Alexandros: Ch. 38-39byJoeBarnosky©
Alexandros Manuscript Page 140
I barely heard the yell over the howling wind, but instead of responding, I ignored the call. I cast my view over the desert expanse in front of me. Across the wind strewn dunes, the demon horde heads this way.
I stole my attention away from the oncoming onslaught and acknowledged the messenger. "Are the tasks done Ako?" I asked.
Ako nodded his head and glanced in the distance, a frown creasing his face. "All entry points are closed off except for this corridor and of course the skies."
"And the evacuation of the city?" I asked.
"Half way completed. Pharaoh is uncertain about falling back to the palace."
"He said as much?'
"His council," I said with a smirk. Ako nodded confirming my thoughts. "We'll hold them off as long as we can. Go back and tell Rashida I'll join her shortly."
Ako nodded once more before leaving. I turned my attention back toward the horde. Normal men would look at the situation and feel fear at the task they have to face. I am a Spartan and fear doesn't fit into my vocabulary. Instead, I had the overwhelming feeling of concern—concern for the citizens of the city.
I took one last look at the city, then drew my sword, Gaijin, and I prepared myself. The demon horde had made its way down the valley, nearly passing the ambush point I had set up. I had a smile on my face that was quickly replaced with a frown. Rolling behind the horde at a steady pace was what looked like a sandstorm. I doubted it was something natural, but rather conjured up. Instantly, I knew this didn't bode well for my men.
The horde already passed the ambush point as my soldiers uncovered themselves from the sand and began attacking. The sandstorm came upon my soldiers, sweeping them up unprepared. Blinded, the soldiers kept up their effort and fought bravely. The horde stopped moving forward and instead began its feast on the soldiers below. I stood watching good men fight and die, preparing to die myself if necessary.
When the last of my soldiers fell so did the sandstorm. I turned once more toward the city, seeing that the people were still evacuating. It was up to me to hold back the tide until the people were safe. The first of the foul beasts come over the hill only to fall under my blade. With a quick slash, the creature's insides fell at my feet. As quickly as the first one fell, another took its place. A stroke of my blade took its head clean off -- its body sliding past me.
I held my ground, eliminating each of the creatures as they crested the hill. The foul creatures of Hades were no longer match for me. Over the past few weeks I had fought enough of these foul beasts to know how to slay them effectively.
The battle continued for many minutes, feeling like a lifetime. No matter how many creatures I killed, the horde only seemed to grow. Each one that fell only seemed to bring forth two in its place. I stole a glance to the city and dread overwhelmed me. The demon horde acted faster than I thought it would. The city was engulfed in flames -- its citizens being massacred. I knew right then, my efforts here were no longer of any use.
I started to question how -- how is it possible they slipped past us? Could Khaldun have been defeated?
With a last effort, I fought the newest wave of creatures before taking my leave of the battle field. I raced to the city, barely staying ahead of the horde. This attack was only the distraction. The real one was coming from the east.
Khaldun's efforts to keep the portion of the horde attacking from the east had failed. The reports strongly supported the Demon Lord Vectivus to lead the army from the north. It was there Alexandros would face him. Instead, Khaldun's men were trampled over and easily defeated. Khaldun stood with the last of his men ready to face Vectivus. Each of them was prepared to give their life if it meant the end of the Demon Lord's.
Vectivus, however, had no intentions to face the general and his insignificant band of soldiers. The demon smiled and stepped aside. Malanatohiel took his place as Vectivus and the remainder of the horde filtered past. You were expecting to fight my master? I'm sorry but your skill is rather pathetic.
"Then why do you care to fight me?"
Unlike my master I care not about skill. I care about killing you and ripping your soul from your worthless body.
"Then I guess you are in for a surprise when it is your worthless corpse I will be standing over when this is done," Khaldun said smiling.
Alexandros Manuscript Page 143
Bodies were strewn and smoldering over the city streets. Houses and shops were in flames. Life seemed vacant and desolate in a once thriving city. I didn't have time to lament over the carnage that lay in front of me now. The horde was almost upon the city gates and the palace was already under attack by the main force.
