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Silearth

For Fame and Fortune V:Holy War

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Drogan dismounted and stood in awe before the gates of Braverock. Until this moment, the largest city he had been to was in the desert; the Orc city of Khorad Nur. That paled in comparison.

Dorcas, seeing his expression laughed. “Our monastery is grander still, gladiator. Braverock may be larger, but bigger is not always better.”

Sililva giggled slightly.

The two women had not worn their travel cloaks since their first meeting and so they entered the city in all their majesty. The sun glinted off of their armor and their wings kmade a low musical hum. They were a wonderful sight to behold and all eyes followed them wherever they went. Walking through the streets, they attracted so much attention that it was as if prince Valor himself were there.

So the two Seraphim dismounted and the three proudly strode through the streets. At Dorcas’s direction, Drogan wore his helm. Within minutes the city was alive with talk of the three great and terrible warriors who had arrived to—?

No one could say. It was all so exciting.

Dorcas explained it all to Drogan. Their first stop would be to secure lodging for the horses and a safe place to store the bundle of animal skins tied to Sililva’s saddle.

He was still curious about the contents, but considering what he had received he thought that it was better not to know.

Having found a stable to put the horses and storage for the item, Sililva paid the stable man a few gold coins and warned him of the dangers of getting into the belongings of a angelic warrior.

Drogan was more than surprised by the change in her manner. Now that they were here the gloves were off it would seem.

Dorcas told him that for the next day or so they would strive to make a name for themselves in the city. They wanted to attract as much attention as they could. It would also be good to be heard saying negative things about the black robes.

So for the next few days they roamed the city seeking out anyone in need of aid. They found a lost rabbit and helped a young woman escape from an abusive mate. They brought a man to justice for hurting a local woman.

Anywhere help was needed, they were there. Soon the entire city was talking about the deeds of the two warrior angels and the blood demon.

They had been in the city of Braverock for four days before contact was made.

Drogan was walking alone through the darkening streets when a shadowy figure suddenly appeared in his path. His face was hidden in the darkness of a hood but he did not wear the long black robes of the cult. Drogan and never seen such armor worn by a mage. He quickly drew his sword and its blade emitted a green glow.

A tornado suddenly surrounded the mage, ripping the sword from his hand.

“Drogan,” came the voice from the darkness of the hood.

“Sam?”

The mage laughed, retrieving the sword and handing it back.

“You will never change! What is that…thing you are wearing?”

“Something from my youth. Come my friend, there are things to discuss. I wanted to contact you but I have been in the thick of it since I arrived here.”

“I am not alone.”

“Right, you came with two Seraphim. The three of you have been causing quite a rouse in the city.”

Drogan looked surprised.

“Nothing happens here without my knowledge, Drogan.”

Drogan pulled him close and pushed back the hood. He was the same man as before but there was something different. There was fire in his eyes and resolve. His face showed determination and duty. He was still Samual, his little joke proved that, but it was as if he had suddenly grown up.

“You have been trying to make a name for yourselves here, hoping to catch the notice of our black-robed friends. Under normal circumstances this may have worked. But they are too busy to be troubled by a trio of do-gooders. A far more serious threat looms before them. Me!”

“You?”

“I knew the moment you entered this city and I have watched you and your friends as you have tried to be noticed. I thought to leave you to your pursuits—to keep you safe. I can not explain now, but the Sakkara Cult is my responsibility, my burden.” He held up a hand to stop Drogan’s protests. “But I realized that Estirias is involved and she is your concern.

“I will soon be launching an attack on their fortress here in the city. You and your friends are welcome to join me.”

Drogan stared at Samual in amazement. What had changed the slightly self-centered young man into this determined, hardened warrior? The armor that he wore reeked of magical power in the same his own armor did.

“We will join you, for my purpose has become much larger than Estirias. I will find her, whatever her condition. But my main purpose is to destroy the Sakkara stronghold here.”

Samual sighed tiredly. “Drogan, she is here. Estirias is here. She is unharmed for the moment but will soon be sacrificed and her blood collected. I will attack before that is to occur.

