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Monday, June 30, 2008 The Animorpher - Part 5

‘You want my reasons? I’ll tell you after you defeat us. And that, I daresay, will be impossible. Aegis the thunder bird’s power is useless against Barudan.’
‘Now that’s your second mistake. For your information, Aegis is not the only guardian spirit we bring now. Hernan, if you please.’
Hernan comes forward, points to the ground with his sword and says the magic words, ‘An Petra’me Aschi!’ Suddenly, a portal-like ring of light appears on the ground between Hernan and Barudan, and a gigantic, blue sea-serpent-like creature slithers out from it.
The sea serpent stands right in front of Behemoth Barudan. His gigantic one gemlike-eye stares at his rival. His fins spread out and he speaks like an elderly man.
‘Well, well, Hernan. Looks like my debut is a rematch with my rival, Barudan of the Land. But, never fear, because I, Petra the Leviathan, Guardian of the Seven Seas will subdue him.’
‘I’m counting on you, O’ Great One,’ says Hernan with a bow.
‘Show them your greatness, Mighty Barudan!’ Dar’gum shouts, climbs off Barudan’s back. ‘C’mon, Ze’bog, Chugal, we engage the Champions of Light!’
The orcs run clear away from Barudan. The behemoth charges forward to engage the leviathan. The sea guardian slithers away to steer the behemoth as far as possible from the village. The behemoth follows him to the back of the hills, and as they reach the Windy Hills Petra attacks with Tidal Wave!
The blow chips some rock off Barudan’s hide. It roars, and then leaps! Naturally, its immense weight prevents it from jumping high. However, when it lands, the ground shakes and cracks as though a Quake. Petra uses his feet and tail to coil up, but the Quake still affects him, causing internal damage.
The combatants also suffer from the effect of this Quake. The shaking doesn’t hurt them directly, but at least it disrupts their balance. Hernan limps a bit, then gains momentum quickly and stabs the throat of an orc who recovers slower than him. The orc falls dead near Alexis. The prince also uses this momentum to break away from Ze’bog and Chugal.
Alexis rushes to engage Dar’gum, to whom the Quake doesn’t have any effect at all. The orc uses this momentum too, decapitating the halfling who fights him.
‘Care for some exciting fight, Warchief?’ Alexis tries to get Dar’gum’s attention.
‘Good thing you come. I’m getting bored of fighting these varmints,’ the orc champion responds. ‘For you, Prince Alexis, I’ll give special treatment. Taste this! Cavemaker’s Grudge!’
Dar’gum spins and spins, swinging his great axe round and round. Alexis moves back and evades it, and the attacks keep chasing him in close shaves. Alexis takes a long leap back and runs into a burrow wall! Dar’gum spins on, and this time Alexis is cornered. There’s no way to go but to let his torso be split in two.
Before another slash hits him, Alexis leaps as high as possible. The slash goes into the wall, making a big slash hole on it.
Alexis slashes his twin swords downwards. Dar’gum immediately does another spin to the side and Alexis’ attack misses him. The orc changes his attack to a quicker one, elbowing the Red Prince right on his face.
The Prince staggers a bit, and then he recovers and launches another strike: Phoenix Rampages in Hell. The combo strikes fiercely like raging, rolling fire, so chaotic, randomized and unpredictable.
Dar’gum parries some of the blows and absorbs the rest with his Stone Skin reinforced body. And then, he concentrates his energy, leaps and spins his body and axe vertically with great power – a modification of Land and Sea Divide.
One blow. One statement. The one that divides and conquers all. The wave from the blow travels about four meters after the most part gets parried by Alexis’ crossed swords. All the protections prevent the prince from being split into two, but he still suffers from moderate injury.
This time Alexis pushes himself away. He needs some time to recover and replenish his aura. Looks like he’s going to go for the finishing move. Dar’gum doesn’t want to be victim of aura explosion and decides to prepare his own finishing move. Stones are chipped from the ground and float up around Dar’gum as he absorbs the mana of the earth, and wind swirls around Alexis, supplying him with power.
As the two combatants’ power reaches the peak, they rush at each other! Alexis leaps, joins his twin swords into one broadsword and does a downward slash – the opening move of his finishing blow: Garuda Falling Skies. Dar’gum opens his combo, the Omnipotent Catastrophe with a pivot and diagonal slash. Both weapons collide, and then they are like disappearing in mid-air.
Ordinary eyes can only see flashes of their weapons: Big blows rolling from eight directions, and smaller slash lanes criss-crossing in between like a fish net. Flickers of spark and sprays of blood also add into this jubilant collision. Stone, dust and wind also rise and rotate around them. No matter how spectacular the view is, the end result is always the most important.
Alexis and Dar’gum exchange about three hundred blows in about seven minutes; unleashing the strongest and quickest techniques they have, until at last the blows cease and the combatants land. Stones, dust and wind also fall and die down, until only the two fighters remain. The great axe rests on the broadsword, tip-to-tip. The two duelists stand tall, facing each other. Their hands outstretch, holding their weapons.
After a slight pause, Alexis falls on his knees! He clutches his right chest. Looks like his ribs are broken! His life is not in danger, but he obviously can’t fight anymore until it’s healed. And the worst thing is, Dar’gum is still standing!
Argh... Will he be my nemesis? I can’t die yet. Not here, not now!
He stares at Dar’gum, and smile curls up on the orc’s face! The Warchief lowers his great axe and walks slowly towards Alexis. The Red Prince trembles in fear for the first time. He wants to fight back but he’s powerless.
Dar’gum is only a few inches away from Alexis when he abruptly halts. His body is suddenly full of scratch marks with blood coming out from everywhere. How can this be? Dar’gum’s Stone Skin is supposed to be tough and impregnable. However, a hard blow on the back of his neck – his weak point – has disrupted and weakened his aura. His defenses were down, and about sixty strikes grazed his entire body, except the vital parts which were still protected with strong aura.
Dar’gum the Relentless falls with his condition far worse than his opponents. At least, he is still alive for questioning. Alexis forces himself to walk on his knees and stops next to his badly injured opponent. Dar’gum talks feebly.
‘Come on... What are you waiting for? Strike me down; free me from this misery and humiliation, Red Prince. Give me a dash of honor by a swift, painless death...’
Alexis shakes his head. ‘No, my friend. I just want to make a deal with you. I shall let Father Andreas heal you only if you tell me the reason of your attack and tell your warriors and behemoth to withdraw.’
Dar’gum hesitates a bit, then after coughing some blood he answers.
‘Very well, I accept this deal. Now listen carefully, because this might put you in a shock...’ The Animorpher - Part 4

