|The Ancient Prophecy
Part VII: The Quest for Loyalty
by Vipers ©
was split into 10 parts. Jump to any of the segments from here:
"No, you have!" She shot back. "My father loved my from the start, but you made me hate him! You made me think that he was the cause of my mischief! I've heard everything! I've known everything! My father is there to support me, even in the verge of my death!
"I am here to fulfill my destiny, and I have done it." She washed the tears from her eyes away. "My past will no longer haunt me, and the hatred between us has been sealed. You are to dethrone yourself from your position and confess your crime to the kingdom. The circle of vengeance is closed."
She turned to face Atrus, who were smiling warmly at her. "You have chosen wisely." He said. "I knew you know what you're doing. I'm proud of you, Maya."
She leaped into his arms and wept. "Master... I... I'm finally free..."
"Yes." He kissed her forehead. "You are free from your past. I'm happy to know that."
"My father taught me that..." She looked into his eyes. "He said I have to confront my past rather than denying it. I have done it, Master. My heart is at peace."
"Your father is a great man." Atrus murmured.
"A great man?!!" The baron cried. "He's dead!!! And so will you all, but I am eternal!!!"
Atrus eyed him darkly. "What are you talking about?"
"You will die!!! All of you will die!! DIE!!!"
Suddenly the dungeon door was opened and a group of ogres entered the room. The ogres all wore thick leather armors with decorative spikes on both shoulders, enhancing their vicious appearance. A simple help protected his tusked head. Each carried a long wooden lance with vicious-looking metal tip. Atrus prepared his sword. Maya, now unarmed, stood behind him.
"Come, my friends!" The baron shouted them. "How was the killing?"
"There is no killing." The ogre answered with his thick voice.
"What do you mean?!" The baron shot back. "The entire village..."
"The entire village is deserted." The ogre said. "You have betrayed us. Now you die."
The ogres charged into the room and Atrus welcomed them. Their thick skins, reinforced with the armors, gave them protection, even against the demonic sword. Their massive forms, however, slowed them down considerably, although it made the job no easier for Atrus. The demonic sword desperately pierced the thick leather and cut through the creature's soul. Atrus had to pull the sword from the corpse, just to find lances pointing at him. He dodged the attack and kicked the assailants away.
Suddenly a sharp pain soared from his back. A lance just missed him, but created a long cut near his right shoulder. He freed his sword and slashed the creature, but the armor bounced the sword away. Another lance cut through his right hip. He desperately tried to escape the ogres who were crowding around him. And at the corner of his eyes, one of the ogres ran toward the dazed Maya.
"Maya, watch out!!!"
He didn't believe what he was seeing. The baron leaped before her and took the spear into his stomach. Yet the spear went through, stabbing Maya on her belly. Fresh blood came out from her mouth and belly.
The ogres roared in pain as bright flame erupted from Atrus' body. One full swing of the sword drove the raiders away from him, but at a cost. The demonic sword smashed on the stone pillar and was broken into bits, unleashing the demonic power throughout the room and into the earth. The sword was no more, but Atrus was still deadly. He grabbed an ogre's armor and smashed his skull with bare fist. He faced another one, tore his armor and dug his fist deep into his belly.
Lances slashed around Atrus, but he was not bothered with them. He made his way out of the crowding, dashed toward where Maya and Baron Stoke were and instantly killed the nearest ogre with a blow on the head. The baron and Maya slumped on the floor, the lances still on their stomach.
"Maya?! Are you alright?!"
"I... I'll be fine, Master..." her voice came weakly. "It's just a small wound..."
Suddenly Maya pulled herself off the lance, and with a cry of pain she was free. There was a wound on her stomach, drenched with blood. The tip of the lance had penetrated her skin, but not too deeply. The baron, however, was seriously injured.
"I'll take care of him!" She muttered. "Just kill those demons!"
"Sir White Lion...!"
Atrus was startled to find the baron calling him by name. "What is it?"
"The sword... on the far wall... use it..."
Atrus spotted it immediately, but he had to pass through the demons who were blocking the way. He dashed toward them and charged the nearest ogre with all his might, shredding his armor and beating him up viciously. The other ogres quickly gave way, but kept their pressure. They saw Atrus as a greater threat, and therefor had forgotten about Maya.
He grabbed the sword from the wall and unsheathed it. It was a classical long sword with thick, shining metal, but it was incredibly light. It was unimpressive at first, but he could feel a strange force flowing through the metal. When he swung the sword at the nearest attacker, the metal sliced through the armor easily, just like a hot knife on butter. One by one the ogres attacked and were slaughtered. The sword danced gracefully along with Atrus' movement, claiming more lives.
