|The Ancient Prophecy
Pt. X: Plague and Cure
by Vipers ©
was split into 12 parts. Jump to any of the segments from here:
with Prince Roberto and Holgreb on its back, descended from the clouds.
The land was dark, but strange rumble from beneath them convinced that it
wasn't just another ordinary night.
As the dragon approached the ruined city, the horrible sight quickly came into view. The town had really been burned to the ground. Now the place was fully littered with creatures they hadn't seen before. The creatures didn't look very excited to see them and began throwing whatever they could throw at the dragon. The dragon skillfully evaded the flying debris and descended upon the horde.
"May I fire back, Prince Roberto?" Agar groaned.
"No." Roberto responded. "We need to find them first. Fly closer to the city!"
Agar flew closer toward the ruins of Tiras. The city and the surrounding area were completely packed with the undead creatures. The sight had already sent a fatal blow to Roberto's morale. He and his puny half-trained army had to fight against these creatures, and there might be many more of them. And now he was searching his best commander and one of the Warriors of the Guardian, who were probably trapped inside enemy's line.
"There they are!"
Holgreb was pointing at a spot at the outskirts of the town. Inside the seemingly endless wave of zombies was a small patch of clear ground. Two figures were there, desperately fighting the creatures. The enemies had pinned them down and they were making their last stand against a big rocky hill, therefor securing their backs. Not for long, for several zombies were creeping from the back of the hill, ready to strike them from the back.
Agar sent three quick volleys of energy balls at the surrounding area, disintegrating some of the attackers, and raced toward the hill. As the dragon made a pass, Holgreb leaped from the dragon, landed of the hill and killed the zombies hiding there with his axe.
"It's so damn good to see you again!" Aurelia cried.
"Come later and we'd be dead!" Hawk added.
"No, you won't be too useful if you're dead!" Roberto replied. "We can't land here. I'll see you north of the town! We'll clear the area there!"
Then Agar flew toward the destination, spitting energy balls at the enemies. All surviving zombies attempted to charge, but Hawk hacked them with his trusty mop. Aurelia easily avoided the slow attacks and skillfully slit the zombies' delicate rotten throat whenever possible. The tide turned quickly when Holgreb joined the party. The path was cleared, for now.
Hawk looked around, finding the Dwarf staring at him. "What?!"
"A mop...?" Holgreb asked.
"Oh, this...? You haven't seen it before?"
"You beat those creatures with a mop?!"
"Even a humble mop, when handled correctly, could 'clean' the entire army!" Hawk replied proudly. "Well... not really..."
"That really reminds me of the time when I was fighting this Dark Horde from southern..."
"Let's go, boys!" Aurelia interrupted. "I want to get out of here, and I want to do so now!!"
The group ran along the cleared path, killing the surviving creatures that were unlucky enough to be on their way. Because of the 'false north' path Hawk had taken earlier, they had to run through the ruins again, fighting the zombies to keep them at bay. Even the zombies' huge number couldn't match the party's skill and ferocity. The party passed on, leaving trails of rotten corpses behind them.
The dragon waited on a small opening, which it had cleared earlier. The party dodged the many craters on the ground. Everybody climbed up. Meanwhile the zombies advanced from all directions slowly, but surely threatening the beast.
"They're crazy!" Holgreb roared. "Can't they see?! They're up against a dragon!"
"They're zombies." The Elf replied. "They're mindless."
"Let's get out of here, Agar!" Roberto yelled.
The dragon lifted off and quickly gained altitude, cleverly evading the stones from the enraged zombies. The dragon was soon out of range, but the undead didn't give up. Instead, they followed the beast as it headed to the north.
"They're following us!" Roberto said. "The castle defense isn't ready yet! If they keep on advancing, the battle will occur sooner than we expected!"
"None of us want to volunteer to slow them down, that's for sure." Hawk grumbled.
"I know!" Aurelia flicked her fingers. "We can burn the forest! That'll slow them down!" She glanced at Roberto. "That is, if you don't mind me burning forests in your territory."
Roberto stared at the thick column of walking dead beneath them. "Not at all... My dad is going to kill me for this..." He grinned. "Your mother would kill you too. I don't have to die alone."
"Can Agar do that?" The Dwarf asked.
"My energy breath explodes, but doesn't burn." Agar replied in his heavy voice.
"I can use my arrows!" The Elf insisted. "I still have five arrows left."
"You want to burn the entire forest with only five arrows?" Hawk asked.
Aurelia smirked. "Underestimating an Elf's bow skill will be your biggest mistake, mister!"
