The grey sky began to beat its own thunderous war drums as lightning forked down, lighting up the battlefield and dispelling the last of the tainted mist, replacing it with a wall of water.
As the rain cascaded down around them and they faced certain death, Trey could not help but chuckle. “Have you ever noticed it always rains during the main battle in epic tales.”
“Yeah, but in those same tales, the good guys always win,” said Billy grimly.
“You never know, in decades to come our descendants might be telling of us to their children. We could be the main characters in our own epic tale,” smiled Trey despite the situation.
“We can live in hope,” sighed Billy.
The conversation ended as both enemy forces began a steady march ready to engage with the slave forces. Young children screamed and cried while the adults stood in morose silence.
Luckily for the slaves, both enemy forces thought the slaves so weak that they did not utilise their ranged weapons. If they had, the battle would have been over after one volley. Trey silently thanked the Sprites for the Forukks’ bloodthirsty nature and love of close combat.
“I’m not waiting for them,” shouted Lily
“I’m with you,” agreed Zak. Both charged out to meet the larger of the two forces. Htaed shook his head with a sigh then followed them.
“Are they crazy?” asked Blake to no one in particular.
“Yes,” replied Trey and Billy in unison. They did not have time to worry about them though as seconds later blades met and the battle of the century began.
* * *
Zak’s mighty axe tore through the stomach of the first Forukk before decapitating another’s leg, causing it to collapse onto the ground. Lily spun around with her arms held out at her sides lopping off the heads of any creatures near her. Htaed made a single cut through the air and felled two Forukks instantaneously.
For every beast that fell, two more took its place but it made no difference. It just meant more killing. Zak killed another and was surprised when another one did not jump out at him. Htaed and Lily had run out of opponents as well. The Forukks charged around the group, heading straight for the slaves.
Zak was about to head back to the others and help when he noticed one more Forukk stood in the circle of bodies. It was taller than normal Forukks with large muscles but built very differently from the Nis’Forukk. It had the same kind of stature as Htaed. Its black armour was polished to a glass finish that even the rain could not dull and strapped to its back was a long jagged scythe.
“I am your opponent,” it snarled.
“Your funeral,” laughed Lily as she lunged at the Forukk.
Seemingly without moving the scythe appeared in its hand and he parried Lily’s attack with such force she crashed to the ground. Zak jumped in to defend her but was butted in the chest by the weapon’s handle. Htaed struck out with both his swords at once but the Forukk ducked under the first blade while parrying the second, closely followed by a sharp kick to the man’s gut causing him to stagger back.
The Forukk just stood and waited while the three humans regrouped. As one they attacked, surrounding the beast and delivering a flurry of blows that would have destroyed buildings. The only part of the Forukk that moved were his arms. They moved with such speed that they were just a blur. Somehow it managed to defend against all three warriors at once with narrow arcs of its weapon.
The scythe span with such speed that it disappeared from vision. Unable to defend against something that they could not see, all three were wounded by lightning quick slashes. Blood sprayed and the humans collapsed into the mud.
Htaed was the only one to rise to his feet. “This ends now,” he spat. The Forukk seemed amused. “Htaed is your name. Destroyer of armies, slayer of kin, enemy of the Klade and strongest manling in the world. Impressive titles but you are no match for the Alpha Forukk.”
“Shut up!” roared the man, his calm demeanour instantly disintegrating. He held both of his blades horizontally facing outwards and brought the two hilt ends together. Vicious wind shot out around him, knocking over many Forukks as they charged past. His blades joined together to form a double-ended sword that was taller even than him.
The two insanely powerful beings dived into combat, creating a maelstrom around them. The blades met with such force that sparks flew wildly around them making a fire rain effect as they fought. Zak was strong but even he was amazed by the sheer power that the two fighters were showing. Lily seemed amazed as well although a hint of terror glinted in her eyes. Zak was sure that if it was not for his enhanced vision he would not be able to follow the separate moves of the fight.
The Alpha Forukk lunged but the blow was not aimed at his opponent. Lily held up her chakram at the last second in defence. The scythe cut through the weapons like butter, barely slowing. It hit the woman and was back in the Forukk’s hands before Htaed had even finished his attack.
“You’re fighting me!” roared Htaed as he redoubled his efforts. The Forukk did not respond.
Zak rushed over to Lily’s side. Blood gushed from the wound across her stomach and Zak did not have the slightest medical knowledge. He stared helplessly for a few moments before an idea popped into his head. Jumping to his feet he ran towards the slaves, hardly pausing to kill in his haste.
