Chapter 4: The Coming Storm
The sound of steel clanging against steel echoed harmoniously through the dark forest. Dash drew his blades back from his opponent’s parry taking two quick steps away. He resumed his fighting stance, watching his opponent who was holding his katana back over his shoulder with the tip pointing at Dash’s chest. The young Proger-Luna readied himself for the inevitable attack. It came swiftly, the swordsman charged forward and jabbed the katana. Dash grinned and parried the attack easily, bringing his swords across in a cross slash. He felt an impact on both his blades in quick succession as his opponent’s blade connected with each of them then rested itself on Dash’s neck. Dash froze, stunned, then sighed.
"Again?" he asked.
"In a moment" said Blitz as he sheathed his katana and stared somewhat curiously at Dash. "I think we need to talk"
"You called a training session, at night, with almost no time for me to prepare and now you want to talk?" Dash asked, spinning his weapons idly
"This has not been your best lesson Dash. The mistakes you making are amateur ones." Blitz observed, ignoring Dash’s complaint
"Well, maybe that’s cuz you decided to have me take my training at night, hm?" Dash retorted
"You have fought in the darkness before and have still met my expectations, even exceeded them. This is different." Dash wiped some sweat from his eyes with the back of his hand.
"Ah, you’re just getting lucky and you know it. Come on, one more time, huh?"
"A warrior whose mind is clouded is one doomed to defeat" Blitz lectured sternly, "if there is something on your mind, then perhaps you’d best speak it so as to release yourself from its hold."
"Hah! You’ve known me for years, has anything ever phased me?" Dash gave a disarming grin and threw his arms out to his sides in a shrug.
"Not until today" Blitz replied, his hard eyes boring into Dash, "it’s your sister, isn’t it?" Dash started, his grin gone, anger creeping into his features.
"I said let’s go again!" and with that Dash leapt forward whirling in the air, spinning his dual blades in a circular pattern. Blitz unsheathed his sword like quicksilver, intercepting Dash’s first blade with it then spinning, mimicking Dash’s footwork, and blocking the other blade with his katana’s sheath, which he held in his off hand. Blitz then twisted his sheath elegantly, turning his body around as well, and forcing Dash’s blade upwards. Predictably, Dash allowed this, spinning in the opposite direction and bringing his other sword to bear. In the time it took him to do that, however, Blitz had moved his katana in position to block the attack. There was another clear ringing note as the metal connected followed quickly by a muffled wumph as Blitz drove the end of his sheath into Dash’s exposed abdomen, causing him to double over gasping slightly.
"Another poor move." Blitz observed looking down at Dash’s huddled form and again replacing his sword in its sheath, "you must learn not to be so obvious in your actions, otherwise you will be easily defeated. Now, will you or won’t you share with me your troubles?"
"It’s none of your business!" Dash growled at the ground. Blitz sighed and crouched down so he was level with Dash.
"You know I would not ask this of you if I didn’t think it would help, and you will need all the help you can get. I have been informed that you will be sent off tomorrow along with a few others, traveling to Fraes Maeldeep." Dash knew the name, it was a city of mages, ones focused on studying the powerful magics of ruins and items long buried. It was notoriously difficult to find, and it was rumored that the mages there periodically moved the entire city with magic in order to study new ruins. That he was being sent there confused him however, it seemed that a full mage would be better suited in a place like that than a spellsword such as himself.
"What will I be doing there? And why me?" Dash asked, his breath back and his anger subsiding.
"You will learn that in due time," replied Blitz, standing up, "for now, it is important that your fighting style is in perfect form. From what I understand you may be venturing into dangerous territory on your way there. So I ask you again: is there anything you would like to discuss?" Dash looked at Blitz. Though his teacher was relentless in his training and harsh in his criticisms, Dash had always seen him as something of a father figure, seeing as how his real father was dead. His confused tempest of pain and sadness, however, was something he couldn’t bring himself to share with anyone, and he looked away from Blitz, at the ground. "Not talking then? Very well, I know when to stop pushing. It is time for a different exercise." Blitz set his katana with the rest of his equipment and retrieved a different one, one with a magnificent grip laced with gold and silver accompanied by a smooth sturdy sheath. Dash groaned, recognizing the sword as Swift, Blitz’s enchanted katana. The blade moved with supernatural speed and was very difficult to defend against, Blitz used it in training for one purpose and one purpose only. "Now Dash, we will again hone your senses. A good warrior can respond to his opponent’s attacks before they are even made. You must learn to sense my intent and react accordingly. Are you ready?" Blitz gave the same speech every time he picked up Swift in training, and Dash was sick of it. All it meant to him was that he was going to go to sleep bruised and aching. He got into a defensive stance and readied himself for the coming blows.
