The Peacemakers Saga
Extra Scene I: The Tournament of Peace
By: C.N. Myers
The Context (as translated from Nephilim language):
The Nephilim are human-souled beings of both angelic and human blood who can live for a little over three thousand years. Due to their semi-supernatural biology, Nephilim mature at about the same rate as humans but age much, much more slowly, and they possess incredible powers like great strength, endurance, speed, miraculous healing, etc. They are also renowned in the human world for their warrior heritage and great stature but are widely considered to have gone extinct.
However, to protect themselves from the Triune’s wrath due to their confrontations with humans, most Nephilim forsook the human world before the Great Flood. With their God’s allowance, they found an empty land, which they named the “Isle of Mixed Blood,” in the northeastern Pacific Ocean, the borders of which they protect through guardians like the Sea Keepers and the force-of-nature-commanding powers of the Greater Nephilim. However, through technology such as radio waves, several human conventions like rock music have been adopted into the Nephilim’s own culture over recent years.
Five years after what the Nephilim race now called the BehnAbethal Massacre, a new year came upon the Land of Mixed Blood again, and during the first week, the stands of the Sanctuary Grand Arena were filled to the brim with people from all across the island. The New Year’s Tournament, what Peacemakers and civilians alike had anticipated for months, was about to commence, and the air rattled with the joyous cheers of tens of thousands of people. Jonathan and Jaik were no exception, both of the boys racing to the private, rather luxurious box reserved for the Captain-Commander, his family, and a handful of others invited to sit with him personally that evening.
“Wow!” Jaik cried as he looked out over the arena. “It’s huge! Look at how big this place is, Jon! Lookit, lookit!”
Jonathan nodded. “Yeah… I wonder how many people could fit in here.”
“Over a hundred thousand could fit in this place at maximum capacity, Jon,” said Elizan, garbed in his ceremonial uniform with its black boots, dark blue pants, and white jacket trimmed with gold and decorated with his most prestigious ornaments of honor from throughout his time as a Peacemaker. “Since times of old, this place has been used for countless citywide celebrations, and it also serves as a place of defense during times of siege, when enemies would surround the city and attempt to breach its walls. The people would take shelter here, if they could, and the Peacemakers would defend it with all their might if our enemies managed to make their way inside Sanctuary.”
Jonathan’s eyes widened. “Whoa…”
“This place does all that? That’s so cool!” Jaik exclaimed.
“Agreed, my sons. Now, the two of you sit and behave for your mother; I’m needed on the field for the opening ceremony, but I’ll be back soon enough. Understood?”
Jonathan and Jaik both said, “Yes, sir,” and Elizan then strode back out of the viewing box. Down several flights of stairs he went, greeting several other honored guests along the way until he emerged on the arena stage, and there, he met the higher ranking Peacemaker officers selected to judge this year’s brackets, with the Overcaptain, as usual, already waiting for him. Despite Rio’s rather simple fashion preferences, he, too, wore ceremonial dress, though a subtle variation in his normally rock-solid stance betrayed his discomfort.
“‘Bout time,” Rio said with an almost imperceptible growl.
With only half-hearted gruffness, Elizan replied, “For the record, Overcaptain, I’m here exactly when I should be and not a moment before or after. It’s not my problem you’re compulsively early to every one of your appointments, you know. At some point, you really should consider that the issue might not be other people after all, but rather someone a bit closer to home.”
Turning to the judges, Elizan went on to explain the rules of fairness, safety, and consequences accorded to their station, with each of the officers listening attentively.
“Now, are there any questions?” he finally asked.
“Can I take off this horrid uniform yet?”
The other Peacemakers chuckledーRio’s dislike of the ceremonial uniform was a great secret, so, naturally, most if not all of the other officers knew of itーand Elizan, in keeping with the sport between himself and the Overcaptain, retorted, “You canーI’m fairly sure you have the ability...perhapsーbut as to whether you may take it off yet, no. No, you may not.” Then, returning his attention to the judges, he said, “Alright, if there are no questions about what I’ve just imparted to all of you who can maintain your judgment within these ‘horrid uniforms,’ then you may take your seats. The opening ceremony is about to begin.”
At that precise moment, the sound of booming drums and clarion trumpets filled the arena. Around every part of the stands, the crowd let out a swelling roar, and the lights dimmed in a wave that began at the arena’s far side and ended above and behind the stage. Then, from the same place, a single spotlight was turned on and beamed downward, coming to stop exactly on Elizan and his microphone.
With a single clearing of his throat, the Captain-Commander began his proceedings. “Good evening, everyone! My brothers and sisters of the Isle of Mixed Blood, it is an honor and a pleasure to see you all here and in such great spirits tonight. For those of you who are new to Sanctuary and/or unfamiliar with the ranks of the Peacemakers, I am Elizan BehnAbethal, Captain-Commander of the Peacemakers and foremost among our soldiers. Furthermore, it is also my duty and pleasure to welcome each and every one of you to our fair city as well as this most joyous event, our one thousand, nine hundred and nineteenth annual New Year’s Tournament!”
Another round of thunderous applause made its rounds across the arena.