* * *
A blade cut across her cheek but Dawn ignored it as she fought viciously with the Forukk before her. She had already killed two and now she had little strength remaining. She had tried to stay near Trey, Billy and Liam but in the chaos of the battle they had all been separated.
A moment’s lapse in concentration caused Dawn to react a split second too late as the Forukk’s sword rushed towards her head. The blade never made contact as the beast’s arm fell to the ground. Zak stood next to her, out of breath and looking beaten up. Without facing the Forukk he sliced its head off of its shoulders.
“Lily… injured…needs help,” he panted. Dawn nodded and Zak suddenly seemed revitalised. He ran off in the direction that he had come.
Dawn followed in his blood-soaked wake, glad that she had found one of her friends. The more rational part of her mind screamed ‘If something can injure that crazy woman you want to be as far away from it as possible.’
When they reached the woman, Dawn was almost knocked from her feet by the sheer power that the two fighters nearby were giving off. She turned her attention away from the blurs and focused upon the woman below her. The wound was deep. Dawn was trained to be a healer but this was out of her depth. She had to try though.
“Zak, I need bandages and fast,” she said as she tried to stop the bleeding.
Removing the shirt from the dead body of a slave, Zak tore it into one long ribbon with his axe then returned to Dawn.
“Make sure I don’t get attacked while I work,” she told Zak as she closed her mind to the battle around them, focusing solely on the task at hand.
* * *
Trey had formed a tight team with Billy, Liam, Sarah and Blake, keeping them all close together to avoid being separated. In their section of the battle things were looking relatively secure. He had lost sight of Dawn and worry for her wracked his mind but to be distracted for even a second meant death.
A horn sounded in the distance and Trey looked up to find its source. He cursed loudly as yet another enemy army came into view.
“We need to split into two teams, one group stays here, the other defends the far side,” announced Trey.
“Why bother?” said Liam.
Trey was about to snap at the depressive for a defeatist attitude when he saw what Liam was looking at. On the crest of a hill in the east stood a man. Trey looked harder and saw that it was Commander Mike Nakai. He blew his own horn and a varied army charged into view and engaged with the new enemy force.
Nakai’s army looked mixed and matched, having several different colours and armour types. There were Onlasarian soldiers in their brightly coloured leather armour, Heptalli warriors in flowing yellow robes and guards from the various small villages that dotted the eastern landscape of Farava.
In the ensuing chaos, all of the armies had mixed together, spreading out men all throughout the battlefield. Rivers of rainwater and blood flowed around the soldiers’ ankles and corpses littered the ground like leaves on an autumn day.
Billy and Trey had fought their way into a circle of allies, creating a lull in the fighting. “I’ve been practicing some stuff from Garvel’s old book,” said Billy. “It’ll make the enemy suffer for what they have done.” He waved his arms around while chanting some words then an orange light shot from his hand. It hit a Forukk but nothing happened.
“What? It should have blown that scum up!” shouted the boy in anger. A few seconds later the Forukk burst into thick smoke. Billy looked triumphant until the smoke cleared and the Forukk was still alive. The only difference was that the Forukk now had a large ginger afro that had replaced its helmet.
Trey could not help but smile. Billy on the other hand was distressed that that was all his spell had done. “Stuff this, I’ll do it the old fashioned way,” he yelled as he charged at the nearest enemy.
Men and Forukks alike catapulted through the air as a pair of Nis’Forukk stampeded through the battle, swinging huge weapons in wide arcs around them. If left to their own devices they would obliterate the forces of the east.
“Billy, Liam!” called Trey, motioning to the two marauding monsters. The two teens nodded, having no idea how to stop them but knowing that they somehow must.
“Out of the way. Clear the area!” hollered Billy at the people around him. No one needed telling twice. Even the lesser Forukks moved to form an empty ring around the colossal creatures before continuing their mindless slaughter.
“For the first time in my life I wish Zak was here,” said Billy as he sneered at the Forukks who had now stopped and were staring menacingly at the three teens.
“Any plans?” asked Trey.
“Just one,” shouted Billy as he charged forward and thrust his sword up into one of the monster’s groin. He was expecting something dramatic but he didn’t even receive a yelp.
“Lily might have mentioned that Nis’Forukk don’t physically breed so have no use for genitalia,” informed Liam.
“Thanks for that, Liam,” snarled Billy as he leapt back to avoid the Forukk’s fist. “Now what?”
“Now you fight,” barked Nakai as he leapt from out of nowhere and landed on the Forukk’s back. Dangling from his mouth by a lit fuse was a boom-ball.