* * *
"Arana ismot iom? That doesn’t seem right, that incantation could never work here…hm, the writer must have meant ‘iliom,’ that would make more sense" (note to reader: these words are onsense words with no definition in reality. I know it's silly for me to stop the story to tell you that, but last time Elfwood rejected the story because of that...) Jaya stopped muttering to herself long enough to dip her pen into the bottle of ink and correct the mistake in the dusty old tome. The librarians of the Guild would probably not like it, but Jaya could care less; she was certain she was right on the matter, and it would probably be better to write in a book than to have someone accidentally blow themselves up or turn their right pinky into a twig or something because the incantation was wrong.
Jaya was in the libraries of the Guild building, the structure that contained the quarters and facilities for the local mages. She sat on an old but sturdy chair facing a table of polished mahogany that had seen better days. That table was currently piled high with books that Jaya had taken from the looming shelves behind her. A large window in the wall to her left brought the afternoon’s sunlight into the room giving it a golden hue. She propped up the book she had just corrected on the table and paged through it for a while longer, hoping to find something relevant to her studies. She flipped to the final page, finding nothing in the book to aid her. Disappointed, she set it down…and behind it was a wolf’s muzzle.
"Boo!" Dash said, causing Jaya to gasp and jump, reaching for her dagger. Quickly realizing there was no threat, however she calmed herself and glared at Dash, who was now laughing.
"You startled me!" She accused
"That was the idea, Jaya," came Dash’s lighthearted reply "honestly, when you’ve got your snout in one of those books, you’re as easy to sneak up on as an elder whose sight, smell, and hearing are gone."
"Not funny." replied Jaya giving him a quick little jab on the arm.
"Hey, ow! That’s tender there you know…" Dash protested
"Ah yes, you had a date with Blitz last night, didn’t you?" Jaya grinned
"Hmph, roughest ‘date’ I’ve ever been on." Dash said carefully sliding himself into a seat across the table from Jaya "I’m so sore now it hurts to move. I need to get Hart to see to these bruises, where is he anyway?"
"He went to the plains with his sister. You know, if you hadn’t overslept you would have been able to catch him before he left." Said Jaya, taking another book from her pile and opening it up.
"Hey! I was up past midnight last night duking it out with Mr. my-blade-moves-faster-than-your-eyes, I think I’ve earned a bit of sleep, yea?" Dash shook his head and sighed. "I hope Hart comes back quickly, he can stay out there for almost the whole day sometimes."
"Oh, he’ll be back, probably pretty soon. He’s been called to council, apparently they’ve got something they want him to do."
"Were they specific as to what it was?" Dash asked
"No. Not to either of us."
"Either of you? You’re coming too? Well, I guess that would make sense…" Said Dash resting his head gently on his hand.
"Huh? Do you know something about this?" asked Jaya, putting down her book and giving Dash her full attention.
"Well, I think so. Blitz told me last night that the reason he called that emergency training session was that he had received word that I was to be sent off to Fraes Maeldeep today. I can only assume you and Hart will be accompanying me."
"Fraes Maeldeep? I’ve always wanted to go there…Some of the most powerful Proger-Luna spellcasters reside there you know, as well as heaps of potent magical artifacts."
"Yea, yea, I’ve heard all about those things. I’m just happy to start doing something rather than waiting around here." said Dash draping an arm around the back of his chair and giving Jaya a toothy grin. Jaya nodded and smiled, turning towards the window.
"Heh, looks like you’re in luck Dash." She said, pointing one of her slender fingers towards the simple panes of glass. Dash followed her finger and saw that the gates of the base were open and walking through them was Hart, his younger sister on his shoulders holding his glaive in one of her hands and a picnic basket in the other. Their brown fur shimmered with the sunlight, making them seem almost celestial.
"’Bout time," said Dash picking himself up gingerly, "I’m going out to meet him, you coming?" he asked. Jaya sighed looking at her book tower, which was beginning to look quite precarious.
"Yea I’m coming." She said, standing and straightening her robes.
"Then, after we evade the cats by running them into our pursuers, we find a nice quite home in the woods, well away from any Vithis settlements of course" Faith explained.
"But if we run away, won’t they come looking for us?" Hart asked, a soft grin on his face. He was humoring his sister.
