• Moskovin was pinned to the ground. He struggled to break free, but his efforts were futile. A large, dark man leaned over him. Moskovin started to move slowly in and out of consciousness. The large man said something, but because of his condition, Moskovin could not make out his words. The man heaved his sword into the air, and started to swing downward. Suddenly the ground beneath them began to shake, causing the large man to stumble backwards. Moskovin felt as if the ground had been swept from under him. To his surprise, it had. Moskovin fell a great distance then disintegrated into the fog below.

    "W.. What’s going on?"
    "Time to wake up."
    Moskovin squinted in the morning light as he looked at the husky man towering over him. He had scruffy black hair and a patch over one eye. His clothes could be described as somewhere between tattered and torn to pieces.
    "You were tossing yourself around like a fish out of water. Wouldn't happened to be havin' a nightmare now would ya?"
    "You could call it a nightmare."
    The man smiled, and then hit himself in the head. "Where's me head, I almost forgot. We’ve reached your destination.”
    Moskovin's face lit up. He leapt from his straw pile, not suitable enough to be called a bed, and ran to the boat side. He fell in awe of the great island that stretched before him. He took in the smooth salty air as the wind blew gently through his caramel toned hair. As he looked up he saw seagulls soar overhead to greet him. He cherished this moment, but the moment was interrupted.
    "Better sit tight," the husky gentleman shouted, "we're pullin' in!!!"
    The boat pulled sharply into the barge and jerked Moskovin to the floor. The man walked over to Moskovin and held out his hand.
    "Told ya to sit tight." The man said as he laughed and lifted Moskovin to his feet. Moskovin just shook his head and smiled.
    "Well, welcome to Mosatusahn."
    "Thank you for bringing me here, I've spent too long away from home." Moskovin stated, scanning the beach. His head snapped back to the captain, an appraising look shining on his face. "By the way, how much do I owe you?"
    "Oh no, twas a favor, and I don't charge for favors." the rounded man said as he winked.
    "Well thank you for the favor then."
    "It was an honor to have you upon my ship."
    They both just stood there in an awkward silence.
    "Well I better be on my way."
    They shook hands then parted. Moskovin stepped off the ship onto the dock. He took another good look at the place. It was so peaceful, and that was saying a lot. Most of the world was covered in darkness. Men became greedy, wanting every living thing under their control. However, there were still a few places the darkness had not yet spread, places people lived without fear or greed. Mosatusahn was one of those places. Children played and laughed, and the marketplace was filled with happy people just enjoying there day. He started to walk through the market. As he did so, he had a focused look on his face, straining his eyes, as if he was looking for a particular person. He suddenly heard a noise coming from just a few yards away. A boy was being held by the arm by a heavy set man with a flour covered hat and apron.
    "If you don't pay for that, thief, I will make sure you never grab another thing with that hand!"
    The boy pleaded, "But I have no money, please, I'm starving and I needed something to eat."
    Moskovin thought he might have to intervene, when all of a sudden something unexpected happened. The man's face twisted from angry to sympathetic.
    "Ok, boy, I'll tell you what, you can take that loaf home with you if you promise to work in my bakery for a week."
    "Yes sir, I promise."
    The man let go of the boy. "Good lad, now run along."
    The boy ran off and disappeared into the crowd. Moskovin had not seen this sort of kindness in years. He guessed that maybe he had been away from peace for too long. He started off again, making his way through the market. As he walked, he saw more people run into problems, but instead of solving them with violent force, they compromised with each other. Something that would turn out ugly, was molded into the beauty of peace. Moskovin was moved by this peace and immersed himself into it.

    A large ship rolled to shore, ignoring the docks completely. It slammed into the sandy beach where many people were swimming. It was no merchant ship, as Moskovin knew all too well. This particular ship was controlled by the Reltih Clan. This clan had power over the entire south, and now they were after Mosatusahn. A very large man jumped from bow of the ship to the sand below. Everyone panicked, and started to clear the market.
    "Don’t run!" the man roared, "It's so much easier to kill you when you stay still!"
    He picked up an elderly man, and without mercy, slit his neck with a single swipe of his large, rusty blade.
    "Leave us or pay the consequences!"