The creature tried to pull the Commander from its back but its arms could not reach. The second one made to tug him off but Nakai leapt, grabbing its snout. As the Forukk opened its mouth to bite at the man he threw the boom-ball down its gullet, which seemed a hard task as the commander only had one arm. Nakai dived away as the Forukk exploded, sending chunks of flesh flying out, covering the nearby warriors.
Liam had used this time well. While Trey and Billy had watched the explosion, he had wrapped the remaining Nis’Forukk’s legs together with a thick rope that he had packed into his rucksack. When it sank in that its companion was dead, the Forukk boomed in anger and attempted to charge the Commander. As it tried to move its legs it fell forwards like a falling tree. It’s head landed right where Liam had anticipated. He had stuck his halberd into the ground pointing to the heavens to mark this spot. The Forukk’s rock-like head snapped his halberd but not before it had pierced the beast’s brain. It released a slow moan then died.
The commander approached them. “My Lieutenant is leading the battle against the new enemy army so you needn’t worry about the beasts here receiving reinforcements. The battle is far from over though so let’s get going.”
* * *
Kelly whimpered as a terrifying Forukk towered over her. It bared its teeth in a show of enjoyment as it slowly placed the tip of a jagged blade against her neck. It growled softly to itself as it began to apply pressure.
The girl yelped as the blade cut across her throat leaving a shallow line of blood. Zak stood before her, his axe locked with the Forukk’s sword, his clothes tattered. He was panting, having just run as fast as he could after sensing a source of power nearby.
The Forukk looked akin to the Alpha Forukk that fought with Htaed but had a slightly smaller stature and less power flowed from its body. It was still by far the strongest creature Zak had ever fought alone. It wielded a long bladed sword and wore dark armour that appeared to constantly flow around its body like a sickly liquid.
“You dare to attack a Forukk Prince?” snarled the beast in an arrogant tone.
“You dare to attack a defenceless girl,” spat the teen venomously.
The Forukk broke the lock then lunged. Zak did not have enough time to dodge the attack completely so suffered a glancing wound to his side. Spinning on the ball of his foot, Zak swung his axe but the Forukk parried it as though it was nothing. They exchanged a few rapid attacks when Zak jumped back. His breathing was heavy and he had received many small cuts that sapped at his strength.
“Done already, mortal?” taunted the Forukk.
Zak swung his axe around with renewed energy. “You wish!” he roared as he put all his strength into a downwards chop.
The Forukk Prince parried with such force that the impact rippled through Zak’s arms and caused his axe to hurtle from his grasp. It embedded itself in the ground several dozen feet from Zak’s reach.
“You lose,” rumbled the Forukk cockily.
Zak stared deep into the creature’s eyes and laughed. “I’m only just getting started.” Drawing his twin katana from their sheaths he whirled them through the air, listening to the satisfying sound as they swished in graceful arcs.
With speed that defied logic, Zak slashed, chopped and lunged at the Forukk Prince, who struggled to block such high speed moves. Within moments it looked like Zak would defeat the beast when it roared out, abandoned its defence and slashed with all its might. Blood spurted out around them both. Zak’s blades dug deeply into the Forukk’s shoulders and the Forukk’s sword had ripped a gash through Zak’s chest, decimating his armour.
Both pulled back then re-engaged into the combat. The Forukk swung, catching Zak’s right hand. It opened up on reflex and his katana fell from his fingers. With his other hand, Zak had slashed at the Forukk, cutting into its gut. The Prince delivered a vicious kick to the teen’s stomach then broke his wrist. With a final punch to the face, Zak landed roughly on the ground with no weapons within his reach.
“You put up a valiant fight, for a mortal,” the Prince snarled. It lifted its sword and made to cleave the boy in two.
Before the sword struck the beast screamed in pain. Stood behind him was Kelly, a terrified but determined look on her young face. In her hands was a small, pin like dagger. She had impaled it into the Forukk’s leg using all of her strength. Her hands were covered in black blood that sizzled her skin.
With another roar the Forukk turned to face the girl. Its fist shot out and hit her with enough force to break bones. Her body flew through the air then landed sprawled out in the mud.
Before the monster could turn back to face Zak, the teen had leapt onto it’s shoulders and dug his katana blade into its throat. Spluttering blood, the Forukk Prince cursed in its own guttural tongue, then with a final slash from the sword, its head rolled from it’s shoulders.
Zak stumbled over to where Kelly lay and made to pick her up. Instead, the last of his strength drained from his body and he collapsed at her side.
Previous – Chapter 54. Fight for Freedom.
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