Terror seized the valley of K’iol as Razznik jumped right into the middle of the army. This action was not just out of blind pride, but a calculated move to prevent ranged attacks.
His blood swords were perfect for ambush situations as they extended for several meters ahead of him with each strike, wiping out his enemies before they could get close.
“He seems to be doing well, Aileera,” Frena, a old mage said. Together with five other guild masters, he watched over the battle from a surrounding cliff.
“It is of no consequence,” Aileera, the mage who had confronted Razznik in the mist replied. “Those blades, while powerful possess a fatal flaw.”
“And what pray tell is this weakness?”
“It shall present itself soon enough,” she replied calmly.
However, the weakness refused to show up as Razznik continued to slaughter his way through the armies, pillars of fire rising on every spot his swords crashed on. Despite this, the army did not waver in the slightest, for they had numbers and glory on their side. For every adventurer he cut down, two more lunged in their place, anger and determination in their charge.
The looks in their eyes brought a smile to the king’s face. Yes, that was a look that could be brought on only by an insurmountable wall. A wall you throw everything at including your own body, with the knowledge that just beyond that wall lies your greatest desire.
The thing about those with that look is that while it may take a long time, eventually a crack will appear on that wall. And when it does, it is only a matter of time before it comes crashing down.
A pugilist dodged to the side as the swords came crashing down, and signalled a mage close by who casted a spell on him that increased his speed greatly. He kept low and dashed forward, shamelessly using his fellow adventurers as cover when the swords came down.
Soon, he was right under the nose of the Demon King, and before Razz could retract his swords, the young pugilist launched an uppercut that barely missed because Razz had dived back.
“Impressive,” Razz admitted. The short respite caused by that blow had given the adventurers enough time to close the gaps he had forced around him. It was time to change weapons. The sword dissipated and was replaced by a black staff. This was another one of his own creations andone he truly loved.
Just as the excited warriors lunged at him, he stomped the butt of the staff on the ground, creating a shockwave that repelled them. He held the staff with one hand behind his back and motioned with his other for them to come at him.
Enraged by his taunts, they did just that and soon regretted it.
“His swordsmanship is truly impeccable,” Frena remarked as they watched him, clear wave after wave of adventurers, using last minute dodges and lightning fast reflexes to dispatch his opponents.
“That’s not all,” Borg, a warrior from the wolf clan stated. His brown fur ruffled with impatience as he itched to join the skirmish. “He isn’t defending any of the attacks from his back.”
“You noticed,” Aileera observed. “That cape he bears once belonged to the previous demon king. It is said till the day he was defeated, he never sustained an injury at his back.”
“Then it is charmed,” Frena remarked with a low chuckle. “He truly is a frightening fellow.”
“Aye,” Rono, a pirate from the Eursian seas, said. Unlike the other people on the hill, he was not a guild master, but he ran the largest pirate crew in all the seas, so they had enlisted his help too. “He faced off the worst of Jone’s locker alone. That man is no ordinary chap.”
Aileera rummaged through her pockets and pulled out a small clear sphere the size of a marble. It was called a Rink and it was their primary source of communication in the land.
“Focus on the cape,” she said into the pearl, and she soon got a shaky ‘yes!’ from her contact in the valley.
“Hm?” Razz said when he noticed, a group of people hacking away at his back without care whether it was futile or not. “They have a good commander…” he mused, as he spun the staff above his head,”… but her strategies cannot overturn my might!,” he roared and struck the staff again on the ground.
The adventurers braced themselves for the shockwave but when none came, they snickered at Razz, who they thought had finally weakened. However he seemed unperturbed and was pointing at the sky. They followed his gaze and looked to the sky where a frightening reality befell them. Unnatural clouds had gathered in the night sky and the discharge from the lightning was so bright, it illuminated the battlefield.
“I suppose it is safe to assume that is his doing?” Freya asked.
“Hey, hey. Just how much has that guy mastered anyway?” Rono asked as he balked at the size of the approaching storm.
“This is where his advantage lies,” Aileera said calmly. If the approaching storm had any effect on her, she surely was not showing. “We cannot afford to use any Area spells because we might hit our allies, but he can fire off as many as he wants.”
