Of Potions and Paladins

By the gods, would you shut up?

These were thoughts, but Hera knew that if an oracle was in her tent and could read her mind, she would be admonished for taking the name of the gods in vain. But an oracle wasn't in her tent. Oracles couldn't read minds. And oracles, for all the 'hard work' they did, would probably be willing to put up with the sound of a blade being sharpened on a whetstone.

Shut up…the Askari thought to herself as the sound of metal meeting rock continued to sound in the encampment. Shut up shut up shut up!

It still kept going. And all the Amazonian warrior could do was turn over on her blanket and put her head on the bundle of straw that constituted a pillow.

It should have been easy to fall asleep, Hera reflected. She'd just earnt the trust of the Sisters of the Sightless Eye by cleansing the Den of Evil. A task that was exhausting and, though she wouldn't admit it, might not have been possible were it not for the four other heroes that had come to Khanduras, all drawn in by the news of an evil having gripped the land, its effects stemming from the Eastern Gate to Tristram. She was in good company, she was exhausted and while dawn would bring new challenges to face, the Amazon wanted to take this opportunity to rest.

Shring…shring…

And would have, if not for the continued sharpening of one's blade.

Uttering a curse beneath her breath, Hera had had enough. Getting to her feet and grabbing her spear, she headed outside her tent. It was freezing, she was without clothing bar a tunic reserved for the tropical climate of her homeland and her hair was still down and mixed with hay. But some things were worth freezing to death and getting a good night's sleep was one of them.

"Ah, Hera. You're still up."

Some things that included seeing smug paladins sitting by a fire sharpening their swords.

"Yes, I'm up," Hera said. "And if you have no idea why, then clearly your common sense is as bereft as your manoeuvrability."

"Well, good to see your tongue's still sharp. How's your spear?"

Hera remained silent. You just couldn't talk with some people.

Language barriers had been overcome in the quintet the Amazon had found herself part of, but the differences between her and Roland were about as wide as the gulf between Heaven and Hell itself. She was an Amazon-warrior woman, follower of the many gods of the Skovos Isles and relied on manoeuvrability, a willingness to avoid her enemy's blows rather than rely on her shield or armour. In contrast, Roland was one of the Knights of Westmarch-follower of the Light, wielder of sword and shield and a wearer of heavy armour that provided protection at the cost of agility. It seemed an absurd way of fighting to Hera, but she was at least willing to fight alongside the man if it meant the downfall of whatever was plaguing Khanduras. Right now however, as the twit sharpened his sword, her tolerance was running as thin as a frayed bowstring.

Shring…shring…

"Keep sharpening your sword paladin, I'm sure you'll get it to be like a needle eventually…" Hera murmured.

The paladin looked up. "Am I bothering you?"

"Apart from keeping me from sleeping? Yes. Yes you are."

"Then you have my apologies, milady."

"I'm not a lady. I'm an Askari."

"And I'm from Westmarch," Roland murmured. "You got a form of address for that?"

Hera rolled her eyes. As she'd reflected earlier, there was just no talking to some people. She and Roland might as well have come from different planes of existence, especially since for all his apologies, the knight clearly had no intention of abandoning his spot by the fire. Clearly reason wouldn't get through to him…

Maybe pride will…

"So…" the Amazon asked. "What's keeping you from sleeping?"

"I can't sleep."

"Nightmares?" Hera sneered. "Thought you were made of sterner stuff."

"Not nightmares, no."

"Doesn't your armour protect you from assaults on your mind? Or is your poor brain unable to deal with the whispers of demons?"

"I assure you, my faith is strong," Roland said firmly, his emotional armour still as firm as his metal kind. "I assure you, right now, I am incapable of sleeping. And if you want to know the truth, I think it's because of that stamina potion I had."

"You…what?"

"A potion I bought from Akara," Roland answered. "Something that would help me recover my strength. Believe it or not, it's hard work sprinting across the fields after slaying the servants of Hell."

"If you didn't wear the bloody plate mail, you wouldn't have this problem," Hera sneered. "And seriously, a stamina potion? Were you expecting to actually do anything more this night? Or perhaps you needed help making your abode."

"Help or not, I can't sleep," Roland answered. "So I'm awake. Awake to keep my mind and blade sharp. As might you, Amazon."

Hera fell silent. She wasn't sure how to continue the conversation-not without the paladin letting out the same kind of lecture he'd let out towards Azriel for his "dark magic"-sin, disbelief and everything else that the Knights of Westmarch had inherited from the Zakarum. On the other hand, the man wasn't leaving. He was going to keep sharpening his bloody sword, keep her awake and come dawn, she'd lag behind. And if there was one thing Hera hated, it was people getting ahead of her.

And if there was one thing that training amongst the trees had told her, it was getting the drop on people…

"You know…" the Askari began. "I think I may be able to help you."

"Indeed?"

"Oh yes," Hera said, taking her spear and slowly walking behind the paladin, the man's gaze following her to an extent before returning it to his blade. "An old Amazon technique. Something that will help anyone sleep, no matter how awake they might seem."

"Really…" Roland said, his eyes still on his sword and his tone betraying his scepticism. "And what technique would that be?"

Hera grinned before bringing the butt of her spear at the back of Roland's neck, hitting its pressure point. The paladin let out a yell and fell onto the grass, out cold.

"That technique."


A/N

The idea for this came from my playthrough of Diablo II-been playing through the original games before starting on Diablo III. Analysis of the previous games aside, one thing that caught my eye in the sequel was stamina. The ability to run. And stamina potions. Potions that strike me as incredibly useless because so far, in all of Act I, I've never encountered a situation where I need to recharge my character's stamina immediately. It's always been enough to get away from demons or simply get me across Khanduras in a reasonable ammount of time. The idea popped into my mind as to what would happen to a character if they consumed such a potion when their stamina was full.

Equating the idea with caffeine, this was the result.

Update (05/08/12): Made adjustments based on feedback.