|The Wasteland Parts of Sylvania, near the Necropolis of Crypton|
The Allied Forces waste no time. They immediately use the advantage they got from the ambush and storms into the Necropolis of Crypton, an x-shaped citadel with its walls all black and full of frightening carvings and statues of devils and evil deeds.
Outnumbered, the undead in the city scatter and flee, going back to Kraal’thragon where the main stronghold of the Dark Forces is, the core source of dark mana in this territory.
Chris and the Allied Forces enter the city gloriously. There are actually people living in this place, but they all look glum and without expression on their faces. They are actually slaves (and food) for the undead and vampires, bred with stale food and rotten meat, just like cattle for the wolf.
Looks like they can’t help us in this war. It takes years even to make them realize that they’re human. In short, we must win this war for them first before we can ask for their help in any war. Well, time to set off again...
Chris just shrugs and turns away when suddenly...
BOOOM!! BOOM! BOOM!!! BOOM!!
War drums! And it’s not ours! The sound, rhythm, loudness... It’s... Orcish!
Riding his griffin, Chris rushes to the front and joins Rael’charon and the Paladins there. Sound of war drums comes from all directions. Chris soars up with Acavela, looks around and his face becomes pale. Myriads of orcs, monsters, undead and VAMPIRES surround Crypton, filling the whole area like sand on the shore! The dark flyers also fill the cursed sky of endless night, continuous lightning and thunder happening every now and then.
No... we are trapped in the city again. The Dark Forces have expected us all along and only put a small fraction of their forces in Crypton! The rest of their forces went off quite a distance and hid so our flyers couldn’t detect them, and now, it’s the whole of us and the whole of them, and all heaven and hell break loose!
Oh Vadis the Merciful, protect us, your children in your loving hands, and let Thy will be done!
With that thought, Cristophe, the Heir of Vadis raises his sword, shoots a line of light straight into the sky and shouts thunderously, ‘Praise Vadis! To him be all glory!’
Hearing that voice, the Crusaders are reminded again of what they’re fighting for and the source of their hope: It’s not Vadis’ Heir, but Vadis himself comes and fights alongside them. Driven by this knowledge, all Crusaders even the least religious ones shout in unison, ‘Praise Vadis!’
Rael’charon the Grand Marshal shouts out instructions, ‘Infantry, form phalanxes*) outside the walls! Archers and mages, get ready to shoot the enemies from the walls! All other units, standby inside the city! Iris, Hernan, defend the Northwest wall! Kyflynn’s team, Southwest! Adler, Dejan, Ney, Northeast! Robert, Carol, Eidos and me will stand on Southeast wall. Ivor and Chris, as usual, will handle air units. Go, go, go!’
(* Phalanx = Wall of spears and shields formation, also widely used in our world by the ancient Greeks and Corinthians. Very effective against cavalries.
The Dark Forces are indeed more numerous than the ones attacking Dalamar and twice more powerful. They stand in neat files and formations, showing the great discipline and control they never or did in previous battles. This is orc stuff, no doubt about it.
The Commander of this orc formation stands on a high ground. The orc is, however not the one that the Paladins recognized before. He looks old, wearing a necklace of dragon fangs and a fur robe. A big, bufallo skull with horns and all covers his head as a helmet, and his left hand is missing. Dejan, who recognizes him immediately shouts, ‘It’s Brog’lac, the orc shaman! He’s the right handman of the former Khan, Hagnorj!’
‘What?’ says Adler. ‘Did you see Dar’gum anywhere?’
‘He’s probably in another side, but if Brog’lac is in command, there’s no way Dar’gum is around!’
The old Brog’lac raises his right hand, roars, ‘ATTACK!!’ and the Dark Forces charge forward! BBRRUUMMMLLL!!!!
Running in the front row are the big monsters: hell hounds, black gigantic dogs of the underworld, abomies, the good ol’ customers, trolls from Gremion and ogres (demi-giants) from Fordia, the orcs’ natural allies. Grotesquely shaped monsters and mutants from unknown and various species also join this rampage.
The once neat formations now pour down like a gigantic mouth swallowing a sun in whole. It’s always so simple for the Dark Forces: they just need to be ‘unleashed’. The question is: can the sun burn the mouth? Is the sun hot enough to do so?
All Crusaders including Rael’charon are thinking about that. They try to stay calm and focus, for the first impact will determine the flow of battle. The elf tactician shouts, ‘Archers, on my mark! Steady... steady... SHOOT!!’
Like a sun spreading its ray, the volley of arrows rains down to the monsters in front. ‘HRROAAH!!’ Lots of them stop in their tracks and fall to death, but still, the other lot of monsters are still going strong and charging on.
The mages, whose firing range relatively shorter than the archers now launch their deadly spells: Firebolts, Fireballs, Lightning Bolts, Tidal Waves and all sorts of elemental attacks on the monsters.
More and more monsters scream and fall.