“Tonight, we celebrate another year of survival as well as one of peace for our people; neither war, nor rumors of war, nor the encroachments of humanity have touched any part of our lands, and the sanctity of life, from civilian to Peacemaker, Cityfolk to Wildfolk, has been maintained to the best of Peacemaker ability. Despite the centuries of effort and spite generated by those who perpetuated both the Great War and the Avengers’ War, our society yet lives and thrives in peaceful accord as desired by the Triune.
“Also,” Elizan continued after more applause, “as we walk into this hopefully serene and prosperous year, we also celebrate the strength and skill with which the Triune has provided us to serve, protect, and cultivate, with His glory forever shining through both competitors of old and the many new faces who have graced us with their presence for this tournament.”
On another cue, several other spotlights shone down on the large group of Nephilim who’d passed the qualifying rounds to enter the tournament. Throughout their near-perfectly straight rows, some of the competitors showed off to the exuberant crowd with confident waves or by flexing their muscles while others remained still, their concentration either on Elizan or darting amongst the stands. As he glanced over them, however, he could easily tell which of the people before him were nervous, with many of the self-assured using their gestures to mask their insecurity, and which held no fear, some of them meeting his gaze evenly and, here and there, even with implicit challenge in their eyes.
Laughing lightly, Elizan said, “I can already tell we’re going to have a lively competition this year, with many fine potential entries into the Midsummer Tournament. In any event, however, there’s still the rigorous challenges of the games held throughout this coming week to overcome, and I wish each and every one of our competitors all the best in their endeavors. May you all demonstrate your power with discipline, honor, and loving camaraderie at all times, and may the best among you triumph with aplomb and glory worthy of the Triune!”
And then, soon afterward, the New Year’s Tournament was under way. Per tradition, the first-night brackets of nonviolent Nephilim Class rounds went first, with several Strength, Endurance, Speed, Perception, Intoning, Transformation, and Elemental Control Class contestants displaying their talents through a variety of difficult trials. By the end of the section, the Captain-Commander found himself particularly impressed with a handful of displays, the first being a male Speed Masterーa member of the BehnKailev Clan who’d competed several times beforeーwho could move so quickly as to leave multiple afterimages of himself in the span of a few seconds. Then entered a young, completely deaf Perception-gifted girl who was already mastering the art of sensing her surroundings with her eyes closed before, unaided, walking through a field of (harmless) traps unscathed. And finally, there came an Intoner who sang an entire group of aggressive beasts as well as the flock of angry birds overhead into complete docility. She even scratched the chin of a fully-grown King Hunter feather-lizard, and the massive meat eater, its flesh-rending, bone-crunching teeth easily as long as the woman’s arm at the least, only purred like a contented housecat.
“Do you think I could do that, Mama?” Jonathan asked while, with rapt attention, he’d watched the perceptive girl reach the end of the field without so much as a scratch.
Hanna smiled down at him. “Perhaps one day, my son.”
Then came the Combat Class sparring, what many considered the highlight of each tournament evening, although Elizan always found himself somewhat ambivalent. Were he seven- or six-hundred-odd years younger, no doubt he would’ve enjoyed the simulated battles far more, but now, it simply gladdened his heart to see so many blows that didn’t draw blood, break bones, or worse. In fact, not a single bout required intervention for injury or malice, and many of the combatants displayed admirable sportsmanship in both victory and defeat.
“This has been such an enjoyable night,” Hanna said as the last of the night’s combatants squared off in the arena. “What better tradition to celebrate the end of the Wars…”
“Indeed, my love.” Elizan then looked to Jaik and Jonathan, who had already fallen asleep in their seats despite themselves. “With the Triune’s blessing, this is how I hope our people remain for a long, long while.”
Then, soundlessly, Rio stepped up next to him. “Commander. Are you ready?”
“Hm? Oh, yes. Just let me get changed.”
As the final match concludedーa rather rare and exciting tie, as things turned outーElizan, now in his combat uniform, waited behind one of the arena’s gates.
“Another round of applause for our last two combatants, folks!” called the announcer. Then, he said, “Now, for the final display of the nightーwhat I know many of you have been waiting forーplease once again welcome our one and only First Peacemaker, Captain-Commander Elizan BehnAbethal of Sanctuary!”
The gate opened, and Elizan strode out onto the field. As he did so, however, he heard a confused and interested hitch in the cheering, no doubt in response to seeing the rope tying his upper arms to his sides and the cord well and truly knotting his hands before his waist.
“That’s right, everyone; for this contest, the Commander will be unable to use his arms or hands, and as things stand, not only can he not free himself without aid or weaponry, he will receive no help with his little handicap and holds no weapons on his person. Also, his transformation ability is limited only to non-flying forms for the duration of the match. Now, if you would all direct your attention to the other side of the field, please welcome the Commander’s competition!”
From across the way then marched three people: Rio and two Peacemaker Captains, one a relative of the impressive BehnKailev who competed earlier and the other a descendant of one of the Greater Nephilim branch lines.