I went straight to the palace, cutting down any creature that stepped in my way. It only took minutes for me to reach the palace gates. Behind me lay dozens of demons and creatures, but a multitude of them still remained in the various parts of the city.
Ako was there waiting behind a stack of barrels when I reached it. "Alexandros, you must hurry," he said breathlessly.
"What's wrong?" I asked looking over my shoulder, not wanting to waste anymore time.
Ako looked nervous, even more so than I had ever seen him to be. "Rashida sent me down here to meet you. Pharaoh's inner chamber came under attack and I feel it may be too late for them!"
My first thoughts went to my wife, but I knew right away that she would be fine. Rashida was a great warrior, almost as fierce as the women of Sparta. "Who leads this attack?" I asked, already fearing the answer.
"The Demon Lord himself," he said shaking.
I knew I had to inspire in him some bravery. I couldn't have him come with me only to have my attention divided between the enemy and him. Rashida would kill me if I left her brother here to face the vicious horde by himself. "Go find General Khaldun and have him rally the men. Have him circle to the south and attack. He must get around to help the citizens."
"I will honor you with your request," Ako replied, looking a little more confident.
"I will see you when this is over Ako." I watched him as he left until he was no longer in sight. Once he was gone, I turned my attention back to the palace. My fate would be determined this day and so would many others.
I entered the palace and was surprised to see it desolate of creatures. The bodies or what was left of the palace guard and Pharaoh's private guard lay, strewn across the entire floor. Death and carnage was expected in a battle, but what I witnessed this day was well beyond anything I expected.
I treaded as carefully as I could, trying not to slip in the blood that pooled the floor. I remembered Ako telling me Rashida lead Pharaoh to his inner chamber—that was where I needed to go. I started up the stairs that lead in the direction I needed to go, when suddenly a hand grabbed me. I was slung backward, across the room and I hit the wall with such a force, I thought my armor and body had been broken.
Coming out of my daze, I looked up to see the demon responsible for the attack and recognized him instantly. "Amnischnell." I spat his name like it was venom on my tongue. He growled with satisfaction.
It's been a long time Alexandros. I told you I would be back one day to finish what we started. You still are the weakling I left for dead all those years ago. It's a shame, really. The master believes you to be a threat, but I cannot see why.
The demons had one fault that could always be exploited -- the continuous boasting of themselves and the putting down of you. I felt around for my sword, my hand grasping the shaft of a spear instead. I was a Spartan and a spear was an extension of my own body.
"Then I'll show you!"
I was able to push past the pain from my impact with the wall. My abilities that allowed me to fight these walkers of Hades also gave me the strength beyond any other man. I moved with lightning fast reflexes, thrusting the spear deep into the demon. I spotted Gaijin lying on the floor at my feet and I quickly scooped it up. With one swift movement, the fight had ended.
I took victory over Amnischnell as his head rolled roughly past the miscellaneous body parts. I released my grip on the spear, leaving Amnichnell's body to fall on its own accord. Stepping over it, I continued my undertaking and headed up the stairs. The adrenaline coursing through my body was overwhelming. I felt the need for more action—to spill more of the demons' blood.
The few men that remained with Khaldun charge the Greater Demon at once. Malanatohiel slammed his sword into the ground and moved past it. The first two to reach the demon went down quickly as their stomachs were sliced open dropping their intestines onto the ground.
The next two men hesitate at the sight allowing Malanatohiel the advantage. The demon grabbed both men by the heads and slammed them together like one would a pair of melons. The force of the impact crushed their skulls and sent their brains spraying in multiple directions.
The remaining men dropped their weapons and ran leaving Khaldun alone. "Foolish cowards," he said aloud as he drew his sword.
Malanatohiel held up his hand and waved Khaldun toward him. Attack me if you think you have the skill to do so.
"With pleasure," Khaldun answered.
Khaldun raised his sword and stepped forward to attack. He swung his sword at the demon's midsection. Instead of the blade connecting or missing completely, Malanatohiel caught the blade. Khaldun struggled to pull the sword from the demon's grip but it held steady. Black blood trickled from the demon's hand yet he seemed utterly unaffected by it.
