Princess Warrior - Part 3

 

Princess Warrior
Part 3
by Melanie Brown
Copyright  © 2016 Melanie Brown

John was pissed that he died on the beach of Normandy.

 


 

I stood there for over a minute with my head against Geoffrey’s shoulder. It took a moment or two to realize I was crying and shaking. I guess that reaction is understandable considering what I just went through. But it still annoyed me to be crying like a little girl while clinging to a man for comfort. He held me close and patted the back of my head while whispering, “It’s okay, Princess.”

I slowly pulled away from Geoffrey and wiped my nose with my finger. I was visibly shaking as I turned slowly around and surveyed the carnage surrounding me. There was flesh, bones and blood everywhere. Our coach was a pile of splinters splashed with blood. The horses that pulled it were unrecognizable piles of meat.

Snapping his finger, Geoffrey barked to one of the remaining solders, “Get a blanket for the Princess! She’s shivering.”

From behind me, I just heard a voice, sounding distant that said, “Yes, my lord.”

I wandered over to the Huzar Geoffrey had killed. I was crying uncontrollably. I tried to stop as this wasn’t how the mighty Princess Navah should be acting. But I couldn’t.

I stood next to the dead Huzar. It’s sleek, almost hard shelled body lay in a crumpled heap. I don’t know what they smell like when they’re alive, but they smell pretty damned awful when dead. A river of blood trailed from the wound in its neck to a puddle on the ground. It was so deeply black in color that it was impossible to determine its actual shape. I both pitied whoever it had once been, and despised the hideous creature it was. In a hollow gesture, I kicked the beast in its side.

Geoffrey walked up from behind me and wrapped a blanket around my shoulders. He said, “I’ve sent a rider back to the village to fetch a wagon for you. There’s a small garrison there behind a stone stockade. We’ll spend the night there.”

I looked around again at the ghastly sight of the blood soaked ground and piles of unidentifiable flesh. I looked at Geoffrey for a moment. And then I just suddenly slapped him. “You brought me here. You brought me to this nightmare!” I gestured broadly around me. “I’ve never been so appalled in my life!”

Rubbing his cheek, Geoffrey said, “Yes. Yes we brought you here in the hopes of preventing more of these butcher’s gardens. As you discovered on that beach so far away now, where you died, that war is never pretty. Men will die. We didn’t start this war, but with your help and the help of the gods, we’ll end it. Now you see the evil we face.”

I idly ran my finger through a trace of blood from a gash in my arm. Feeling my muscles tightening again from anger, I said softly, “I want to personally kill Lord Teufel.”

*          *          *

“I only said you can’t be killed,” said the high priest. “I didn’t say you couldn’t be hurt.”

The prince, the high priest, and the king and I were gathered in the king’s chambers discussing what had happened to us near that small, southern village.

I slapped the table with the palm of my hand and snapped, “A little head’s up would have been nice.”

Looking calm, the high priest said, “Did the pain increase your anger?”

I scowled at the priest and said, “Yeah. So? It hurt like hell.”

Shrugging, the high priest said, “It made you stronger.”

“Yes. Yes it did,” I said sitting back down. “But it’s obvious I need to train. To try to focus my energy instead of depending on raw savage bursts of anger. Of the three Huzars, I only killed one. What if there had been five? Or more? I would have been overwhelmed.”

Leaning forward, Prince Pollar said, “I don’t see any kind of strategy we can use against these things. Even if they’re being controlled, they’re still just animals. The only tactics they employ are terror and confusion. In a coordinated attack with their military, I just don’t see any way to defeat them. We have only one Navah.”

My eyes scanned the faces of each of the three men in the room. I said, “We know the Huzars can be killed without my help. That sword through the base of the skull technique you said was discovered out of desperation in one of the first Huzar attacks. But when there’re more warriors and more Huzars, that tactic becomes next to impossible. You know, I’m thinking that if I just had a way to focus my energy. A sword or a rod of some kind. I might be able to pack a punch without tiring so quickly.”

Prince Pollar scratched his chin and said, “That might work. I suggest we take you to the training arena with objects, like swords, lances, flag poles…anything really and see if you can focus with them.”

I closed my eyes for a moment and ran the fingers of both hands through my hair with a frustrated grunt. I said, “But do we have to kill them?” I looked over at the high priest. “You have magic too, right? I mean, obviously magic works in this world. The Huzars were all once people. That’s unimaginable evil. Can’t we just change them back?”

