Battle! Part VIISubmitted by ridiculous at 2010-02-19 07:30:47 EST
Rating: 2.0 on 21 ratings (21 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
2nd Prelude: http://www.ubersite.com/m/124425
2nd Day: http://www.ubersite.com/m/124476
Part VI: http://www.ubersite.com/m/124495
Uriel walked down the hillside looking ahead of him to the wood. The wood was dark, foreboding. He could hear the screams of men coming from between the dark trunks, somewhere out of sight. He watched the fire licking up through the branches as the smoke lazily trailed up to where the dragon circled. The beast bellowed and spit great jets of flame into the trees again, and again. He kept walking, there was no hurry now.
Uriel reached the bottom of the hill, walked slowly towards the wood. Reaching a place in the middle of the field he stopped. Leaning on his staff he watched the beast and waited. He wanted to be seen.
After another strafing run, which was met with more cries of pain, the dragon banked a turn over the field and saw Uriel. Its bellowed challenge seemed to shake the very air between the two as it turned again diving for him. Seeing him hold his ground the dragon flapped its massive wings at the last moment settling to the earth before the wizard. The beast lowered itself, folding its wings and lowered its long neck to Uriels height.
“You are no dreamer.” It snarled.
“You are no dragon... I know thee, daemon.” Was his reply. “Release them. All of them, and I will let you live to haunt another.”
The dragon’s laughter was deep and rich; it shook the ground like an earthquake. “I could kill you now.”
“Could you?” A smile crept onto the old mans face. “Could you, really?”
Uriel lifted his staff and began his incantation. The dragon sat back on its haunches, spreading and flapping its massive wings. The beast began its ascent. The beating of its wings nearly pushed the wizard over so massive were they. The dragon turned swiftly and dove for the man unleashing a fearsome cry and a gout of flame. Uriel raised his palm. The flames broke apart harmlessly three or four feet from the wizard.
“This is your last chance daemon. You will not survive this.” His incantation ready he could feel the power surging through him yearning for release.
The dragon roared again and loosed another spray of fire over Uriel. Nosing up the beast rolled right circling again for another attack. The air in front of its snout exploded blue blinding it for a moment as another bolt of lightning flew overhead. Looking at Uriel the daemon screamed its rage and turned again to attack.
He watched the daemon come, waiting for its rage to overwhelm its reason. It dove close lashing at him with its tail, he was forced to dive away from it. It circled overhead and dove to attack once more. This time he was ready, he sent another blue bolt flying up to meet it. By reflexes or perhaps foresight the creature managed to avoid taking the bolt full in the face. The black blood poured from its smoldering neck raining over the field. Three beats of its massive wings saw it again high in the air. He watched it turn and fly over the wood, dive and uproot a tree in a massive talon, the beast turned towards him again.
Uriel cast another bolt and another as the dragon came on, but now it seemed to be wise to him dodging this way and that erratically, it got closer. The dragon dove at the old man screaming, gaining speed, it released the tree it had brought with it. Uriel had no where to run, he focused and managed to hit the tree with his lightning splintering it just before it hit him. The bolt struck the center of the tree splitting it like a blade of grass into a mass of splinters and smoke.
Unfortunately, nearly half of the ancient fir slammed into him. It hit him hard, throwing him back a dozen feet, he landed on the grass and slid nearly five more. Fighting to keep conscious he watched the daemon dive for him again as his world went dark.
Uriel woke to a rumbling he knew and looked up to see a giant claw pinning him to the earth. His arms pinned to his sides, he was helpless.
“Finally awake? Good, I grow hungry.” The daemon rumbled its laughter. “I wanted to make sure you were awake. I intend to eat you slowly.” Opening its maw and running a forked tongue over dozens of sharpened teeth it lowered its head to take one of the Wizards legs.
Uriel’s mind raced in all directions. He could still feel the lightning inside but without his arms he could not channel it. He calmed himself, he had to think. Shutting his eyes he quieted his panic and focused his mind. Scanning his memories he looked for anything that could save him. Every spell he had ever read, every incantation he had ever uttered, every talisman he had ever seen, everything he had ever learned about magic flew through his head. He needed a solution, for his life, for any hope of salvation; he found only one.
Focusing his mind he reached inside. Deep within his mind to where his magic resided, where his soul was. He grasped the magic of his own life. His scream seemed to bounce off the sky, off the trees, even off the massive creature sitting on him. It was everywhere at once.
