and murmur, well acquainted with her name.
Isn't Latiya the warrior who can defeat any opponent in a single strike? She helps anyone in danger.
Hush! I'd be okay if that was all! She does help, but her surroundings... It's scary to even talk about.
As the assailant heard them and grew more nervous, a strange whistling sound rushed past his ear.
As soon as he turned to the Kuja, Latiya swung in and scooped up the child, swinging away.
However, the beautiful statue and fountain began to crack... and suddenly crumbled apart.
The people's cheers halted immediately, and horrified exclamations filled the square instead.
But even in this situation, Latiya ensured that the child was unhurt.
Hey kid... are you okay?
The child seemed surprised by the sudden turn of events, but then she smiled up at the warrior.
Who are you?
I am Latiya.
... Latiya, thank you for helping me. Please take this.
Thank you. I am sure I will enjoy it.
She read the situation around her, approaching a nearby soldier with an apology.
I am sorry about the statue. This is all I have. Farewell.
The crowd didn't know whether to smile or cry. They could only watch her leave in stupified awe.
Latiya was deeply upset that she made a mistake again, but she smiled at the candy in her hand.
I am glad the kid is safe now.
Thinking of the girl's smile had restored her spirit, and she headed towards the next town.
Latiya briefly looked at the road signs past the gate, and wondered where she should head next.
She hoped that she could be of help, looked up to the sky.
Though she couldn't see the starlight just yet, a bright sun would guide her for now.
Smiling to herself, she picked a road and started walking.
She tried the candy the child had given her, but suddenly made a sour face and a small hiss.
...This is too sweet.