Chapter 10

Back to honor. Back to Andal.

Andal was my brother. Figuratively, but I find, more often than not, the family you unearth along the way is more real than the family you thought was the… Never mind. Andal was my brother. Period.

Taniks was the four-armed, murderin' Guardian hunter who… Yeah.

Andal and I… we made a bet. Only "bet" ain't the right word. Not among Hunters. What we did meant more. We offered a dare.

The Dare.

I to him. Him to me.

Kill Taniks or get chained to Vanguard duty. Hunt the hunter and come out on top, or wear a leash. This was our honor. Our word.

The Hunter Dare dates back to nobody-knows-when. There are all kinds of stories about the "First Dare," but there's no way to discern the truth of a thing done who-knows-when by who-knows-whom.

It was the First Dare that time a Hunter…

Oh, and mind you, this was waaaaay before anyone even imagined calling themselves "Hunters" or "Titans" or "Warlocks." This was Risen days. The Chosen weren't organized back then—no code—and didn't get it, no matter how much their Ghosts talked their ears off. Back when the first ones got their spark lit, they were just as likely to be a self-involved tyrant as a decent human being.

Ask me to tell you about the "Warlords" sometime. Ha! Bunch o' newly rezzed tough guys misusing the Light like a bunch o' ignoramuses… Ignorami? Regardless… Not a fan. But who is?

Am I ramblin'? Anyway…

That first challenge of honor between those who'd one day call themselves Hunters? Was it the Tuvel Valley Jump? The Shaderunners' Sprint? The Moonlight Draw? Kuba Sul's Last Stand? The Great Scrounge Hunt? The Lesser Scrounge Hunt? No one knows. I sure as heck don't.

But which was first don't matter. They were all first. They were all the Dare to set the table and inspire other Dares. What matters is, once a Dare was offered… if it was taken—it was took. It was on you. It was in you. Not metaphysically. I'm not talking Warlock hocus-pocus. I'm talking honor.

Accepting the Dare is giving your word.

So, Andal and I, we offered, accepted, and doomed ourselves, because we didn't take into account the depths of my arrogance.

Seems my arrogance is where it always falls apart…