The priest gave me a kindly smile, stood up and walked over to me. He said, “Being a woman, you let your emotions guide you. You pity those that have been transformed. Now that we know that the Huzars are other people, whether lost souls snatched from your world or others, or poor captives from ours, there’s no way at this time to know.

“The magic that Lord Teufel is wielding is the blackest I’ve ever encountered. In my youth I dabbled in the black arts, but I had to stop before it consumed me. Without wielding all five runes, I cannot counter Lord Teufel’s magic.”

“Before we knew the truth, killing them had no moral issues,” I said, lowering my eyes to the floor. “But now, they’re just unwilling victims! They could even be children…” My voice trailed away.

The priest lifted my chin up with one gnarled finger. He said, “Understand this, girl. There is no way to undo Lord Teufel’s magic. The only way to give these poor individuals release from their hell, is to kill the monsters they have become. And then we must destroy Lord Teufel.”

*          *          *

Geoffrey had ordered the arena cleared. Everyone had to be gone before I attempted controlled use of the power I possessed. We brought several types of pointed weapons to try. And I got to wear the new armor that was crafted just for me.

The armor consisted of thick leather strips inlaid with metal that were strapped to my lower and upper arms, thighs and shins and a heavy breast plate that accentuated instead of hide my feminine form. Half jokingly I had suggested adding a bullet shaped helmet with cow horns sticking out from it. When the armorer asked what a bullet was, I dropped it.

I held the sword out at arm’s length, but from the weight, I had a hard time holding it steady. Prince Pollar said, “Just aim at one or more of the dummies along the wall.”

There were six “dummies” lined up in front of one wall of the arena where the men trained. I pointed the sword at one and concentrated on the sword. And concentrated. And concentrated.

And nothing.

I started to get annoyed. I should be able to direct this energy without being angry. I held the sword tighter and sighted down the edge.

“Come on, dammit!” I growled. “Do something!” The tip of the sword sparked.

“I think you’re getting there, Navah,” said Geoffrey. “Concentrate.”

I glared at Geoffrey and snarled, “I am concentrating!” My frustration was getting me pissed off.

Suddenly a split arc of electric blue energy flashed in multiple directions from each point on the sword where it changed angles blowing a large hole in the ground near Geoffrey’s feet and singed the hair on his legs, disintegrated a support column on the entrance of a nearby building and actually formed a hole in a cloud over our heads.

Angry with the results, I hurled the sword away from me, impaling it in the stone wall after passing through one of the target dummies.

I looked around and Prince Pollar had hit the deck. He slowly stood and brushed the dirt from his armor. Laughing nervously, Geoffrey said, “I think we can rule out using a sword.” He bent down and picked up large pike from a pile of various weapons we had gathered for the test. “Here. Try this. It just goes to a single point.”

I took the pike. It had a good heft to it. My anger was subsiding, but I think I was starting to learn to control my level of concentration.

I sighted down the shaft towards one of the targets. Intently I focused on one of the dummies standing in front of the wall. I raised my concentration and gripped the shaft of the pike more firmly.

The tip of the pike sparked.

“For the love of Mike!” I shouted. “This is bullshit!” A shaft of electric blue energy shot from the tip of the spike, completely disintegrating the target dummy, plus blasting huge hole in the wall and taking down several trees beyond.

“Mother of God…” I whispered as I stared at the damage. I dropped the pike as if it was diseased and it clattered on the stone flagging of the arena.

Geoffrey picked up the pike and grinned. He said, “I think we’re close.” I tried to touch the melted tip of the pike and quickly withdrew his hand. “That’s still really hot!”

I looked at my hands for a moment. Glancing up to Geoffrey, I said in a quiet voice, “I’m dangerous, Geoffrey. I’m just as much of a monster as the Huzars. I can kill legions of men without much effort.”

Still holding the pike, Prince Pollar said, “Don’t be silly, Navah. You’re no monster! You’re a woman… a very beautiful woman with a big heart, who has been given a great gift. A gift that will help us remove the evil threatening all our lives.”

I pointed towards the damaged wall and said, “Look at what I did and think about it! What if I had swept the pike from side to side? There would be no wall. How far does this go? What if there had been homes on the other side of that wall?”

