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 Chapter 2

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Posts : 107
Join date : 2010-05-30
Age : 43
Location : Wintermist

PostSubject: Chapter 2   Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:32 pm

There was a lull in the fighting and Alexander bent over, resting his hands on his knees. He could not catch his breath. He was spent. He raised his head and for the first time since the fighting had started had time to check around to see what was happening in other parts of the courtyard. He straightened abruptly when he saw that the wall had been breeched in not one, but four different places, suddenly understanding why the battle had become so intense. Even as he watched, more and more of the enemy poured inside the walls, pushing back his comrades-in-arms, who were dropping like flies. He was stunned, never had the walls been breached. He felt pain ripping through his body, which had been so badly battered he was barely able to stand. The grip on his sword was weak. Exhaustion dragged at his desire to fight, yet his wounds were nothing when compared to what was happening right in front of him. His will to fight was all but crushed as he watched in horror and awe as the enemy overran the last of his brothers on the walls. He never thought he would live to see this day. For the first time the Kingdoms' Guards were losing!

It was then that Alexander realized his death was now a foregone conclusion. All that remained was the manner in which he chose to die. He was a Kingdom Guard and he would fight to his very last breath. He looked around quickly to see where he might inflict the most damage.

As he gazed into the swirl of fighting, his eyes landed on Jacob. Jacob stood commanding one of the few units still left mainly intact. His helm's white plume, denoting his status as a Kingdom Guard, a tattered remnant of white fuzz while the white of his undergarment was stained and bloody.

Alexander glanced down and saw that his own white undergarment was in the same condition, bloody and torn. He felt an ache of sorrow at this horrible similarity which showed their brotherhood. Jacob had known him for a very long time and was one of his many friends. He was a warrior's warrior, pure of heart, loyal and dedicated to the core. Tolerance of everyone and everything, Jacob himself held to the strictest of moral codes. Alexander had a recollection of Jacob telling him ever so kindly him not to swear and to make sure his armor was shined and polished. He swallowed painfully, realizing that he would never hear Jacob remind him again. He wouldn't mind dying next to him, he thought, but Jacob and his men seemed to be holding their own and didn't seem to need immediate help.

Alexander's continued searching the area until his gaze fell on Magnus, one of the last fighters left alive from his own unit. Magnus was a huge warrior, standing a head taller than most. A gentle giant who had, in the past, won all matches of strength and physical play that the Guards were want to pass the time between practice and their guard shift. The kind of person who frequently forgets how strong he is, but has a sweetness of soul. Magnus now stood engaged in hand to hand combat with four of the enemy, but so ferocious was his fighting that he was dispatching each and every one of them. Currently he displayed not the gentle qualities that Alexander knew so well, but that of an untamed beast as he ripped and tore at his opponents, refusing to give any ground.

Still feeling the debilitating effects from his last fight, Alexander summoned his reserves, preparing to re-enter the fray. His attention was suddenly caught by the fearlessness being displayed by his comrades. All around him his friends were fighting for their very lives, refusing to yield, even now when things seemed most bleak, their faith in what they fought for refusing to allow them to give up.

It has been said that the largest of heroes are born from the greatest adversity; here before Alexander's eyes was a colossal display of gallantry and valor. Despite the walls being overrun he saw Argyle and Kenneth, apparently the last two left alive in their unit, continuing to hold the enemy at the breech they had been ordered to defend. He saw Bruid standing high on the walls waving his next opponent toward him with his free hand, as the width of the wall would allow only one man forward at a time. There was a line waiting to engage Bruid and surely exhaustion would take him before his will to fight died. Alexander could see Bruid's chest heave as he strove to fill his lungs with air, yet he continued to taunt his aggressors with the simple gesture.

Jozef, who must have reached the same understanding as Alexander of how this battle was going to end, charged screaming into a group of the enemy, who were so shocked by his act that several turned and ran.

These were his friends whom he had known for as long as he had been alive. Alexander wondered if anyone would ever remember the deeds that were done this day or if all this heroism would simply be forgotten.

A cry of pain garnered his attention. As he looked to his left, he saw another of his friends, Malachi, who's right hand had been completely severed from his wrist. On one knee Malachi stared at the mangled appendage, grasping the end with his remaining hand as if he could perhaps squeeze hard enough to stop the pain.

Alexander felt anguish grab at his heart. He could see that he would not get to his friend before Malachi's opponent finished the contest. But even as he tried, leaping over and around the numerous bodies between them, he saw Malachi, in a last act of defiance, use his blooded hand to grab his attacker by the throat and scream into the face of his foe. His enemy met his gaze and for a moment they stared into each others eyes. Then, almost casually the final blow was delivered. A sword thrust into the heart.