The Elf tore the sleeve of her shirt into smaller pieces and wound each piece on the arrow tip. Then she produced a leather pouch from her bag. Inside it was golden yellow powdery sand-like substance.
"We found this around Mount Karigor after the volcanic eruption. It burns very easily."
"Oh, we call it sulfur." Hawk explained. "It's highly volatile."
"Vlora... vuola... what?!"
"Holgreb, can I borrow your axe?"
Carefully Aurelia smeared each cloth-covered arrow tip with sulfur. The sharp scent stung everybody's nostrils, but in this kind of situation, no one complained. Then she put the sharp axe blade on her lap and prepared her short blade.
"Agar, make a short pass toward the forest and fly on a straight line!"
The dragon complied. The Elf grouped all five arrows together and put the tip on the axe blade. With a quick stroke, she swept her blade over the metal, creating sparks. After several tries, all five sulfur-smeared arrows caught the sparks and were ablaze. Then she positioned all arrows on her bow.
"Firing all five arrows at once..." Roberto commented. "That's something..."
"Watch and learn, Humans!"
As the dragon flew over the forest, Aurelia released the arrows, sending all five burning bolts to five different directions. The party waited expectantly for bright flash beneath the dark trees. If the forest did burn, it would buy them some time to mount some defense around Castle Stoke. If the trick failed, Castle Stoke would be doomed.
"Did it work?" Holgreb asked.
"Don't ruin the suspense." Hawk mumbled.
Suddenly Aurelia pointed at a direction. "Look! It works!"
A bright spot appeared beneath the darkness. Hope arose as flames appeared from the trees, illuminating nearby area. The flame burned fiercely through the leaves and caught the next trees around it in fire. Soon, a small patch of burning forest was formed.
"Look!" Roberto pointed at another spot in the forest. "There's another one!"
Soon at five different spots fire began to blaze. The strong autumn wind involuntarily helped spreading the havoc across the forest. A few minutes later, a long line of fire had been formed between the Kingdom of Aragon and the undead-infested Southern Aragon. Slowly the firewall crept north, expanding the chasm. From the other side, the horde of zombies had reached the fire and walked through it. The rotten flesh was caught in fire and a horrible chorus of death filled the air. Burning figures danced around the ground and collapsed soon as the flame devoured them.
"Won't the fire burn toward the castle?" Holgreb asked.
"There's a small river up north. It should stop it from spreading north." Hawk replied.
An impenetrable wall had been made, yet the mindless creatures marched forward. The fire kept on spreading, catching the unsuspecting zombies in fire and burned them to death. Roberto stared sadly at the fire. Those creatures had used to be his people, and now he had to slaughter them to protect others. He could feel the lump in his throat. To be a prince was not tough. To be a good prince was.
"Soon the smell of burning flesh will reach here, and I don't want to be around when it does." Said Hawk. "I propose leaving the area and retreating to Castle Stoke."
"Agreed, Captain." Roberto replied. "Agar, take us there. The real battle is yet to begin."
The lone figure sat in the darkness. Her moan was the only thing that kept away the silence. Her body glistened with sweat. Her hands tirelessly played with her wet pussy, pumping it with her fingers. Her breathing was ragged as if her lungs were pumping gravel instead of air. Her eyes were half-closed, her mouth stayed open, ready to release the scream of victory and satisfaction... which never came.
She didn't know how long she had been here. Instead, she didn't really care. She had found a purpose here, and she wasn't going anywhere until it was achieved. And if it would take forever, then again, she wouldn't care.
Her eyes stared blankly into the darkness. She slammed her four fingers inside her wet pussy, trying to enjoy whatever little sensation it was giving her. Her expression reflected the deep depression and frustration she was feeling. Her moan kept on getting stronger and stronger, yet the strongest feeling she desired hadn't come for her.
Another tingling sensation came from inside her head. She screamed in desperation and clutched her head. Her mind was tortured, yet would never be defeated. To be exact, whoever was doing this to her didn't want her to be defeated too soon. She was to suffer, if necessary, forever.
A sharp, spiky object scratched her palm. Deeply annoyed and frustrated, she reached out and pulled it off, stopping once she felt a sharp pain on the side of her head. She held her burning left ear and found the object sticking to it. Suddenly something, somewhere in her heart stirred. She felt the same tingling feeling at the other side of her head. Her other hand found her left ear and touched the object.
A rush of memory hit the back of her head. She knew what she was holding... the earrings. And only one thing could explain its existence.
The name echoed in her head. The memory came back to her mind. She remembered the first day when she'd met him. She remembered how she had hurt him, yet he'd treated her kindly. She remembered how he had blamed himself badly for putting her in trouble. She remembered how he'd promised to protect her. And she remembered the countless times that Atrus had saved her live after that promise.