"Well, that’s why we’ll need to take something from the Guild that can mask our location. Come on, you know it could work." Faith reasoned. Hart gave a kind clear laugh as he lifted his sister from his shoulders and set her down on the ground, crouching to remain face to face with her.
"I don’t believe so Faith. We’ll just need to wait until the war is over I think."
"But…why?" whispered Faith, "This war is nothing, it means nothing, why must you fight it?" It was at this point that Hart realized his sister was at least somewhat serious about her plans to run away from it all.
"Because the closer I am to the war, the more chance I have of ending it." he replied, gently taking his glaive from her. His sister pouted, but her eyes glistened with respect as she stared at him. Hart’s gaze wandered over her shoulders and he saw Dash and Jaya emerging from the Guild library. “My friends are here.” Faith took a quick look over her shoulder.
"I’m gonna go now." She said.
"You don’t need to," Hart replied, somewhat confused, "stay."
"No, actually I do need to Hart. I have a fighting lesson tonight."
"Why didn’t you tell me?"
"Because I didn’t want you to rush me back of course," she smiled, "I’m already late. I’ll be reprimanded, but it was worth it to spend more time with you, especially since you’ll likely be leaving soon…Promise me you’ll be careful?"
"I promise Faith." Hart replied solemnly. Faith gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and darted away.
"What’s her hurry?" asked Jaya, who was now close enough to speak with Hart.
"She’s late for a lesson," he replied, climbing to his feet. Jaya tsk tsk’ed.
"You know what they do to you when you’re late for studies in the Guild? They give you janitorial work. Janitorial work in the Guild can kill you." She informed.
"I’m sure Faith will be fine," Hart said with all confidence, "what’s taking Dash so long?" he asked, seeing that his friend was limping at a steady pace, still a fair ways away.
"He’s still a little sore from his training yesterday night," Jaya replied, "in fact, your healing talents would be much appreciated I’m sure." Hart sighed.
"Once, just once I would like for Dash to go into combat and come out with not a scratch on him." To this Jaya laughed dryly.
"Don’t you know, Hart? That’s one of the signs of the apocalypse."
"Hey guys, nice to see you back Hart." Dash had finally arrived.
"I understand Blitz gave you quite a beating last night, hm? Perhaps you could use a bit more defensive training?" Hart lectured playfully
"Shut up and heal me you oaf." Dash scowled.
"Very well." Hart chuckled. He placed a hand on Dash’s shoulder, closed his eyes and whispered phrases designed to invoke the power of his soul. His hand began to glow with a soft golden light, and he slowly swept it over Dash’s body, the bruises mending themselves at its touch. Hart finished and the light faded. “Did I miss anything?” he asked
"No, it’s perfect, thanks." Dash said flexing his arms to test for any aches or pains, "aahhhh, you’re a life saver Hart."
"Literally." added Jaya.
"I do my part." Hart stated modestly. There was a short silence after that, which Dash broke
"So Hart, you have received a summons as well then?" he asked
"Yes. Jaya and I both received one, we must report to the Canis in about an hour." Hart replied.
"You two aren’t the only ones going" Dash said, giving one of his cocky grins.
"Do you mean to say…" Hart inquired.
"Yea, I’ll be tagging along as well." Dash replied.
"Which means you’ll need to buff up on your healing before we set out." Jaya said snidely, throwing a sidelong glance at Dash.
"Hey, what’s that supposed to mean?" Dash demanded, irritated.
"I think I’ll let you figure it out for yourself, tough guy." Jaya answered playfully, cocking one of her ears down and winking, "as for me, I think I need to clean up the mess I left in the library. I will see the both of you soon." She clapped her right fist onto her left shoulder in a customary salute which Dash and Hart returned, then took a leisurely pace towards the Guild building.
"So, do you have any idea what our task might involve?" Hart inquired, more for the sake of conversation than anything else.
"Yes, actually, I do. Blitz told me last night that I was going to be sent to Fraes Maeldeep."
"Ah, the ancient city of the mages," Hart nodded, "I wonder what we will be doing there?” Dash shrugged.
"Beats me. Right now, I’m wondering who else will be coming with us."
"If there will indeed be anyone else." Hart replied.
"Do you really think they’d send us three off alone?" Inquired Dash.
"It depends on the nature of the task. All I know is that no one else has told me they were summoned." Dash’s stomach suddenly rumbled. Hart gave a soft, slightly sarcastic smile.
"Are you hungry?" he asked.
"Haven’t eaten all day" Dash replied somewhat bashfully.
"I could go for some food as well actually."
"Didn’t you just come from a picnic?" questioned Dash giving Hart an inquisitive look.