“He’s gotta run out some time right?” Miles, the youngest in the group, spoke up. He was an archer, the best in the realm and it was rumoured he could hit a fly several miles away, hence his nickname.
“He surely will,” Aileera affirmed. “Send in the summoners once the storm is past,” she said to the rink.
On the valley, Razz continued his one man battle against the army, as rain began to pour down. A drizzle at first, then a terrible storm that robbed all of their sight.
The pugilists and archers had been trained to fight with terrible sight, and they surrounded Razz, and at the same time, notched their bows. The archers fired off their arrows using the sound of the rain to hide the sound.
Razz’s staff dissipated and he was left with a pair of black gloves that appeared on his hands. Yet another creation of his for hand to hand combat.
The arrows came whistling down towards him and though hecould neither hear nor feel them, it did not faze him. Instead, he slammed his hands against each other, releasing yet another shockwave that blew the arrows away.
“He appears to be well versed in area attacks,” Freya observed, impressed by Razz’s continuous counters.
“It’s only natural,” Aileera said, unimpressed. “He fought a lot of his battles alone and needed to prevent himself from being surrounded.”
“Missy, you’ve got a mighty beef against the lad don’t ya?” Rono said with a laugh.
In reply, she gave him a cold glare that froze the laughter in his throat.
Almost instantly, a bolt of lightning struck the valley, burning everything around its landing spot.
“The true horror of the thunderstorm spell begins,” Freya remarked just as a translucent barrier formed around the group, protecting them.
True to his words, a light-show of random lightning bolts fired down on the valley randomly, sparing nothing it hit. The adventurers already panicked from the initial storm, lost it during the thunderstorm. Barriers were created in no real order, protecting only those lucky enough to be near a mage, and even then, most could not withstand the force of the bolts.
“Tis scary ‘n’ all, but won’t the lad be struck down by he own spell at this rate?” Rono asked. It was a valid point too. The strikes were completely at random and if they hit the caster it would still turn him into human bacon.
“I doubt it will hit him,” Freya said confidently.
“He casted it,” Freya answered simply.
“Aye,” Rono acknowledged as he watched Razz,”He’s a fearsome one, he is.”
The king ploughed through the disorganized army dodging at the last second every time a bolt crashed down close to him. The gloves he wore imbued him with the strength of a hundred men as he broke through armour, shields and some low level barriers.
This advantage did not last long though as Aileera sent an order that was carried out swiftly. All spear bearers pierced their longest weapons into the earth, with the metal pointing to the heavens above their heads. These acted as conductors that sent the powerful bolts into the earth, rendering them less than harmless. Thus the lightning threat was immediately eliminated.
By her second order, a regiment of mages gathered up at the back and started a spell to counter Razz’s storm. Her third and final order however was the most effective. A lot of knights and marauders, surrounded Razznik with the intention of holding him at bay. While they held him off, the remaining adventurers merged into small parties of five to seven.
“This is a tactic used in major battles against numerous foes. To think we would be forced to employ it against a single man,” Freya said with a chuckle.
“He is by no means an ordinary man,” Miles said, and unconsciously tightened his fist around his bow. This of course did not go unnoticed by the others, but they could not say anything because they all felt the same way.
Razznik noticed the change in the atmosphere around the adventurers and was doubly impressed by their commander. Left to anyone less
competent, they would all have been massacred minutes ago, but alas the battle
had dragged on for over an hour. His armour was already cracked in several
places, and his cape was all but reduced to tatters.
Still, he was completely calm, almost detached even from his own dire situation. This confidence was also a weapon of his, that struck fear into the hearts of his opponents.
A ray of moonlight burst through the dark clouds like the goddess herself had shot an arrow through them. The efforts of the knights paid off and even though most had been decimated, they had bought enough time for the mages to break the spell and also for the parties to be formed. Most of the injured had also been healed by the druids.
All in all, the army was prepared for a second round of combat, only this time, they were going to work as a unit. A frightening prospect made even worse by the sounds of howling coming from the rear.
“Damn,” Razznik cursed, and even though the mask hid his smile, his body language let everyone know just how excited he really was. The howls came from a tribe called beast-tamers. They were not so excellent fighters, but they had terrifyingly sturdy bodies. Their attacks were mainly from the beasts they defeated and tamed. These could range from dire-wolves to griffins and in some very rare cases; Dragons!