The group walks on, this time with their feet feeling lighter and lighter. The wind is much less violent here, meaning that they’re reaching the mountain shade, territory of the Edellan Halflings.
Alexis is carrying the injured Hernan on his shoulders. Carolyn and Andreas are trotting behind, slowed by fatigue and injury. Dejan, naturally the most energetic of them all walks quickly ahead, scouting with his enhanced natural abilities: Eagle Eye, Wolf Senses and Dolphin Sonar. So far no monster intercepts them, or rather, they manage to avoid monsters except if the monsters attack them first.
‘Well, guys, as we are nearing my village, let me tell you the last piece of information. As guardians of the Greaves of Diligence, we always put the contestants to the test. We usually uses this test on the halflings that is coming of age to determine what problem he suits for and whether he is fit and proper to be a soldier. Sage the Fireheart once failed in this test although he got the Arsenal of Light in the end. Now you better take this test seriously. Because of Avariel’s “arrangements”, and hope you can do better than your ancestors. The fit and proper test is usually one week long, but we’ve crammed it into three days for time is short.’
‘Three days? It’s still too long. Why don’t you cut on the details and make it one day instead?’ Carolyn protests.
‘We’ve tried that, but the Archangel didn’t approve to it. Actually, he revised the whole thing and made it three days instead, for use in the First Crusade.’
‘Oh, I see,’ Carolyn shrugs.
‘Any more questions?’ Dejan inquires the champions.
‘I would like you to explain the details of the test,’ says Andreas. ‘But we are too tired to remember all of that. So, we will save the questions until we reach the village.’
‘Good thinking, Padre,’ says Dejan.
‘They walk on for about fifteen minutes when suddenly Dejan stops. His face turns pale.
‘What’s wrong, Dejan?’ Alexis asks.
‘My... My village.... My village is under attack!’ Dejan sounds panicked.
‘WHAT? But who are the attackers?’
‘I... I’m not sure. I only sense heavy footsteps and... and something not human... Something HUGE!’
Alexis turns to the other champions, ‘Come on! We must hurry and save that village! The enemy must’ve known about our mission and attacked from the north! Don’t let them get the greaves!’
Without further ado, the group runs. Hernan even disregards his injuries and readies his Albatross Rapier. Andreas renews the protection field on the champions, sensing a fierce battle ahead.
Finally, they reach a steep hill, part of a cluster of such hills surrounding the halfling village as natural wind barriers. On top of that hill, the group witnesses a dismal sight. The Ekinmor village is on fire! Sounds of battle are echoing in the air. From afar, they can see a band of people is charging into the fields and houses, destroying and killing everything and everyone in sight.
The champions and Dejan charge downhills as fast as they can. Orcs! A band of about a hundred orcs is on rampage, and suddenly one small, green-skinned orc turns his head aside and sees the champions! He stops abruptly, points his falchion at Dejan’s group and bellows, ‘Khajr Ghr’oak!’ Several of his comrades immediately respond to ‘attack the gorged guts!’ command by turning to intercept.
In this kind of situation, Dejan Pavlovic runs on his hands and feet. His face, body, shirt and all gradually transfigure into... a wolf. The wolf Dejan runs even faster. Before the small orc knows it, the wolf bites and rips his throat to death. Utilizing the foothill, Alexis leaps very high and dives, slashing with his twin swords like talons of an Eagle Fishing in the Lake. The talons catch two fishes, namely two attacking orcs. He somersaults and lands standing, leaving the orcs falling lifeless: One with his head split in two, and the other with shoulders severed to the belly.