"Clearly, you’ve never had Faith’s cooking" Hart said holding his head high and keeping his smile wide.
"Hah, let’s eat then." Dash said, shaking his head, and the two made their way to the mess hall.
* * *
Jaya navigated the maze like halls of the Guild building towards the library. She knew how to get there easily, though those who didn’t visit the building frequently would have had quite a bit of trouble. Mages delight in using confusing or frustrating architecture. Jaya took the final right fork in hallway and turned a corner, the two large double doors of the library coming into view. She hoped none of the librarians had checked her table recently, or she may be reprimanded. She pushed through the doors and made her way back to the familiar table next to the window but, to her surprise, the pile of books she left was gone. She didn’t fear that one of the librarians had found it, if that had happened the librarian would most certainly force Jaya to reshelf the books, likely enchanting them to increase their weight. So then who…
"Evening Jaya, long time no see" Jaya knew that voice. She turned to the shadows near the bookcase and saw a fox emerge from them. His orange-red fur was well kept and he wore a simple leather vest, a dark cloak, and some long black pants that were fashioned to allow easy movement. He also wore various small bits of jewelry here and there. He bowed low and turned his cunning eyes and grinning face towards Jaya.
"Renard." She said.
"It is indeed me. You know, you owe me now. While you were away one of the librarians came stalking through these very corridors. Who knows what they would have done if they had found all your books just left there like that?"
"You haven’t changed much." Jaya stated.
"I rarely do." Renard smirked, straightening.
"What are you doing here anyway? I hadn’t heard you were coming to this base." Jaya asked, looking suspiciously at the fox.
"I was called here to replace a recently deceased commander." Renard replied. Hearing this, Jaya looked to the floor her ears drooping. "What? You knew him?" Renard asked.
"Yes...he was a brother in law to a friend of mine." She said softly.
"Ah, well, our lives are wrapped in tragedy, are they not? All one can do is not dwell on it, yes?" Renard said, a slightly sarcastic twinge to his voice.
"You know, I think that may be the most meaningful thing I’ve ever heard you say." Said Jaya, regaining her composure.
"Hah, there’s more than fluff behind these eyes." Renard replied, tapping his head with one of his thin black fingers. "In any case, I look forward to spending more time with you around here. Most of my fellow officers are quite stuffy."
"Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to do that. I have received a summons by the Canis and expect to be leaving here fairly soon." To this Renard frowned.
"That’s too bad. What will I possibly do to amuse myself, hm?" It was Jaya’s turn to smile
"Not my problem is it? Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to prepare for the meeting." And with that, Jaya turned and went again to navigate the labyrinth of the Guild building, seeking her room.
"My she’s a feisty one." Renard said to himself with a wry smile. Too bad she wouldn’t be around, she was always a fun one to spend time with. "Ah well, I’m sure I’ll find something to occupy myself while I’m here." He reasoned, and he too left the library destined for his own quarters
* * *
Jaya rushed towards the council hall, cursing while she ran. She was late, through no fault of her own, but late all the same.
"Ha!" she said triumphantly as the building came into view, and she quickened her pace. She reached the intricate oak double doors and skidded to a stop, straightening her robes and catching her breath before opening one of the doors wide enough for her to slip in quietly. The Canis were occupied with a different ceremony, a Proger-Luna kneeled in front of them as they recited boring traditional phrases. They didn’t notice her come in. Jaya saw Dash and Hart sitting in one of the pews near the back. The rest of the pews were empty, though this was not unusual. The only people who were normally in the pews were those that had been summoned. Jaya moved quietly over to her friends’ location, slipping into the pew next to Dash.
"A little late, aren’t we Jaya?" he whispered, grinning.
"It isn’t my fault, some fool shifted the halls again, I was going in circles for quite a while and I didn’t even know it!" exclaimed Jaya in a hissing voice. "Why haven’t they began assigning our task yet?" she asked nervously.
"You’ve nothing to fear Jaya, your absence has not been noted," Hart assured her, "they are simply behind schedule. Right now they’re accepting the commander that’s come to replace…well, they’re accepting the new commander." Hart caught himself awkwardly and gave a concerned look towards Dash, but the young wolf pretended not to hear. Jaya turned her attention to the ceremony, finally realizing who the kneeling Proger-Luna was.
