Dawn struggled to heal Lily’s wound as man and beast fought within inches of where she knelt. Zak had warded the enemies off but then he had run off and had not returned. Without his support she doubted her ability to save the young woman.
She was deep into enemy lines and soon the last human was slain. Forukks formed a ring around her, readying themselves for an easy kill. Dawn knew that she could not fight them so instead she grabbed the amulet that hung from her neck. It had worked well on the assassin so she was sure it could deal with a few Forukks.
The ground around her shook as her amulet pulsed. From the earth lifted odd grains of sand. More and more rose from the soil, some churning the ground as they shot from several foot under the surface. The sand curved around her, floating in a spiral pattern as more and more grains joined the mass. Within moments there was so much sand that it fully encased Dawn. Then suddenly the sand shot out as a fearsome sandstorm, hitting the front Forukks with such force that it stripped their hides from their bones.
Her lungs caught when she tried to breathe. Dawn knew that that move was too powerful for her to use but it had been her only choice. Having done it twice in one day though left her doubts if she could survive the consequences.
“It appears that our caged bird needs our assistance,” said an old, ragged voice.
Dawn’s lungs began to let air in once more as a soothing sensation bathed her body. She looked up to see her grandmother, the Heptalli Elder, standing over her. Dawn gave a gasp when she saw who attended Lily. Her mother stood with one arm in a sling and a black eye but still very much alive. The Heptalli Matriarch smiled at her daughter and Dawn returned the smile, relieved beyond belief that her mother had not died in the explosion.
“Rest my little desert princess,” cooed the old woman. “Do you still have the same opinion of the princess life? Do you still want to live this life?” asked the Elder as she motioned at the death around them.
Dawn thought for a moment. She was terrified, her whole body ached and she had not had a good night’s sleep or a hearty meal since they left Onlasar. The answer became clear to her.
“Yes. This is the life I wish to lead.”
Her mother looked shocked but the Elder shook her head like she had expected that answer.
“We shall see where your path leads if we all survive this battle,” the old woman stated. “Anyway, you are fine, as is the young woman. We end this now.”
* * *
Htaed had not fought so hard in centuries, he noted dryly in the back of his mind as his duel with the Alpha Forukk continued. Both bled profoundly from hundreds of small cuts and dozens of life endangering wounds. Fatigue burned at their muscles yet still they fought like mad men.
The Alpha Forukk fired a green beam from its mouth that Htaed had not expected. The beam struck his chest and sent him hurtling to the ground. Somehow that attack had paralysed him so all he could do was glare angrily as the Forukk approached him.
“Time to die, mighty warrior,” hissed the Forukk with the faintest touch of respect in his voice.
“That’s what you think!” shouted a voice from behind the Forukk. It looked up to see that it was surrounded by humans.
Under normal circumstances he would have butchered them all but he was already drastically weakened. To make matters worse there were several notable foes. The two warriors that had fought at Htaed’s side were worthy opponents to all but himself, there were three generations of the Heptalli tribe leaders and most interesting of all was the boy who held in his hands a sword that the Alpha Forukk had hoped never to see again.
A wave of pressure hit the humans in front of him and they all crashed to the ground. The strange being known as Maklar stood with one hand out, straining to keep the humans down.
“It is time for us to leave, King of all Kings,” droned the humanoid in his usual dull tone.
A black light shot up from the ground around the Forukk. It bared its fangs then disappeared. Maklar gave them all a creepy smile before he too stepped into the light and vanished. Htaed roared in frustration at having his foe escape him. The others sighed in relief at not having to fight such a powerful creature.
After having both their leaders taken from the battle and their men vastly reduced in number, fear began to spread through the enemy armies. They still vastly outnumbered the human armies but after seeing one leader slain and the other flee, the moral fell drastically. The allies were severely weakened though and the fate of the battle still balanced on a knife edge.
Through the chaos sounded a single piercing howl. Humans and Forukk alike turned to the east to see a large, white furred wolf standing proudly atop of a steep hill. Its fierce eyes glowed in the dim light and wicked fangs shone in the surrounding flames.
It howled again and the horizon burst into motion. Hundreds of forest wolves bounded down the slope, covering the distance before their appearance was fully registered. Wildcats danced among them and hulking bears thundered along at their rear. Even elegant stags flowed around the predators, their antlers lowered and ready to strike. A cacophony of bestial roars filled the air as the host of forest animals crashed into the Forukk ranks. Teeth and claws punctured leathery flesh while darkened metal hacked at fur-coated skin. Blood misted in the air and streamed across the craggy ground.
After initial resistance, the Forukks were swept up by the wrath of nature. Their lines shattered and panic spread through the remaining Lanstirian forces. Seeing no way to stand against the relentless hammer blows of the ravishing animals, the Forukks turned and fled back toward the protection of Lanstiro’s walls.
The enemy forces converged on the fortress city’s gates when the doors swung shut in their faces. From the walls, thousands of tiny pin sized arrows flew down at them. Volley after volley came down around them, leaving the terrified enemies looking like pin cushions. The remaining allied forces and the frenzied beasts of the forests obliterated the remaining enemies with ease.
From the wall flew a single bird. On its back was a tiny man the size of a man’s finger.
“Pux! Glad you could join us,” yelled Zak as he held out his hand for Bo-bo to land on.
“Welcome to the newly named castle Yuxa. You may rest in our many beds and may eat our wealth of food until your health is replenished,” greeted the small Captain.
“How the hell did you take this place over?” asked Billy.
“We Yuxova weren’t about to let you humans take all the glory. After dealing with our internal problems we gathered our army and set off to save your sorry hides. We mustered our woodland allies while we were at it as they too were eager for revenge upon their ancient enemies. Upon arrival we felt we would make a bigger impact by taking over their fortress so we swooped inside, killed the few guards that remained then began preparing a victory party,” laughed Pux as he took a bite from a small fruit.
“Amen to that little dude. We’re ready for some victory celebrations!” shouted Zak, followed by a vast cheer of agreement from the people behind him.