Hernan comes to confront a large, fat orc attacking with a mighty overhead swing of his pole-axe. But the swing only hits empty air. Hernan quickly jumps to the left, pivots and lands quick thrusts, puncturing several holes on the fat orc’s belly. The orc panickly swings his poleaxe to the right but Hernan already leaps to the right and makes more puncture holes on the orc’s left belly. At last, the orc falls dead like a punctured water balloon – a victim of Hernan’s skill: Riverstream Rhapsody.
Carolyn casts Lightning Blast on the group of orcs on the back, killing three and injuring five. As she pauses to reload her aura, an orc charges towards her! Knowing that wizards can be their greatest threat, the orc swings his falchion to kill Carol with one blow, but he forgets one thing: Carol brings up a partner, Father Andreas who helps by slashing through the orc’s throat with his pole-axe.
The group rushes to the village, annihilating any orc they come across. So much destruction inside the village: Burrows burning, things broken and destroyed, and dead halflings scatter everywhere. From the barricades, arrows and weapons on their hands, we can assume that the halflings are ready for battle because of Avariel’s warning. But a hundred or so orcs are still too strong for them. All they can do is to hold on until Dejan returns with help, and now help has arrived – and a big help it is.
In fifteen minutes, the champions and halflings kill twenty orcs, and six of them are victims of Carolyn’s Chain Lightning. Knowing that they’re losing, the orcs pull back and regroup. An orc raider (wolf rider) blows his war-horn.
‘Careful! They’re calling reinforcements!’ Dejan shouts.
Carolyn protests, ‘How come? We’ve seen their entire force!’
Dejan shakes his head. ‘No, they’re calling the HUGE one!’
As though confirming Dejan’s hunch, the ground begins to shake. On and on, in a slow rhythm like a tremor. BAMM! BAMM! BAMM! BA-ROOM!! The tremor gets harder and the sounds get louder, meaning that the thing gets closer.
The champions valiantly go to the source of the tremors, hoping to intercept it before it flattens the village. And yes, when they reach the outer gates of Ekinmor Village, they are shocked to see the gigantic creature in front of them.
‘Great Vadis... It’s... It’s a behemoth...,’ Andreas mutters in terror.
The monster, ‘behemoth’ is larger than the ancient dragon Algaban or Omegron. It looks like a crossover between a dragon and a turtle, plus its rock-solid hide and gigantic proportions make it look more like a walking island. Every step of its foot makes a cavity on the ground, booming sound and tremor all around.
Three orcs stand on top of the behemoth’s back, holding chains as reins as though they’re controlling it. The orc in the center near the behemoth’s head looks very familiar for the champions. Yes, he’s the gallant, rough-tough, mohawk-haired orc with the giant axe Il Khatl J’nadh hanging on his back. Champion of the Orcs, Bragl Dar’gum.
Dar’gum pulls the rein. The behemoth stops at once. He raises his other hand, telling all to halt. Then, with a thundering voice he speaks.
‘Behold the might of Barudan, Guardian of the Land. I, Bragl Dar’gum, came all the way here with my tribesmen to claim the Greaves of Diligence. Now face the truth: You are all no match against us. Barudan will flatten and trample you all. Give us the Greaves of Diligence and we will leave in peace.’
Alexis, as valiant as ever, comes forward and shouts his challenge.
‘Dar’gum, old friend, I can’t help but wonder where the gallant and honorable warrior I knew went away to. Instead comes a monster riding another monster, threatens around and expects us to tremble in fear. However, you got two things wrong here, my friend.’
‘Oh yeah? And what’s that, Red Prince?’
‘Firstly, you’re claiming the Greaves of Diligence, one of Vadis’ Arsenal that will respond only to those from the Light Side. You want something that has no use for you, so you probably do this for the Dark Side to prevent anyone from the Light Side to get it. And you even come with your finest grunts and raiders, even the mighty Barudan just to flatten a halfling village.’ The Animorpher - Part 3

