Does this result mean Chris’ technique is superior than Robert’s? The answer is: Depends on the user. A more experienced user can adjust his energy to make more variations that suit the situation, and that’s what Robert is doing. He actually conserves his energy, lets some blows hit him and accumulates some more to unleash his next move: Gold Dragon Supremacy.
Chris is shocked to see the second strongest combo of Dragon Slayer Sword series executed so quickly. Cold sweat runs down his face as he only use a second to boost his aura and leaps up with the single-blow Singular Voice of Truth.
The two swords collide with a deafening CLANG! that resonates through the two armies. All (especially Kyflynn) cover their ears. However, their eyes remain wide open because the result may be decisive. Whoever wins or loses, the soldiers hope that they won’t have to risk their lives and the war will be over.
The next second, the result is present before their eyes.
The Emperor of Arcadia gets beaten, smashing into the ground. Robert is also thrown back, but he does a back flip and lands smoothly. He stands up and silent for a moment, but then falls on his bended knees, vomiting blood. He too suffers internal injury from that impact.
Chris then gets up with much more difficulty. Half-standing, he leans on Kraal’shazar that serves as a walking stick now. Seems like Chris loses his body balance for a while.
The result is not decisive – yet.
Shaking and staggering, Robert shouts to Chris, ‘You’ve lost, Your Majesty. Are you ready to give up and withdraw?’
Hearing that, Chris thrusts the great sword into the ground. He takes his helmet off, showing his battered face with lots of blood on his mouth. Fury and hatred blaze like hellfire in his eyes.
Chris shouts back, ‘Look into my eyes! Read my lips! I will never give up! I will never take back my word! This duel is not over yet! It’s over if one of us kills the other!’
‘Even if I spare your life?’
‘Even if you spare my life, I won’t spare yours! I’ll kill you!’
‘Tsk, tsk... That doesn’t sound honorable, Your Majesty. Are you going to do it no matter what?’
‘Yes. I’m only satisfied if you die by the sword in my hands.’
‘In that case,’ says Robert, waving his saber forward, emitting a bigger flame on its blade. ‘You are beyond help. I must use my last resort, Regrets of the Dragon on you. I hope you are quite familiar with this move, because you might survive it.’
‘Tchah! You want to insult me? Well, I have news for you. I also have my own ultimate combo, the Divine Resolution, and you know what? You have the honor of being the first to taste it,’ says Chris, accumulating his holy aura to the maximum – the last drops of his power.
Robert also accumulates his aura to the max. He extend his arm, moves his four fingers as a gesture of challenge, saying, ‘Bring it on.’
So, the duelists strike a stance. They stay that way for a long time, as though waiting for a signal, a perfect moment to strike. They need to calculate their timing. Predicting their opponents’ moves, possibilities of variations and how to tackle them and make a hit with their own variations. As always, one single mistake can cost them their lives – or worse – the fate of a nation and the entire Everna.
No one among the troops, officers, Knights and even Paladins dare to interrupt them.
Robert, theoretically, is at disadvantage. Chris has seen his combo before in the battle with Arachus the Archdevil. He has used this move on Zal’fira the Necromancess too, but at that time Chris was under the Sleep spell.
And now he is wide awake. Chris’ eyes stare straight to Robert’s. He stays in full concentration until a leaf, burnt, probably flying all the way from Lumien Forest with tidings of destruction – flies right in the middle of the duelists.
Their eyes see the leaf.
It falls all the way down, and the eyes follow it.
And, the leaf touches the ground.
FWOOSH! The duelists dart towards each other! And BAMM! Comes the first impact. Then CRASH! – second, SWISH! – third, probably misses. CRACK! – fourth, a hit! CRASH-CRASH! – fifth, double hit! SCREECH! – sixth, grinding each other’s blade. CRASH!! – seventh, a bigger hit, CLANK! – eighth, double parry, SCREECH-CRACK! – ninth, a scrach and a hit! CRASH-CRASH! – tenth, another double hit!
And then comes a fast one: CRASH-CRASH-CLANK! SWISH! CRASH!!! SCREECH-CLANK! CRASH-CRASH-CRASH-CRASH! ZAP ZAPZAPZAPZAPZAP ZAP! CRASH!!! CRASH!!
The spectators (except maybe, Kyflynn) can only hear the impacts. Their moves are too fast to follow with bare eyes. The only thing they see is, after the eighteenth impact, Robert is thrown away like loose cannonball, hits the ground real hard and doesn’t move at all.
