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Chapter 2: The Battle Of Ulfates
A Brother’s Loyalty I
~ 868 RE~
“2nd Season, 4th Moon, 2nd Week, 6th Day”
~ Southwestern Golgotha, Ulfates at Noon ~
“Fire! Fire!” The town square will erupt into shrieks as it burns. The bell towers in Ulfates will ring while the townspeople and soldiers rush with buckets of water to douse the flames. The water will be poured endlessly, but the fire will still burn. Rather than growing weaker, it will spread until the entire town square is engulfed. From every horizon in southern Golgotha, the blaze will appear as a black pillar of smoke.
Bilk, the fat cow of a man, will be escorted from his fortified town hall. He will go to the town square himself to witness the fire. Being a learned man, he will be able to see things others miss, and it will show in his eyes. At that moment, we will strike…”
Bam! “What is this fire you are bothering me about?” Lord Bilk growled, slamming his hand on the cluttered table. Several papers fell off a stack in the upper corner and caught his attention. Four trouble soldiers stood at the entrance to his office, while he screamed, “Blast! Look what you did! How can you people not put out a simple fire? Must I tell you everything, you simpletons?”
One soldier, a blond Azurian man, rubbed the back of his neck. “We are doing our job, sir, but this fire is not behaving normally.”
Standing at his desk with a quill of ink in front of him, Bilk crosses his arms. “I’m trying to save the empire a fortune at the moment.” He coughs. Could any of you come up with a way to accomplish that?” Bilk watches them while they remain silent, waiting for an answer. ‘Well, what say you? You all got so quiet.”
A soldier with a few blue feathers on his helmet says, “No sir.”
“Nore has the empire. “They need my brilliance, unlike you. I know I’m wasting my time, but listen,” he says gesturing with his index finger. “Using fewer links in chainmail will save the blacksmith guilds and the empire enough to build a new airship within a century.” The men stare at each other as they grasp their spears tightly.
Clearing his throat, the captain speaks. “Yes, your business is significant, my Lord. But we need your brilliant mind to put out the fires.”
“I guess you simpletons need me; otherwise, you’d be lost. “I can’t help but help the commonwealth.” Lord Bilk grumbles. The soldiers bow as he rises from his wobbly chair with his pot-bellied form. Lord Bilk blows out a puff of air with a flat gaze. As he stretches, he grumbles, his eyes wandering to a sheet of scribed paper. “I got to the heart of my proposal. Well, that will have to wait.”
“My Lord!” exclaimed the captain. “Please come, it is urgent.” This only caused the portly man to roll his eyes.
“Now where did I put that thing?” The soldier’s movements became jerky. “Oh, yes.” Bilk paused before removing a small metallic horn from his desk drawer. “There it is. I can’t go to an emergency without this.” He smiled taking a few steps toward the threshold of his room. Each of the men looked at the other with their heads bowed. “Well, you fools, get up! I don’t have time to waste on your lot.”
As Lord Bilk, followed by his guard, strolls out from the city courtyard, he does not seem to be rushed or perhaps he’s lacking in physicality. Who knows? With slight concern, he uttered, “My goodness, that is a tremendous flame.” The fire spread rapidly engulfing the sky and forcing several aircraft to divert their course. “You don’t think the fires will spread here, do you?” Bilk looked back to the obsidian tower before returning his gaze to the captain.
“The fires have supernatural origins. They won’t put out.” a soldier told his comrades.
“It’s fire from Maelstrum,” said another. His voice quivered in fear as he said, “It was the devils who did it.”.
Bilk growled, “Nonsense.”. As the flames neared, people ran in panic, gathering their belongings to escape. Troops pushed carts filled with water up and down the streets. A cart nearly struck Lord Bilk as it whirled past him. In the wake of the out-of-control cart, a man chased it. Bilk pointed his finger at the man, he screamed, “Cease him. Throw him into the fires. That man nearly killed me!”
“Sir, the fires are burning. What should we do?” the captain asked, trying to distract Bilk from his frustration.
Still meandering, Bilk shook his head, “Well, I’ll just have to see it for myself before I decide.” Sweat started to fall from his brow. Sure Bilk would have told you it was the heat from the fire. However, the truth is he was scared. A fire that did not completely burn out? What kind of spell was that? The group continues down the street until they reach the town square.
