|The Ancient Prophecy
Part IV - The Slave Of War
by Viper ©
This story was split into 4 parts. Jump to any of the segments from here:
Note: This story was originally submitted as one long story
and it was only broken into 4 parts for faster page loading.
"I can take care of myself!" Maya countered. "I'm the daughter of a great thief, remember? Give me a blade or several throwing knives, and I'll be as deadly as any knights!" Atrus was about to counter again when Anna touched his shoulder. "You know what? We can't just kick her away. She's right. She has nowhere to go."
"Anna, which side are you on?"
"In this case, her side! You just don't know how it feels to be homeless!" Atrus thought again for a while. Maya was still on her knees, and it seemed she would probably stay knelt until he gave her permission. "At least we can take her until we can find the right home for her. It's not wise for a young girl to travel alone." Anna said again. "I can take care of myself!" Maya claimed. Atrus stared at her. "Actually we can use a chef..."
"I can cook really well!" She said. "... And a helper..." "You will find me useful, master!" She said again. "... And somebody to fulfill our needs." She fell silent, dropped her gaze and said, "I obey you, master, for I'm your slave." "That's the problem, Maya!" Atrus exclaimed. "Our journey is dangerous! We depend on each other's ability! There's no time to play this master and slave thing!" Maya sobbed again. This time she couldn't answer that. Anna felt sorry for her.
"Maya, I think what Atrus is trying to say is that we will welcome you if you want to forget your role as a slave. We can just be travelling companion, right?" Maya looked at her with her moist eyes.
"Tell me, mistress... I... I just want to repay his kindness to me... Tell me... Is that wrong?" Then she cried again. Atrus felt sorry that he just yelled at her. He put his hand on her shoulder.
"I'm sorry, Maya, I just don't want you to get hurt. I'm willing to accept you. I just fear that your feeling of submission to me will shadow your judgement." Then he knelt and looked into her eyes.
"I will accept you, then. You may come with us..." Before he had a chance to finish his sentence, Maya leapt to his chest and hugged him tight. "Thank you, master! I promise I will stay loyal forever!" Atrus looked at Anna, who gave him her teasing smile. "You have a better idea?"
"Nothing I have in mind, I guess..." Anna answered. Atrus let Maya go and stared at her again. "With two conditions you can come. First, you are a travelling partner. There is no giving away your life for any of us. Got it?" She smiled.
"Sure! I'll stay with you forever, remember?"
"Second, stop that master and mistress thing! Call us by our names!"
"I disagree! I swear I will repay your kindness! Please let me call you master!" Anna giggled at him, trying to hold her laugh. "I'm afraid you don't have any choices, MASTER ATRUS!"
"Okay, you win! Wait for us in the weapon store. We'll see you there." Atrus dismissed her. "Thank you, master!" She kissed his cheek, then ran toward the crowds. "Well, Atrus, what can I say? You have your own slave now." Anna chuckled. "Well, it's because of you and your big mouth! She called me master! It makes me look like an idiot!" "You are one!" Anna teased him. "Anyway, got an interesting job from the guild." "Go on..." "A small detachment of troops was reported missing a week ago. The royal army requested for any mercenaries to do a scout around the area for the missing troops." "And where did they go?" Atrus asked. "They headed south. Directly toward the Forbidden Land."
The environment around the volcanoes was very unfriendly. The air was hot, with the smell of sulfur everywhere. The ground was rocky and uneven. Only a little vegetation lived there. The volcanoes rose high to the sky like giants holding the curtain of heaven and hell. The three companions made a camp near the ledge of the mountain. Not far from there Anna had found a small hot spring, so they could get fresh water. Maya also had found a small bush of plants that she had claimed was safe to be eaten. Now Atrus was on lookout for any danger around them. Anna was looking at the map, plotting their way so they didn't get lost. Maya was busy preparing the meal, and nobody could deny that her cooking started to smell good. Atrus had let her roam around the market in the city, buying supplies for them. She had bought a big basket of spices for her cooking. When Atrus returned, Anna had finished plotting their position. "I must admit, she really can cook. Don't you think?" Anna gave him her annoyed look. "What are you trying to do? Bug me?" "What do you mean, I'm trying to bug you? I'm giving an honest comment!" "Yeah! Well, you're comparing her and me just because I can't cook! What do you think I am? Am I a housewife? Do you think it's easy to be a housewife?" "Well, at least I CAN COOK! HE...HE...! I CAN COOK!" Before Anna could answer, Maya appeared, staring at them in confusion. "I just joined you for half a day, and I've heard you quarrelling four times! How did you two decide to go together anyway?" "He started it!" Anna mocked. "Hell, no! I just said she could cook well..." Maya's face was lightened by Atrus' compliment. She grabbed his arm and pulled him to the camp. "Thank you, master! Let's have lunch together!" Then she turned at Maya. "And if you yell at my master again, you'll be eating gravel!" Then they both left. "It... it's... not... fair..."