“You must listen to me. This is not for you. I know you and I know that this is not what you want. Come with me and rescue your Seraphim. Then the two of you cast your armor aside and find a place the Sakkara have not touched with their evil. By the time this story has played out it will be dangerous for everyone involved….on either side.”

Drogan’s heart beat heavily in his chest. Alive? He had almost given up hope of finding her alive.

“Where is she?”

He pointed to a tower close to the main gate. “That tower leads to their stronghold. I will not stop you from doing what I think you are about to do. But know this; she will not be injured until tomorrow morning as the sun rises. I plan on attacking shortly before, throwing them off balance. If you go now know that you go alone.”

“Not alone,” spoke Sililva as she appeared from behind a building.

“Never alone,” whispered Dorcas as she dropped from the roof of the same structure.

Samual began to laugh. “You were never trying to attract the attention of the cult, were you?”

“Of course we were,” laughed Dorcas. “Why would we try to get the attention of an unknown mage with delusions of grandeur?”

Once again Samual laughed as he faded away, his voice lingering on the wind.

Dorcas turned to Drogan and Sililva. She embraced both for several minutes and then pulled back and took a deep breath.

“This is it.”

The group walked toward the tower. They hesitated for a moment and then entered.

 

Samual watched them from the top of the tower, his expression grim within the darkness of his hood.

“Curse you….Curse you all. He phased to the ground and waited for several moments before casting a waterform on himself, rendering him invisible. He entered the tower and started to make his way downward. He was halfway down the long spiral staircase when he heard explosions of fireballs and meteor storms and the grunts of pain. He thought he heard the pained scream of a woman, but he could not be sure.

 

The black robes fell upon them as soon as the reached the bottom of the staircase. The attack was swift and vicious. They were put on the defensive from the start. They ran and dodged and tried to avoid the power of the mages.

They faced several groups of the cult mages before arriving in the city, but these men and women were far more powerful than any they face before. It did not look good for the three.

“Drogan! We miscalculated, we can not win here! I am sorry. We can either escape now or die now!”

Estirias…..

“I have no choice, I will not leave this place without seeing her, even if it means that I must die!”

“Then I will share your fate, Drogan. You have been my responsibility since I released you from your cage. Sililva!”

The two women concentrated for a moment and their hands were enveloped in swirling energy.

“Now!”

Both Seraphim jumped from their hiding place and started firing bolts of energy wildly. They stayed back to back, slowly rotating, coving the entire chamber. Drogan drew his sword and rushed in to the fray, dodging fireballs and meteors. He became a machine of death. His mind shut down as he gave into the power of his armor, no longer fighting against its will. He became faster and stronger!

But the odds were against them. Someone was healing the injured mages. Somewhere in the chamber was a mage who was healing everyone who fell but had not died.

A mage wielding a curved dagger suddenly appeared in front of him, lashing out at him. He picked the man up and threw him toward a set of double doors. The doors opened and he saw her.

It was only for a moment but he saw her lying on a table. She was tied down and a priest stood over her with a sacrificial dagger.

“ESTIRIAS!”

Time slowed to a crawl. He saw Sililva get hit by a bolt of lightning and cry out in pain as she fell. He saw Dorcas cast a massive celestial light that caught up thirty of the evil mages and mortally wounded them. High above the floor, in a darkened alcove a mage stepped into the light and healed the victims of the Seraphim spell. Half of them had not died and they stood unharmed, ready to fight.

Dorcas suddenly threw her sword and it flew in a wide arc that carried it right by Drogan. It continued on its flight and beheaded the fifteen mages. As it returned to her Drogan grabbed it and spun around, his arms held wide. He released both swords. One piercing the heart of the hidden mage and the other flying through the door to impale the priest performing the ritual.

“Go Drogan!” screamed Dorcas as she pulled Sililva to her feet and dragged her through the double doors.

