The Zodiac Challenge

The Zodiac Challenge

Status: In Progress

Genre: Fantasy

Houses:

Details

Status: In Progress

Genre: Fantasy

Houses:

Summary

In a divided world, young Wayne of the Virgo Clan, one of the Zodiac Clans, leaves on an adventure known as the Zodiac Challenge. In it, he will face twelve trials to test the limits of his being, so that once he comes back, he will be considered a full-fledged member of his clan and be allowed to fight the other Zodiac Clans as a true warrior. However, he does no wish to partake in this history, only to live a normal life. During his challenge, he will find out about the Real World's plan to eliminate the Underworld, the half of the world where he comes from.
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Summary

In a divided world, young Wayne of the Virgo Clan, one of the Zodiac Clans, leaves on an adventure known as the Zodiac Challenge. In it, he will face twelve trials to test the limits of his being, so that once he comes back, he will be considered a full-fledged member of his clan and be allowed to fight the other Zodiac Clans as a true warrior. However, he does no wish to partake in this history, only to live a normal life. During his challenge, he will find out about the Real World's plan to eliminate the Underworld, the half of the world where he comes from.

Chapter1 (v.1) - The Path to Glory

Author Chapter Note

Wayne leaves on the Zodiac Challenge to prove himself worthy of being called a Virgo. However, though he must do it, he is unwilling. The promise he made to his only friend, June, to whom he swore to come back to once his challenge ended, is what drives him forward. Unbeknownst to him, he will be faced with various life-threatening situations that will test the very limits of his being.

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: March 15, 2017

Reads: 133

Comments: 1

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Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: March 15, 2017

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Chapter 1 – The Path to Glory

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First, there are people. Men, women, children. Then, there are scum, worse than trash. That is how the world was divided. On one side was the former, on the other side was the latter. I was unfortunate enough to be born in the lowly lands of the Underworld. At least, that’s what people called it. Other than the bad reputation it gave you, the high crime rate, the social disadvantages and the poor living conditions, it wasn’t so bad of a place. That’s what I’d like to say, but I was born in the Virgo Clan, one of the twelve Zodiac Clans. The Zodiac Clans are ancient civilizations of warriors that have been battling since ancient times to see who is the strongest. Through time, the clans became but remnants of what they used to be, but the battles still raged on. The reason this was bad, was not only because I was stuck living with battle-crazy goons, but I was also the next to turn eighteen in the clan. That means I’d have to do the Zodiac Challenge. In order to prove my loyalty to my family, I’d have to perform a superhuman feat that involves me crossing the world and coming back “more mature”. The whole world! That includes the Real World! That was the other half of the world, the less sucky one, where the normal people lived. Going there as an Underworlder was basically asking to get killed, which isn’t really fair, since Realworlders were allowed to come here as they pleased, not that many usually did. Once I come back from my trial, I’d be considered a full-fledged member of the Virgo Clan and will be ready to go fight the other Zodiac Clans. Every clan will send their next member to turn eighteen, just like every other year. The thing is, I didn’t care about all that. I didn’t want to live a short life fighting every day because my barbaric ancestors did. I just wanted to live a normal life, as normal as life could be in the Underworld. One thing about me though, I always want to please others, even when I don’t want to. I actually manifested my feelings toward this whole Zodiac Clans thing numerous times, but my family ignored me and lectured me about how proud I should be to have the blood of warriors in my veins. And, it’s not like I could decide to just, not go on the challenge once the day came. So, I’d go on this stupid adventure and try to take it as an opportunity to learn more about the world. Crossing the world seemed like a dangerous thing to accomplish, but there was something else, I was sure of it. Something my family, the whole clan, neglected to tell me, probably because I’d get too scared to leave. Nothing I could do about it for now.

I left my room and went outside. The air was humid and the stench of the swamp’s muddy water invaded my nostrils. I grew used to it over time, but on your first time here, you’ll feel like throwing up.