"You have already been assigned your quarters, so I believe that’s the last of the formalities. Welcome to our base Renard, may your stay be a pleasant one." The fox rose, saluted, and walked out of the building shooting a confidant smile towards Jaya. "We will now see the next summons. Dash, Jaya, and Hart please approach us." Announced one of the Canis, a German shepherd whose only sign of age was the slight graying of his fur. The three friends stood and walked slowly up to their position in front of the raised desk where the Canis sat. "Dash, Jaya, and Hart," began the German shepherd, putting his stern gaze on each of them in turn, "you have worked together before, and your abilities compliment one another. It is for this reason that we are choosing to send the three of you on a very special mission." The speaker reached under the large table that the Canis sat at and pulled out a long thin box. Setting it on the table, he explained: "this is your charge. You must take this box to Fraes Maeldeep, the city of magic. There it will be researched and we will be able to find out what, exactly, it is capable of."
"What is inside?" Asked Dash, curious.
"Ah, that is the catch to the task, you must not look inside the box. You are forbidden to know what it is you transport. You see, there are many that seek the contents of this box, and if you were to know what you had in your possession, they would be able to zone in on such knowledge with magic. They would find you, likely kill you, and take the item before we can even find out its purpose."
"Grandfather, um, if I may…" Jaya began, using the title appropriate to one of the Canis’ station, “are we the only ones that are to undertake this mission?"
"Yes, with a small group you should be able to find your way to the city undetected, and since you will be traveling through Vithis and even Bithi-Sol territory, stealth will be paramount to your success."
"Surely it would be safer to simply teleport the object to Fraes Maeldeep, would it not?" Hart reasoned.
"Alas, it resists all teleportation attempts. It must be transported physically. Are there any further questions?"
"Yes, two," said Dash, "firstly, how do we get to Fraes Maeldeep?"
"We have a map for you to follow," the German shepherd said, taking a small roll of parchment out from behind the desk and laying it on top of the box. “And your second question?” Dash’s face broke into an eager grin.
"When do we start?"
* * *
By the next morning Dash, Jaya, and Hart had all necessities packed and ready to go. It was unusual for the Canis to set a departure date so soon to the briefing, but then again it was an unusual task. Dash and Jaya waited patiently by the open gates as Hart hugged his sister goodbye.
"I’ll be back before you know it." He said, giving a soft smile that Faith halfheartedly mirrored.
"Be safe." She replied, letting go of her brother. Hart took his place with his two friends and the gate shut behind them. Their journey had begun.
* * *
"And so you are finally here." The High Mage said, hiding his excitement well. He inspected the one who stood before him. The black robe that the newcomer wore seemed to absorb the firelight that lit the room and the hood cast a shadow over his face, though it could still be seen that he wore a cold glare as his expression. In his right hand he held his weapon: Reaper. The scythe had a smooth black staff and the blade glowed an eerie soft blue. The air around it was visible like warm breath on a frozen day.
"What do you wish of me?" Kain asked, his voice cold and unfeeling.
"All in due time Kain, all in due time. Preparations are still not complete. Go to your quarters and we will contact you when we have more information." Kain nodded curtly and exited the room. The High Mage broke out into a gleeful grin. "He’s exactly what we need!" He exclaimed.
"He sends a chill up my spine," his adviser said nervously, trying to smooth down his fur that was spiked upwards in fear.
"If he frightens you, just think of what he will do to our enemies! Ah, Sakura will be mine shortly." The adviser seemed quite distressed by the High Mage’s gleeful mood.
"I still think that this is a bad idea…" he said.
"Nonsense! This is going to work out perfectly. Now call my lieutenants and let us go over our battle plans. We strike two days hence, under cover of darkness!"
* * *
The night was dark and chilly. Watchmen dozed on the walls of the base and the only light came from the stars and moon, as well as the various torches around the establishment. A thin vixen in a nightgown holding a candle made her way sleepily around the mess hall near the gates. Turning a corner she bumped into another fox, almost setting his fur on fire with the candle, which fell from her hands.
"Oh! I’m-I’m sorry, are you all right?" she asked retrieving her candle. The fire had gone out.
"Ah, no worries, I’m fine. Hey…wait…aren’t you…Fay, is that you?" The vixen’s gaze snapped to the fox’s face as he said her name.
"I-I’m sorry, I don’t remember you." She said, brushing a lock of hair out of her eyes.
"It’s me! Brin!" He smiled holding his arms out. Fay gasped.
"Brin! Oh, I didn’t think I’d ever see you again! I had no idea you were here, why haven’t we seen each other before?" She exclaimed happily.
"Fate I assume." Brin said cryptically. "Why are you out so late anyway?"
"Oh…I-I was hungry." Fay looked to the ground, slightly embarrassed. It didn’t help that Brin had grown quite a bit more handsome since she last saw him. Brin chuckled.