With his free hand Malanatohiel back-handed Khaldun. The general lost his grip of the sword and went spinning through the air and landed forcibly on the ground. He spit out blood and bit back on a curse. When he turned around to face the demon a sudden sharp pain shot through his left shoulder. Malanatohiel towered over him holding the end of his sword.
Pathetic. Malanatohiel pulled the sword free and raised it to strike.
Alexandros Manuscript Page 145
I reached Pharaoh's inner chamber at the end of the hall and was ready to fulfill my need—or so I thought. I entered the chamber to find Rashida locked in a battle with Malitus, the Demon Lord responsible for this butchering. Rashida was holding her own against Malitus, but even with the same abilities as I, she wasn't a match for a Demon Lord. I wasn't even sure I was either.
Tremendous amounts of energy were filling the inner chamber. My first concern was to find Pharaoh while Rashida kept the demon at bay. Scanning the room, a foot caught the corner of my eye. I recognized it was Pharaoh's and began making my way in his direction.
"Forget it!" Rashida yelled over the clanging of metal. "Father is dead!"
I felt my insides contort at the feeling of failure. Our job was to protect our king and both my wife and I failed. I used my failure and turned it into rage -- rage to drive my sword deep into Vectivus' soulless body. I turned and charged and that's when the world fell apart.
Memories flashed in front of my eyes. I saw my father, Karanos, training me, preparing me for the Spartan army. I saw my mother being slaughtered by that foul beast Amnischnell. I was left standing with my mother's corpse at my feet and not being able to do a thing about it, my father finding me, no one believing my story, being exiled from my birth city of Sparta, never to return.
The images kept flashing before me. I saw my trials after my exile -- the open sea and the death of Captain Marcello and the endless desert and the Wyrm. Then there was the gate. Vectivus stood before it as Pharaoh's army lay crumpled and dead at the Demon Lord's feet. A portal to Hades opened and the horde of demons waiting on the other side for their release began to pour out.
I drew back my bow, ready to release my first arrow when a hand, Rashida's hand steadied me. Her lips moved, but no words came. The image was once again replaced with another and another until finally Vectivus' face overwhelmed all I could see.
Was this the future? Was all Madu told me a lie?
Alexandros Manuscript Page 147
My eyes shot open with a jolt. My head darted around trying to piece together what had just transpired. The entire inner chamber was now lying outside the palace. Furniture and brick were scattered. My gaze settled on Rashida buried under a few stones. She was beginning to stir as Vectivus gracefully walked over to her. I tried to make my body to move, but to no avail. The demon threw a smile my way, deliberately looked at me as he thrust his sword through Rashida's body. He pierced her heart, not even allowing her to scream.
Malanatohiel began to come down with Khaldun's sword when he was suddenly stopped when the tip of a spear pierced through his chest. As suddenly as it was there it was gone. The figure stepped back out of the shadow of the demon to reveal him as —
"Ako! What are you doing here?" Khaldun shouted in disbelief.
"Besides saving you general? Alexandros sent me," he said with a smile. The reunion was short lived, however. Malanatohiel quickly turned snarling at the boy.
A mere boy dares attack me? He then scooped up Ako with one hand by the neck. Khaldun got to his feet to attempt saving Ako but was met with the edge of his own sword once more. This time the blade pierced his stomach running completely through. Not yet human. Your turn will come shortly.
The demon turned his attention back to the boy. Ako scratched at the hand the hand him and tried to gasp for every bit of air that he could pull into his lungs. Malanatohiel's lips curled up into a smile. Terror filled Ako's eyes even as he tried to fight the feeling. Then with a simple gesture Ako's neck snapped with a loud audible crunch and his body instantly went limp.
"Nnnoooo!" Khaldun cried out. As he stood he grasped the hilt of the sword and tore it free. His rage kicked in at that moment and he attacked relentlessly.
The attacks came on in a flurry. Fueled by rage Malanatohiel could not stay ahead of Khaldun. The sword cut into the demon's legs, arms and body. The demon held out his hand attempting to grab the sword blade again. Instead, Khaldun cut the hand in half, Malanatohiel's fingers dropped to the ground like petals from a rose.