Dragons however were of no use in that battle since it was just one person and the proud beasts excelled more at large crowds or one giant opposing monster, like an ogre or something similar. Similarly, flying beasts were not so effective for the same reason. Nit-picking a single man out of a crowd of battling adventurers was required just a bit too much concentration for the beasts. That left only a few choices and sure enough, the howls,accompanied by roars, and hisses rushed closer through the mass.
“A magnificent display,” Razznik complimented the adventurers, “I shall usher my respects by going at full strength from here on out.” As he said so, his armour cracked to pieces and fell to the ground. Instantaneously, he was enveloped by a bright light, and when it disappeared, his attire had completely changed.
Where he had once worn a heavy breastplate, he wore nothing, save a black long-sleeve trench coat with runes drawn all round it that glowed faintly. On his legs, he now wore black leather pants with similar runes drawn on them. On his feet, he wore black combat boots with similar runes glowing faintly. His gloves had been traded for twin swords which he handled like kitchen knives. Even his mask had changed; it was now a pure white mask, with claw marks that ran from the bottom left to the top right.
If one looked at him in a painting, they would all say his demon attire was far more intimidating. But to those who stood there in front of him, he had never appeared scarier than he did right then.
“Prepare yourselves,” Aileera said to the masters,”Our role shall soon be upon us.”
“Indeed,” Freya confirmed. Even he could not stop the feeling of goose bumps which should be impossible for one such as he.
An assortment of dire-wolves, spirit-wolves, chimeras, giant cats of all species and… Burst through
gaps in the formation around Razznik and lunged at him but he responded in kind dashed towards the rhino.
He grabbed the horn of the beast, instantly stopping its charge and swung it around, knocking over several beasts like dominoes. He released the beast mid-swing and it crashed into a group of adventurers. The rest of the beasts, undaunted by his display of strength attacked him.
Prepared for such an attack, he placed the hilts of his swords together and they merged into one, forming a double edged sword. He swung the weapon around himself as they came, ripping through their flesh like it was nothing. An arrow whizzed by him just as he dodged a lunge from a wolf.
The adventurers were clearing aiming for the moments when he dodged attacks since that would be the hardest time to dodge anymore attacks. Clever. Very clever. The commander was truly one of a kind.
As he tore through the beasts, the ranged attacks increased in intensity, and he realized it was time to even the odds.
Still occupied by the beasts, he started a chant, that increased in pitch and intensity with each word that passed. “Servi Domini, Meisque invocant . Ego te in certamine vinci…” he started.
“Impossible!” Freya screamed when the chant started, his cool demeanour shattered completely by the new revelation. His reaction was shared by everyone else, as they realized a daunting truth.
“…formatum est ex sanguinibus convenant usque in finem dierum. Circumdederunt undique hostes, Et quaerunt animam meam…” the chant continued, uninterrupted by the beasts lunging at Razz.
“He is a summoner too,” Miles muttered.
“Runemaster, Master crafter, Sword-master, Sage, healer, battle king, Knight, marauder, rogue, assassin-,” Rono counted.
“And those are just the ones we know of,” Miles continued, “What kind of monster is he?”
“That is not all,” Aireela said calmly.
“What do you mean?!” Blorg growled. His furs stood on end, and his eyes had gone dark yellow, a sign he was already preparing for combat.
“As planned, he has been forced to use his trump card,” she replied, “You shall witness his power soon, and also, the reason why I requested you all wait behind.”
“Nunc impleret pactum quod fecimus, percutiat inimícos meos. ” Razz continued as his pitch and voice rose higher and carried through the crowd.
“Whaddaya reckon the beast’ll summon?” Rono asked.
“Something we have yet to witness,” was Aileera’s terse reply.
“Ut Quod Reatus Sanguinis Pretio Ut Possit Dissolvi In Sanguine, Ubi Facta Fuerit!” Razznik yelled just as his sword pierced through the mouth of the last Chimera and ripped its jaw off. Purple magic circles suddenly appeared all around the field in random locations.
From these portals rose a host of demons and undead. All of which had sworn fealty when he defeated the previous lord. Now the adventurers could not focus on him anymore, but it did not break their spirit. Since they were already in small groups, it was as simple as treating each demon as a regular raid.
