When the flames of hell are burning the city, how can they escape?
|An omnipresent specter loomed over the burning city. The eerie presence hung amongst the rising smoke and bloodcurdling screams that filled the air. A blanket of death covered the city of Latholeir. Inside the monolithic stone wall that encased the entire city, bodies lay viciously hacked apart, floating in pools of blood. Merciless creatures equipped with weapons of chaos spilled into the once flourishing city, wreaking havoc on all of the inhabitants. Not only were the people dying, the city itself, the Aegis City of Latholeir was dying as well. Once sturdy built establishments were engulfed in the rapidly spreading inferno that consumed the city. Seemingly fueled by the fire, scores and scores of disgusting and foul goblins poured through the gargantuan stone frame, which had once held the ostensibly impassible wooden gate, until these creatures had come.
Caught completely unaware of this unexpected nighttime ambush, nearly all of the Latholeirians had been caught in their warm, cozy beds when the siege began and that’s how they died, laying prone and unguarded, lost in their dreams. Men, women, children, elves, dwarves- none were passed over by the wave of malevolence. Some had awakened to the last cries of their neighbors and had managed to defend themselves against their undeniable demise. Many heroic warriors, clad in impenetrable battle armor, fought back against the siege. Vicious battles raged in the dusty alleys, as the hungry flames ate up the dry wooden buildings.
Clouds of smoke hung high above the dying city, raining ash and soot down upon the relentless goblin horde. Clashing weapons rang out in the night sky, allowing a cloaked figure to pass undetected in the shadows. He dashed from shadow to shadow, unnoticed by enemy and ally alike, until he chose to strike. But when he struck, he struck hard. These monsters would pay.
Back flat against one of the remaining buildings, the cloaked figure removed the hood that had obscured his face, revealing a thick head of shoulder length brown hair and cerulean orbs that seemed to shine through the thick fog and smoke, which seemed to burn with hatred and rage. His highly angular and toned jaw gave him a sleek look and pointed ears jutted out from under his swirling hair Strong and slender arms rested beneath his cloak, hands resting on the hilts of two deadly blades. Drawing his weapons out in a fluid movement, a pair of curving blades flashed into view, reflecting the flames on their shiny silver. The elf turned his head to the left, around the corner of the building. A trio of goblins stood nearly ten yards away, chanting war cries and raising their crude weapons in the chilling air.
Spinning around the now burning building with his highly toned and horse-like legs, he ran silently along the side of the houses, still undetected in the darkness. He was still nothing but a shadow himself until one of his scimitars impaled a goblin through the back, slipping through ribs and a lung to protrude through the crude leather armor he wore. All three goblins stared wide-eyed and dumbfounded at the curving blade. The elf twisted his wrist as he retracted his stab, ripping the creature’s entrails as he did. Only then did the goblins notice the attacker. The other goblins stood ready, weapons held in their shaking hands, as the dying goblin collapsed in a gurgle of blood, but there was only darkness and smoke to be found behind their fallen companion. The shocked goblins nervously glanced around, trying to find the sly assassin amidst the commotion. Hearing a loud footstep, one of the goblins snapped around, pointing behind his ally, to where the sound seemed to come from. Yet again, there was no sign of the deadly killer until a diamond sharp blade crossed the pointing goblins exposed neck. His look of confusion turned to a look of pure terror. His cry turned to a gurgle in his throat as the deadly scimitar slashed across his neck. Hearing a sputtering, the last remaining goblin turned around to see his dying friend flying for him. After kicking his newest victim towards the last goblin, the quick moving elf charged the goblin. Raising his own weapons to block the goblin-turned-missile, the goblin left himself completely defenseless against the skilled elf. He never saw the blade coming. In a blink of his yellow eye, he looked up to see blood spurting from his own body, shooting from his sliced neck. His limp body buckled to the ground, next to his already severed head, gushing warm blood on the cold stone street.
The silent killer, disregarding the slaughtered goblins, dashed off, no longer obscured by the shadows, for no more shadows existed in the burning city. Flames consumed every last building and structure at that point, licking at the night sky, smoke billowing towards the heavens. Flying down the dusty alleyways, the elf ran towards the brutish war cries. His jaw dropped nearly as fast as his enemies did had when he reached the spacious courtyard. Just inside the gargantuan gate, the immense courtyard was packed with the vicious creatures, while more and more piled in through the open gateway by the second.
A gloved hand roughly grabbed his shoulder, as another one clasped over his open mouth, dragging him behind one of the buildings, hiding them from the goblin horde. With lightning quick reflexes, the swift elf dropped to the ash covered ground and kicked his legs straight out as he spun about, smashing the ball of his captor’s ankle with the heel of his foot, throwing him to the ground. Snapping back to his dexterous feet, the blue eyed elf turned and stabbed his deadly curving blades, which had almost magically appeared in his deft hands, but halted his attack inches from impaling the man.
“Tallon!” the elf remarked, as he sheathed his blood-covered scimitars and extended his right arm to aid the man back to his sturdy feet. He sat forward and met the elf’s slender hand with a muscular one, hoisting himself up. Light from the infernos shone on the man’s shining silver armor, which encased him from shoulder to toe. He reached and ran a rough hand through his think black hair, removing it from his handsome face.