Geoffrey set the pike on the ground and stepped up to me. He took both my hands in his and pulled me towards him. He said, “These are the things we’ll have to work out, my Princess. The discipline will come from more training. We’ll find a better metal to use than that pike was made of. I trust that you will soon be able to wield your great power at will and under complete control. You’re not a monster.”

“Are you so sure?” I asked. “I mean. Once I learn to control this, what’s to stop me from wanting it all for myself? You can’t kill me. You can’t stop me. In a heartbeat, I can make you, this city and everyone in it just a pleasant memory. How do you know I won’t use this great power to join forces with Lord Teufel and destroy you? Serious, Geoffrey. How do you know? Hell, how do *I* know?”

Geoffrey laughed. He said, “For one thing, you hate Lord Teufel as much as any of us. You are guided by your heart. You lament having to kill rather than lust for it. But you must learn to control this power of yours Navah. With great power comes great responsibility.”

I frowned at Geoffrey and said, “And power corrupts. Don’t forget that, Prince. Even I don’t know if I can keep from becoming intoxicated with my own power.”

Geoffrey smiled and said, “I think I do. I think you’d never do anything to harm your family and I truly believe we’re becoming your family. I’ve watched you and your hand maidens spend hours trying on different dresses and re-arranging each other’s hair and so on. I truly believe that you would never bring harm or allow harm to come to any of them. And I think that extends to the king and myself.”

I looked down at my feet and said in a small voice, “I sure hope you’re right.”

Geoffrey lifted my chin with his fingers and stared into my eyes for a moment. Before I could react, he bent down and kissed me softly. He smiled as he pulled away and said in a quiet voice, “I know I’m right.” He turned quickly and headed towards the nearest entrance to the arena. To a few men cowering on the other side of the entrance he shouted, “You men. Get a crew and repair that wall. Now.”

I stood there a moment and touched my lips with my finger tips. I couldn’t believe he actually kissed me.

*          *          *

After that day in the arena, I couldn’t help but notice Geoffrey acting differently around me. My chambers were now filled with fresh flowers. Almost daily some new gift from him would arrive the nicest being a beautiful music box.

“Can I see it?” asked Georgette after a servant delivered the music box.

I said, “Sure. Don’t break it.” Georgette has been brushing my hair. Chloe was in the corner cleaning my armor, which was already clean.

Georgette laughed as she set the brush down and came around beside me. She said, “I’m not going to break it! What a gorgeous box!” She opened it and a figure of a dancer raised up and began to spin along with a little tune. She laughed in delight. “What a pretty little song!”

Georgette pulled a chair over and sat next to me as she watched, fascinated, the little dancer spin. Smiling she said, “You know what all this means, don’t you?” She lifted the music box a bit and pointed at the flowers and other gifts.

“That the Prince is bored?” I said as I took the music box from her and watched it play.

Giggling, Georgette said, “No, Mistress! Well, he might be, but all this means is that he’s courting you.”

Furrowing my brow, I set the music box back on the table and said, “Courting me? Don’t be silly, Georgette. He knows who I used to be and he needs my power against Lord Teufel.”

Looking sly, Georgette said, “Is and used to be are very different things, my Mistress. I’ve seen how he looks at you.” She laughed and said, “I’ve seen how *all* the men look at you.”

I picked up a sliced fruit and looked at for a second. Before putting it in my mouth I said, “All the men are afraid of me.”

Georgette said, “They may be afraid of your power, my Mistress. But they lust after you. I can see it in their eyes. Don’t shake your head, Mistress. You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. Men are going to desire you. But Prince Pollar is different.”

I laughed and said, “I think you’re imagining things. But please tell me. How is Prince Pollar different?”

Looking serious, Georgette said, “He loves you.”

Feeling very uneasy, I said, “I sincerely doubt that. He knows I’m really a dead G.I. He can’t love that.” I unconsciously touched my lips.

Georgette pulled a flower from the vase on the desk where we were sitting. She took a long sniff at and then studied it before returning it to the vase. She said, “Such lovely flowers.”

Wanting to change the subject away from me, I said, “So tell me about this future husband of yours?”

Georgette’s face brightened. She said, “He’s the most handsome young man in the military. He’s brave and smart and he’s just shooting up through the ranks. He’ll be lieutenant soon. He’s a year older than me.”