Alexander skidded to a stop as he watched Malachi slide off the end of the sword and fall lifeless to the ground. He took two faltering steps forward and, for a brief moment stared into the face of his dead friend, feeling a sense of overwhelming despair. Then through his pain he heard a laugh and lifted his head. He saw it came from his friend's murderer. With a jolt of shock his eyes met those of Astaroth. One of the greatest warriors the Kingdom had even known, as well as one of the most famed traitors.

"Vile bastard" he said through clenched teeth, glaring in sick disgust at the Kingdom armor Astaroth still wore upon his chest, the molded steel streaked with blood. The traitorous pig did not even have enough honor to hide or remove the royal symbol. Alexander felt his strength return, fueled by anger and rage. He charged toward Astaroth and immediately engaged him in battle.

The fighting suddenly narrowed from a swirl of hundreds to just him and his foe. He was engaged with a hated enemy, a vicious opponent, whose skills far outmatched his own. But he gave this no thought; he wanted revenge for his fallen comrade. Their swords rang as their blades met from his initial charge.

"Vermin, traitor, I will take your head" Alexander screamed as he parried a blow that would have easily severed his arm had it landed. Astaroth easily recovered, his moves incredibly fast, passing through Alexander's guard to cut the weary warrior on his thigh, leaving a bloody wound.

"Ah, it's you, Alexander, what a surprise, that blow was so light I thought a child had attacked me." Astaroth's sneering grin could be seen through the open face of his helm. With a display of skill and arrogance, he ducked under the next attack and spun around Alexander in a lightening move, gently placing his blade upon the throat of his now bewildered opponent and causing a thin line of blood to appear, toying with the winded man.

"You train every day, for hours and hours and yet your skills have not increased at all. I mean really, not at all," he taunted, stepping lightly to one side and driving his knee into Alexander's wound, causing the Guard to stumble. He followed with a crushing blow to the back of his falling adversary's head using the hilt of his sword.

The rage that had empowered Alexander earlier was now gone. Summoning the strength from pride alone, he picked himself up and turned to face his challenger one last time.

Without hesitation Astaroth, confident and calculated, attacked. Showing his strength and mastery he turned his blade so it was the flat surface that passed Alexander's parry and smashed down into his face through the open faced helm. The blow stunned the warrior and sent him flying backward, his legs flailing, until he lost his balance completely and crumple to the ground.

He looked up, dazed, his eyes watering from the ferocious hit that had centered on the bridge of his nose. He knew that the traitor's blade was about to finish this contest, but he no longer had the strength to lift his sword. He watched in acceptance as the huge, blurred silhouette beginning to advance on him.

Suddenly a single bugle note resounded through the air. It had a crisp and powerful tone. An immediate hush fell over the battlefield as all appeared to be entranced by this most mystical sound. Eyes, both enemy and ally alike began to follow the sound to its source. There, at the top of the palace steps stood the supreme defenders of the realm, the Royal Guard. That single note played on the bugle was one that had not been heard in generations. It called to arms the elite of the Kingdom, the few who had the honor of standing by the Royal side and defending his throne. For Alexander and the rest of the defenders, it was the sound of horror. It indicated that the walls were no longer defensible and that the battle was going so poorly for the Kingdom Guards, the Master's chosen few must now enter the battle arena.

The single note began to fade, losing its effect upon those below. Swords once again rang out as they returned to their bloody business.

The sound had initially chilled Astaroth to the core, but he too knew what it meant and it sent raw power into his heart, invigorating him. The taste of victory appeared to be at hand. He let out a mighty roar of triumph, his clenched hand holding his sword skyward in an act of victory.

As he turned back to his victim, Alexander could see Ramiel and Uriel running up behind him, both identified as Royal Guards by the large red plumes on their helms and their undergarments of red. Alexander could see their faces twisted with anger as they charged down the steps of the Palace, light reflecting from the steel and gold armor which had yet to taste the gore of battle. They cleaved through the enemy in such a fluid motion that they did not appear to be exerting themselves. Their skill with the sword came to them as naturally as breathing. They both launched themselves into the air and bowled into Astaroth, lifting him off the ground. The three airborne opponents began to fight even as they fell downward into a mass of combatants below.

Alexander lost sight of them within the swirling mess and he staggered to his feet, his attention drawn back to the palace steps where the enemy had begun to engage the Royal Guards. Alexander watched in wonder, for he had never seen these elite guards do anything but train and guard the palace. He was a warrior and from his earliest memory had trained as such. Yet before him were the true lords of combat. You could never learn to fight at this level; it was something that was simply there, because you were born to do it. It was a gift.