"Still the same old Fay, clumsy and always hungry." His eyes danced with humor and his disarming gaze caused Fay to smile.
"Why are you out so late then Brin?" she asked.
"I’ve come to relieve the guard on duty, his watch is up. I should probably be getting to that now actually, we’ll need to talk again some-" suddenly there was a large booming noise from past the walls. Both Fay and Brin’s heads turned, their ears perking towards the direction of the sound, which was outside the wall nearest to them.
"What was that?" Fay asked nervously.
"I’m not sure." Replied Brin. Suddenly, one of the watchmen leaned over the parapets facing the foxes.
"Cats! It’s cats! An army, I-I can’t be sure how many-" His sentence was cut off by an arrow which struck him in the back of the head, going through his helmet and tumbling him off the wall, his body coming to rest right in front of the foxes. That was followed by a hail of arrows coming over each wall of the base. Frantic horns sounded, waking the base and getting them ready for combat. Fay had kept herself from screaming the whole time, her combat mentality taking over.
"We need to get to safety!" Brin exclaimed. Before Fay could nod her agreement, there came a loud crunching sound at the front gate. The cats were trying to ram it down. "Change of plans!" Brin shouted, and he began chanting and weaving his hands in the air. Fay recognized this as a spell to hold doors and other portals shut. It was only meant to work on smaller openings though, alone Brin would not be able to hold it. She dropped her candle and began the spell as well, finishing shortly after the fox. The gates glowed with a soft blue light as did Fay and Brin’s hands. The spell required concentration, both of their eyes were squeezed shut. Fay’s candle lay forgotten on the ground. "Not quite what you had expected to find on a late night walk, eh?" Brin grunted.
"I didn’t expect to find you either." Fay stated, smiling through her mental exhaustion. There came another crunching noise as the ram collided with the gates again, but the large doors barely moved this time. Arrows still rained over the base, but the two foxes were relatively safe between a building and the wall. Soon, armored warriors began emerging from the barracks, holding their shields up to intercept the incoming missiles. CRUNCH, another ram. "Reinforcements are coming" sighed Fay.
"We’re almost out of this" agreed Brin. BOOM! "What was-?" BOOM! BOOM! BOOMBOOMBOOM! Fireballs were detonating in quick succession on the gates, which exploded violently outwards. Brin managed to shove Fay out of the way. She landed safely on the corpse of the fallen watchman, but the flames and shrapnel from gate hit Brin fully, throwing him to the wall of the mess hall. Fay shot her gaze at the aftermath of the explosion, focusing on the charred corpse of Brin, pincushioned with large chunks of wood.
"Brin…NO!" Fay shouted, losing control. She reached down to the watchman’s corpse’s belt and yanked his sword out. She had never wielded a sword before, and it felt heavy and clumsy in her hands, but she paid that no heed. She charged into the still smoldering wake of the explosion, swinging the sword unskillfully. Through the smoke and rubble stepped Kain, coldly surveying the battle. He took only a passing interest in the vixen charging at him. She was hardly worth his time. When she came into range of him, howling and crying, he casually parried her haphazard attack and spun the blade of his scythe into her gut. Fay gasped, feeling her insides freeze, her blood oozing out over the blade and crystallizing on her nightgown. Kain yanked Reaper from the vixen and rapped the blade against the wall causing most of the frozen blood to crack off. Fay fell to her knees, then collapsed onto the ground, dead. Her body lay still for a moment, then it stirred. Stiffly, it climbed back to its feet, its eyes blank and unfocused, its stance warped and unbalanced. The warriors who recently emerged from the barracks could only watch in horror.
"Time to begin" Kain said, and he strode forward, Fay’s corpse following him at a hobble.
"Report!" Barked Blitz, fully dressed and ready for combat.
"The gate has been breached, skirmish teams of cats have entered the base, four soldiers and a mage each. The archers who originally fired on us have started getting onto the ramparts, using our own defenses against us." The slightly flustered golden retriever lieutenant stated. It took only a few moments for Blitz’s calculating mind to come to the most prudent course of action: retreat.
"Pull everyone out. Use the underground passages. Meet at rally point five after you exit. I and my elite guard will cover the retreat. Move! Now!" And Blitz was off before the lieutenant could protest, running towards the front of the base with his elite guard on his heels. "Fan out. I’ll take the center, you two take the right side, you two the left." Blitz’s bodyguards nodded and obeyed without question.