And then the battle was over. Atrus stood in the middle of the dungeon. He had multiple wounds around his body. The sword, soaked with blood, stood proudly in his grasp. Around him lay the bodies of dead ogres. He let out a sigh, knowing they had once again won the fight.
The castle was in chaos. Soldiers grabbed whatever they could use as weapons and charged the ogres. Some of the ogres had made their way into the hallway, shredding the helpless soldiers with their axes and lances. Blood colored the carpet. Painful wails and angry roars echoed in the hallway.
Anna hurled another magic missile, knocking the creature out. It would not kill it, but it would knock him out of the game for a while. But the angry ogres had spotted her and began chasing her along the corridor. She could easily outrun them, but she couldn't run forever. She hurled more magic missiles wildly on her pursuers, then ran along the long corridor toward the northern wing.
A huge wooden door blocked her way. She slammed the door with her fist.
"Open up! Let me in!"
A nervous voice answered her from behind the door. "No! The demons will kill us!"
"We'll fight them together! Now open up!"
"Go away! Leave me alone!"
She kicked the door in frustration. "Cowards!!!"
As she heard the ogres getting close, she spotted a stairway hidden in the darkness. Frustrated, she took the spiral stairway and ran all the way up. The wooden stairway cracked in every step, but she had no effort of being stealthy right now. A small wooden door welcomed her, and fortunately it was unlocked. She got behind the door, slammed it shut, and locked it with the wooden pole. The sound of the ogres filled the room below her, followed by the banging of wood. The ogres had to have thought she had gone through the huge door below. She felt pity for the coward soldiers at the other side, knowing that the door would not protect them for long.
Anna took her time to catch her breath and inspect her surrounding. The place looked like a castle watchtower. The room was cramped with no furniture at all. A dead torch was the only tool found here. A very small window provided second access to the outside world. To her horror, a body of a dead soldier lay on the floor, next to the window. His face was frozen with pain. On his hand was a wooden crossbow and on his other hand a long lance, smeared with his blood. He had to be a guard who tried to defend the castle, but got killed in the process.
A proper burial could wait. Now she had a more important matter to attend. She looked out the window and was terrified with the view. Far below there was a big battle. Men and ogres were fighting viciously. Around them, the storm kept on raging, picking unlucky souls to the air and tossed them around. Yet the fight continued, and she could see that the ogres were winning.
There was no other choice. She had to finish the battle right here, right now. Silently she began chanting her newest spell: rain of fire. She had not mastered it. She had not tested it. She didn't know if it would work. Unfortunately, there was only one way to find out.
Her power was already diminished, but she gave everything she had. The power traveled across her body as the spell took effect. A bright flash appeared before her, growing bigger as her energy combined.
A loud slam on the door startled her. The ogres had found her! The distraction broke her concentration, but she tried to get it back. She had to do it, even if it cost her life. The ball of energy grew brighter, then with a bright flash it soared through the window and up to the sky.
The roar from the sky indeed interrupted the battle below. She could see the battered soldiers ran for their lives while the ogres stared at the sky, confused. The clouds had turned red and the wind stirred the clouds in violent storm. Lightning flashed here and there, defeating even the bravest heart.
Then bright balls of fire poured down from the sky. The fire detonated as it reached the ground, burning all the foul creatures below. Inhuman wails filled the sky, mixing with the sound of the angry storm and the violent spell. The land below had turned into hellish inferno.
And then it was over. The battle outside the castle ceased, as she could hear no sound. However, the sound of the ogres slamming on the door remained. The wooden pole holding the pole was breaking, but she had no more power left to defend herself. The spell had completely drained her power. She fell on her knees as she waited for her fate to come. She could only hope that the demons were kind enough to kill her instead of taking her prisoner.
But the slamming stopped. The room became silent just suddenly. She could hear no voice from the other side of the door. The wooden pole would be broken in one slam, but the slam never came. The demons had retreated!
She fell on the floor, unable to move. Atrus... Maya... we've won... And she fainted.
Atrus stood near the wall, watching silently as Maya tried to tend the baron's wound. She tried to stop the bleeding, although she knew he could not be rescued. The lance had gone through his stomach. The floor was drenched with blood.
Maya held the pain in her own wound as she tended the wound. It could have been her stomach. She was surprised to find the baron taking the lance blow for her. The lance struck her, but missed her internal organ. And it was because the baron she could escape death.
Her hope deteriorated as the baron's breath grew shorter. Finally she dropped the soaked cloth down and began to weep. She looked at her former enemy's eyes.
"Why...?" was all she could mutter.
A weak smile appeared in the baron's lips. "You want to know why...?"