“Well met, Kelthor!” Tallon remarked, turning the helping hand lift into a friendly handshake. “It is good to see that you have not been taken by the horde or their biting flames.”
“As to you,” Kelthor replied, as he flashed a smile at the armored human. “But I am afraid not many others are as fortunate as we find ourselves.”
“Yes, I fear that there are but a handful of survivors, and the number is steadily dropping by the minute,” Tallon sighed, as the smile quickly faded from his bearded jaw. Screams of despair and pain echoed along the alleyways, accompanied with howls of delight and excitement.
“There is no hope for Latholeir, and surely if Latholeir fell this easy, then Nonthronox will stand to chance against this relentless horde,” the slender elf said with a grave look crossing his face. “They must be warned.”
Tallon glanced upward at the towering inferno that his town had become.
“It appears our warning beacon has already been lit,” the armored man stated.
“Ah, but to no avail,” Kelthor quickly cut in. “As high as those flames are, Nonthronox is unlikely to see them through the Black Forest,” the elf finished, glancing eastward towards Nonthronox and the evil forest that separated the two cities. A wall of massive trees towered over the stone wall, extending as far as the eye could see. Not only would the myriad of trees block the towering inferno, but also the forest possessed an eerie darkness that even caused daemons to avoid the malevolent forest.
“Then how will we warn them of the goblins?” Tallon asked, ducking to the ground, pulling Kelthor with him, as he heard the battle cries getting louder and louder. No, not just louder, closer too.
“A messenger,” Kelthor casually remarked. Tallon’s fiery brown eyes widened at the notion.
“A messenger!” The man exclaimed, louder than he wished, then clasped his gloved hand over his mouth. He glanced around the corner of the building to make sure no goblins had acknowledged their whereabouts. “How do you play to get passed this army?” He asked, turning back to his old friend.
“By jumping the wall and making my way through the Black Forest,” the elf replied with a hint of nervousness present in his tone.
“You really are as stupid as they say,” Tallon remarked, shaking his head.
“Stupid, or brave?” Kelthor replied, offering a sly wink.
“Is there a difference? Tallon said, returning the gesture.
“Are you with me then, Tallon?” the heroic elf asked, extending his muscular arm out, hand open.
“In any other quest you know I would gladly venture beside you, but this is one you must do alone,” the man said, raising up and unsheathing a powerful bastard sword.
“What are you doing?” Kelthor asked, jumping to his feet and grabbing the man’s muscular shoulder with a quizzical look across his tight face.
“You are the fastest and stealthiest creature I have ever met, but you would be dead before you reached the wall,” Tallon remarked, removing the elf’s nimble hand from his powerful biceps. “ You’re going to need a diversion.”
“No!” Kelthor exclaimed. “We can both make it!”
“Goodbye, Kelthor, all the luck to you in your journey. May your swift legs carry you to safety,” Tallon said, as he shook the elf’s hand for the last time. “Now run!” He let go of Kelthor’s hand and replaced it on the pommel of his deadly sword.
“No, Tallon, don’t be stupid! We can both make it! They are but goblins!” The elf cried out.
“Stupid, or brave?” Tallon replied with a wink.
“There is no difference,” Kelthor said, but his harsh tone was lost on the determined human.
“Go!” Tallon urged the stubborn elf.
“No, I will not leave you here to die!”
“If you don’t, then you condemn Nonthronox to this same fate!” Tallon exclaimed, waving his arms around at the massacred bodies and flaming buildings. “Now run!” He said, shoving Kelthor towards the monolithic wall. The elf hesitantly began to sprint to his escape, but he halted. Rage filled Tallon’s brown eyes as he yelled, “Run!” Then he swiftly darted around the corner of the flaming building and straight for the courtyard, which was still swarming with goblins.
The nimble elf sped along the ashen alleyways, hearing the goblin war cries get louder as they found new victims in the houses. He reached the stone wall in a matter of seconds and began to climb one of the goblin war ladders. From the top of the gargantuan wall, Kelthor could clearly see the courtyard, as the wave of goblins engulfed the armored hero. He spun away from the sight of flying limbs and spurts of blood as the profligate goblins decapitated and mutilated his old friend.
As the messenger prepared to leap from the stone wall, a crude arrow whistled through the air and stung the elf in the back of the knee, crippling his leg. Pain erupted from the joint as his muscular and usually sturdy leg collapsed beneath him. Grimacing from the excruciating pain, the elf was on all fours, glancing about. He spotted the goblin archer as he had let go of another streaking arrow. With no time to react, all Kelthor could do was close his eyes and hope that the vicious arrow had missed its mark. It didn’t. A sharp and agonizing pain exploded as the sharp goblin crafted arrow cut straight through the elf’s slender neck, slicing through his throat. He collapsed on the cold, hard stone, warm blood gushing out from his pierced jugular. Nonthronox does not stand a chance, he thought, and then knew no more.