The walk through the Windy Hills of Ekalla gets tougher and tougher as the terrain gets rougher and the hills get steeper. The journey goes slow, and is delayed even more by monsters skirmishes. The champions only concentrate on their heavy feet and take care not to stumble or be pushed back by the wind until Carolyn yells,
‘Look! Over there! Sleipnirs*)!’
Andreas responds, ‘Don’t come near them, Carol. Just let them be. We don’t want a new pet or trouble now.’

(* Sleipnir: Mythical horse which has thick hide as armor. Common sleipnirs have four feet whereas the unique ‘god’ has six feet. Their wind and lightning attacks are devastating if not deadly.

‘We don’t look for trouble, but they do!’
Carol’s right. The sleipnirs are charging towards them! The three hide-armored horses are bigger than common horses or even unicorns. Although not as fast as drakes, they have greater power and can move evenly fast against the wind. Galloping, not flying.
The champs barely evade the triple Sleipnir Wind Charge attack, but one of them hits Alexis squarely on the chest! Obviously, the protection field on Alexis dispenses him from the worst, only leaving a few surface cracks on his battle-battered armor, and throwing the Red Prince three meters back.
The sleipnir charges on, trying to finish Alexis off with its big horns as Alexis is only thirty centimeters away from his death, suddenly Father Andreas pokes the horse hard with his poleaxe, knocking it sideways.
Recovering from the last attack, Alexis yells, ‘Here, have a taste of Griffin Scissor Slash!’ He clasps his twin swords on the sleipnir’s neck – stunning it, then splits them sideways, cutting the neck right between a tiny opening between its hide plates, decapitating it altogether. One sleipnir down, and Andreas raises a thumb-up towards Alexis. The Prince only smiles and nods as a sign of gratitude.
Meanwhile, Carolyn casts Fireblast that knocks the third sleipnir over. Then, the other sleipnir attacking Hernan pulls away and charges towards Carol. Alas! There’s not enough time for Carol to cast another spell! Now even the protection field cannot save her from internal, fatal injury!
‘Hey! I’m your opponent!’
Catching up from behind the sleipnir is Hernan. By enforcing his feet with water aura he runs extra fast like riding the wind. The favorable wind direction allows him to jump on the sleipnier and with accurate timing and positioning launches a hyper-speed downward thrusts combo: Shears of the Falling Rain. The rain of swords fall on the armored horse’s back. It doesn’t hurt the sleipnir very much because of the hide, but it stops on its track.
Hernan looks forward and sees the sleipnir’s head is already on Carolyn! No! He’s too late! But wait! The Escudian takes a better look and actually, Carolyn is blocking the head with her trident! However, as the monster stops, Carol is thrown backwards. She falls with a crash on a hill full of sharp rocks. The Omnigalatr field prevents her from getting the worst of it, as usual, but she gets injured anyway, spitting blood on her robe.
Hernan is going to help Carolyn but apparently he still doesn’t finish the sleipnir off. The angry beast kicks back, its back moves up and knocks Hernan, throwing him upwards. Then suddenly two whip-like tentacles shoot up from its body, catch and coil Hernan in mid-air, and electrify him!
Carolyn hears Hernan’s scream of pain. She hesitates a bit, looking around to see what the others are doing. Apparently, Alexis, Andreas and Dejan are busy with the other sleipnir. So, gritting her teeth, the sorceress points her trident at the sleipnir torturing Hernan and shouts, ‘Pyroagnios!’
Fire erupts from her trident, blasting squarely on the sleipnir’s head. The continuous and intense Fireblast roasts its face. It closes its eyes, frantically leaping around, throwing Hernan away and runs away. Carolyn doesn’t chase it. She just stares at Hernan writhing in pain on the ground. His outer shirt is scorched off, revealing more of his Mythril Armor, but otherwise he’s recovering.
We’re even now, Don Hernan.
Andreas pulls off from the battle to tend on Carol and Hernan, leaving Dejan and Alexis still engaging the last sleipnir. The Electroshock from the whipping tentacles really gives them a hard time. Alexis tries to make a hit with Eagle Fishing on the Lake combo, but the blows only meet the thick hide.
Suddenly, Dejan gets an idea. He slides down, pivots and kicks the running sleipnir’s left front foot. He quickly does another pivot and kicks the right back foot to the opposite way. Such is the speed, power and flexibility of Dolphin Water Slide, forcing the sleipnir to stumble and fall on its track.
Seeing this chance, Alexis charges with a single thrust of the twin swords rejoined as Colathaloc in the form of one broad sword – the legendary sword from the land across the Petravia Ocean. The thrust comes with a concentrated energy that covers Alexis’ body, making him look like a giant drill.
It’s called Griffin Noble Sacrifice, and it can penetrate iron armor, let alone sleipnir hide. It’s a high-risk move which concentrated energy will backfire if not hit on target. High power, low flexibility, and Alexis knows it. Therefore, he only uses this skill on golden opportunities like this.
The thrust lands on the sleipnir’s side! The drilling energy makes a crack on its hide. Then the crack gets wider and wider and finally bursts open! And it doesn’t stop there. The drilling energy spins on and on, penetrates though until it comes out from another side. The thrust ceases, revealing Alexis kneeling, holding his legendary sword with style.
The attack leaves the sleipnir with a big hole on its sides. Then it falls aside with a crash. Dejan witnesses it and shakes his head.
Such a great beast. Too bad you can’t ride on it, but it only protects its territory. It’s a waste that we killed it, but ‘twas better than it wasting us.
So, he takes a bow towards the fallen sleipnirs, looks up to the sky and shouts to his companions, ‘When you’re all patched up, follow me. The wind is weaker here, so we are not far from the village.’