There is a roar of sizzling heat accompanying the smoke pillars as the flames rushed and whirled in the winds. Bilk said, gazing deep into the flames, “My, that’s a terrible flame.” There is a spark in the fire that caught his attention. He watched the flaming spark again. As the answer to the “supernatural power” of this fire revealed itself, he gasped. “Phlogiston,” Bilk muttered to himself, making the answer apparent. A material of pure fire forged by a wise mind for the purpose of mechanizing an engine. However, if left unkempt, it became a raging disaster.
His eyes grew wide. “Phlogiston!” the man yelled, reaching for the horn strapped to his side and bringing it to his mouth. He fell to the ground as pain swept over him. The cobblestones scraped against his palms as he landed. The smell of cooked meat and a sizzle sent a shock through Bilk’s body. The screaming had him gasping for breath, and he wanted them to stop so he could catch his breath. He harshly realizes that someone was him as his vision returns and his ears stop ringing. Raising his hand, he sees that it is stained with red and dripping with blood. “They shot me.” He stumbled hunched over as he backed away limping.
As Bilk fled, he saw his men fighting each other. The men fighting his men were wearing soiled clothing, their capes were caked in mud, and their armor was tarnished with blood. His first thought was, “Bandits,” but then he thought “No, they’re real knights, they battle like real knights. Are these the Royal Azurian Knights?” he asked in confusion. “Who ordered this assault?” he cried, getting no answer.
In the midst of the fighting, he notices one man that stands out. Dressed in silver armor, a man or perhaps even a god had many flourishes on his shoulders. A griffin’s head and two huge horns adorned the helm he wore. Using his shield, he threw a man to the ground as his blue cape flowed. The man looks right at Bilk as he marches with his saber at his side. Bilk’s heart skipped a beat as he felt the warrior’s gaze grip his neck.
And then it was then Bilk knew exactly who he was dealing with. As the horrific conclusion became apparent, he was convinced these were not the Azurians. Rather, the men were the feared rebels led by Lord Guildred. “How did the rebels get inside the city guard?” Bilk blows the horn as he continues limping back to the town hall’s courtyard.
“Kill him! Kill that man! Kill Guildred!” Bilk cried as he pointed toward the griffin knight. With a swift strike, Guildred stabbed the first of Bilk’s soldiers in the stomach. As he removed his blade and disemboweled the soldier, he saw a sword coming toward his chest. With a crash of his shield against the blade, Guildred slashed the man’s stomach open, bringing him to his knees.
“Raa!” another soldier yelled as he dove into the air. A long pike is thrust toward Guildered’s neck. Following the momentum of the strike, Guildred’s shield directs the spear’s head toward his side. Performing a spinning attack, the blade cuts through the soldier’s gut. The soldier’s lumpy coils explode all over the ground as soon as they land on their feet.
As the tension of battle burned in Guildred’s muscles, he felt the warm blood dripping off his armor. As he looked over the battlefield, he saw one of his men about to be stabbed by a soldier. His fingers grab his arctavist as he raises the barrel from his hip. An intense pink light struck the soldier’s upper body, severing it in half. Guildred turned his gaze back to Lord Bilk limping in absolute fear. “Stop him!” cried Bilk. Guildred heard the tremors in his voice. That sniveling little shit would see his end this day. More soldiers rushed to Bilk’s aid in an attempt to stop Guildred’s charge. The men are cut down by Guilderd’s sword without mercy. As they fall to pieces, blood sprays into a violent mist. When Bilk blew the horn a second time, his jaw dropped. “Someone, anyone, stop him!” he shrieked.
Guildred pointed his sword towards Bilk as he slashed through soldier after soldier, leaving a trail of bloodied bodies behind him. Guildred was startled as his path was blocked by a man whose bulk obscured the entire street. In heavier armor, he was large and imposing. Regardless, Guildred squares off with the man, he stands only half his height. “Well… come get me,” Guildred commands from under his helm.