One of them, a giant rhinoceros with a thick, armored hide charges on. No explosion, arrow and magic spell can harm it. The ground rumbles as it runs in high speed.
The phalanx soldiers run away in panic!
‘Watch out! AAAGHH!!’
Some poor souls become the victims, and this monster won’t stop! It rams into the wall, making a crack on it. BLAAAM!! The impact is like an earthquake, throwing people off the wall. Two or three more rammings and the sturdy walls of the Necropolis will collapse.
When the rhino moves back to ram the wall again, suddenly Kyflynn the dark elf assassin dives with a double somersault straight towards it. He spins his body with the Soul-Splitting Drill move. Like a speeding bullet, he aims for a single target: the rhino’s eye! With a sly smile, Kyflynn mutters, ‘Your good luck ends now.’
The weakest spot is like one speck of black dot on the gigantic head, yet it’s big enough for Kyflynn to penetrate fully, going through the brain and get out from the other eye.
‘HROAAA...’ The giant rhinoceros falls down lifeless to the left, flattening a bunch of its kind. Drenched in the monster’s blood, Kyflynn quickly climbs the city wall like a ninja, and stands back on his post with a serious face – in case he needs to do another dive.
Now it’s Desmond’s turn to spring into action. Leading the phalanx, he sees the second layer of enemies: the undead, orcs and vampires attacking. He steps forward and stands in front of the troops in a display of bravado. He swings his great hammer up, and as the enemies come into range, he drops it!
BAMMM!! The Terra Nakroβ hits the ground, sending a wave of Landsplitter Quake, plummeting the enemies in range and make the others stumble, lose their balance and end up in the Crusaders’ spears. The Crusaders win the first clash on the Southwest wall.
The Allied troops on the other sides, however, don’t share the same success. On the Southeast side, Robert has to deal with big monsters with more attack and magic resistance than the others: the undead dragons a.k.a. the dracolichs, three of them. Without any humanity as a mandracolich has, the skeletal dragons are a menace on both land and air.
The dracolichs with broken wings like these ones, the Dark Forces’ last line of defense really give Robert and the Crusaders hell of a trouble.
‘Whoa! Calm down, Paeldagrin! Whoa!’
Robert’s steed jumps, prances and kicks uncontrollably. It never acted like that in front of lots of enemies before. The threat is so real and intense, even Robert works very hard to steer Paeldagrin clear of harm’s way and analyzing the enemies at the same time. Seconds later, Robert’s eyes widen at a glimpse of something.
Of course! It’s so obvious, isn’t it? A dracolich still keeps its dragon heart complete and intact during its transformation for the core of necro energy. And whenever its rib cage is open, its heart will be visible and vulnerable. A simple Air Slash will do.
So, Rob keeps on moving swiftly here and there, finishing other targets off until he has the right timing and opportunity to hit the original target. Rob slips under the dracolich and bangs his two swords against one another, CLANGGG!! Sending up a deafening sound wave of Blue Dragon’s Roar of Pain. The sound doesn’t hurt the dracolich much, but it meddles with beings with hearing, and stuns the dracolich for a few seconds right before it shoots a blast from its mouth.
That’s the time I need.
And FWOOSH! Rob slashes with his two swords, sending bolts of Double Air Slash right through the dracolich’s open rib cage and darts off with Paeldagrin to handle other enemies. The bone dragon falls to the front with black blood flooding out from its severed heart.
One down, two to go.
The second dracolich is trampling and shooting Hollow Blasts at the soldiers, enemies and allies alike. Robert gallops ahead with rage in his eyes and heart.
I surely won’t accept this creature in my squad, so it’s best to just ELIMINATE it!
Again he uses the same tactic with soundwave to distract and stun the dracolich, and when Rob is going to use the Air Slash, suddenly a Bident (fork spear) blocks his sword!
Rob looks higher up and there he is, the one who spoiled the party, the orc shaman, Brog’lac.
At the same time, the dracolich behind Brog’lac falls to its death. Gritting his teeth, the shaman turns to his right and sees Rael’charon. The elf with one hand just threw a flying knife and the other aims a knife at him.
The elf shouts, ‘Let me handle him, Rob! You just handle the dracolich!’
‘Roger, Commander!’ says Robert, darting away with Paeldagrin.
The third and last dracolich is just ahead. Two mages shoot it with Frost Arrows and Hurricane spells. The all-bones horror takes the spells directly and retaliates with a Hollow Blast. BLAAR!! The three different forces clash in mid-air, pushing against each other.
Just when the Hollow Blast overpowers the two opposing spells, something disrupts the dracolich’s concentration! Again, it’s the ultrasonic wave of Blue Dragon Roar of Pain.
‘HROAA!’ The dracolich roars in pain and again the two spells hit it!
Robert clicks his tongue, irritated. He has lost the momentum again, and to make things worse, the dracolich’s claw grabs him and pulls him off his horse!
‘AAAGHH!!!’ The skeletal, hard fingers of the great claw put such pressure, Robert feels all his bones are about to break.