Adventure Quest Zeruel (lv 130) vs The Zards

Time for another request.
KSIDante666, Xxo23 and XZMasterZX wanted me to battle a bunch of zards, the hardest ones of course, so here they are!

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

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complete Privacy Policy of Random House, Inc., please visit:

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Become a Dragon Rider



You have been chosen. Enroll at Vroengard Academy and learn the art
of dragon riding in Doru Araeba. Even study under famous masters like
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Tuesday, June 03, 2008 The Animorpher - Part 2

After doing a final check on preparations (Carolyn is the last to finish because she brings the most various and plentiful things) the champions begin to follow Dejan Pavlovic.
‘Remember, champs. The wind is ever-blowing and ever-changing in here. Sometimes a breeze, sometimes even a storm. And of course there are monsters living in this area. I’ve heard of your feats in Enia’s Sanctum, and I’m telling you, the wind tunnels were like a vacation compared to this. Mark my words.’
The champions don’t comment as a strong wind from the north blows. They feel their feet getting heavier with every step. When the wind changes direction, they work hard maintaining their balance.
Carolyn even stumbles and falls once. Hernan quickly extends his hand to help her, but she pushes it away, saying, ‘I can get up by myself, thank you. I’m a big girl.’ And she gets up by leaning on her magic trident, Esthagar. Dejan also stops and turns back to help, but Alexis walks on. Dejan shouts at him.
‘Prince Alexis! Won’t you stop and help your cousin? This is not a race, you know. We have to stick together to survive in here!’
Alexis answers, ‘And your job is to guide us. Besides, Hernan is the closest to Carolyn. So, let him. I’ll scout ahead and fight if an enemy shows up. And you, just do your job and don’t waste time and energy by doing the things you can delegate to others.’
‘You prefer to follow your logic than your heart, Prince. Well, I believe in making friends and teamwork. If you want to go on, go ahead. Andreas is lagging behind and I want to wait for him too.’
‘That’s easy for you to say. You are not after the greaves.’
‘Well, I am guarding it. My job is to make sure it’s borrowed by the right person, got it?’
‘You got some nerve talking to a Prince like that.’
‘Back in Arcadia, you lead. Here, you follow me. I’m the King of the Windy Hills. Nobody knows this land better than I do. So if you want to survive, follow me and look after each other. It’s the only way.’
Alexis doesn’t respond. He just stands there in the wind. His face turns cold. Dejan shrugs and lightly walks away to check on the other champions.
Suddenly, the halfling’s pointy ears flutter. He gets startled and shouts to warn the champions.
Alexis, Hernan, Carolyn and Andreas ready their weapons and make stances.
Suddenly, coming from the north are winged creatures, dragon-like, but a lot smaller. In a pack of eight, they dart towards their targets like winged arrows. Dejan warns them.
‘Wind drakes*)! Careful, everyone! They’re damn fast, and they can rip the hearts off your chests before you know it. One thing, the wind drakes earn their name because they always fly to where the wind blows. And remember, don’t JUMP!’
Dejan’s right. The drakes dive onto them instantly, and the champions barely swing their weapons to ward them off.
We must find a way to drive them away. It’s still a long walk. Using our skills will be our best bet, and Carolyn can be a great help, too, Alexis thinks. Then he shouts,
‘Carolyn! You better summon Aegis now and let it drive the drakes within range, and we’ll finish them off with our skills!’
Carolyn shouts back, ‘That’s a good idea, cousin. We’ll try it.’
With a certain fashion she swings her magic trident and casts, ‘An Aegis Aschi!’ A hexagon-shaped light erupts from the wand and a sparkling silver bird comes out from it. Aegis the Thunder Bird **) shrieks excitedly upon a challenge by (theoretically) swifter flyers.

(* Drakes are lesser dragons, or more fittingly named the ‘flying lizards’. With size of comodo dragon or salamander each, drakes are excellent flyers without lethal breath. Common drakes (or wind drakes) usually use Pounce Dive and Spiral Dive as their signature moves.
(** Aegis the Thunder Bird is sometimes called Quetzalcoatl in another continent.

