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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...’

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