Serka smiled as he watched the Onlasarian defenders being slaughtered by his men. The battle was going well now that the gates had been opened. His fellow barbarians had managed to destroy any that stood against them on the walls. Those defenders that had not been slain were now retreating towards the castle in the vain hope that they could resist the enemy there. Baranox had sold them all out for his own protection. Civilization did not mean much in the face of death. Not that Baranox’s deal would save him. Serka hated cowards more than anything else in the world.
The barbarian leader was slightly vexed at the fact that he had found no worthy opponent. Not one person managed even ten seconds. He sighed. That was what he got for being the strongest, he thought to himself. Oh well, there is still plenty of killing to be had.
After continuing through the city, indiscriminately killing any that got in his way, he saw something that put a smile back on his face. He saw someone he recognised and who he knew would hopefully be a worthy opponent. It was the enemy commander, Mike Nakai. He looked slightly worse for wear but still had his fighting spirit.
A roar of joy bellowed from Serka’s lungs and a huge smile was fixed upon his face as he raced towards the commander. “This is gonna be good!”
* * *
“This is not good,” sighed Nakai as he watched the giant of a man charging towards him looking overjoyed. He pulled his blade from a barbarian’s gut then readied himself.
Nakai darted to the side as Serka swung down at him. The club cracked the cobbles where Nakai had just been standing. The barbarian kept swinging and all Nakai could do was dodge the attacks. Their fight took them to the centre of the city. Many warriors around them had stopped fighting to watch them both.
Serka delivered a blow that took the Commander off guard. Nakai only had time to raise his sword in a feeble attempt to block it. The impact took Nakai from his feet and sent him hurtling backwards. His body smashed through a wooden door then rolled across the ground for another few yards.
All air was knocked from his lungs. Several of his bones had broken and his whole body was badly bruised. He slowly opened his eyes and laughed bitterly. Ironic, his last fight would take place in the great stadium.
“Well, I’m not going to die by just staying down here and waiting,” he grunted as he stood, coughing blood as he straightened.
“Good!” bellowed Serka. “You’ve still got some fight in you. Time for some real fun, try and stay alive a few more minutes at least.”
The barbarian charged and Nakai leapt to the side, lunging with his unbroken arm at a joint in Serka’s armour. The blade struck its target drawing blood but this did not deter his foe in the slightest. If anything it encouraged him. One more hit and Nakai was dead. The commander knew it, as did Serka and all the warriors who had abandoned combat and gathered in the stadium’s tiers to watch this epic battle.
“If I’m going to die I swear I’m taking you with me!” shouted Nakai.
“And how do you plan to do that when you can barely keep on your feet,” answered Serka in a somewhat disappointed tone at not receiving a good fight.
The Commander inspected a nearby Onlasarian corpse, quickly kneeling to search the body. From its battle pack Nakai retrieved two unused boom-balls.
“So much for an honourable death in a sword fight like I hoped,” muttered Nakai as he lit the fuses and sprinted towards Serka.
Serka, realising his peril, readied himself to smash the Commander and his explosives to the other side of the stadium. When he was within range he swung. Nakai ducked the attack and continued. Serka pulled his club back in and lunged, hitting Nakai square in the chest.
There was a sickening crunch. In the brief second that separated the crunch from the explosion the scene looked like this: Serka’s club was against the Commanders chest, all of his ribs broken, some puncturing organs. Nakai held a boom-ball in each hand and had smashed them into both sides of Serka’s head, breaking teeth and his jaw bone.
The ensuing explosion filled the whole stadium. Fire and smoke flew outwards at an alarming pace and the sound was deafening. Neither of the two men had a chance to scream. As the smoke cleared the carnage became apparent.
Nothing was left of Serka except jagged shards of twisted black metal, fragments of splintered bone and a nasty looking stain on the floor and nearby walls. As for Nakai, his body was still mostly whole. It lay a few feet from the crater the explosion had left. Serka’s final attack had pushed him back even as the boomballs had erupted. All of his hair had been burned off and he was missing his left arm all the way to the shoulder. Cuts covered every inch of his skin and his armour was nothing but rags.
An Onlasarian soldier checked his body and rejoiced at a pulse. It was very faint but it was there all the same. He and three fellow warriors lifted him onto a large wooden board and carried him off towards the castle for aid. They had not travelled far when a strange voice halted them.
“Ah, so he killed that brute. He’s saved me a great task. Now that Serka is gone, I am the leader of these savages.” It was the barbarian sorcerer. “For aiding me I’ll give you a quick painless death, Commander.”
The four warriors placed Nakai onto the ground and drew their swords. With a mere flick of his wrists the men began to unravel. Their screams were terrible to hear like some hellish nightmare. The wizard then turned his attention back to the near dead Nakai.
He raised his hands and began to chant. Blood sprayed across Nakai’s face but it was not his own. A spear was protruding from the spellweaver’s chest. A battered and burnt looking Suzy Fireblood held its shaft.
“That’ll teach you to set me on fire, you Sprite dropping!” she snarled.
She motioned to some nearby warriors and together they took Nakai back to the castle. The battle would have to wait. He needed to live.
* * *
The three members of Avocado Dusk had fared well during the battle. They had stuck together and had killed a dozen barbarians between them. Now they were cornered by around twenty of the enemy and the trio’s blades were dull and blunted. Hope for the great band seemed lost.
The lead singer stepped forwards and shouted, “Roadies, attack!” At first the barbarians had laughed. Then, from seemingly nowhere, a pack of crazed looking young people assaulted their band’s foes with a bestial rage. Their weapons ranged from swords to overgrown fingernails. One roadie even carved a man’s head in with a spork.
The barbarians fled in terror at the pure ferocity of the attack. Avocado Dusk shared a quick high five then drank deeply from hip-flasks filled with alcohol.
* * *
“The battle is won, sir. All the invaders have retreated from the city or have been killed,” stated Suzy Fireblood from her chair. She was in the medical bay and was wrapped heavily in bandages.
Beside her was the disfigured body of Commander Nakai. Healers still fussed around him but he had finally regained consciousness. Nakai would have sat up in his hospital bed or done something but none of his body parts would move. It was even agony to breathe.
“How many do we have left?” he managed to ask.
Suzy hesitated a moment. “We have around four and a half thousand able bodied soldiers remaining. Civilian casualties were low, few died.”
“Good. Rally the warriors and tell them to prepare for battle,” Nakai ordered.
“But we won. The barbarians won’t be back for a long time.”
“I know. That was just a warm up battle that meant very little in the grand scheme of things. The real battle is what those kids from Pastrino are heading for and they’ll need all the help they can get.”
The young lieutenant seemed about to argue but managed to resist. Grudgingly she asked, “What are your orders, Commander?”
“Give the men a day to rest. Then we ride for the Abyss.”