Somewhere in the world, monsters and humans were fighting. Somewhere in the world, monsters and humans were dying. This was a fact of the world they lived in, and it was one that every monster took with a grimace and a grain of salt. This was how the world had been for the past several years. This was how the world would likely always be. Until one or the other of the races gave up, or were destroyed. Or perhaps both.
Somewhere in the world, monsters and humans were bleeding. Somewhere in the world, monsters and humans were falling. Somewhere in the world, the darkness was smothering out countless souls - the night a bountiful provider for those prone to ambush and assassination and the mercilessly strangling vice that kept those resting and wounded pinned helplessly. The night shouldn’t be this dark, this vile and gripping. Somewhere in the world, there was an elemental that should be fighting, snuffing out a bit of the power of the darkness as it met monster kind. Somewhere in the world, there was an elemental that should be saving countless monster lives and reaping double the lives of the humans who struggled so mightily against them.
But on this particular dark night, this particular elemental was in fact not fighting. His armor sat on the floor inside his tent, polished meticulously and removed of all signs of marks or rust or blood. His shield sat beside it, cleaned and buffed with the same painstaking effort as a craftsman putting the final touches on their masterpiece. His sword, likewise, a work of precision and perfection that came from fastidious and almost obsessive care. There was no sign of fight in them tonight, and there wouldn’t be for the next day or so, much to the elemental’s chagrin.
For this was a fire elemental, a powerful being with quick wit and solemn demeanor. And though a great asset to monster kind everywhere, he had one glowering weakness. And that glowering weakness made his core shiver with every nervous step he paced about his tent. Every footstep drowned out by the sound of his inability as it pattered around him outside the meager protection his tent provided.
Somewhere in the world, monsters were dying. Somewhere in the world, he should be stopping that from happening. But unfortunately, here in this particular elemental’s more immediate world, it was raining. For fire elementals, there was no greater Achilles heel than water, especially the kind that dumped mercilessly from the sky on autumn evenings much like this one. And though this particular fire elemental quite enjoyed the rain, the smells and sounds it brought and the life it encouraged, he was forced to hate it when it kept him from battle. After all, battle was the only thing he’d been summoned to do. What should he do with himself when he wasn’t allowed to do it?
So he polished his armor and his shield and his sword. And when he’d polished it at least seven times, he sat it down with maximum care and paced. He walked circles in the ground to the sound of the falling rain; he sighed at it and jumped when it sounded to be slowing. But inevitably he paced again, and he pined away for the chance to be useful. And his friend and escort watched him, mending his hammer from where he sat on the floor of the tent. He stayed well back away from the pacing elemental, though he had a keen smile on his face as he watched his nervous friend walk. The hammer-wielding monster paused in his repair work, stroking thoughtfully at a small pointed beard and shifting his weight beneath an armored turtle shell.
“You keep going like you are, Grillby and you’re liable to pace a hole right through the earth itself,” he said with a sharp bark of laughter, causing a pause in the elemental’s step but unable to stop the endless circling completely, “You’re going to have to learn to except days like this sooner or later. Might as well practice in it now.”
Grillby threw a pair of fiery hands in the air in reply, exasperation written in the flail of his body and the narrowing of his eyes even if he had no other real facial features to show it.
“I feel so useless Gerson!” the elemental said with a deep sigh that was hardly a step away from a growl, “I should be out there helping them! Asgore shouldn’t have gone through with the offensive tonight. He should’ve waited!”
Gerson through his head back in a rolling laugh, earning a scowl from Grillby, “This war has gone on long before you were summoned, and it will continue long after you and I are both dust, I’m sure. Well… probably I before you, if I’m completely honest. You elementals have such a strange way about time.”
Gerson let out another chuckle, “One offensive with you stuck behind the front lines won’t lose us this war. Besides, I hear there’s a couple strong names aiding the ranks tonight, Lady Thetis for a start.”
“Ha!” Grillby snorted, finally stopping his feverish pacing to glower down at the turtle monster, “Of course they’d take Thetis! She’s a fish!”
“Aye, but it ain’t her gills that’s killing humans, Grillby,” Gerson said with a grin, “Like it or not, those spears of hers could rival your fire on even the worst days. She’s brash I know, but you’ll get used to her.”
Grillby waved a hand at this, “Oh sure. As soon as I get used to hearing her rant about the pointlessness in elementals. I have a soul just like she does. It’s not my fault it’s a little harder to snuff out than hers.”
“Thetis is proud, Grillby. She thinks we’re on the same level as humans as far as power goes,” Gerson reminded the elemental goodnaturedly, “Monsters of your caliber who only feel pain or weakness from one specific thing make her feel like we’re cheating. You make her uncomfortable. She doesn’t have a mean-spirited bone in her body though, she’ll warm up to you eventually.”