“Indeed, everyone: We have Overcaptain Rio of the Tiger Hounds, gifted with strength, endurance, and transformation, as well as Captain BehnKailev, a master of speed and intoning, and Captain BahtEthen, who specializes in elemental earth control. Together, their task is simple: Capture the Commander before he can successfully reach the prize on the other side of the arena!”
Indeed, as Elizan glanced past Rio’s shoulder, he saw a little box sitting on a pedestal within an iron cage planted before the opposite gate.
“Do you think the Commander can make it, folks?” After a thrilled ovation, the announcer then called, “Alright, then! Let’s see if you’re all correct, eh? Ready?”
Elizan braced himself.
“Three… Two… One... Begin!”
In an instant, the ground exploded into jagged, upraised chunks and a cloud of dust before Elizan, and he sprang into evasion. However, Captain BehnKailev was suddenly there to meet him with Rio sprinting in from the other side. Instinctively hopping back to dodge two punches, Elizan sprang into the air with his body transforming quickly. Soon, he became a quickclaw, his slim, partially feathered body streamlined, his scaled legs now powerful and limbered for the chase, and his snout filled with pointed yet purposefully dulled teeth. Beside him in midair were both Rio, now in his renowned, brindled Tiger Hound form, and the other captain, with both of them striking at him at speed.
But Elizan, sensing the movements in advance through his feathers and reacting on half instinct, had already moved, twisting while snapping at Captain BehnKailev and also slashing his clawed feet at Rio. In the background, the audience gasped and cheered as the captains dodged away as best they could, narrowly avoiding the attacks, with their commander’s feet then quickly finding purchase against his least-ranked foe before pushing off. Though Rio became a hawk and pursued, Elizan’s prehensile tail, along with two newly-grown others, whipped toward him and successfully broke the flow of the chase.
At that moment, the BehnKailev unleashed his intoning, the compelling power of his singing freezing his commander for a half-moment too long. Then, Rio’s beak managed to latch onto one of the tails, and he yanked backward toward himself with all his might. Unable to match that strength and wholly unwilling to engage the Overcaptain in hand-to-hand, Elizan called upon his own power of endurance, pushing through the intoning before shrinking and retracting all three tails as fast as he could, leaving only one for balance. Then, he and Rio rolled and twisted around one another in mid-fall for several heart-pounding seconds, the audience’s cheers escalating in pitch and volume with each instance Elizan narrowly evaded capture.
Then, as he hit the ground, clumps of earth were flying through the air, and his run turned into a zigzagging dance across the field. On either side of Elizan sprinted Rio and Captain BehnKailev, their attacks well-coordinated through the projectiles shooting around their bodies. However, their quarry yet managed to remain just barely out of reach. He ducked, weaved, sidestepped, rolled, and flipped through the fray, now also peppered with deepening pits in the field, with his fangs, toe-claws, and varying numbers of tails either striking at his opponents or aiming to cause one or preferably both of them to stumble.
Then, the ground erupted again, helping Captain BehnKailev to trip. More jagged chunks of earth upheaved beneath Elizan’s claws, and he himself also staggered, barely catching himself before hitting the dirt. It was then, however, that Rio lunged again, his fangs clamping across the Captain-Commander’s wrists while his foreclaws gripped both upper arms. Then, the Overcaptain returned to human form and launched into a grappling maneuver, coiling his powerful body almost completely around his off-balance and stumbling commander before moving in to enact the finishing blow of two compliance locks.
But the locks never finished. Even as Rio moved and Captain BehnKailev zipped up to add his own strength, Elizan transformed again, keeping his same basic shape but growing much, much larger. Within heartbeats, a midnight black King Hunter with abnormally long foreclaws and a spined sail down his back towered above the quaking earth, and despite Captain BahtEthen’s efforts, Elizan used his tree-trunk-sized legs to make another swift yet tremendous bound forward. Meanwhile, his tail wrapped around Rio and, before the displaced Overcaptain could fully use his great strength or transform again, tossed him aside. In desperation, Captain BehnKailev tried once more to use the full power of his intoning, but his voice rang out in vain, and though Captain BahtEthen tried opening a pit big enough to stop her foe, she was too late.
Elizan landed, slightly smaller, next to the pedestal, and he scooped the entire thing, cage and all, up into his massive jaws. Around him, the spectators rose into a standing ovation, with the announcer shouting, “What a show, folks! Absolutely incredible! The Captain-Commander wins!”
In the next moment, the cage and pedestal dropped to the ground, and Elizan returned to human form with the box perched on one hand. After opening it, he then pulled out a small pastry, still warm from cooking and bearing a savory sweet scent that made his mouth water.
“My first dessert of the year, everyone!” he announced before popping the treat into his mouth. Following a thoroughly chewed and almost sinfully delicious mouthful, Elizan then said, “It tastes even better having won it from my pugnacious Overcaptain.”
The statement won a genuinely amused laugh from the audience, and he could practically feel Rio rolling his eyes from across the arena.
“Indeed,” Elizan continued, “I consider trying to win my first pastry of the year one of the best and tastiest New Year’s traditions in which I’ve ever participated. And with that said, everyone, so long as you treat one another with respect, can righteously enjoy something you love, and also have some good, clean fun, you can always count on, some way, somehow, having a good year!”