    The words startled Moskovin, seeing as how they did not come from his own mouth. Instead, they came from a man standing on one of the rooftops next to him. Moskovin strained to see his face, but it was covered by the shadows of a black hood. "Crozan, back again to get your monthly beating I see.” Although he didn't look the part, the man's voice was filled with confidence and power. The man seemed short and a little under nourished. Everyone had now cleared the marketplace except for Moskovin, the stranger, and a couple of spectators. The stranger took a flying leap off the rooftop, somersaulted through the air, and landed square in front of Moskovin, both feet planted.
    "I would get going if I were you." the stranger remarked.
    Moskovin was, again, put off by the stranger's words.
    "Wait just a minute here." the veteran started just as the stranger turned around. Moskovin still couldn't make out the details of his face. He and Moskovin just stared at each other for a moment.
    "What do you want?" asked the stranger. "Can't you see that I'm trying to engage in a violent and dangerous 'Fight to the Death' thing here?"
    "Sorry, but don't you think it would be safer for everyone if I took care of this?"
    "Well if your offering to help, then go ahead. Just stay out of my way."
    "You obviously don't understand. I work alone."
    "Well, that’s not my problem. Look, you can fight or you can choose not to fight, either way I'm going to."
    Crozan just stood there, bored and confused about what was going on. "HEY!!!"
    Moskovin and the stranger jerked their heads toward Crozan. "WHAT?!!" they both yelled simultaneously.
    "Can we get started, my head is beginning to hurt from all your bickering."
    They looked at each other for a brief moment. Moskovin pulled two long, slightly curved blades from his back while the stranger pulled out a long and slender staff with a small dagger-like blade on each end.
    "It looks like we will have to work together whether we like it or not." Moskovin said in a harsh tone. The stranger grinned to himself. Crozan pointed towards them and roared out his battlecry, "Take the island! For Reltih!"
    A handful of men ran from the beach straight for Moskovin and the stranger, all wielding swords and daggers. The stranger and Moskovin braced themselves. The enemies clashed. Swords were flying through the air. Moskovin turned swiftly as the fist man came to him. He slashed the soldier across the torso, causing his body to slump over dead. The stranger jumped into the air, and with amazing speed, came crashing down killing two very terrified men. He called out "Two down!" Moskovin dodged to the right escaping what would have been a powerful blow to the head, then turned to swipe his attacker along the spine. He moved back and forth killing every man that came his way, all the while trying to keep count on his kill streak. The stranger was doing the same. For every lacky that was slain another charged in. The stranger quickly found himself encircled by a fairly large group of Reltih, and thought it might be a great opportunity to up his score. He started to spin around. The men around him stopped and watched, all of them confused. He stopped abruptly and released his staff. It spun out and around the men, killing them all in a single strike. Like a boomerang, it came back, the stranger catching it with an extended arm. After seeing the display of combat poetry, Moskovin felt a little dull. Not to mention he was behind on the mental scoreboard. There had to be something he could do about it. He smiled, his face gleaming as he thought of something. With all his strength, he threw one of his swords straight forward into the chest of a soldier. He jumped toward the dying man, flipping into a handstand onto his shoulders. Moskovin then completed the flip as he grabbed the, now deceased, soldier's leather armor. He let go with one hand, grabbing his sword from the chest cavity as he used all his momentum to fling the dead body toward a couple of charging soldiers. The limp carcass knocked the soldiers to the dirt. Meanwhile, Moskovin had started walking in their direction.The two Reltih panicked. Worried too much about removing their dead comrad, they never noticed Moskovin or the blades that swept across their necks, ending their lives. The waves of soldiers ceased. All the Reltih had begun filing back into their ship. Crozan yelled ferociously at them.
    "STOP!!! Come back, they're not dead yet!!! Come back you cowards!!!"
    Meanwhile, the stranger and Moskovin were laughing. Moskovin looked at the stranger. "How many did you get?"
    "Lost count," the stranger wheezed out, still laughing, "You?"
    "Same here."
    They both looked at Crozan then at each other.
    "Whoever gets the big guy gets the glory." said the stranger.
    "That’s fair enough."
    While trying to get his men under control, which didn’t seem to be working, Crozan saw the two men running straight for him. He slowly gained his composure, and stood waiting for them. They were both yelling at the top of their lungs. When they reached him, Crozan closed his eyes and swung his sword as hard as he could. When the heavy sword sliced into the sand, he opened his eyes, the only thing before him was the marketplace. He looked all around. They had just vanished into thin air. Suddenly he heard them. This time he looked up. They had both dodged to the nearest hut and climbed to the roof while his eyes were shut. Both were laughing so hard, one of them was gasping for breath.