"What’s going on?" Came a shrill voice. Blitz stopped swiftly, turning towards the education quarters, the location of the young that were currently in training there. Faith was standing wide awake and fearful in her nightgown. Blitz looked swiftly around, his keen senses zoning in on a fox that had just emerged from the Guild building. He recognized this fox as Renard.
"You! Renard! Over here, now!" Blitz shouted. Renard turned quickly towards him.
"We’ve been taken by surprise, sir!" The fox informed him.
"I’m aware of that. I need you to take the trainees away, we’re retreating."
"With all due respect, sir, my talents could be better used elsewhere." Renard stated. Such a task was something an unranked soldier could take care of. Renard was a commander.
"You will do as I order without question." Blitz responded, and he took off again in the direction of the front gate. Renard frowned after him, his sly eyes narrowing to slits.
"Hmph. Very well." And he moved to gather the pups.
Kain’s scythe cut through another one of the defenders’ armor as if it were paper, toppling the bleeding dog and quickly moving the shaft of his weapon to deflect a thrust from one of the others. He then spun the blunt end of his scythe into the muzzle of another warrior before he could finish his attack. Kain gave a tight spin to correct his footwork and put a small amount of distance between himself and his opponents. He stood up strait and jammed the end of his scythe into the ground, ready for the next attack.
"Fall back!" came the order "I will deal with this, all of you retreat." Blitz unsheathed his katana, locking eyes with Kain as his warriors obeyed his instructions and fled. Kain watched Blitz, his eyes shimmering gold under his hood. As a high ranking warrior, Kane was privvey to knowledge of the enemies’ top officers, and this new warrior was one that Kane recognized.
"You are Blitz..." Kain said calmly "General in the Proger-Luna military...what are you doing here?" Blitz took this moment to survey the battlefield. There were many corpses, including that of a vixen in a nightgown. A few of them seemed to have more wounds than were necessary, almost as if they had been cut down twice...
"I won’t explain myself to an enemy. On your guard!" And Blitz rushed forward swinging Swift in a downward stroke at Kain’s head. With surprising speed, the cougar brought his scythe’s blade up to block, stepping backwards to get out of the katana’s range, swinging the scythe down, taking advantage of its longer strike distance. In a flash, Swift was in position to block the attack, intercepting the scythe. Blitz then pushed upwards, forcing the cougar’s weapon high and dashing forward, angling his weapon for a deadly thrust, but Kain spun Reaper, intercepting the blade with the scythe’s shaft. Blitz had expected the cougar to move backwards to continues to keep his weapon’s range advantage, but instead Kain stepped into the wolf’s advance and drove his fist into Blitz’s muzzle. The wolf fell backwards, but quickly regained his footing, flowing smoothly into a fighting stance just in time to block another one of Kain’s attacks. The cougar was very fast, considering the size of his weapon and the fact that Blitz was one of the quickest Proger-Luna fighters on record, but that didn’t make him unbeatable. Blitz moved forward, seeking to engage the cougar again, but he felt something grip his ankle. He looked down to see one of the dogs Kain had recently cut down, or its corpse rather, gripping his leg as its empty, dead eyes stared up at him, its maw hanging open. Blitz quickly severed the zombie’s arm then made another swift attack, cleaving its head in two and dropping it, giving him just enough time to deflect another of Kain’s attacks. Blitz’s combat oriented mind shifted into gear, and he began planning his moves two or three actions in advance. He made an easily deflected slash to the cougar’s left, feeling his blade connect with Reaper, but it was a calculated move made to get the Kain’s weapon into position for his next attack. With unnatural speed, Blitz withdrew his weapon and made yet another thrust at the cougar’s chest. Kain moved the shaft of his scythe to deflect the blow, pushing the katana to the side, again what Blitz had planned for. The wolf’s next attack came as a downward slash at the cougar’s head, causing him to raise his scythe horizontally to block it. Gotcha! Blitz thought, and he again made a slash at the cougar’s left. This time, however, Kain’s weapon was in no position to be moved to intercept it in time. To Blitz’s surprise, the cougar didn’t even try to block his attack. The katana made contact with Kain’s side...and stopped. Blitz stared in disbelief as Swift, which he had until now believed was able to cut through anything, was blocked by a simple black robe. Kain took this opportunity to spin the blunt end of his weapon into Blitz’s face, stepping forward and spinning it again, slashing Blitz’s side as the wolf flew through the air, spinning him to the ground. Blitz hit hard, keeping his grip on his katana, but unable to bring himself to his feet. Kane advanced on Blitz, the wolf cradling his cold wound and staring up at the cougar intensely, his expression unreadable save for the pain that was obviously present.