Soon a dogfight takes place between one big bird and three drakes. The other five drakes concentrate on attacking Dejan and the champions. Being nimble on foot under heavy wind, Dejan the halfling does a good job of avoiding those creatures. However, the four champions can’t seem to hurt the drakes at all. Carolyn’s Firebolts only scorch the tip of a drake’s wing. A drake dives towards Hernan, and his multi-uppercut-thrust attack Albatross Embraces the Clouds only touches the wind of its passing. Andreas immediately casts the best defense, the Omnigalatr force field by pointing his healing pole-axe towards the champions and Dejan.
‘Hey, thanks, priest!’ says Dejan. ‘And now, let’s see what I can do with this extra security!’
The daredevil halfling looks up to the sky, and spots a wind drake making another go at the champions. He taunts the drake, making strange, rude movements, shouting, ‘Hey you puke-breath! Come down here; let Papa Dejan pluck your sorry scales!’
Dejan’s taunts gains the drake’s attention. It changes its course and dives to Dejan with twice its original speed.
‘Right, that’s a good boy. Come to papa.’
The angry drake opens its mouth to the fullest, ready to bite the little half-grown off. Then it claps its jaws, but it bites only air! The drake flaps its wing to do another dive, but something slows it down!
It looks down instinctively and sees Dejan clutching on its foot. Before the drake can do anything more, Dejan pulls its foot forcefully. Suddenly, the nails on Dejan’s free hand elongate into claws, and he thrusts into the monster’s belly! And he doesn’t stop at that. To really finish it off, he rips the belly open and spills its insides out. Such is the brutality of Dejan Pavlovic’s true power: Spirit of the Wolf. After doing that, the halfling is soaked red with blood and fat, and he looks back with a wild, beastly face, ready to pounce on another prey.
Alexis is surprised on seeing that. Ah, he looks like a weakling, sickly boy but in fact he is a daredevil with immense, beastly powers! It takes a razor-sharp sword to penetrate into a drake’s thick scale, but he did it with only his bare hands!
The situation, however, doesn’t allow anyone to do much thinking. A drake breaks away from its dogfight against Aegis and makes a dive towards the vulnerable Alexis. Another drake sees the golden opportunity too and joins the dive from another direction. Alexis is going to be pummeled from two sides.
At the last moment he pumps his aura and rotates his dual-blade glaive Colathaloc rapidly: the Last Stand of the Eagle skill. The counterattack adds another graze on the already wounded drake’s neck, and a cut on the other drake’s face. The two monsters stop in mid-air.
And Alexis leaps! In split seconds, he pulls his glaive apart into two swords, Im’colath and Im’htaloc, attacking with the multi-directional, multi-slash Phoenix Wings skill. After stunning the drakes into sitting ducks, he now turns them into mincemeat.
In the midst of his attack, a strong wind knocks him over! He falls all the way down. He’s going to crash head-first on the ground, but he quickly rolls over and crashes lying face-down instead.
His face doesn’t show pain, but horror: He just saw Lord Adamar Walthorn falling from his steed, broke his neck, and lying face-down on the ground – supposedly the same way like his fall. Grudges from the ones you slain will haunt you for lifetime.
Meanwhile, Hernan just got a big scratch on his leather armor just to reveal the sturdy Mythril Armor Eil’thanath within. As he has experienced the dive attacks several times, Hernan is now able to calculate the speed and timing of each strike. So, the split second after he got the scratch, he slices the drake’s underbelly with another uppercut slashes of Albatross Embraces the Clouds. Then a wind pushes him five paces back but otherwise he’s okay. Four down, four to go.
Aegis does another go for two of the drakes. The drakes attack in Criss-Cross Spiral Dive formation. Aegis avoids the first drake but the second one bites it by the neck! The thunder bird shrieks in pain, but its eyes emit a bright sparkle. It rapidly emits electricity all over its body and electrocutes the biting drake with an ample dose of Thundershock. The drake gets fried into crisp, ready to be served with spices and mushroom sauce, a rare and extremely exquisite royal delicacy in Meshallah.
Carolyn’s Firebolt spell that burns the wing and got into the mouth of the smallest yet quickest of the eight drakes is enough to make it and two other surviving drakes to go away. Seing that, she unsummons Aegis and comments, ‘We’ve seen the last of them, I hope.’
Dejan answers her, ‘Unfortunately, we haven’t. Drakes are numerous around here, and this is only the beginning. Moreover, more formidable, worse creatures are known to roam these hills. Just follow my lead, be careful, and HELP EACH OTHER.’
He stresses the three last words so Alexis can hear it, not knowing about the prince’s significant contribution as the top killer in this round. The Animorpher - Part 1

The diligent reaps and the sloth starves.