The demon tried to step away to avoid the strikes and stumbled over Ako's lifeless body. Black blood steadily poured from countless wounds of the demon's body fueling Khaldun's rage more until finally with one final strike Malanatohiel's head flew from his shoulders leaving the rest of his body to slump to the ground.
Khaldun stood over the two fallen bodies almost gazing through them. His grip slowly slipped from his hand as Malanatohiel's body began to dissolve. "Ako..." he said dropping to his knees.
Alexandros Manuscript Page 149
Suddenly I felt as if a force was lifted from me and once again I was able to move. Somehow, Gaijin remained in my hand through the fall. Grasping the sword tighter, I lunged for the demon. The attack was expected as I flew past him. I let the rage consume me instead of letting it fuel me. I struck again, this time with a thrust. Vectivus swayed easily to the side, avoiding the strike.
Your attempts are feeble. He mocked me and then laughed. No mortal can stand before me and win. This will be the first kingdom to fall to me, then soon the rest of the human race.
I focused all my rage at that moment and struck. Gaijin pierced the demon, the blue blade penetrating out through the back. It was a small victory lasting only until Vectivus smiled back at me.
I can withstand the discomfort of your blade, but can you with withstand mine?
He lifted his sword to my chest and began to slowly incise my skin. Fire coursed through my chest, but I refused to scream. Vectivus laughed a sinister laugh, his eyes boring into mine. Then with a sudden jolt, I see the head of a spear shooting from his left eye. Looking over his shoulder as his sword slackened from my skin, Rashida stood, the spear in hand.
She bore the weapon up through the base of Vectivus' skull, ending the demon's reign of terror for good. Releasing the spear, the Demon Lord fell to the ground. I rushed to her, catching her just before she impacted the ground. She told me she felt a little weak. I was only happy she was still alive.
"What is this?" Sternigan ass when a piece of paper nearly falls out of the book.
"It looks like a parchment," Furloft says quickly grabbing it. He peers over the document studying it.
"What does it say?" Sternigan asks after waiting patiently.
"It appears to be an account of Rashida's death, penned by her."
"May I?" Sternigan asks holding out his hand.
"Of course," Furloft says handing it back.
I felt pain for only a moment before the darkness closed around me. I could tell where I was but I was no longer in my homeland. The darkness slowly faded to white. The brightness blinded me at first until my eyes adjusted.
I spun around looking for something that would give me a clue as to where I was but all I saw was endless white. Then slowly almost like a whisper I heard a voice. I do not know if I really heard it or if it was in my head but it steadily grew louder until it was like I was standing in front of someone and they were speaking to me.
I am Ruhinael. I am the Valkyrie that the tear you wear belongs to. It has shattered so that you may live.
I suddenly felt a strange feeling coming over me like I was going to disappear. "Wait!" I yelled. "I have questions."
My efforts went unheard. I found myself lying on the ground, my wound no longer there. I looked around to orient myself and saw Alexandros in trouble. My hands sought for something, anything and finally rested on the shaft of a spear.
With a simple thrust I plunged the spear through the base of Vectivus' skull ending his pathetic life. As quickly as it was over I was falling. Weakness ran through my body and I fell right into Alexandros' waiting arms.
Amazing. Simply amazing," Sternigan says smiling. "Have you confirmed the age of this document?"
"Of course not. I wasn't even aware it was there."
"Yeah I guess so," Sternigan remarks.
"I already carbon dated the book and it is accurate. When we are done here I'll do the same with the parchment."
"Good. I want it archived and a team down here looking for clues about artifacts. If they had them then, then we should have them now."
Alexandros Manuscript Page 152
With Vectivus destroyed the demon horde became a mindless roaming army. Without any guidance the creatures roamed freely, attacking at random. Over the next several weeks we tracked down every last beats we could and destroyed them. The gate was destroyed as well. The pieces spread across the land lost to the desert for all time preventing any possibility of it ever being rebuilt.