I smiled at the girl and said, “And… ?” I almost thought to myself that she’s a young girl. But I keep forgetting we’re almost the same age.

Still grinning broadly, Georgette said, “His name is Jason. He’s from nobility, but he entered military service anyway even though he’s exempt. He’s very loyal and comes from a loyal family. Did I say he was handsome? And unlike most his age, he knows how to dance. I can’t wait until I come of age!”

Smiling at her, I said, “I’d like to meet this Jason. I need to know if he’s good enough for you. When he marries you, I’ll lose one of my handmaidens.”

Georgette said, “I just know you’ll love him, my Mistress.”

*          *          *

“How is your training going, Princess?” asked the king as he took a large bite and started chewing. The king, Geoffrey and I were in the king’s private dining hall for the evening meal.

Before I could answer, Geoffrey said, “It’s going great, father. Princess Navah is gaining greater and greater control.”

Chuckling after swallowing, the king said, “I gather she’s not blown any more holes in the wall or disintegrated any more warriors?”

“Nothing else since she evaporated the commissary a couple of days ago,” said Geoffrey with a wry grin. “For the coming battles, the men need to get used to eating from food wagons anyway.”

Frowning, I said, “I said I was sorry! I’m just glad no one was in there.”

Grinning, the king said, “So, Geoffrey. What is Navah’s state of readiness?”

Geoffrey looked over at me, and then at the king. He said, “I’d say she’s ready, father. Give us a couple more days to train and she’ll be completely battle ready. We still have a few buildings left. She just needs to be tested in actual combat.”

Feeling indignant, I said, “I thought I was already combat tested a couple of weeks ago when we were attacked by those three Huzars?”

Geoffrey frowned and said, “You were untrained. Undisciplined. You were scared and lacked confidence. If that same scenario happened today, I’m confident you would dispatch all three Huzars with ease.”

After taking a few bites, I looked up and said, “Oh. Did you look into that young warrior I asked you about?”

Geoffrey wiped his mouth and then said, “Hmm? Oh. Jason? Yes, I checked into him. Bright. Eager. But he’s still basically a kid. He has a lot to learn.”

I said, “Can you keep him out of harm’s way?”

Geoffrey looked at me curiously and said, “How do you mean?”

Rolling my eyes I said, “You know. Don’t do things like send him to the front. Or put him on point when hunting the enemy. Things like that.”

Shaking his head, Geoffrey said, “He can’t gain rank if he gets no experience. What’s your interest in this boy?”

Blushing, I said, “Let’s just say it would mean a lot to me if he stays out of harm’s way.”

Furrowing his brows, Geoffrey said with a suspicious tone, “Is he courting you?”

“Hell no,” I blurted. “I mean… no. I’ve never met the boy. But it’s important to someone I know. How’s that?”

Leaning back in his chair, Geoffrey said, “So he’s courting one of your handmaidens? Did she ask you to do this? She must know this harms his opportunities for advancement.”

Embarrassed I said, “No. She didn’t ask. I’m just asking that you reduce his chances of him being eaten by a Huzar or a sword through his chest. Is that so bad to ask?”

Geoffrey frowned and said, “I make every effort to avoid even the appearance of favoritism among the ranks, Princess.”

I was cutting a slice of beef with a knife. I slammed the knife on the table, blade pointing upwards. I almost shouted, “Can’t you just keep him safe?” A blue bolt shot from the tip of the knife and blasted through the stone ceiling and all the way through several floors of the castle. You could see blue sky through the final hole. Pebbles and dust trickled down to the table.

Leaning back in his seat, eyes wide, Geoffrey took a deep breath. He said, “I supposed I could put him on light duty for a while.”

“Thank you,” I said. I started to finish cutting the beef on my plate, but it was covered in dirt. I pushed the plate away.

*          *          *

There was a knock on my chamber door. Annette opened the it. I looked out the window and the sun wasn’t even starting to brighten the sky yet. Annette said, “Yes my Lord?”

Sounding impatient, Prince Pollar said, “Tell Princess Navah that her mount is ready. We must depart immediately.”

I called out from across the room, “Just a minute, Geoffy. My hair isn’t cooperating.”

Angrily, Geoffrey shouted, “Dammit woman! We’re riding to answer a plea for help, not to a fancy ball!”