Drogan rushed behind them and was thrown from his feet as a fireball stuck him in the back. He stood, only slightly hurt. A meteor storm fell upon him and again he was thrown to the ground. Again he stood. The black robes began to pour through the doors and began to attack with renewed vigor. Sililva was taken down by a fireball, her body falling lifeless to the floor, the light in her eyes beginning to dim.

He heard the words of Dorcas again “There is only one other time when a sister’s eyes are not full of light.”

Dorcas was stuck on all sides by four mages casting lightning spells. She screamed in anguish holding her hand out to him, seeming to plead for him to save her.

Drogan performed a stomping jump, landing in the center of the room. The shockwave he caused threw everyone down and cracked the walls and floor. The cracks ran the height of the walls and spread to the ceiling. Pieces of the ceiling began to fall to the floor with loud crashes

He ran to Sililva and lifted her head. She was barely alive and he forced her to drink a healing potion that he carried on him. He carried her through another set of doors and left her on the floor. He ran back, stopping at the table and narrowly avoided another fireball.

He fell to his knees and howled in rage and anger.

He was too late! The dagger had been plunged into her chest. Beside him on the floor, the priest chuckled—the sword still in his chest. Drogan rose and kicked him across the chamber.

Tears falling from his eyes, he removed the helmet and dropped it to the floor. He removed the dagger and placed her hand over the wound.

“Drogan,” she whispered as she opened her eyes. “I am cold.”

His tears fell freely and he felt the sickening knot of anger and rage growing in his stomach. He reached down to pick up the helmet but her hand grabbed his arm, stopping him.

“No,” she commanded. No more killing, not for me. You have only fought out of need in the past; would you now allow revenge to rule your life? Not for me, my love.

“Just hold me until I pass and take my body from this place. Return me to my sisters and then live. Live for me and always keep me in your heart. But live.”

He gently raised her to a sitting position and cradled her in his arms as his tears fell.

She smiled and stroked his cheek.

About them a battle raged on and the chamber had been transformed into a horror of flames and ice and wind. The black robes were fighting someone beside their party of three.

Samual!

The mage had made good on his promise to attack but he arrived too late. Now he seemed to be everywhere at once and no one could stand up to him.

He was death!

He was destruction!

He was a force of nature!

He was….

It was him, not Drogan!

Through your deeds shall the hero be revealed.

He was never meant to save the world; his roll was to entice the young mage into doing it; not for his own agenda but to help others. Through his foolishness he had done just that.

It was amazing to watch him fight. The man had always gone through such great pains to seem lazy and weak. Now his true power had been revealed and it was frightening.

Fireballs were thrown at him and a tornado would spring up around him, throwing them back. Men would rush in to overwhelm him and they would be surrounded by rings of ice that slowed their movements and stole their life. All the while he dropped meteor storms and columns of light sought out his enemies and burned them.

What manner of being was he? Was he even a man at all?

Samual caused a powerful wind to blow a group of the cult mages about the chamber. One of them landed close to Estirias and Drogan. Before he died he caused a meteor storm to fall on the two, crushing them.

“NOOO!”

Samual suddenly dropped his guard and a fireball hit him in the chest, he was thrown backward into the table, knocking it over and spilling Estirias onto the ground. The cult mages caused hundreds of meteors to fall upon the three until there was nothing but a deep, smoldering hole in the floor.

A cheer rose from the mages.

The doors suddenly opened violently, ripped from their hinges and Samual walked out, unharmed.

“You have no idea of who you are fighting!” He caused a massive tornado to appear.

“For too long I have hidden from you!” He called several meteors and they were caught up in his tornado.

“I am your doom!” He cast several ice shard spells into the tornado.

“NOW DIE!” He released his horrible apparition upon the mages of the cult. They screamed in horror as they were caught up and crushed. He phased over to Dorcas and grabbed her, throwing her over his shoulder. He ran into the next room and the wall behind him was devoured as his monstrosity followed him, taking everything in its path.

