“Take that! Ha!”
A sword strike was blocked on a shield releasing a loud ‘clanging’ sound.
“Arin, I need support! Hurry up!”
“I’m a little busy over here Orthus!”
Orthus clenched his teeth while parrying a spear thrust. All around him, the sound of battle mingled with the sounds of the dying.
After parrying the spear thrust, Orthus lunged burying his sword in his opponent’s chest.
“We need to fall back, the fighting is too intense here. What the hell are the commanders doing?”
Everywhere he looked, whether left or right, were countless enemy soldiers.
Arin and Orthus had both been assigned to the same infantry unit and were at the forefront of the fighting. Both being relatively successful adventurers, they were stronger than the average soldier.
The enemy infantry they were engaged with were equipped with hide bucklers, leather armor and short spears. Their numbers were frightening and more than doubled the size of La’gun’s forces.
They had been woefully unprepared for this fierce battle having thought it would be only a mere skirmish, just like any other year. While the Kingdom of La’gun had conscripted all eligible citizens, their numbers fell short because Jaspel had hired many mercenaries to bolster their military.
It was these mercenaries that they were facing now in close combat.
Locked in combat with enemies all around him, Arin deftly wielded his spear while pushing back a leather clad infantryman. Orthus had just finished off his opponent and ran to cover Arin’s back.
“Fuck, this is ridiculous!” Arin shouted over the din of battle.
“I know… If only Idren and Aessa were here. I hope they are doing okay.” Orthus replied through heavy breathing.
“I’ll take the one on the left, you get the other!”
The two sprung into action, lunging and slashing until they beat their foes into submission.
“Arin! Look up! Elemental barrage!”
“What!? Oh shit!”
An enemy barrage of elemental magic fell down from above, crashing into both friend and foe alike. If the two of them had not quickly avoided the attacks, they would have been struck as well. However, many around them hadn’t been so lucky.
“They don’t even care about hitting their own men!? Are they insane!?”
Arin couldn’t believe that they would attack their own men. It was clear to him that they felt mercenaries were expendable.
It was then that the welcoming sound of horns blasted through the chaos.
“It’s about damn time they called the retreat, let’s get out of here!”
With the sound of the horn bellowing in the background, the Kingdom of Lag’un’s forces began their bloody retreat. The forces of the Kingdom of Jaspel, seeing their forces retreating, would not let them go so easily and fought harder to hound them.
Much to their horror, the retreating soldiers also became easy targets for Jaspel’s mages who bombarded them with elemental spells.
It was one of the bloodiest battles that the Kingdom had ever fought. Emboldened by the fact that Shar had disappeared under mysterious circumstances from La’gun, the King of Jaspel decided to take an enormous risk.
La’gun Military Command Tent
“I can’t believe this, were they planning a full on invasion from the very beginning? Damn those Jaspel bastards!”
Commander Deren Freis Arburn slammed his fist on the command table and angrily shouted.
“Commander, what will we do? We have lost almost half of our forces…”
“You think I don’t know that!? Sound the retreat! If only those damn cowards hadn’t hired mercenaries…”
This had been the first time Commander Deren had led the entire military with his own authority and it had become the greatest defeat the Kingdom had ever faced. With no options remaining for them, they were forced to pull back to the Capital City of La’gun for an extended siege.
Tris had been unconscious for over a week while she was hidden away in a covered wagon alongside Shar. There were Demihumans assigned to keep her alive while she remained unconscious, but there was no mistake that she was a prisoner and not a guest.
Although the other Demihumans weren’t aware that she was once the Human known as Tris, they were ordered to keep her guarded and in the wagon at all times.
When she finally woke, she was dazed and confused. There were the sounds of wooden wheels hitting hard soil and rock and the sounds of someone sleeping nearby.
It was difficult for her to move as her body was still relatively weak. She had not recovered fully from the changes that had taken place and was still unaware of her fate.
In the light of the moon, which leaked into the wagon from an opening, she didn’t think she would be able to see her surroundings. Strangely, her eyesight was not affected by the dim light in the least.
What’s going on…. How can I see so well when there is barely any light? She thought to herself as she rose to a sitting position.
She was suddenly startled by a loud sound that rang in her ears, causing immense pain. By reflex she covered her ears with her hands, but when her hands met her ears, she felt a strange sensation. What is this? It’s warm and soft… Fur!?
She frantically felt around her ears and couldn’t believe it. From underneath her, she felt something uncomfortable, as if she were sitting on a part of herself. Quickly moving to the side, she saw it.
“WHAT THE HELL IS THIS!?”