He was armed with a large two-handed blade. Guildred dodges the attack as the titan swings at him. He lunged as the blade passed, cutting the giant in the back of the neck. As the colossus tumbled to the ground, Guildred did not have time to catch his breath. He was still lunging when a soldier struck him from behind. His blade caught his armor but failed to pierce it. The soldier prepared another swing in time for Guildred to parry the soldier’s next attack. Rolling forward, he rises to his feet as the blade cuts through his cape. With a spin and a lick of his sword, he snapped back down, slicing the other soldier in half.
At the same moment that Guildred’s sword approached his side, a soldier’s spear passed by his flank. Suddenly his attention was caught by the soldier who had begun a dance of death with him. One familiar to Guildred. As each thrust moved closer, Guildred could see his footwork moving back and forth. Grabbing the spear’s shaft, Guildred closed in on the spearman punching him in the throat with his shield.
There is a scattering and retreating of Lord Bilk’s troops. Guildred slows down to allow his men to gain ground behind him. He turns as he hears a loud crash and sees one of his soldiers backing out of an alley with his shield raised. “Village Guard!” He screamed as three arm-sized claws flew through the air and struck his shield. He was knocked back several steps when the claws stabbed through his shield, attached by blue fleshy tethers. The claws retract as fast as they flew into the shield, tearing the soldier’s arm from the shoulder, causing him to fly. As Guildred’s helm was rattled by the sounds of crushing steps, the man hollered out in pain as he rose to his feet.
The metallic colossus walked out of the alleyway onto the street. According to Guildred, the top of the body looks like a crab’s carapace. Upon its rust-colored shell, it has three large domed amber eyes. Having three long claws on each arm, the arms resembled mighty metallic mastodon legs. In the left claw, the shield is still speared on the terror’s fingers, his arm hanging from the straps like a piece of meat in a butcher shop. For the first time in a long time, Guildred’s stomach turned. The colossus snapped the shield into three pieces with a creak of its mighty hands. As the one-armed soldier stared up at the monster, he stood to his feet. “You bastard! Take my arm!” He charges forward with his sword raised high.
Guildred muttered in his mind, “You fool.” The machine struck the sword with its other arm, causing the blade to shatter. With both claws, it grabbed the man by his last arm and leg and lifted him from the ground. He screamed as the claws bit deeply into his flesh. As the spinal column separates, a loud series of snaps could be heard. Guildred gritted his teeth and turned his head to hide the sight of the man being torn apart. Both sides of the soldier rose in the air, but a line of entrails still connects him in the middle. A couple of other soldiers are knocked to the ground as the body of the man is tossed at them. While Guildred watched, the machine let out a loud crackle.
His heart pounding, Guildred raised his shield. He froze as he felt a sense of shock creeping over him. The machine let out another low cackle, extending its multi-segmented leg, and took a stride twice its own length, startling Guildred. In a flash, its claws stab the shield, scraping away a thin layer of metal. Guildred lunged just in time to avoid the razor after another swift swing. He dove and weaved around the beast, ducking and swerving as he tried to get some distance from the claw blades.
The machine’s fist collides with Guildred’s shield like a hammer, knocking him on his knees. The shield’s top half is dented almost to his face. His attempt to stand is stymied by another attack. Everyone watching cringes as the sound of a loud snap is heard. Guildred howls with pain and can feel his shoulder becoming stiff.
“My lord!” yelled a man running toward the colossus with a spear. The man climbed onto the machine’s back. Guildred got to his feet limping while tending to his injured arm. The soldier stabbed his spear into the creature’s carapace in an attempt to cut through the creature’s rear thorax. As the blade scraped against the creature’s shell, it shouted. It aimed its claw at its back, firing its fingers, stabbing the soldier, causing him to fall off the machine. The soldier’s body collided with a brick building, splitting his face in half. He tumbles from the building onto the ground, leaving a bloody puddle. The other soldiers cower several steps away from the titanic being.
In a wide stance, Guildred plants his feet. He hurls his shield to bounce off the machine under his breath as he said, “Giza I hope you’re watching my display.” The machine returned its attention to Guildred as he stroked the hilt of his saber. As if on command, the claws retract back into place then fire right at him. As the claws flew past Guildred, he redirected the attack and slashed at the machine’s exposed tethers with a heavy chop. He tore through the creature’s cuticle clear to the ground. He was splashed with a baby blue liquid from the exposed wound in his fury. It sizzles as the acidic blood ate through the metal plates and muscle fibers of his armor. When a drop hits his bare flesh, he screamed.