The ground was getting steeper as they got closer to the volcano range. The strong scent of sulfur filled the air, suffocating the three companions. The air was also uncomfortably hot, especially for Atrus, who wore a leather armor outside his shirt. Both Anna and Maya wore minimal clothes, but they didn't escape the torment of the atmosphere. "Anna, are you sure this path is still passable?" Atrus asked. "According to the map, we can go a little bit farther until the path was completely blocked." "Can you use your magic to detect any life forms around here?" "I can try." She closed your eyes and began to meditate. Maya was amazed. When Atrus and Anna were discussing their mission, he was very reasonable and she obeyed him well. But when they were chatting casually, they always ended up fighting. A journey with them would be exciting, she thought. "Atrus, I don't know if this is only my feeling or not. But I've been sensing the same sense of life since we left our camp. It feels... something's following us..." Atrus raised his hand, telling them to be quiet. Just now, he felt he had heard something. He tried to rely fully on his superior Ranger hearing. Besides the continuous sound from the restless volcanoes around them, he could hear another voice. It was a cry... an inhuman cry... a howl... Slowly, he unsheathed his sword. Maya armed her short blade and prepared her throwing knives. Atrus had bought five throwing knives for her to use. Anna also chanted her only harmful spell she mastered, her favorite old Magic Missile. Weaponless, she had to stay behind Atrus or Maya all the time. She wished she had mastered more spells. Atrus' suspicion was confirmed by loud growls behind them. Now blocking their way back were a pack of five black wolves. The wolves were staring at them with their angry gaze. Their sharp fangs and claws were the true signs of their unfriendliness. Atrus moved to the front row and prepared his fighting stance. "Maya, stay close to Anna." "Yes, master. Be careful." One of the wolves dashed forward, but Atrus had anticipated his move. He dashed backward, and by the time the wold landed, be sliced his skull open. Then another wolf attacked again. Atrus didn't see the other one sneaking from his back, and after he slashed the second wolf, a sharp pain came from his right shoulder, forcing him to drop his sword. When he looked behind, the wolf was ready to strike the second time... But Maya was faster. She slit his throat open with her blade. Atrus was surprised at her sudden aid, but realized the danger. The other two wolves charged Anna from both directions. Anna let loose a magic missile that knocked the wolf to the ground, but didn't have time to recharge her missile. The other wolf leaped forward, targeting her tender neck... Again, Maya's knife arrived first. The wolf yelped in pain when the throwing knife stroked his belly. His fangs barely scored Anna's neck, but created a short cut on her chin. She didn't waste any time and finished him off with her magic missile, silencing the wolf forever. After the battle, Anna cured her wound and Atrus'. Atrus just glared at Maya, who sat next to him. "I thought I said you should stay with Anna!" "Sorry, master..." Anna gave him her warning look. He knew what she was going to say. Then he felt sorry for his word. "Maya, thanks a lot..." She smiled brightly at him and gave him a peck on the cheek. "You're welcome, master! I told you I might become handy somehow!" Then she ran toward the path again. "Well, that was pretty mean!" Anna commented. "I said I was sorry! She didn't really take that seriously." "Well, she saved your neck!" "And she saved yours! You didn't say anything!" "MASTER!!!" Again, Maya stopped their quarrel, but this time there was a hint of horror in her cry. Atrus and Anna ran to the path Maya took. The path was simple and straight, but was very steep. Between them the hills were very high that they couldn't see the surrounding. In front of them Maya stood unmoved. When she saw him coming, she quickly ran to his arms and hugged him tight. Her heart was pacing fast. Once Anna joined them, she also cried in horror. The steep path ended with a level room surrounded by high hills. Around them were ten bodies laid on the wall of the cliff that surrounded them. The bodies could not be recognized well because they had been turned into black corpses. It seemed they had been burned to death. But one of them still held a long pike on his scorched hand. They had found the lost soldiers! Atrus slowly let Maya go and walked to one of the soldier. Their body was rigid and shapeless. On the disfigured face still existed the expression of extreme pain and agony. They had been burned slowly to death... "It's no use! We're all gonna die here!" Atrus turned around to see another man in the other corner of the room. He was a soldier with a torn badge around his shoulder. He wore a half plate around his upper body, but his long pants were full of bruises and cuts. His leather-cased sword was hanged on his waist. His beard was unshaved, and his face was also full of scratches. Looking at his