More members of the Royal Guards formed a half circle around the palace entrance. Michael, the commander of this elite guard, stood in the center. He did not appear to be concerned at the dire circumstances which surrounded them. He walked calmly behind his rank of men occasionally giving commands. Enemy soldiers seemed to be running to their deaths as they challenged the imperial glory of the elite guard. Almost as fast as they could fill the spaces around the Royal Guard they were being cut down. Almost.

Alexander knew that even the mighty Royal Guard could not hold out forever. Soon, even these supremely trained soldiers would give way to exhaustion and superior numbers. The Kingdom appeared lost for sure.

Alexander limped over to the palace steps, where his legs gave way and he crumbled to the ground, his adrenalin rush of a few moments before depleted. The enemy was pushing forward now, and the fighting had moved to the top of the steps, right up to the gates of the palace. He lay in the momentary quiet eye of this enemy storm. He tried to muster the strength to again join the battle, his spirit willing but without the strength to rise. All he could do was watch. He assumed that soon one of the enemy would turn and see him, and that would be the end. He heard a thud and on turning his head found Rook sitting beside him, shaking as if with ague. Standing close by Rook were Morgan and Christian, both leaning wearily on their sword, their faces gray with fatigue. Three commanders now separated from their decimated units. These were Alexander's closest friends.

Rook had a large gash on his forehead just below his hairline. Christian had several cuts on both his arm and blood was dripping from his left hand as it hung by his side. Morgan, so proud to be a Kingdom Commander, who polished and manicured his armor almost constantly, appeared out of place, so splattered with mud and blood that a clean area of armor or undergarment could not be seen. He held his left arm protectively across his chest, while bright red blood flowed from a cruel wound on his hand.

Rook looked at Alexander and with a feeble smirk said to Morgan and Christian, "I told you he would be laying down somewhere. The Kingdom is about to be overrun and this one is about to take a nap".

Rook, who was usually very stern, only come up with this sadistic type of humor when he was fighting. His normal demeanor was that of angry warrior, only happy when in the thick of combat. Christian, however, who always had a sarcastic remark ready retorted "Yep, this is gonna look bad on his resume".

Alexander managed a brief smile, too exhausted to banter back at them.

Morgan, whom they kidded frequently about his bright, shiny appearance, added calmly. "Yeah it does look bad, I mean sure, it appears we may very well lose this battle, but let's get to what is really important". He straightened himself with an effort and struck a pose. "How do I look?"

In this surreal moment, with death all around them, the grouped laughed, if somewhat hysterically. Alexander found the energy to pull himself to his knees, drawing strength from his friends

"Hey boys, the damn Royal Guard are getting all the kills. We need to do something about this". Christian said looking toward the upper steps of the palace. The scene was bleak. The Royal Guard appeared to be almost fully engulfed. Michael no longer stood behind his men, but had himself entered into combat.

"Oh, we have to get up there" Rook quickly added, "if we don't they will win this damn battle themselves and then there will be no living with them." He then looked at Alexander and said in-between deep breaths of his own, "So what do you think, can you get off your lazy butt and help us kill some of this scum?"

"Faster than you can, lard ass" Alexander retorted, pulling himself shakily to his feet by using Rook's shoulder as a support.

"Just point me in the right direction brother". Alexander said, his knees barely holding his weight.

The four men took a line facing up the steps of the palace, facing the Royal Guard, who fought valiantly to hold on.

"All in favor of running up these steps and wearing ourselves out before we get there say aye." Christian said. No one answered him.

"All in favor of walking up these steps?" Morgan suggested.

The four began started forward, one step at a time, trying to catch their breath. As they approached the rear of the enemy they began to increase their pace, until the last few feet they were moving at almost a run. They simultaneously hit the rear of the enemy with lethal coordination. They hacked and craved into the horde, surprise giving them momentary victory, until they found themselves fighting arm in arm with the Royal Guard, filling some the empty spots left by the fallen within the half circle.

Alexander continued to lift his sword and slash at the enemy around him, but his arm was weak and it was pure luck that an enemy blade did not make a lethal blow. The last of the Royal Guards were running from the Throne Room, a last ditch effort to repel the invaders. But Alexander could see that this fight was almost done. There were too many of the enemy.

Without warning something heavy crashed into the rear of his helm, knocking him to his knees, his vision darkened. He dimly heard Michael's Lieutenant, Gabriel, yell "We cannot hold!"

A shiver of apprehension and dread ran down Alexander spine as he fought the black tide that seemed to be seeping into his brain, but another blow to the back of his neck sent him falling headlong into the obsidian darkness.

Warlord Jayde
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