“Hold your horses, Prince,” I shouted. “I’ll be done in a jiffy.” Standing before the full length mirror, I adjusted my custom armor while Chloe fussed with my hair.

Geoffrey slammed open my chamber door, startling Annette. “Now, woman! We must ride now!”

“Okay, okay. Don’t get your panties in a wad,” I said as I turned towards him. I picked up the shaft that had been built to handle the high level of energy that flows from me and hurried to the door. As I exited my room and joined Geoffrey in walking down the hallway, I had to admit I surprised myself with my attitude. When did I ever care about my hair?

As we trotted down the hallway to where our mounts awaited, I said, “So, Geoffrey. What the hell’s going on? The guard who came to wake me up ran away in fear after giving your summons to one of the girls.”

Geoffrey gritted his teeth as he said, “It’s begun. Ragth has launched an all out assault against Eastling, the kingdom just to the north of Anyrn. There are dozens of Huzars and almost twelve thousand men. Eastling sent runners to us asking for help. If we don’t stop them at Eastling, then we’re next.”

“I’m ready, my Prince,” I said with confidence. “Let’s go kick some Huzar ass.”

It was quite a sight when we rode out of the city walls. Mounted warriors, foot soldiers, archers and pikemen, eight thousand in all. We still left over ten thousand men garrisoned. Since the mounted warriors could travel faster, it was decided we’d ride ahead and join forces directly with the Eastling forces. We could reach the battle in just under two day’s ride.

Prince Pollar managed to keep a grim expression most of the journey. He spoke very little even when we were forced to stop at night to rest. Most of our time was riding hell bent for leather to reach the fight as soon as possible. So our mounts wouldn’t collapse from exhaustion when we finally reached our destination, we paused to rest when we were about two hours out.

As we crested a hill, below us stretched the battlefield along a narrow valley with thick forests on either side. And what a sight to see! Not since medieval days on earth has there been such a spectacle. The notable exception was the Huzars chewing and clawing their way through the ranks. Banners flew and the battlefield was obscured by smoke. Men, animals and unidentifiable mounds of blood and flesh were strewn everywhere.

The Eastling forces were no longer holding their own. They were being pushed back towards their city walls.

I joined Geoffrey as he rode to the front of our forces. To no one in particular, he said, “I pray to the gods we’re not too late.” He then stood in his saddle, turned around and shouted, “Attack! Send Lord Teufel back to hell!”

In a rising chorus of our warcry that would curl your hair, all our warriors broke out into a wild gallop down the long sloping valley to the battle below. I wanted to just blast a path in front of us, but there was no way I could avoid hitting the Eastling forces.

A cheer rose from the Eastling troops as our riders rode into the fray. We rode right past the Eastlings and broke through the Ragth lines. Three Huzars turned to charge at Geoffrey and I stood in my stirrups, aimed my lance and yelled, “Die you bastards!”

In a sweeping arc of blue electric flame, the three Huzars and about two dozen Ragth warriors were cut in two. Two more Huzars had their heads incinerated moments later.

“This is too easy!” I shouted as I blasted through several ranks of Ragth riders and two more Huzars.

As his sword severed the head of a Ragth rider, Geoffrey shouted back, “Don’t get cocky!”

Words to live by as I quickly discovered as two Huzars came from nowhere and knocked me to the ground, my lance flying out of my hands. One Huzar was on top of me, it’s massive bloody maw inches from my face as it bellowed a horrible, foul smelling scream.

It slashed at me with its huge claws which cut angry gashes in the metal inlays of my leather armor. It was all I could do to hold it back with both hands. I was quickly growing tired. I screamed in pain as one of its claws slipped in between the gaps in the armor on my side and managed to penetrate my flesh. I tried to blast its head like I had done before, but my power needed a rest. All I could do was cause its head to spark. Pissed, I let out one last yell and punched to awful thing between the eyes. I heard a satisfying crack as its skull split open. It fell dead on top of me.

I struggled to free myself from the dead Huzar. The battle seemed to move away from me as I heard a shout, “They’re withdrawing! Their Huzars are tired again.”

A couple of Eastling men came up and helped free me from the weight of the Huzar. One of the men said, “What is a woman doing here?”

Another man said, “Didn’t you see her slaying Huzars with her lightning bolts? Only the gods can throw lightning like that.”