Alexis, Hernan, Carolyn and Andreas arrive at the City of Klosser in Edel one hour after they landed eight miles southeast of the city in order to keep their mission hushed up. Enemy spies must’ve known about their mission already, but they don’t need crowd to cheer them like celebrities – thus delaying them further.
A very little man greets the champions as they enter the city gate. He looks like a boy of twelve, but he’s actually twenty-eight years old. He wears no shoe and thick, long hair covers his feet.
With those attributes altogether, he’s easily recognized as a halfling*). The only things that distinguish him from other halflings are: big, blackened scar running rom his left eye to his neck, and a pair of long fangs sticking out between his lips. He also talks most casually.
‘Ahoy, champions. Welcome to Klosser. I’m Dejan Pavlovic, your guide for the next quest. Now we must get past this city at all haste. Because, though it looks peaceful, this city is full of shady, sneaky people who like to meddle with other people’s business. Don’t even stop for a drink. Just walk on until we’re out of the town and go to the Windy Hills.’
‘And then what’s in Windy Hills? Where are the Greaves of Diligence?’ Carolyn asks curiously.
‘The greaves are safe in my village, Ekinmor. The real test, however, is on the way there. As its name states, the Windy Hills of Ekalla mercies no one. So, I have one hint for you: Don’t get blown away. Keep your feet on the ground no matter what.’
‘And keep our mind in our brains, that’s for sure,’ says Hernan, his eyes are all on Carolyn. The pink-haired sorceress tries not to look back at him.

(* Halflings = Sometimes we call them hobbits or colobockles. They are little people living in burrows and tree-tops. In Aurelia Continent, they live in two places: Kingdom of Edel (Regia) and Thyrine. Shorter than dwarves, halflings are very agile in rough terrains.

The walk in the city is quieter than expected. No one seems to care about a group of hunters passing by, even for Alexis in his shining, princely armor. But still, many people are walking about in streets minding their own businesses, and most of them talk in low voices as though all the things they do are secret.
This city is too quiet, Alexis thinks. It doesn’t bother me at all, but I better keep my eyes open. I smell stealth and surprise in the air, waiting to strike anytime.
Dejan the halfling guides the champions through main roads, avoiding narrow streets and alleys. The City of Klosser is like a labyrinth, without Dejan the champiions would be lost, scattered, and who knows what’s next.
The group leaves the city through the north gate. They walk on until they arrive in an open, vast area.
‘You might want to take a rest and eat your fill, because things are going to get windy ahead,’ says Dejan. ‘Oh, yeah, and you may want to keep that tiny, winged one in your bag, ma’am,’ He points to Chiel the micha. Carolyn nods and calls her pet, and the little micha flies into Carolyn’s goodie bag obediently.
They set off again after resting for half an hour, this time for the non-stop track thorugh the open space. The Windy Hills is actually a valley, surrounded by plateaus of Merida in the northwest, mountains of Halethia in the northeast and Ashtri in the east. That makes the wind exceptionally strong in this area, and the rocky hills make this place even more difficult to pass through.
Alexis is fully aware of this, and readies himself at the first breeze of wind that strokes his long, red hair. His eyes shows the same determination as in the Battle of Ingram Coast *) and Enia’s Sanctum **)

(* Read FireHeart Paladins Book One, Chapter Three
(** Read FireHeart Paladins Book One, Chapter Seven Algaban's Call Part 2

(Revised Edition)