Grillby crossed his arms stubbornly, glowering, “I’d rather she not! She’s loud and reckless and just about everything she touches explodes at some point or another!”
Gerson shook his head, turning his attention back down to his battered hammer. The shaft of the two-handed war hammer was cracked after it had given a glancing blow to a human shield. Gerson had been weaving magic through it all night in the hopes of repairing it, and had succeeded in stitching some of the wood back together crudely. It was likely to shatter next time he used it - assuming he didn’t find a real smith to fix it before he and Grillby were deployed to the front lines again. He worked again for a few minutes on one of the thicker portions of the crack, scowling to himself when his magic fizzled about it rather uselessly.
“Well, since you’re already in a foul mood, I suppose giving you more bad news won’t make it worse,” Gerson said with a disappointed huff as he sat the battered weapon aside. Grillby’s scowl shrank into something less angry and a little more worried.
“Bad news?” he echoed.
“Aye my friend,” Gerson said with a tired smile as he got to his feet, “I sat in with the council today, and it’s been decided I’m to be promoted. Starting tomorrow I’ll be at the head of my own company of fifty, and have been given the most honorable title of Hammer of Justice.”
Gerson cracked a somewhat bitter grin, “Though I’ll have to fix my hammer again before I do too much more justice-ing again.”
Grillby blinked at Gerson, a thrill rippling through him and turning his normally bright orange into excited hues of yellow and white.
“What? But that’s amazing news, Gerson! You should be out celebrating!” Grillby said enthusiastically, his whole body grinning, “Why do you say all that is bad news? Well… I admit being on the front lines as a commander will be dangerous… but still! Shouldn’t you be excited for this?”
Gerson chuckled, “You still haven’t gotten it, have you lad? I’m being reassigned.”
He poked Grillby’s chest gently with a scaly finger, “You on the other hand, are not. They’ll be giving you a new escort.”
“...oh.” Grillby deflated, his fire burning cool and low, “That’s bad news.”
“I wager it’s about as bad as you plan on making it,” Gerson said, trying to keep his voice light, “But it will be difficult for you. Most monsters don’t take well to erm…”
Gerson flashed an apologetic smile, “Well, you summoned ones.”
Grillby rubbed his arm self-consciously, “Yeah.”
Silence stretched between them, spattered with the sound of falling rain. Grillby sighed, shifted on his feet uncomfortably, and turned to resume his pacing. This time it was less a restless motion and more a cathartic one, and Gerson didn’t stop him. He held a cool smile on his face and watched the elemental move around the tent again.
“Do you at least know who is replacing you?” Grillby mused, glancing in Gerson’s direction as he walked. The turtle monster crossed his arms and smirked.
“I do in fact,” he said with a chuckle, “That would be Lady Amathea.”
“She sounds familiar.”
“She should, lad. Amathea the Brave. She would be Thetis’ older sister, if I recall correctly.”
“Oh joy,” Grillby groaned, slapping a hand to his face.
“Don’t be like that, now,” Gerson said warningly, “Amathea is a very proud and dignified woman, and quite the war hero in her own right. With her as your escort you’re sure to see plenty action and plenty more glory. You know she had her own company before she lost her arm.”
Grillby sighed, “Yes and I’m sure she’s just as loud and bawdy as her sister.”
Gerson shook his head, laughing quietly, “You’ll like her Grillby, don’t judge her yet.”
Silence sank between them again for a moment before the turtle monster continued, “You know she’s got another monster already in her charge right now.”
“So I’m sharing an escort then?”
Gerson shrugged, “Desperate times lad. They can’t be throwing all their powerful monsters onto the back lines to serve as escorts. But look on the bright side now; you’ll finally get to meet another elemental.”
“That’s… true,” Grillby said after a pause, “It’d be nice to see someone else… up close. Instead of watching them work from the other side of a battlefield.”
“That’s the spirit,” Gerson chuckled, slapping Grillby encouragingly on the back, “You’ll be fine. Now, I’m going to see if any of the smiths are still working in this blasted weather. Do you need anything while I’m gone?”
Grillby shook his head. He received a nod in return, and Gerson disappeared out into the storm without another word. Thunder rumbled dimly, and Grillby grimaced. He looked up at the ceiling of his tent; making sure water hadn’t pooled or forced the canvas to sag anywhere. He didn’t need to be doused in the middle of the night while he was resting. When he was sure the sky wasn’t going to start falling down on him, Grillby let out an exasperated sigh and flopped onto the ground, staring up at the ceiling from the center of one of the paths he’d paced in the dirt. His life was already crazy enough. He didn’t need more change thrown into the mix. Grillby’s light dimmed as he breathed, his core growing cooler as he put himself to sleep.
Tomorrow was going to be an interesting day, assuming the rain would stop long enough to let him live it.