Our village was based in this swamp because our houses were an old village’s after a landslide from the neighbouring mountain sent them crashing here. The old inhabitants of these houses didn’t want to live in half-broken homes in a swamp, understandably so, so they went back up and built another village. Being homeless, we saw this as a blessing, so we settled. I was only a baby back then. The swamp’s sky was almost always covered by clouds, so we didn’t get much sunlight, making our skin pretty pale. There were multiple little isles, all connected by crappy bridges that could barely hold more than one person at a time. The animals here were what you’d expect to find in a swampy zone. Insects, frogs, snakes, lizards, crocodiles at times and an irritatingly high number of flies. When the landslide occurred, a group of kiwi birds came falling down as well. Surprisingly enough, they adapted to the life here, so we had a little bunch of these guys. One day, I found an injured one drowning, so I brought him back and now he’s my pet. I called him Kiwi. People kept telling me it wasn’t a good name, but I thought it represented him very well. In any case, Kiwi was always with me, whether he was waddling next to me or sitting on my shoulder.

I crossed a few bridges and knocked on my friend’s door. June is her name and she’s about the only other sensible person in the clan. She’s only sixteen, so today might be our last day spent together. She answered my call relatively quickly and jumped outside. She began walking and called out for me.

“You coming?”

I followed her to our not so secret spot outside of town. It was a small hill that towered above the rest of the village. From there, we could see… Not much, honestly. She sat down in the long grass, her legs dangling from the edge of the hill. She stared into the distance, acting differently than her normal self. She was normally so energetic and happy. She always tried to look for the good in every situation, no matter how bad it may be. Now, she seemed sad, for the first time ever. I crouched next to her after a few seconds, and Kiwi sat behind us.

“Wayne…” she said in a calm, soothing voice. “You’re really leaving tomorrow?”

“I am.”

“I’ll miss you.”

“Yeah. Same here.”

“Wayne?”

“Yeah? What is it?”

“There’s something you need to know… I… Um… I- “

Before she could finish, someone coming from behind spoke up, interrupting our conversation. It was my older sister, Thorna. She completed her trial four years ago, and was since then a combatant of our clan.

“There you are, little brother,” she said. “Father is looking for you. It’s important.”

“I’m coming.”

My sister left. June looked at me as I stood up. I grabbed Kiwi and put him on my shoulders. I apologized and jogged after my sister. June stayed on the hill alone. Back at the village, my father waited for me in our home. Thorna held the door open for me, which was weird, as she’d never done such a thing before. My father and mother were kneeling next to a pot with a fire in it. I was indicated to sit on the side opposite to my parent’s.

“Wayne,” my father seriously said. “You are aware of what day it is tomorrow, are you not?”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“Tomorrow is the day you depart on your grand adventure to prove yourself worthy of being called a Virgo. You’re a smart boy. You must know we’ve been keeping something secret from you.”

“I have, so why didn’t you just tell me?”

“Because! You are not like your fellow clan members. You do not seek to reach greater heights. You do not want glory. You do not have the desire to fight. However, such is your destiny. Crossing the world is the main objective of the challenge, but there is more. While you venture into the corners of the planet, you will be faced with various trials. The Zodiac Trials. The goal is to collect the twelve pearls of each clan. You will be given a map with very little instruction to aid you, but that is all.”

“Oh, great. Now I have even more to do?”

“You shouldn’t speak so bluntly. These trials will test the very limit of your being, both physically and mentally. Only true warriors can succeed the danger that lies ahead. Your life will be put at risk at every moment of every day. Are you ready?”

“No.”

“That does not matter.”

“Here, son,” my mother said, holding out her hand. “Take this.”

I grabbed what she gave me. It was a little blue rock.

“That is a sapphire. It represents our clan and all its people. Keep it with you at all times to always remind you that there’s a home you need to come back to.”

“Sure.”

“Now, get some sleep,” said my father. “You will need to wake up very early.”