“These are not as bad as we thought,” Freya sighed with relief. Overestimation was always a part of battle and they had fallen for it.
“No, it is not,” Aileera said with a frown. “The true threat just arrived.”
A roar like a thousand thunderclaps accompanied by the unmistakable beating of wings tore through the land and could be heard quite clearly several leagues away. A shadow larger than anything ever seen blocked
the moonlight, and everyone trembled in fear as Skyrm, the lord of all dragons,
descended upon one of the mountains overlooking the valley.
He was huge! Together with his wingspan, he was bigger than most cities, and his dirty gold scales tougher than steel. He had trouble balancing on the mountain as he was far too big for it. When he found his balance, his red eyes scanned the battlefield till they rested on Razznik, towards whom they showed contempt and respect.
“I see,” Skyrm boomed. “I shall end everything,” he declared and mana began taking a physical form of fire in his mouth, increasing in size every second.
Cries of ‘what now’ and ‘it’s over’ could be heard among the adventurer’s ranks as they fell to their knees in despair. But once again, Aileera spoke, not through her linkshell, but out loud, using magic to project her voice around the battle field.
“Stand up!” she yelled, “You are all gathered here for different reasons. For honour, for power, for glory, for fame! Whatever your reasons, I implore you. Forget about them for a second and look at yourselves. You are all still alive. Not by your own power, but through the sacrifices of those before you. Now look to your side, to the mage or warrior by your side, who fights with you. Indeed, the foe is powerful. True his power is immense. But there is one thing that sets you apart from him! One strong power you possess that he does not! That is the strength from a party. Those you have banded with to raid, rob and drink. Those who agonized with you when you lost something precious. That is your strength. So when next you feel like you can’t go on, look to your partner and realize one thing. You are not alone. So fight! Abandon fear and fight! Protect your partners and fight! And at the end of the day, if you fall, you shall fall with a smile. We stand with you, you stand with us. Together nothing can defeat us,” she finished softly.
“A sword in one hand and a beer in the other!” Rono yelled, following Aileera’s lead.
“A sword in one hand and a beer in the other,” someone repeated in the valley.
“A sword in one hand and a girl in the other,” another shouted causing laughter to erupt around him.
“A sword in one hand and gold in the other,” a third shouted and soon there were various chants rising as their spirits rose their collective roars rose to a pitch far surpassing Skyrm’s roar and was heard all the way to neighbouring countries.
Razznik stunned by their spirit, faltered in his charge. No matter how one looked at it, he was the bad guy in this situation. Not that it mattered, but their camaraderie opened a wound in his heart he did not know existed.
It angered him.
Why do they get to be so happy? His choice was not wrong. He became the strongest in a world where the powerful rule. Who gave them the right to smile like that!
“RaaaaaAAAAAAWWWWRRRRR!!!!” screamed and his eyes turned red as he descended into berserk mode. His twelve weapons handcrafted by him, appeared around him, floating in the air.
“Let’s go!” Aileera ordered and the masters were launched towards Skyrm by her magic, followed closely by her.
A host of fighters who had been waiting on the hillside by her orders also jumped into the valley. And made a beeline for Razznik.
“No more mercy,” Razznik growled as a black aura emanated around him, and suddenly he was gone. Hal a second later a cry was heard on the other end of the battlefield as Razznik’s hand pierced through his chest.
He threw the already dissipating body away and disappeared. He appeared for a brief second in front of a young mage and made to impale her, but his strike was stopped by two men, and a third ran a sword through his stomach.
“You’ve had enough fun,” one of them said.
Who did not matter because they were all dead in a few seconds as he spun his hand around launching one of the men into the sky and the other head first into the ground. Before they could recover, he drew out the sword in his belly, twisted around and decapitated the one that had stabbed him. Without wasting a breath, he finished his spin and decapitated the one on the ground too before the weapon dissipated. He grabbed his black bow from the twelve weapons circling him and fired an arrow that pierced through the skull of the warrior in the air, killing him instantly. His body dissipated before it reached the ground.
“I said no mercy,” he reconfirmed, but the adventurers no longer balked at him, but instead jointly rushed him with everything they had. “Truly an annoying commander,” he said through gritted teeth as he rushed to greet them.