I thanked the men who helped me and turned to try to find Geoffrey. As I looked around, I verified that the Ragth army was doing a strategic retreat. They held a line just past a small river that ran south of Eastling and flowed into Anyrn.

I caught up to Prince Pollar where he was having an animated discussion with his and the Eastling commanders. As I listen to them strategize, I scanned the hill tops surrounding us. And that’s when I noticed it. Atop a high ridge south of the Ragth forces were what appeared to be two men.

I turned and said, “Prince Pollar!”

Annoyed, Geoffrey didn’t even look up from the drawings they were making in the dirt. He said, “Not now, woman.”

Angrily, I said, “Prince Pollar. I believe I have found the location of the Huzar wrangler.”

Scowling, Geoffrey turned to face me and snarled, “What the hell is a wrangler? What are you babbling about, woman?”

“Prince Pollar, if you’ll listen, I think I’ve spotted where the guy is that’s controlling the Huzars,” I said getting pissed at being ignored.

Geoffrey turned away from the field commanders to face me. “Where do you think they are, Princess Navah?” Oh, now I’m Princess Navah.

Pointing, I said, “See? Up there on that ridge.”

Nodding, Geoffrey said, “And if I had to guess, their general is probably monitoring the battle from there as well.”

I turned to the commander of the archers and said, “Can one of your archers take those men out up on that ridge?”

The archer chuckled and said, “I’m sorry, my Lady. I don’t mean to laugh, but those men are at least nine hundred meters away. My best bowman can at best accurately hit a target one hundred meters away.”

“Maybe I can,” I said. I ran around the area looking for my lance. After fifteen minutes, and fearing I’d never find it, I found it under a dead Huzar.

Anger building at the carnage he creating, I raised the lance an sighted down the shaft at one of the figures on the ridge. My eyes narrowed as I tightened my grip on the lance. Under my breath, I said, “Die you piece of shit.”

A long blue bolt shot from the tip of the lance, arcing through the air to the top of the ridge. One of the figures standing there just disappeared. The other figure jumped and then ran into the forest next to the clear area they were standing in.

From a distance, across a narrow valley, you could see Huzars breaking ranks and chowing down on Ragth forces. This went on for several minutes and was immensely satisfying. After a few minutes, the Huzars were under control again.

Someone shouted, “Everyone line up! The Huzars will be rested soon.”

Great, I thought. I’m still exhausted. I can’t emit my power for another fifteen or twenty minutes. I watched the Ragth army reform its lines. The Huzars were being lined up in a spearhead formation. It looked like they were going to charge right up the middle of the valley. Considering my power, that was stupid. Unless they know there’s a limit to my power.

A runner suddenly came up from behind our lines, from the city of Eastling. He was breathing hard and it was obvious he had something terribly important to say. He ran up to Geoffrey and the other field commanders. I trotted up to them to listen.

Gasping for breath, the runner tried to speak, but couldn’t make a sound. Finally, after a few deep breaths he said, “The… the rune. They have it. No one knows how, but … but Lord Teufel himself led a couple of Huzars and about thirty men deep into the bowels of the city. The Huzars broke through the vault. Lord Teufel has the city of Eastling’s rune.”

Prince Pollar scowled through gritted teeth, “By the gods! That gives him three runes! Only Keelah and Northfel stand between freedom and slavery!” To one of the men behind him, he said, “Send runners to both cities and tell them to prepare. We’ll try to stop the Ragth advance right here in this valley. Go! Run!”

I said, “Holy shit.” I slid to sit on the grass. I held my lance across my lap and closed my eyes. I needed to relax and get my energy back as soon as I could.

Geoffrey touched my hair as he stood next to me. In a soft voice, he said, “Rest, Navah. Rest and prepare. They are going to rush us with those Huzars right up the middle of this valley and we’ll need you to take them out with one mightly blow from your lance.”

I took a few slow, deep breaths.

“Here they come!” someone shouted.

I stood up and faced the charging Huzars. It was all on me. I could not fail. I raised my lance and sighted down it towards the stampeding Huzars. I gripped the lance tighter. I focused on the lead Huzar. Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes, I thought. I grinned as I thought that Huzars don’t have whites in their eyes.

Geoffrey said from behind me, “Any time now, Navah.”

I waited a few more seconds. And then just as they were almost upon us, I let out a primal yell and thrust my lance towards them.