A bolt of purple lightning stretched from the sky. In an instant the dragon’s claw had been severed and the beast’s bulk was falling to the earth. Uriel rolled to his feet as its massive body hit the ground. Uriel dove for the daemon; climbing atop its massive head he yelled his victory as he unleashed the lightning into its eyes. The dragon bucked wildly throwing the wizard before settling to the earth.
Uriel lay on the ground weakened and exhausted, his eyes sliding closed he saw the world melting around him.
The curse was broken. The nightmare was over.
The soldier stood. He was dazed and felt sick, his mouth was dry and tasted like copper. He was saturated with sweat. Cold and clammy, stiff and sore he started to stretch then he remembered: The Dragon. He looked up almost expecting the beast to be there coming for him, to his relief it was not. Taking in his surroundings slowly he saw others, some were standing, some sitting but all of them keeping a weary eye on the night sky, waiting for the stars to go dark as the wyrm descended for them. He could feel that lingering fear, he knew it had been a dream but it was too real. He sat back down casting a weary glance heavenward.
Uriel stood in the doorway to the tent staring out as the men came back to life. They were haggard, exhausted and afraid but they were alive. Nearly all of them.
“How did you know?” Sir Perth enquired, his voice low and still trembling.
“Know what, William?” Uriel turned to the Knight Commander who was seated on his own bedroll and deathly pale.
“How did you know…” Uriel could see he was still thinking through the question. “How to save us? Where we were? That we were cursed? Anything?” There was a desperate tone in his voice.
“William, you have known me for many years. You know that I have always supported you and your father before you.” He smiled weakly, he was also exhausted. “Get some rest and we will talk in the morning.”
“What about you?”
“I will turn in soon, for now I just want to make sure Grahm and Alexander don’t drop dead from blood loss.” He managed a low chuckle.
“Sleep William.” Uriel watched the man lie back and close his eyes. Shaking his head, he whispered to himself. “The boy nearly dies and he wants to ask questions…”
The following morning was another grey one. Uriel had broken fast with the Knight Commander and they had discussed a great many things. William’s strength had nearly recovered and Uriel was happy for that but melancholy for he knew he would never again know his own former strength.
Having used the magic of his life he had shortened it. He had taken a piece of that magic which drew in the magic he used from the world around. He could feel the change in him and marveled at it. When one aged it was a slow, gradual process that went largely unnoticed until one attempted something simple, from youth now impossible, with age. This however; was completely different. He felt he had aged twenty years in one second. His body was the same, he still ached in the same places no more and certainly no less, but something was different. Something was missing.
He had described to the Knight Commander just what had befallen them. He told him something of curses and hex’s and more importantly something of daemons. That had been their luck in disguise, a hex would kill and a curse would too if it went unbroken for two long but a daemons curse wouldn’t kill, at least not right away. The daemon fed on fear. It would seldom kill its victims, instead playing with them. Toying with them this way and that savoring every morsel of horror it could extract from a man. That is why it chose a realm they were familiar with to torture them in. It needed them to think the dream was real to prolong their torment.
That was their fortune; every man woke with the blood save five. Uriel had speculated on their fate saying they probably angered the beast or realized it was a dream. As soon as they had done that they became a threat to the daemon for they could then bring their realization to others. The beast would have surely killed them quickly. “If the body dies in a dream the mind dies in our world.” he had told Sir Perth. It was also a very skilled practitioner of magic who had invoked the curse, trapping a daemon to weave into a curse was no mean feat, especially one that powerful.
Sir Perth told him of the battle and the grisly fate Mordarren met, as well as the remainder of the lance. William had told him of Alderhold and the atrocities committed there. Uriel had been greatly pained to hear of the Queens fate. He had been her tutor many years ago, as he had been Williams. Perth told him about the Scouts and how none had returned even though they were some of the finest in the King’s service. Uriel had pressed the Knight Commander on this point and quickly shared his opinion that the wood had been trapped. It made sense after all, if Baraccus had time to use sappers he certainly had time to have his engineers trap the woods.
They finished the meal discussing what to do next. It was obvious that the men were in no condition to march or fight and would need time to rest. It was also obvious that Baraccus had recruited a sorcerer and would have paid a high price in order to delay the Horde which meant he was up to something but the question remained. What?
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