Atrus had given her the earrings for her birthday. She remembered the day when he had hurt her feeling, terribly. Then he had come back and apologized to her.
The earrings are just for a bribe... The voice came back.
"No!" She shot back. Atrus didn't give the earrings for a bribe. He gave them because...
Because he loves you? The voice said again.
Doubt overcame her again. She didn't know. He'd never told her. But she remembered everything they'd been through. She remembered how he'd come and faced the trap sprung for him by the demons in Gideon, just to save her. She remembered how bright his face had been when he saw her again after his disappearance in Gideon. She remembered how he'd saved her from being melted by hot lava in Mount Karigor. She remembered how his gaze could take away her fears.
"Yes..." She answered finally.
He doesn't love you. He loves others, but not you.
The voice was right. She knew Atrus loved Maya very much. But it didn't matter. She suddenly felt determination growing inside of her. She knew it now. She knew how much she loved him. The feeling that had been trapped inside of her now came out, defeating her lust.
He doesn't love you! The voice repeated.
"Yes..." She answered slowly. "He loves me."
Why do you do this...? The voice said again. Why do you wait for something that won't come true?
"Because I know it will." She smiled. "I love him so much. Atrus is the one."
"Because he loves me first." She answered slowly. "He loves me. That's why I love him."
And everything around her went bright.
The defense in Blackwell was almost ready. All citizens had abandoned the town and retreated to Castle Stoke. The castle stood proud on top of a small hill with perfect view to surrounding area. A small moat had been built surrounding the castle. The wooden gate had been converted into a mechanical extendable bridge for the moat. When completely closed, the castle should survive a siege for a while until reinforcement arrived.
Prince Roberto stood on the castle wall, looking at the southern sky. Everything was almost set, but doubt still occupied his mind. He had seen the undead army with his own eyes. He had seen their number. An army like that could walk through the walls of Stromgard and flatten the entire complex in less than a day. The reinforcement from the west and north was coming, but until then he had only a group of ill-trained Royal Guards and a ragtag of untrained militia to defend the area, probably not enough to repel a simple local peasant revolt. The battle before him might be the last battle Aragon would face. If he failed, he doubted he would survive the battlefield, let alone see another one.
His though changed to Maya. The thought that she was safe in Heaven eased his mind. He knew that Maya was a formidable fighter as well, but unlike him, a battlefield was not her home. He didn't want her to get hurt. He cared for her, just as she cared for him. He had told her so back in the Pyramid of Salthi, where she had been completely paralyzed by the evil Lich. He really doubted she could hear him at that time, but he didn't mind. If he survived the battle, he would let her know.
"Enjoying the view?" The Elf's sweet melodious voice came from behind him.
"Yeah... probably for the last time."
"Make sure the soldiers can't hear you saying it, or it will really be your last." Aurelia said.
"Honestly I don't feel good about this battle."
"Make sense." She replied. "This is going to be your first major battle, right?"
"How do you know?"
"Your expression is just like my brother's when he had his first battle." Aurelia replied. "He kept on saying that he probably wouldn't survive the battle against the Dark Elves."
"But did the battle involve killing your own people?" Roberto countered.
"No, I suppose, but it doesn't make any difference."
"Yes, it does!" The prince snarled. "I'm fighting those I once vowed to protect!"
"So although they're trying to kill you, you can't kill them?"
"It feels wrong..." The prince hesitated. "It's dishonorable."
"Oh...?" Aurelia was silent for a while. "Let me ask you this. What is a good knight?"
"The one who defeats his enemies honorably and protects the weak." Roberto replied.
"Wrong." The Elf shot back. "A good knight is the one who survives the battle."
"You're not much of a use when you're dead, so why bother dying in battle?"
"But we'll die honorably!" Roberto said.
"Well, yeah... they'll dedicate a plague in the palace garden and your name will be mentioned in every piper's song. Is that what you want?"
The young prince fell silent. "I suppose not..."
"Look, Roberto, I know your feeling. Those zombies might be your former citizens. But they're no longer themselves. You're fighting against demonic abominations, and if you fail, more and more innocent people you vowed to protect will suffer."
"So I have to stay alive... even though that means I have to withdraw?"
She nodded. "You can always fight another day."
"But if the demons slaughter the citizens here in Blackwell, they can animate more zombies and their army will soon become unstoppable."
"Then we have the solution." Aurelia gazed to the southern sky. "We must win."
was split into 12 parts. Jump to any of the segments from here:
|Another top quality story by Vipers.|
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