Robert feels that someone is calling him, but… in the middle of the marshland?
Robert Chandler.
Naah, it can’t be. I must be hearing things. But what am I doing here? Am I supposed to be asleep now?
Robert Chandler, Orcbane, hear me. I call upon thee.
Robert tries to shout in response.
‘Who’s there? What are you calling me for?’
Answer me with your mind, Robert, as I can speak through your mind only. But hear me out first. Stay calm. Don’t get up.
All right then. Tell me who you are, and if you try to invade my mind I’ll fight you.
I’m sure you can, Robert. Anyway, I’m one of the most ancient dragons alive, Algaban is my name. Now please don’t speak, let me finish. I can talk through your mind now because in me resides the spirit of my first master and friend, Rheinavl Shvi’tharmõn of Thyrine. She has become me and I have become her and it’s her voice that you hear now.
I call upon you now because I need your help. You see, Vadis the Almighty has subdued me once and assigned me to guard Sodomos Adair’s Arsenal – a sign of truce between the two gods after Enia’s sacrifice - in Mount Hvalgarr, Northern Regia. I’ve defended it for years and ages from attacks, sneaks and raids without fail, but now I sense that immense and terrible powers are coming this way, and I will not withstand this combined power. Then I searched throughout the land for someone who can help me. I let my mind flew far and wide, seeking among heroes, hunters and nobles, dwarves and elves.
Finally, I found you, not very far from my home. You’re the one and only person who can hear my call. We have a spiritual bond, you and me. So, will you help me fight those intruders to protect Adair’s Legacy? I will reward you beyond your wildest dreams.
Robert replies, still in his mind. I beg your pardon, O’ Great Algaban, but I barely know you. I only heard your name in legends and folklores, how can I be sure it’s you who’s talking to me, not someone else? And where in Mount Hvalgarr do you live? Please show me directions so we can go there as quickly as we can.
There’s silence for a while. Then Algaban’s telepathy rings again in Robert’s mind.
I understand you to be cautious, Robert, and I admire you for that. Therefore, I’ll give you images of my own and my humble abode in your mind, so, prepare yourself. Are you ready?
Yes, I am.
From a blank, dark view, Robert begins to see things in his mind. It’s Mount Hvalgarr, and it seems Robert is although flying towards it in high speed. The view of Mount Hvalgarr slowly zooms in, and at last he arrives on an entrance into a huge cave, big enough for five fully-grown dragons to fly in easily. Then he flies into the cave, and after several turnings and crossroads, Robert sees a huge, very spacious room. The wall of carved stones surrounds this room, giving it a grand look of a treasure vault. And what good is a treasure vault without treasures? Twelve cases are put in this room; eight of them are open and empty, and the rest are magically sealed.
And there it is. The ancient demigod dragon Algaban, standing on two feet not like ordinary dragons in the middle of the vast room. Algaban’s head looks more like an eagle than a dragon, but the back of its head is unusually shaped to give it a more menacing and powerful look. Its torso, legs and hands look like humans have, but they’re fully covered with red scales and golden, thick hide. Its long tail wags menacingly and its wide-spread wings flaps forcefully, lifting Algaban from the ground. And it floats there in mid-air, it stares directly to Robert. Robert is totally amazed with Algaban’s appearance, and suddenly he remembers something.
Ah! She… she looks like…
You’re correct. My head and neck look like the main cannon figurehead of the airship Aurora. In fact, the airship was modeled after me although in the end it looks more like a giant mace than a dragon. Eidos Crydias the Grand Artificer saw me once when he was young and I rescued him from a pack of dire wolves when he ventured into Northern Regia in his apprenticeship days to accomplish a quest from his teacher. The Chrono Chakram chose him and I let him have it. He never forgets me ever since; he even drew my head in his journal and built Aurora to honor me.
Well, now that you see me, what’s your answer? Will you help me?
Ah, I don’t know… you said you are guarding Adair’s Arsenal and defended them without fail. Well, there are twelve of them, right? But why are eight weapons missing?
Ah, you’re truly observant. Anyone seeing that would say that I lied about my flawless defense. But well, I’ll answer to that. You see, these weapons I’m guarding have ‘souls’ within them, so usually the weapons choose their masters. My job is to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. So, for thousands of years I’ve found people who can hear me and guided them here, and exposed the arsenal on them. And so far, there were three weapons which found their masters: The twin dagger Ultimatum, the great sword Kraal’shazar, Scythe of the Crow, Chrono Chakram, the great hammer Terra Nakroß, the twin sword Colathaloc, Carrion Halberd, and the Viper Cane.
Robert finds something very contradictive about this, and protests. But, that’s thousands and hundreds of years ago. By now, all the weapons out there may be held by wrong hands. Deathblade, for instance, was held by the worst villains in history, namely Mildred Urganon and Paliades, Vordac’s heir. To get it off their hands a great number of people have lost their lives; Thousands or maybe millions. And now it’s in Adler’s hands, a person whose allegiance we’re not sure about. I think I’d rather have them in your protection. Why did you search for suitors anyway? What are you playing at?
Before you say that, Robert, you must understand one thing. I used to a wild life once, and I was used by Adair to defeat Vadis, and as you know, Vadis defeated me instead. The truce between Vadis and Adair compelled both of them to surrender their weapons and the weapons of their subordinates and they are never to touch their weapons again. However, they may entrust the weapons to other people with lesser powers but with perfect compatibility to the weapons to maintain balance of power. Vadis’ Arsenal of Light and the Sword of Justice were entrusted to – for instance – the heroes of your age, Sage and Antoine Deveraux. So why Adair’s Arsenal can’t be distributed as well? And I, being trapped between the two gods, don’t have other choices but to obey the conditions of their truce. I will be free once more once I distributed the entire arsenal, and I need you now because I know for sure the people coming here are the wrong sort of people with great powers but dark intentions. That’s why I need your help. Maybe I’ll be dead if I fight them alone, or I’ll be dead for sure if they steal the weapons against the weapons’ will. That’s the magical curse that binds me, so I MUST complete my duty so Vadis will free me from the contract.
All right, I can take your explanations although some things are still unclear to me. Are you sure the things you’ve displayed to me in my mind are real? I mean those are pretty vague to me.
Hm, I still see hesitation in your face. Of course, if you’re still not sure whether these images are fabricated or reflections of reality, you can come to Mount Hvalgarr to find out the truth. So for the third and final time, will you help me?

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