Chris is only pushed back a few paces with the energy from Rob’s eighteenth blow (a powerful, ultimate diagonal upward slash) still sizzling and sparkling on his armor. He vomits blood and got major internal injuries all over his body, but at least he’s still moving. He gets up and observes his opponent’s condition, and then laughs.
‘HA HA! I survived your combo after all, Robert, and you lose! Just admit it: The student has surpassed his master! And now, you will succumb to my vengeance!’
He drags Kraal’shazar on the ground and walks towards his foe, saying, ‘Let justice be done upon you!’
Just as he is close to Rob, Chris raises his sword overhead to stab Robert to death, saying, ‘Farewell, Robert Chandler!’
The Deathblade darts, to claim yet another soul.
The sword stops! However, it’s not the shout that stops it. It is another sword, Grimlock, the tip of its blade is less than a centimeter away from Chris’ throat.
‘‘The student surpassed the master’, eh? Think again. You are so full of yourself, so I played dead on you. Know something, Chris, I too has survived your technique. Your skill may be equal to mine, but my experience far exceeds you.
Nevertheless, we’ve been interrupted.’
Rob and Chris turn and see the one who disrupted their duel. He looks like a ten-year old boy, yet he is older than the duelists here. That’s because he is a halfling, an Animorpher named Dejan Pavlovic.
Dejan pants feverishly. His blue hair is in a total mess. His face shows extreme fatigue. Marks of bruise and bleeding spread all over his body, yet his life is not in danger. As an eagle, he must’ve flown all the way from Regia or anywhere in the mainland to the Island Kingdom of Lore, to here. So, he must be bearing extremely important news.
Robert gasps with surprise, then asks, ‘Dejan! What brings you all the way here?’
The halfling pants, mustering the last drops of his strength to talk, and answers, ‘The Dark Forces attacked! Soon after Emperor Sage sailed to Lore, Arachus and his army set out from Kraal’thragon and stormed Castoria! And then, like thunderstorm they conquered Castoria and Merida! The angels of Yvais attacked them, but the wyverns, winged demons and a portion of the Dark Forces’ army attacked Yvais instead! I think the angels are pretty occupied now.
And worse, the Gremion orcs joined the Dark Forces and recaptured Bresconnor! Then, the orcs and undead regrouped in Merida as one when I left, and so far we have lost two heroes!’
After saying that, Dejan collapses. Chris shouts at him, ‘Dejan! Who were those two fallen heroes? Tell me, Dejan!’
Barely conscious, Dejan answers with a feeble voice, ‘The... the Water Elf Queen... Res’marth... and... and... the morbit priest... Fa-Father... Bernides. The Dark... is going... to... Borgia... Please...’ Dejan faints before he can finish his words.
Res’marth... and Bernides. Flashes of the memories of their encounter pass Chris’ and Robert’s mind.
‘Ah...,’ Robert sighs. ‘That means now we have lost three great healers already...’
Chris is shocked to hear that, and protests, ‘Three? I thought Dejan said two heroes, Res’marth and Bernides. Ah... Rob, you mean...?’
‘Yes, Chris. Our beloved friend and teacher, Father Andreas Marvellini. He was killed by an Arcadian soldier, a traitor who wanted to switch sides. We have executed that traitor and buried Padre properly here, in Vaudevale Hill.’
Chris’ heart shatters in pieces. His face is pale with dread, guilt and grief. No... What have I done? So many good men, even heroes have fallen because of my folly, my misunderstanding. This is the biggest regret of my life. Robert is not Vordac’s Heir after all. The real Heir must be in Kraal’thragon, in a safe place where he broke all hell loose. Res’marth, the Paladin of old, Father Bernides my mentor, Father Andreas my friend... And all the good men we’ve lost in this wrong campaign – the widows, the orphans they left – I can never repay this sin even if I spend ten times of eternity in hell. And I can never forgive myself for this... redeem myself from this...
Cristophe feels a pat on his shoulder. He looks up and sees Robert Chandler, not smiling but is calm, pats him again to console him, saying, ‘It’s all right, my friend. If I were in your shoes, I would’ve done the same. Tell you what, I’ll help you avenge your father and brother by finding the real Heir of Vordac, the culprit. We’ll settle the scores with him once and for all.
As for now, we better head to Borgia with full force and full speed. We will fight the Dark Forces together, Armies of Lore and Arcadia, and we will end up victorious, by Vadis!’
End of Chapter 16