The tip only sparked.

Pissed, I jabbed the lance towards the split columns of Huzars and shouted, “Die you fuckers!”

The blue bolt of lightning shot from the tip of the lance and cut down the raging Huzars and several columns of warriors. I raked the lance back and forth while the bolt flowed from the tip until everything in front of us was either dead or disintegrated.

Sweating profusely, I lowered the lance and laughed. I felt exhausted. I turned to Geoffrey and said, “That was easy…”

Suddenly, through the forests from our north and south flanks poured dozens of Huzars on each side and thousands of warriors. Our lines dissolved in the middle of the melee and we were suddenly involved in close quarters combat. Huzars were ripping men and their mounts to shreds. Surprised soldiers cut down where they stood.

My lance was knocked from my hands and I picked up a sword and started cutting my way through a wall of human flesh. I was bleeding from dozens of cuts. Screams and shouts of dying and wounded men, beasts and monsters filled the air. This was as complete route. This was a disaster…

*          *          *

“Are you sure this okay, Jason?” asked the young girl Georgette in a whisper as she and city guard stepped into a long hallway. Torches interspersed along the walls struggled to dispel the darkness. “I don’t want you to get in trouble.”

Jason slid a bolt in place to lock the door. He smiled and said, “No need to whisper. Nobody but us down here. Nobody comes here.”

Their footsteps echoing down the long empty hallway, Georgette said, “I would think there’d be more guards to watch the city’s rune. Not that you’re not capable, Jason. But just send you?”

They stopped in front of the massive vault. There was a table and a couple of chairs. Two torches set on either side of the vault provided the only light at the end of the hallway.

Jason laughed and said, “Why have a guard at all? This vault is four levels below the main castle. The only entrance is located in a heavily guarded section of the castle. The exact location of the vault is unknown so digging to it would be almost impossible. The vault itself is surrounded by a white magic shield. And I don’t even have a key to open the vault. It’s pretty safe and secluded here.”

Georgette put her arms around Jason’s neck and said, “Secluded is nice. It’s a bit damp down here, but I’ve never felt so alone before. I love it! Just me and you.”

Jason bent down and gave her a playful kiss. He said, “Yes. This place is about as far from any action as it can be.”

“At least you’re not out getting killed,” said Georgette. “I was so worried you’d be sent with the other to fight Lord Teufel.”

Jason frowned and said, “I should have been picked to go. My military career will be going nowhere stuck down here.”

Georgette stepped closer to him and said, “I never want you to leave me.”

Jason smiled and bent down and kissed the beautiful maiden. Her arms around his neck she drew him closer as their kiss grew in passion. Slowly Jason began to unbutton the back of Georgette’s dress.

Jason began to massage Georgette’s naked breast as her dress fell away. He leaned her back onto the sturdy table. Kissing her deeply, he started to pull his own pants down…

The door at the end of the hall exploded with flying splinters. Two Huzars charged down the hallway towards the couple. The Huzars bellowed and screamed as they approached the vault.

“Huzars!” shouted Jason as he spun around. He bent down and picked up his sword. To the girl he said, “Stay back!”

The first Huzar to arrive opened its mouth wide emitted a blood curdling scream. It raised its massive claw to smash Jason into a pulp. But Jason had trained well and without having to think of his actions, stood back and let the swinging claw brush past him. He grabbed the huge claw and used it to swing himself up onto the Huzar’s back. Before he could be bucked off the monster, he raised his sword and with one mighty thrust, pushed his blade into the base of the Huzar’s skull.

Bellowing, the wounded beast clawed at the embedded sword and collapsed to the floor, dead. Jason pulled his sword from the neck of the Huzar and turned to face the second monster.

“Jason! Look out!” shouted Georgette.

The second Huzar was standing mere inches from Jason. In a growl it opened its mouth wide, ready to swallow Jason in one bite. Saliva and a foul stench engulfed him. Fear flushed through him as he felt he was going to die. He felt shame that he could not defend the girl he loved.

But then, looking into that gaping maw gave him an idea. His only hope. And he only had one shot. He made a guess as to the location of the Huzar’s spine and thrust his sword into the mouth of the beast, running the point of the blade into the soft tissue of the Huzar’s mouth. While not exact, the point of the sword found its mark and pierced through the base of the Huzar’s skull and screaming, it collapsed in a heap before him.