Secluded somewhere among the caravans of the Demonkin, there was one wagon in particular that saw no daylight. Within, were two members of the Dragonkin race.
“Brother, are you okay? What did they do to you!?”
Allein felt tears fall from her eyes as she ran her hands over her brother’s wounds. He had been beaten severely and was forbidden from being healed.
His crime? He betrayed his Khan and attempted to kill Accadeas and his sister. Because no harm could be done to Allein, they took their anger out on her brother.
“I can’t believe they hurt you this much….”
Nes tried to speak, but only broken sounds left his lips.
“Just rest brother, rest. You don’t need to say anything. This is all my fault. What do I do? What can I do…. Father… Mother… I couldn’t save you.”
Deep in her heart, there was great turmoil. Her life had always been more difficult than any other. She had been thrust into a world of constant danger where war never ceased and even as a child, she could not enjoy the simple pleasures of youth.
And even more so, her fate was cursed with a timeless sleep and a world not her own. She had awoken with purpose, to right the wrongs, to save her family, and simply to live.
Yet in the brief time that she had been awake, she was faced with an impossible choice. The choice to save the man she had come to love deeply, or to save the family she loved and yearned for.
Across the vast Plains as far as the eye could see, slowly rumbled a monstrous snaking form.
Over a hundred thousand Demihumans, countless caravans and pack animals, an entire nation of people made their way east in order to make war.
And at their head, the one known, as the Great Khan Fayde.
But despite the raucous noise of tens of thousands of souls, he remained silent and brooding.
Yet deep within his eyes lay a dark foreboding, flickering flames of resolute destruction. Yes, a part of him cried out for an end to everything, but he was reminded of a gentle warmth from a seemingly fragile hand that caressed him.
“Fayde, won’t you smile once more like you used to? You have been so distant ever since that day.” Reia’s calm and soothing voice brought him back to the present.
He looked at her with intense eyes that radiated immense power, but seeing her shrink back from him, he felt guilty and relaxed his gaze.
“I’m sorry Reia. There are so few I can trust. Do I even belong here? How do I even know who is the master and who is the slave? Is anything I have done, is what I am doing now, is any of it of my own choosing? Am I even alive?”
Reia secretly reprimanded herself for reacting the way she did.
“Fayde, do you remember that when I was lost, just as you are now, you were the one who rescued me from myself. From my mind, from my foolish thoughts. You are not alone, you have me and you have Laila too. She cares for you just as much as I do. I know what happened with Allein…..”
“Please stop. I don’t want to talk about it right now.”
She didn’t say anymore. It was easy to see that he was just not ready to face Allein’s betrayal.
“How long do you think until we arrive in the Kingdom of La’gun?” Reia said in order to change the subject.
“At the pace we are going, it will take months to get there. We are barely moving at a snail’s pace, and then there is the need to hunt and train. I wouldn’t be surprised if it took four or five months.”
Fayde sighed, feeling apathetic. Reia could only shake her head and continue to support him as best as she could.
“Great Khan! The scouts have reported a group of Raksaurs in our path about an hour’s ride from here. Should we change directions and attempt to go around them?”
Raksaurs were enormous dinosaur like monsters that were extremely dangerous. They were powerful and even though they could be killed with superior numbers, the cost in lives would be significant. Normally, the Demihumans on the Plains kept as far away from them as possible. These were one of the many species of monsters that came into being because of the influence of the Void.
“No need. I was beginning to get bored anyway. I will deal with them myself.”
Reia looked up at Fayde with concern as he stood. She was uncomfortable with Fayde using his powers because of the chance that he might once again come under the control of the Void.
Fayde jumped off the wagon he was riding on and walked out in front of the caravan. The wagon stopped and a call was sent down throughout the entire caravan to halt. Murmurs spread throughout the caravan since none had been informed of the reason for the halt.
“Do not come near me, for your own safety.”
Fayde having walked far enough away that he was certain he wouldn’t injure anyone, closed his eyes slowly and lifted his head towards the sun. His arms were outstretched as if he were welcoming its golden embrace and a slight vibration in the air disturbed the afternoon calm.
At the center of the vibration was Fayde himself and as the air began to hum, his body ignited in fearsome black flames that whipped and screamed in chaotic fury.
And then, before the widening eyes of his newly adopted people, his form rose above the sun-whipped earth to float amongst the radiant sky.
With his back to his people, he could not see their looks of awe, nor did he know what appearance he exhibited flying there.
But here, where only the clouds were his companions, he indeed felt as if he were truly alone. Not wishing to linger too long, he suddenly sped off at incredible speeds, leaving a trail of black flames in his wake.