appearance, he was as horrible as the other corpses. "Poor souls... you're trapped here with me..." "What do you mean by trapped? We're here to get you out of here!" Atrus said. The lone soldier gestured at the bodies around them. "My fellow soldiers... that's what they said a week ago... Now... they're nothing but burned mannequins..." "I said we're going to get you out of here, and you're coming with us!" "M... master... I think you should see this..." Maya tugged his shirt. Around them, the cliff walls had vanished. Now surrounding them were numerous passages out of the room, and they're almost the same. The thick walls of rocks made it impossible to look at what's beyond the path without walking into it. "W... what happened...?" Anna asked. "Oh...! This place is cursed...! Nobody that comes here can get out alive! We're all the victim of the lizard!" "Lizard? What lizard?" Atrus demanded again. "Red! It's red! And it's hot, too! Oh dear Guardian, why should I get this torment?!" "Get a hold of yourself!" Atrus told him. "We can try every one of those paths!" The soldier stared at Atrus with angry gaze. "Do you think I'm incompetent? We've been here for a week! A full damn week! We tried every single path and ended up in this room again! One by one my men were fried by the damn lizard!" Suddenly Atrus heard another weird noise. He signaled his partners to stay alert. "Even at night... I can still hear their dying cry...!" "Hey, be quiet!" Atrus told him. He tried to concentrate. "Slowly they were burned... The thick flames engulf their body..." "QUIET! I WANT TO SEE THE DAMN LIZARD!" A loud roar came from his left. A bright red lizard slowly crawled out of the passage into the room. Its length was approximately a normal human's height. It stared at the group with its blazing red eyes. Sharp spikes covered its back, and on its tail was a pair of long tusks. Its body seemed to be heavy as it crawled really slowly. Thick scales covered its body like a body armor. "You called the damn thing... Now you get the damn thing..." Maya said. "Flame salamander..." Anna mumbled. "What?" Atrus stared at her. "Flame salamander... the primary beast in volcanic regions. It's the fiercest carnivore in those areas. Having no teeth, it uses its tail to strike the opponents. Plus, it can also breathe deadly fire from its mouth." She gestured at the burned bodies around them. "They rarely hunt down victims unless for food. I suppose this one is... special..." "It's cursed...! It's cursed...!" the soldier cried. "Any suggestions on how to kill this thing?" Atrus asked again. "No... you can kill it using normal method. It's just the matter of staying alive long enough to kill it." "That sounds easy." Atrus mumbled again. "Maya, take care of the soldier. Don't let him run screaming to the lizard." "Understood, master! Be careful..." She answered. "Atrus, show me your sword." Anna told him. Atrus showed her his short sword. Anna put her palm on the handle and chanted a spell. Suddenly the sword handle became really cold in his grip. He felt cool air run through his veins and the hot air that had tortured him didn't trouble him anymore. "I've put in your sword a limited shield against fire. It will work automatically, but it won't last forever. But you must keep the sword in your hand, or the spell won't work. Got that?" "Loud and clear." "Now be careful and kick that monster's butt!" The monster had reached the center of the room and growled, as if it was issuing a challenge. Atrus came forward and prepared his fighting stance. The lizard swung its tail toward Atrus, but he easily dodged the attack. After a few tail strikes, Atrus dashed forward and slashed its belly. A short cut was made, but the creature seemed unaffected. It continued its tail slashes, forcing him to keep running to evade the attack. However, the thin oxygen quantity in that area rendered him tired very quickly. His motion is getting slower as his power was drained. Then the creature stepped back and took a deep breath, sucking the air around him and almost pulling him, too. Then he realized, it's preparing the fire! "ATRUS, WATCH OUT!" He had no time to evade the fire. The fire breath threw his body to the ground. The flames engulf his body and a sharp pain came from his entire muscles. But he was still in one piece. The shield did its job well. Recovering from the pain, he slowly stood up again. The lizard's tail came again, forcing him to jump around the room. He made several slashes across the creature's body, but it always ignored his attack. After his movement is halted, the creature used the fire breath again. This time Atrus had anticipated it and got a near hit. The pain, however, was unbearable. For the second time he fell on his knees. "Master! Let me help you!" "No, Maya, stay where you are!" Atrus told her.
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|This story was split into 4 parts. Jump to any of
the segments from here:
Note: This story was originally submitted as one long story
and it was only broken into 4 parts for faster page loading.
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