Jason stepped back, shocked at his success. He was covered from head to toe in Huzar blood.

Jason looked up when he heard someone clapping slowly. He saw a figure wearing a black, hooded cloak approaching him. Behind the figure were about ten soldiers, swords drawn. The figure pulled the hood back.

“Lord Teufel!” gasped Jason.

Lord Teufel continued his slow applause. He said, “Congratulations young warrior! That is unprecedented to single-handedly vanquish two Huzars. My compliments to the officers who trained you. I knew about the base of the skull vulnerability, but ramming your sword through his mouth to hit the same spot was quite inventive.”

Pointing his sword at Lord Teufel, Jason snarled, “Don’t come any closer!”

Lord Teufel smiled and said, “Or you’ll do what? Remember who I am, boy.” At a hand gesture, three of the warriors behind the evil lord ran along the wall opposite Jason towards Georgette.

“Get away from me!” shouted Georgette as the soldiers reached for her arm. “Let me go!”

Keeping his sword leveled at Lord Teufel, but dividing his attention by looking back at Georgette, Jason shouted, “Leave the girl alone!”

The seven remaining soldiers surrounded Jason. He might be able to hold his own against two adversaries, but not seven!

In a calm voice, Lord Teufel said, “Put your sword down, boy.”

Looking back at Georgette and then back to Lord Teufel, Jason grimaced. He hesitated a moment, and then defeated, set his sword on the floor.

Lord Teufel shouted, “Seize him!” The soldiers grabbed Jason roughly by his arms.

Dragging Jason along with them, the men followed Lord Teufel as he started walking towards the great vault.

Spreading his arms wide, Lord Teufel said, “Just like in Eastling and Anyrn, there seems to be a bottle of white magic surrounding the vault. It won’t hold against a physical assault like by a Huzar. But it does prevent me from just using magic, even my magic to open the vault.” The soldiers had moved Jason next to Georgette. Lord Teufel walked up to Jason and leaned in close to his face and snarled, “But someone has killed my Huzars. Whatever shall I do, hmm?”

Jason spat in Lord Teufel’s face.

Lord Teufel laughed. He said, “You have a lot of spirit, boy. I like that.” Poking his finger into Jason’s chest, he said, “Any idea where I might find a Huzar just laying around?”

“Jason!” said Georgette with a cry in her voice.

Lord Teufel stepped back and began gesturing broadly with is arms. His face contorted into a terrible snarl as he began to focus his energies. A red mist began to swirl around him, tiny sparks jumping from the growing cloud. He suddenly thrust his hands before him and a red energy spewed forth and surrounded Georgette.

She screamed, “Jason! Help me ple…” her voice suddenly being cut off in a growl.

“By the gods!” shouted Jason. “Georgette! No. Oh please no!”

The air surrounding Georgette blurred as she began to grow in size; her skin splitting open as it stretched. She screamed in pain. Her skin began to blacken and harden. Her arms began to grow as her skin ripped violently apart, splattering her blood onto Jason and surrounding walls. Her fingers were replaced by lengthening claws. Her mouth grew wider and terrible fangs descended from her teeth.

“Georgette! Georgette! Let me go you bastards!” shouted Jason as he struggled against the grip of the soldiers.

A few minutes later, a giant, hulking black Huzar stood where the once beautiful Georgette had been. It turned to Jason and bellowed savagely. Jason sunk to his knees, crying.

The Huzar turned and started swinging its massive claws into the stones surrounding the heavy vault. It chipped away for several minutes, bits of stone and dust flying around the hallway. With one mighty punch, the Huzar pushed a hole through the stone wall. With grunts and a few screams of anger, the Huzar pulled the vault open wide enough for a person to enter.

Lord Teufel walked into the room where the rune was store and exited a minute later holding it up.

The Huzar walked up to where Jason was kneeling and crying. He looked up at it and cried, “Georgette!” The Huzar bellowed and raised its massive claw to strike him.

Lord Teufel raised his hand and said, “No. Let the boy live. That way there’s a witness to our unstoppable power. Come. Leave him.”

The Huzar opened its mouth wide and screamed right into Jason’s face. Then it turned and followed Lord Teufel down the long hallway.

Jason collapsed to the floor and shouted as loud as he could with a voice filled with anguish, “Georgette!”

*          *          *

End of Part 3



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