Leah Crest of Sherwood, 25.

July 7th, 2099.

There was an eerie silence in the air, as if all life had been sucked out of the once beautiful city. Leah had never seen it for herself , but her grandmother had told her stories of how Citadel used to be a gem in the old world. How it used to be filled with people, living their lives and enjoying every second of it. Nowadays were different however, and everyone was just doing what they had to do to survive. Citadel was no longer a beacon of joy, but a sacred battlefield that brought only death. Champions gathered here each year to fight for their people's survival. For the chance to feed them for an entire year! She was so close. So close to winning the Summit and ascending to victory in the name of Sherwood. She need only take one more life. The blood trail she had been tracking was becoming harder and harder to follow. Though it was obvious where her opponent was heading. Back to her home of Eden! The Edenites had never been fighters. They had always been weak. Victory was all but hers she need only take it by force.

A cool breeze swept through the city ruins, and Leah picked up her pace. The grip on her axe handle tightened as the city walls came into view. Spectators from Eden watched worriedly through binoculars as the Sherwood girl climbed through the rubble, a look of pure determination on her face. They knew in their hearts it was over, but they held out hope that their champion would somehow succeed.

Leah glared across the clearing. Her opponent was outside Eden's gate, pounding for dear life. Begging the members of her community to let her inside. There was no answer. She was a champion, and she had to face what all other champions had faced. Death or victory! There was no other way. "Coward!" Leah called out in disgust. She dishonored the Summit with her presence here.

"Please don't hurt me," the girl replied. Her hands shaking violently as Leah approached her, axe in hand.

Leah glared at her once more, wondering if it was just an act. The girl had a knife in her shaking hand, but she didn't hold it tightly. It looked as if she'd drop it at any moment. Her knees were knocking as she tried to stand. Fatigue had gotten to her already in these three days. Tears streamed down her face and her lips were trembling. No, it wasn't an act at all. The women before her was genuinely afraid! From what she knew of Eden, they had no warriors. No one to be their champion. They held a lottery, and whatever unlucky souls name was picked was sent to the Summit. This girl was this years unlucky soul…

But it didn't matter. There was no sympathy on the battlefield. No mourning until the fight was won! It was the way of the warrior. The way she was raised! Her eyes narrowed as she closed in on the girl who was now pointing her weapon fearfully at her. Leah wanted to laugh at the girl's attempt to survive, but there was something commendable about it. The Eden girl finally lunged, attempting to plunge the knife into Leah's blade scraped across her leather armor and fell from the girl's hands. She should have held onto it tighter, Leah thought before striking with her own weapon. Her axe cut roughly into the girl's neck, spraying her with warm sticky blood. Leah roared striking again and again until the girl's head was removed from her shoulders.

"Eden has fallen!" Leah cried out as she reached for the head, holding it up to the Edenites watching the fight. Tossing it forward, she turned at the sound of the bell tower behind her. As the bell rang, Eden's flag fell from the tower signaling the final death. She had done it! She had won the Summit for her people. Emotions overwhelmed her and her usual stoic demeanor disappeared as tears flooded down her face. The thought of providing for those she cared for made her heart swell with joy. Her people would be guaranteed food, water and medicine for an entire year thanks to her.

Wiping the tears from her face, her smile disappeared. This wasn't over yet! The meeting with the Founders at the city's center was her next step. After that, she could return home. Leaving the dead Edenite behind, Leah began her trek back through the city. As she did so, she wondered what the Founders would be like. Everyone had heard stories of the men dressed in black clad robes, but no one had ever witnessed them. Despite the camouflage clothes they wore, their enforcers could be seen everywhere. On the walls, in the market of the Inner Circle, even the communities themselves. They were the eyes and ears of the Founders, and punished anyone who stepped out of line. No one in Sherwood messed with them, or they hadn't since she's been alive.

Her pondering was paused as she passed the corpse of a familiar face. She crouched down to get a better look. It was Ethan, the honorable Havenite who had saved her life just yesterday. He sat up against the wall of a crumbling building, a spear lodged in his chest. He had pushed her out of the way when a brute from Oppressa threw the spear… Funny, he would have won had he let me die. She thought, a sad smile appearing on her face. Standing back up, Leah turned to the other side of the street where the Oppressan she killed shortly after lay. Out of all twelve communities in the Circle, Oppressa was the worst. They were hungry for battle at all times, and did what they could to instigate fights between the other communities. Their philosophy was that the strong were there to survive, while the weak were meant to be walked over. Sherwood may have a similar thought process, but they're not savages. They didn't look for fights for the sole purpose of fighting. The people of Oppressa were monsters and everyone knew it. But it was time to put the past behind her. She had won, and it was up to her to bring her people the bounty she had earned. Giving one last glance to Ethan, she turned her back on the dead and continued forward. This was her ascension. Her walk of victory that would cement her as the winner. She didn't want to waste any time on those who have passed.

The sun began to set as she neared the city's center. The building named City Hall had always been a mystery. From what she could tell fighting in the Summit, there was no way in. The heavy doors had always remained shut, so she was curious as to how she would get inside. Though as she climbed the stairs up to the building, there was a loud scraping noise on the ground as the doors slowly opened for her. Excitement tore through her, as her strides grew longer. Reaching the top of the stares, she looked to the enforcers stepping outside of the building. They lined up in two rows, and she confidently strode past them. What were they doing here? She wondered if they were there to kill her, but pushed the thought from her mind. She had won, there was no reason for her to die.

None of the soldiers looked her in the eye as she walked past. Staring straight forward, they held their ground menacingly. For the average warrior it might have been intimidating, but she was far from average. Taking one last look at the ruined battlefield behind her, Leah took her final step into the building.

The room was dark, and it was hard to see, but from what she could gather the room she was in had plenty of open space. She was in no danger of tripping over anything or falling into something. As she stepped into the center of the room a voice bellowed out before her, "Welcome, Leah Crest of Sherwood, winner of the Summit of Champions. Your people would be proud."

"Thank you Founder… I was not sure I would be victorious!" She admitted. At first she felt it would be a sign of weakness, but she had already won. They knew she was not weak.

"Yet here you stand," the voice replied. It was deep, and didn't sound very human. It filled the room like the banging of drums.

She nodded, pride filling her up once more. "Here I am!"

"Are you ready for your ascension, Leah of Sherwood?" This was it. The moment she had trained her whole entire life for. She was a warrior. She had earned this!

"I am."

As soon as the words left her lips, the dark room she stood in was consumed in blinding light. For the first time in her life, Leah didn't feel so confident.

Wow, hey. I got the itch to write again, and with Covid going on I feel like there's more than enough time to do so. Rather than starting an entirely new story I felt it only proper to finish one that deserved to be finished. I'm not at all sure if everyone is still around, or even interested. However, I'm simply writing because it's something I enjoy doing and am not so concerned with reviews and readers at this time. I abandoned a story I said I would finish, so it makes sense if I don't exactly have as many people interested in this as there was in the past. That being said, I don't really have much of an update schedule. Though I am hoping to use whatever free time I have in the coming months to finish this up, and give all these wonderful characters and their submitter's an ending they deserve. So if you're around or new to the story, enjoy!