    "Stop mocking me, and get down here so we can finish this!!!"
    "He sure likes to yell a lot." said the stranger. "Go ahead, I'm a bit bored."
    "Well thank you," Moskovin grinned, "I will enjoy this."
    Moskovin did a flip off the hut and landed about ten yards from Crozan. He twirled his swords around then put them back in their sheaths. He then moved himself into a stance to where one of his arms was extended in front of him. He motioned to Crozan.
    "Bring it, fat stuff."
    Crozan became enraged. His eyes flared up, his face turned red, and you could almost see the sweat evaporating from his skin.
    "Will you look at that, he can change colors. I’m soooo scared." the stranger said as he roared with laughter.
    Crozan jolted into a charge. As he got close enough to hit Moskovin, Moskovin stepped to the side and placed his foot out. Because he was moving so fast, and because he weighed so much, Crozan was not able to stop or change his course. He tripped over the extended foot, and slammed face first into the ground. The stranger could not help but belt out in laughter. Crozan scrambled to his feet and ran to his ship. Moskovin was suddenly serious again.
    Crozan stopped and looked back.
    "Tell Jutsin, Moskovin is back, and that I'm coming for him."
    Crozan's eyes widened at the sound of the name as he scurried back onto the ship. The stranger came up behind Moskovin.
    "So I guess you get the glory."
    Moskovin turned around.
    "Will you just shut up."
    He walked past him, then looked back. The stranger had disappeared. He continued walking through the market, which was once again filled with people. He kept his head bowed. Moskovin could not help but think about the stranger. He never got to see his face. Who was he, and how did he know Crozan? Moskovin's attention was suddenly drawn to a hut at the end of the street. He walked up to it and knocked. A young woman answered the door. She was a fairly thin woman, with thick brownish-blond hair that went down to the base of her neck. She was turned around, and seemed to be too busy to notice who was at the door.
    "If you’re selling anything I don't want it." she said as she bent over to pick something up.
    "Well actually I don't have much of anything except the clothes on my back."
    The woman stood up straight. She recognized the voice. She turned around, instantly wrapping her arms around his neck, and started to cry.
    "Moskovin." she whispered
    "Yeah," a tear rolled down his face as he put his arms around her, "it's me."
    "Oh, Moskovin I thought the worst."
    "I promised you I would come back."
    She backed away. “How are you? Are you hurt? Are you hungry? Is there anyone with you?"
    "Whoa! Slow down. I can't answer questions as fast as you ask them."
    "Sorry." she blushed and bowed her head. "It's just that you've been gone for so long."
    "I know."
    Just as he opened his mouth to say something else, he saw a man come from another room. He recognized his clothing. It was the stranger from the market, except this time he could see his face. It was very rough and he had a scar on his cheek, just below his left eye. He was about the same age as Moskovin, which was quite surprising, seeing as how Moskovin pictured him to be much younger.
    "Hey Tancileen, do we have any..." He looked at Moskovin.

    "Do we have any what?" She turned and looked at him. "Roskuel?" "What's the matter?"
    She looked back and forth between the two as they just glared at each other. Moskovin decided to say something, or... yell something anyway.
    "What are you doing here?!!!!!"
    "What am I doing here?!!!! What are you doing here?!!!!"
    "I asked you first!!!!"
    "So, I asked you last!!!"
    "Are you always this ignorant?!"
    "Are you always such an assho…."
    "GUYS!!!!!" They both shut up. "What the hell is wrong with you two?! I haven't even introduced you yet and you're already fighting!"
    "Why is this Roger character in your house?!"
    "Whatever. Look, it doesn't matter what his name is, why is he in your house?"
    "First of all, it does matter what his name is; would you like to call you Musky or something like that? Secondly, it is my business who I let stay in my house."
    Roskuel went into the other room and came back with an apple in his hand.
    "Wait a second, he's living here?! Oh, that's even worse."
    "I don't think you know it, but you can be a real jerk sometimes Moskovin!"
    Roskuel took a large bite out of his apple, then raised his hand. "I know he's a jerk." "Shut up!!!" they both yelled. "By the way, Moskovin, Roskuel has been here since the day you left, protecting us from people like that Crozan character. If it wasn't for him, Mosatusahn would have already been under Jutsin’s rule."
    "I protected this island for years before he showed up."
    "Maybe, but where have you been for the last four years when we needed you most?"
    She stopped. She looked as if she wanted to take back everything she just said.