"I had been expecting more...but nonetheless you were a worthy opponent." Kane said as he readied his scythe for a killing blow. Before he could execute his strike, however, a blue cloud of vapor rose quickly from the ground near Blitz, obscuring him and causing Kane to jump back and slash at the quickly forming cloud, keeping it at bay, fearing some form of poison.
All Blitz could see was blue, and the wolf briefly wondered if he had, in fact, died. He was brought back to his senses, however, by a voice he recognized that spoke into his ear...
"Take the trainees away eh? You’re lucky I don’t listen to orders very well." Renard said as he threw one of Blitz’s arms over his shoulder and began to work through the motions of a teleportation spell.
"How dare you disobey my orders..." Blitz said weakly, causing Renard to chuckle.
"A general to the end, eh?" He finished his spell, and the two vanished from the scene of battle.
* * *
Kain surveyed the battle’s aftermath. It had been a harder battle to fight than originally anticipated, and with far fewer casualties on the dog’s side. That Blitz certainly knew what he was doing Kain thought to himself. Not only had every strategic advantage been very well exploited, but there were apparently a number of secret passageways outside of the base. There was no other way to explain how so many soldiers had escaped, for all of the exits had been watched carefully during the battle by a regiment of archers in the hopes that no Proger-Luna would survive. None of the alleged passages had been located, however, leading Kain to believe that the enemy had collapsed the passages behind them, covering their escape. Blitz was a worthy opponent indeed.
"Where is she?" the voice of the High Mage brought Kain’s attention back to the present. The wizard was picking his way through the Projer-Luna bodies with his advisor in tow, pushing bodies over with his foot to examine them, looking for Wren’s. He saw Kain and strode over, crossing his arms. “Well?” He asked impatiently.
"Of whom do you speak?" Kain asked simply, regarding the mage with the same cold stare he afforded everyone.
"The assassin, the one who slew the previous High Mage, show me her body!" He commanded. The pieces began to fall into place in Kain’s head.
"So then this attack was made simply to kill one individual?" Kain asked coldly.
"Certainly that was the easiest way to ensure her death, or so I thought." The High Mage sniffed, "I hadn’t counted on the leader of my attack being so...incompetent." The Mage’s arrogant statement caused Kain’s eyes to flash and his advisor to glance nervously between the two of them.
"Incompetent..." Kain growled.
"Rally the forces." The High Mage ordered, "we will spread out, find the survivors, and kill them until we have the assassin’s head."
"No." Kain responded. The High Mage paused.
"You dare disobey me? I am your superior, you will do as I say!" The High Mage snarled, angry that his authority was being questioned.
"You order an attack on a whole base to kill one enemy rather than sending an assassin...you sit back in our base while your soldiers fight, you order the pursuit of the enemy immediately after fighting....You are...incompetent...you are...weak..." Kain said, his eyes flashing a dangerous gold as his scythe whipped out, streaking the air with arctic blue and deep crimson. A shocked, horrified silence descended on the area as the High Mage’s body crumpled to the floor. His head, with an expression of frozen surprise, joined it shortly.
"Y-you..." The High Mage’s advisor broke the silence, trembling as he looked to Kain, "I-I am going to....to report this..." the aging tiger said, trembling.
"No," Kain said simply, "you will not." It was not a suggestion, it was not an order, it was merely a statement. Kain turned to address the remaining soldiers. "Fortify this position. Do not pursue the enemy. I am returning to the capitol presently." And he turned and left the scene, his dark robes billowing out behind him, all eyes fixed on the dangerous agent of death known as Kain.
|1 Feb 2008|| Nathan Cel Medwin|
whooooooooo..it’s been a while!!!! nice to see this. it’s really long....GREAT!!! the story is interesting. are their any more coming?? Marcus W. Ager
replies: "It certainly has been a while, lol. I’m glad you liked my newest addition to the story ^^. As to whether there are more on the way, sadly I’m not sure when I’ll have time to write for a while, heh. I got a bunch of things on my plate now. But we’ll see if I can’t crank another one out, eh? "
|19 Mar 2008|| Anon.|
Lets see...there are a few spelling and punctuation errors, but all in all, good story ) (happy cyclops)
"A shocked, horrified silence descended on the area as the High Mage’s body crumpled to the floor. His head, with an expression of frozen surprise, joined it shortly." heh...heh... Marcus W. Ager
replies: "heeheehee, glad you liked it.
And yes, that line certainly did the trick, hehe. That arrogant cat’s death was long overdue anyways =P"