The two of them left, leaving me alone with my sister, who didn’t waste any more time standing around. Once I was all alone, I let out a sigh and headed outside. The sun began to set over the mountains surrounding the swamp. Its light didn’t illuminate us much. I went back to the hill, but June was already gone. I searched for her, but couldn’t find her anywhere. I would have at least wanted to say goodbye.

“Wake up, Wayne. It’s time,” I heard my father’s voice say, breaking the barrier of my dreams.

I quickly got ready, grabbed the map I was supposed to be given, called Kiwi and went outside. My family led me to a small boat that was most likely going to be my means of travel to get to the start of the challenge. I got ready to step into the embarkation when I heard footsteps coming in my direction. June sprinted through my family, startling them, and leapt toward me, wrapping her arms around me. I fell on my back upon the impact. She tightened her grip on me as I felt something warm behind my neck. She was crying.

“Please…” she said. “Promise me you’ll come back.”

“June…”

“Wayne! I don’t want you to leave!”

“Neither do I, but you know how it is.”

“But…”

“Don’t worry. I’ll be back before you know it.”

“You promise?”

“I promise.”

She let go of me and wiped off her tears. She stood with my family, waiting for me to take my leave. She smiled at me, which made me feel a bit uneasy. I made a promise I knew would be very hard to keep. I didn’t know if I would be coming back. Damn this clan and its insane traditions! I wanted to stay with June, but I had to leave! I was tormented by these thoughts as I left my village. I followed torches in the water, through a hand-dug tunnel, and farther down a river. I eventually disembarked and continued along the path indicated by the torches. Inside a forest, on a stone platform sitting in a pond, people stood firmly, ten of them. They each had their own pedestal. It didn’t take long for me to realize they were all Zodiac Clan members. I went to my pedestal under the stares of the other “competitors”. They were probably looking at Kiwi, though. I examined them at a glance. There was a tall guy, a guy with glasses, a redhead girl, a ponytailed girl, a ponytailed guy, a muscly guy, a guy wearing a headband, a chubby guy, a sandal-wearing girl and a short girl. That would be how I’d remember them, because for some reason, I felt like I’d see them again. After a while of standing around I didn’t really understand, another person came, a curly-haired guy. He stood on his pedestal and waited like the rest of us. I opened up my map and read a memo on it. It said that when the sun would shine on the circle, to start. Behind us was that very circle, a stone… Circle. Once my legs were ready to give up on me, light shun on the stone circle. The eleven others each left in their own direction. It came to me that I wasn’t really prepared for this. I brought nothing along. The others all had some sort of bag or backpack with them with supplies in them, I presume. Following their lead, I left in a random direction. I looked once more at my map and headed for the closest mark on it. There were twelve symbols on it, each one representing a clan. The one I was going to was the Sagittarius symbol.

Well… It started. The journey to become a true member of clan I didn’t want to be a part of. The only thing, or rather, the only person I truly cared about in the clan was June. I’d come back as I said I would. I’d come back for her, and before she left for her challenge, whenever that was.

*Meanwhile, Virgo Clan.

“What’s wrong, mother?” asked Thorna.

“Do you really think Wayne is up to it?” she asked, a drop of worrying sweat running down her face.

“The challenge?”

“Yes. Thorna, you know it’s different this year, don’t you?”

“I do. Once in every millennium, the Zodiac Challenge is significantly harder. That is to test the participating members to see if one of them can fulfill the ancient prophecy of the Zodiac Clans. Normally, around ten or eleven members are expected to survive the challenge. This time, it’d be generous to assume more than one can come back alive, and still be sane. You worry for him?”

“Yes. He’s not a fighter. I’m afraid he won’t make it. He doesn’t even know of this yet.”

“Believe in Wayne, mother. He is stronger than you think.”

Hidden behind a nearby tree, eavesdropping on their conversation, June’s eyes widened in fear.


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