He coughed hard, spitting blood from his mouth. "Do you know... why I kill your father...? Do you know... why I enslave you...?"
She looked at him, confused. "You hate my father, because he knew your corrupted ways."
Baron Stoke chuckled lightly. "Foolish, yet innocent girl you are... You will never understand the reason... You just don't know how much I admired him... how much I honored him... how much I feared him..."
"But you killed my father!"
The baron's gaze shifted to the dark dungeon, now filled with the corpses of the invaders. "The minute I knew your father had betrayed me... I was so scared... I knew that my career would be threatened... Your father was a great man... He was the prime example for my officers and soldiers... He had more power and influence than any men in the realm did... just like the sun during daytime... just like the moon in the starless sky...
"When I caught him, I knew I was wrong, because he was always right... I was oppressed by my own guilt... Then I made the decision I would regret for the rest of my life... I killed him..."
The dungeon was silent, except for Maya's soft sob. Outside no voice was heard. The sound of the clashes of metal was gone. The battle outside was over.
"Then I realized how much I feared of him... Every time I close my eyes, I saw his reflection... He haunted me in my dream... His phantom devoured me alive...
"So I decided to destroy all trace of him, hoping to get him off my life... I stormed your house and kidnapped you mother... That night, I executed her..."
A deep pain was hinted in Maya's voice. "You... killed my mother...?"
"Indeed... I was about to kill you as well... But then I looked at you... The hatred in your eyes... the flame you possessed in you stare... I could see your father... I could see him ready to kill me... And my fear returned. I frustration I ordered you to be trained as a slave, in my desperate attempt to get rid of your father's phantom...
"When I realized my sins, it was all too late... You had been sent to the brothel... I realized that I had been drowned in the darkest side of life with no hope of revival... I knew I had no place among the saints... So I stayed in my sins, hoping to find refuge from my guilt..."
Maya wept softly as the story unfolded. Her father, whom she had hated for a long time, was indeed a great man. All this time she had been selfish, blaming her father for the mischief she had gone through. She knew she was supposed to hate the baron for what he had done, but somehow her heart melted. She somehow could understand his feeling.
"Miss Murdock... If you expect me to apologize, you got me wrong... I know I'm the worst monster in the realm... I can never find forgiveness anywhere... Let hell decide my fate..."
"Baron Stoke..." Maya answered slowly. "I hate you for what you have done... but I don't hate you as a person... You are an honorable man, yet you are a human. Every human feels guilty for his or her wrong deeds, and sometimes the guilt prevents wise decisions. You are not a monster; you're just a human who took a wrong way of life..."
Maya looked at Atrus, enjoying the warm smile he was giving. "If you're looking for a forgiveness, you will find it in me."
"And in me." Atrus interrupted. "The fact that you're willing to return to truth shows me that you were an honorable man, and you are still one.
The baron stared at Atrus weakly. "You are indeed a great man, Sir White Lion. I have... underestimated you... Tell the royal court what you need to say..."
Suddenly his face became serious. "Beware, Sir White Lion, for the undead army... The demons are amassing a large army of undead to spread terror to the land... You must stop it!"
"Undead army...?" Atrus repeated. "Thank you for the warning. The royal court will be informed of this matter."
Baron Stoke turned back to Maya. "My time has come... Thank you, Miss Murdock... Your forgiveness means everything to me..."
Maya was speechless. She could just stare at the dying man, her eyes wet with tears.
"Sir John Murdock... you must... be proud... of your daughter..." was his last word.
Maya lay the still body of her former enemy down and bowed her head. She felt sorry for the baron. From all people in the kingdom, probably only she and Atrus mourned his death; very unacceptable for a man like him. Sir Anthony Stoke was indeed a great man, who had fallen into the darkest side of human nature, yet fought his way back up and confessed his sins. His effort was remarkable, but he wouldn't receive the admiration he deserved. He was just another victim to the memory of his own past.
Maya slowly made her way to Atrus and was welcomed by a warm embrace from her master. He stroked her long hair softly, soothing the pain in her heart. She hugged him tightly, wishing everything was just a dream. Yet everything was real, and she had to accept it. She had chosen her destiny, she had endured it, and she survived.
"Master... I... I..."
She couldn't utter her confused mind, but Atrus brushed her cheek with his hand. "I know your feeling, Maya. Your father will be proud of you. You should be happy."
She smiled warmly. "I know, Master... I know..."
The group walked slowly out of the castle. Corpses of dead ogres and humans were everywhere. The land was scorched from the spell Anna had chanted. The air was thick with the scent of burnt grass. The storm was over and the sky was clear. The weather was nice and sunny.
was split into 10 parts. Jump to any of the segments from here:
|Another top quality story by Vipers.|
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