Heart of Adventure Part 9 - Conflict
By J.C. Delfino III
Part 1-3(Called the East Way Chronicles)
By sunset Andester and Raydon were well on their way to Orason. They had passed through a couple of small villages where few of the villagers gave them any notice. It was common to see travelers traveling the way North to Falcon's Breast or even South to Sliverton.
As the day had slowly passed, Andester felt more and more at peace with himself. This felt right to him. The open road was passing slowly by and the light snow fall of the north quickly gave way to the warmer climate of middle Yahdoran. Winds blew in from the deserts to the west and warmed the grasslands between them and the sea. The climate produced a yearly green season, and this was one of the few areas that remained fertile but the land was never tamed due to the massive amount of rock imbedded into the soil. So the grasslands were spotted with huge black rocks and the road winded merrily in between them. Between the grasslands and the sea rested the woods, a large forest that followed the ocean as far as the eye could see.
There had been nothing too threatening so far. They had actually only seen one goblin. The tall humanoid fired an arrow at the wagon, but it fell miserably short. It then disappeared into the thick forests behind it. Andester had wanted to give chase but decided against it. He knew that he would either not find it or he would find too many of them. The worst case would be that they attack the wagon while he was in looking around the forest. He decided it was best to wait here on the wagon. As they traveled further south they saw no more signs of the goblin.
Sunset brought the winter chill with it. They chose a clearing well off of the main road. It was safer to stay off the roads. The night started peacefully as Andester and Raydon fixed then ate dinner together. It was after dinner that Andester first heard the terror. It sounded like an animal screaming in fear.
Andester grabbed his sword and glanced at Raydon before leaving the camp. He walked slowly toward the cries. The moonlight was his only source of light and as he walked he noticed his breath forming clouds before him. He wished he had grabbed a stick from the fire. He heard the animal scream one last time. As terrible as the screams had been the silence was more frightening yet.
He crept further into the forest. He was not sure what he would find, and even less sure he wanted to find out.
Andester stepped into a clearing and at once noticed the deer standing between two trees. He watched it for a few moments and was amazed at how still it stood. He watched the steam escaping from its mouth and nostrils and gained comfort in the fact it was alive. The stillness of the animal disturbed Andester greatly. He picked up a rock and threw it at the deer. The rock hit only inches from the deer but the deer wasn't startled at all, and still didn't move.
Andester heard the sounds of breaking branches behind him and as he spun around something caught his eye beside him. There to his left was the largest spider he had ever seen, it stood as tall as a horse. Its leg span was well over ten feet long. The spider shifted itself around to face him and then charged him.
Andester ducked to the right and lashed out with his sword, which cut clean though one of the spiders legs. The spider jumped back and tested its remaining legs. After it was sure it could stand it started approaching Andester more slowly this time. Andester backed up toward a tree; he wanted to have something to his back. Again he heard the sounds of something approaching and feared it would be more of these giant arachnids.
He looked up at the great big set of eyes on the approaching spider. This gave him an idea. He picked up a rock and threw it behind the giant spider. The spider fearful of attack from behind quickly spun around to face its new foe. Andester utilized the moment and jumped on the back of the animal. The spider started to spin around and around trying to throw Andester to the ground.
Andester grabbed a handful of the black hair on the spider's back and started hacking at the head of the beast. He split one of its many eyes creating a waterfall of goo that cascaded down the spider’s front. With that the spider started bucking like a wild stallion. Andester kept working on the arachnidknowing that if he stopped, he would probably die.
Blood started to gush freely on the spider's back, which in one way was good. It showed that Andester was winning. In another way it was very bad, for he could no longer hold on to the blood stained sword and it fell to the ground with a clang.
Andester wiped off his hand and grabbed his dagger.The dagger was his only defense now in the battle between life and death. He began to plunge it deep into the spider's back and head. After what seemed like an eternity the spider finally started to weaken and finally fell. When Andester was sure the body had completely stopped moving he slid off of the spider.
He stood for a moment to gather his bearings and then picked up his sword. A sound from above quickly grabbed his attention and he looked up. High in the trees was a large gathering of spider webs and descending down them were dozens of spiders.
They all were headed quickly toward him.
He wondered if the poison would be painful and if he would be dead before they started to drain the blood from his body. He took a step backwards again looking for a tree to protect his back.
Suddenly he was blinded by an enormous ball of fire erupting in the midst of the spiders. He couldn't hear the screams of the spiders over the thundering roar of the fire. Spiders started to fall to the ground all around him. Some quivered briefly when they hit, but most were dead before they even landed on the ground.
The trees above him blazed from the explosion. Then great gusts of wind arouse and extinguished the flames and the forest became quiet as death. Raydon walked up to Andester and smiled.