During his stumble, Guildred’s chest was smashed by the machine, sending him flying off a wall to bounce. The titanic strike would have killed most men, but then again Guildred wasn’t most men. As he landed on his knees, he found himself empty-handed, his sword several feet away. Although he tries to retreat, the monster has already seized him. Towering over him, he swerves to avoid the toes of the thing as they dig into the ground. Rolling on his back, he saw its other foot approaching threatening to trample him. The creature stomped and stomped as he rolled. Again the other foot comes crashing down on him. His knife, if only he could grab his knife. It was tucked behind his leg as he reached for it. But the machine did not slow down. Then his fingers grabbed the pommel to a jubilant celebration. He plunged it into the creature’s ankle joint with a loud shout of anger. More boiling acid blood sprayed onto him. As it soaks into his armor, he screamed once more. His armor recoils from the burning acid taking on its own will as the fibers attempt to get away.
As Guildred rose to his feet, the machine struggled to lower its leg. Grabbing his blade from the ground, Guildred climbed onto the back of the machine and grabbed hold of its hoses. Blue blood gushed out of the monster like fountains after he slashed through the hoses. A high-pitched series of chirps are heard before the dying monster falls to the ground. Guildred looks up at his men as his chest rose up and down.
Over his desk, Lord Bilk slumps. The blood pours out of his soaked clothes as he grips his stomach. It lands on the carpet in splotches of just the right color to offset the red. What do I do?do?do? ” He whimpers into a metal box on the table that has many knobs. There are cables running from the box to the wall-mounted panel. “My lord, Ulfates is lost. His men were in our city. Guildred and his men. They were here already.” Bilk lets out a series of hoarse coughs and a snotty snort. “I don’t know how long I have. He is coming for me.”
On the other end, there is silent static. “Have they destroyed the tower already?” Bilk sobbed. His eyes grew wide as he heard a loud crash at the wooden door, sealing him inside. In horror, Bilk turned to see an axe head peeking through. The axe head chopped into the wood again. “Gods, save me. Gods! Where are you? Is anyone around? My guards where are they? Have they abandoned me?” After three more bites, the door fell to pieces. As Guildred stands on the threshold, his dented armor dripping in crimson blood. Under the armor’s metal plates, strange muscles-like fibers drip inky black liquid. He stares at Bilk who is cowering in the room. “Volkmar! Volkmar! Volkmar!” He lifted his arctavist rifle and pointed it at Lord Bilk. After pulling the trigger, a pink firecracker light shot through the cables connecting the radio.
Without hesitation, Guildred lunged at Bilk, grabbing his throat. “Where is the village guard’s horn, fat man?” Bilk trembled as Guildred’s grip tightened. His windpipe was being crushed. Guildred watched Bilk fidget at his side while raising the horn in his face. His grip on Bilk was released, and he fell to the ground. “Good, now blow it.”
Bilk blew into the horn as he raised it to his lips. Suddenly, a sharp pain shot through him. His eyes flew open. As he looked down, he saw Guildred slamming a knife into and out of his body. As everything grew gray and hazy, Bilk is overcome with pain and cold.
The blue glow of LEDs illuminates the dark room. A shadowed old man peering out of a large plate-glass window viewed the city below. There is a pillar of smoke blocking the sight, but the display across the glass depicts a highly detailed, three-dimensional model of the city. On a sculpted throne that hovered a foot above the ground, the old man was draped in Azurian cloaks. His orange eyes are glued to the horrifying sight as he strokes his withered chin with a soft “Hmmm.” A pair of guards dressed in blue robes approached him bowing. “Tell Grandor Ulfates has fallen under rebel control.”
“Yes, my lord!“ In unison, leaving the room.
He raised a glass of wine to his mouth and took a sip. While looking out the window, he gestures with his fingers, bringing up a hologram of the village guard and Guildred. The two are fighting and slashing each other. He freezes the frame, zooming in on Guildred’s face. “Guildred. I found you at last.” He chuckles. “And soon our little game of hide and seek will be over.”
One Moon Later
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