He ran up the stairs and left the seraphim outside the tower. He then returned below running through the hell storm to find the other Seraphim. He brought her to the surface just as the walls began to collapse. He pushed the younger Seraphim away and she ran for cover. He dragged Dorcas to safety as the tower sank into the ground, throwing up a cloud of dirt.

The entire city seemed to be out, drawn out of their homes and businesses by the horrible noises that came from underground and shook the city. They looked upon the mage with a mixture of fear and wonder.

He left the two women to approach the crowd.

One man walked up to him and shook his hand.

“Good riddance!” he whispered as he spat in the direction of the fallen tower.

 

Dorcas slowly approached Samual. She looked tired and her steps were unsteady. She managed a tired smile and her legs gave out.

Samual rushed forward, catching her as she fell. She placed her hands on his shoulders as they rose together and they found themselves face to face. Her eyes began to glow brighter and her wounds slowly vanished. She removed her hands and took a step back.

“Thank you, mage.”

“My pleasure,” spoke the mage, trying to suppress a smile.

“You are now a target of the Sakkara—as are I and Sililva. From this moment you will never know peace.”

“It will save me the trouble of looking for them. I have declared war on the black robes this day. It is not a decision that I made lightly and I will not rest until I have wiped them from the face of Ancaria. Everything else is of secondary importance.”

“You are readily accepting your role as Ancaria’s hero, I am happy.”

“Years ago I was a gladiator of sorts—a battle mage. We existed as an underground society and our purpose was to right the wrongs and keep the peace. Our numbers were great and our magic was strong.”

“Too strong?”

He sighed and lowered his head. “Yes, we were too strong and in the end that power corrupted us into becoming the very thing we sought to prevent.”

“Your group….you were—“

“We were the beginning of the Sakkara cult. I left a few months before they adopted that name.

“For years I told myself that they were not my responsibility. I became selfish, thinking only of wealth. But then I met Drogan and Estirias. Watching them made me realize that life was more than gold. Watching them made me realize that it is the responsibility of the strong to protect the weak.”

“Then you are doubly marked. They must truly think of you as a traitor. If word were to get out that you were the mage involved….”

He turned and took a few steps away toward the crowd. “Here me people of Braverock! I am Blackstaff of the shadow society. Today I have destroyed a major stronghold of the Sakkara! Let it be known that all of their strongholds will fall by my hands. Spread the word so that all of Ancaria will know, Blackstaff has returned.”

The reaction of the crowd was mixed. Some turned and walked away while others ran in excitement. A few cast dark looks at the mage and skulked away into the shadows.

Dorcas approached again, shaking her head.

“When word gets back to the cult that I have come out of hiding, there will be open war waged against us. It will get worse, before it gets better. Good then. The deed is done.” He reached into his cloak and withdrew a skin of ale. “To Drogan and Estirias, may you find the happiness in death that was deigned you in life.” He took a long drink and passed the skin to Dorcas.

“Drogan and Estirias,” whispered Dorcas as she cried, “May the gods protect you and may your spirits find peace.”

The two stood awkwardly for a few moments and then embraced. Sililva walked up and looked at the two questioningly. Samual released Dorcas and scooped the younger Seraphim into his arms, laughing as she shrieked.

“Ladies, I don’t know about you two, but I am starving. There is a place a short distance from here that is famous for its veal.” He reached into his cloak and withdrew a large pouch stuffed full of gold coins. “Compliments of the Sakkara Cult,”

The three walked off, Sililva giggling as Samual told her stories of his youth.

 

In the early morning, before the sun rose two robed figures entered the cemetery. They quietly walked through the sea of gravestones until they stopped by a certain pair. They quietly read the gravestones and dropped a set of evil-looking red armor and a pair of Seraphim wings. They stood quietly for a moment and embraced, then turned to leave.

They paused and turned to look to the top of the mortuary, waving goodbye before turning to leave the city.

Samual waved back from his perch. He took a sip from his skin and sighed happily. He then caused the ground to open, swallowing the armor.

“Be at peace my friends, be at peace. This is my gift to you.

 

End.

Edited by Silearth

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