“I always hated bugs,” he said with a smile.
“You…you are a mage?” Andester said as soon as he could find the words.
“Yes my son, I am.” Raydon said looking up at the smoking branches above them.
“I had no idea,” said Andester still in shock.
“A true mage has no need to boast, or brag.” Raydon said, and then he smiled again only quite wider, “besides it is just a hobby of mine.”
The assassin crept stealthily into Sondoras' darkened camp. The moonlight guided his steps around the many traps and snares in which Sondoras had laid. In his pride he wanted to awaken the sleeping elfish maiden. He knew that a glorious battle would emerge, a wonderful display of skill. Although the prideful way would have been more challenging and entertaining, wisdom and experience guided his hand.
One quick thrust and Sondoras would be dead and Queen Zarek's plans vanquished.
He strode closer to the center tree where Sondoras lay sleeping. He had watched her bed down hours earlier and except for when the moon was hidden behind clouds, had been able to watch her sleep safely from a distance.
When a cool winter's breeze assaulted her she had pulled her thick blanket up over her head. Now even if she were awake she would not see him approaching until too late, if ever.
He stepped up to where the sleeping woman lay and spun his sword so it faced downward. He paused to watch the blanket moving with her breathing to see if she was breathing steadily, lost in a dream. He was stunned when he noticed it did not move at all.
Years of experience came into play at that moment as something caught his eye reflecting off of his highly polished sword from behind him. He ducked and rolled to the right. A beautiful elfish arrow sunk deep into the tree behind where he was standing only a moment before.
He came up from his roll gracefully and stood ready feet spread, shoulders squared, and blade firmly held in front of him.
Standing about ten feet away stood Sondoras, bow in hand. He watched as she lowered the bow, a surprised look came over her face, and then she smiled. He could tell that she was not carrying any additional arrows, thinking she would have been able to finish the confrontation with a single arrow. He smiled widely at her.
Sondoras dropped the bow and drew a sword from her own belt. She held it up in front of her face and nodded.
The assassin moved first, closing the gap between them slowly. When they were within sword reach he tried to walk around to her right, but she moved with him and for a few moments they formed a rotating circle. Both kept their weapons ready as they sized up their opponent.
Surprising the assassin, Sondoras attacked first with two short swings. The killer countered the blows easily then followed through with several wild swings. These drove Sondoras backward a few feet as she went on the defensive.
He pressed forward and swung his sword high. Sondoras ducked under the swinging blade and slashed at his rib cage with her own sword. Dodging the blow knocked him back a little, but he quickly regained his composure. He then pulled a long, dark dagger from his belt.
They collided again, the assassin attacked ferociously with sword and dagger. Although she blocked each blow gracefully he began to steadily advance on her, driving Sondoras back defensively.
He kept striking at her hoping to quickly discourage and ware her down. He struck at her with his dagger and she brought her sword down striking the back of his gloved hand, laying it open to the bone. The dagger clanged off a rock as it fell to the ground.
Sondoras initiated a fierce attack driving him toward a small cliff that lined one side of her camp. She hoped to disarm him and question him, but first she had to get him to a place where he could not escape.
He fought wildly but defensively like a wolf that is trapped in a box canyon. The back of his hand thudded with each heartbeat, as more of his precious life flow spilled rapidly to the ground. He had no doubt the hand would require stitches. It finally occurred to him that he could not win this battle unless the elf was to slip up or he got in a lucky shot. The first seemed unlikely. He did not believe in playing luck, but skill and skill alone. He also admitted to himself that he had to do something quick, for his pain was growing and his body was quickly beginning to tire. He needed an escape but where?
Sondoras continued to drive him back, each jab and slash pushing him one step closer to the cliff's edge. She watched as his eyes darted back and forth looking for a way to escape. Finally his back foot began to tease the open air off the cliff as he took the last step that direction. The assassin glanced quickly behind him. As he turned for the final confrontation, Sondoras stepped back.
"Drop your sword and surrender!"
The assassin glanced again behind him over the cliff's edge into the darkness. He could barely make out the ground below but was unable to determine how far it was. He dropped his sword over the edge as he raised both of his hands. A few seconds later he could hear it hit the ground. Not far.
"Lie down." The elf called out to him. Instead he stepped off the cliff.
She approached the cliff slowly and her enhanced elfin eyes watched at the man escaped into the forest below. He stopped once and glanced back at her. Her eyes caught his and even in the dark, she could see the burning hatred in them. She would see him again one day, of that she had no doubt. Then he was gone, gone into the night, into her memory where he would remain grounded until they met again.
Part 10 Coming soon
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