The two spells have subsided, and now the dracolich lifts its claw to bite Rob off, punishing the one who meddled with its mind.
The white-haired Paladin is going to get split when suddenly... BYAARSH! CRACKLE! Robert explodes his aura! He breaks away from the claw and thrusts his kiliji straight through the rib cage and the main target: the dragon’s heart!
‘HRAAA!!’ With a scream of pain, the dracolich stares straight at the harmbringer and swipes its claw to cut him off! Rob takes his kiliji off, steps and propels himself off the rib cage – straight towards the wall!
Oh, no! The wall is too far ahead, and I can’t reach it! The longest jump of my life will be the last... Rob’s face turns pale and tense. This is just the best day, best place, but definitely not the best way to die.
It’s one simple word that can save someone’s life. How? The word triggers a tractor beam that catches Rob in mid-air, retracts and puts him on the wall.
I... I was saved! Who saved my life?
The Levitation spell is pulled back, and Robert can now see the caster. This is a rare occasion that he smiles most fully, overflowed with joy and gratitude. It’s Carolyn! The pretty, pink-haired sorceress seems glad to see him safe and runs towards him. Rob also runs and in the peak of his feelings, embraces Carol lovingly.
Carol’s eyes widen, stunned with surprise. She never expected a reaction this much from a man she cares most all this time and barely knew that she exists.
‘Thank you, Carol... Thank you, you saved my life,’ Rob sounds like he’s about to cry.
Carol answers with a loving voice and her loveliest smile ever, ‘That... that’s okay, Rob. I’m just glad that you’re okay.’
‘But, you seem to be in the right place and time to help me, Carol, even though you know that I can take care of myself.’
‘I know you can, Rob.’
Being in Rob’s embrace, tears start to roll down her face. This is the moment she’s been waiting for since the day she met him. ‘A good friend always take care of each other, and you know, the thing I wanted the most in my life is to see you live a long, happy life, and the world will remember what a true hero you are.’
Rob is so shocked to hear that, ‘Re-really? But, but why, Carol?’
This time Carol looks straight into Rob’s eyes. Her face is sparkling in tears, making her look so radiant, surpassing event the most beautiful angel in heaven. Her lips tremble when she says, ‘Can’t you see, Robert? I’ve been in love with you ever since we first met. From that day on, I swore to myself to be always be by your side, helping you by doing my very best every time I have a chance to. You are my soulmate, and I want to be your partner for life.’
To this knowledge, Rob’s answer is straight to the point: He kisses Carolyn’s lips so tenderly, with a stream of joy overflowing from his heart as he has found his true soulmate at last. Not Eloise, not Laetitia, not Xylen, not Sheena, but the one in his hands: Carolyn. And never will he let go of her again.
Suddenly, Carol utters a muffled scream and moves away from Rob’s lips! Blood rolls out from her mouth! Rob’s face turns deathly pale in shock!
‘Carol! Carol! What happened?’
Rob looks at Carol’s back, and an arrow nests deep in it. Her face quickly becomes pale and her body starts to get cold.
‘No... no... no...! Please, no!’ Rob and Carol just made the biggest mistake in their lives! They just found out that they’re soulmates and forgot that a battle is going on around them. A vampire archer apparently saw this opportunity and shot them, and the arrow struck Carol’s back. The Galatr protection field on Carol has worn off because it was not powerful enough, and the sorceress has shielded her lover with her own life!
Rob’s ultimate joy instantly turns into an abysmal despair. Flashes of Laetitia and Xylen’s death remind him about his past traumas that made him avoid women’s affections, but too late, it’s happening again!
‘Oh, Rob, I... I feel so... cold... Please, I don’t want... to leave you... not like this.’
Carol’s strength is failing as she touches Robert’s wet cheeks, ‘Oh, look... you’re crying... That’s the Robert I like... Brave enough to show his emotions...’
‘No...! Don’t leave me! Please!’ Rob hugs the dying girl again. ‘I need you. I love you.’
Carol answers feebly, ‘That’s the word I’ve been waiting for all my life. T-thank you, Rob... N-now I can rest... in peace... Please, just let me go... Set me free from this pain.’
Rob holds the arrow on Carol’s back. He gathers his courage. No one can avoid fate. But, at least he does his best to get fate to turn to his favor. Or, in Cristophe’s words, ‘At least I tried.’
So, curling up another smile, beneath his tears, Rob says to Carol, ‘Good bye, Carol. We’ll meet again in Vadis’ loving hands. EEYAARGGHH!!’ And he pulls the arrow out! Blood gushes out from her wound. Carol’s head drops to Rob’s shoulder, and he takes a last look at his soulmate’s face, showing that she died with a smile, so sweet and peaceful as though she just fell asleep.
Another Paladin has fallen.
Never before a Paladins’ death moves Robert Chandler much. This time, Rob’s expression changes. His eyes emits a fiery glare, and he grits his teeth. The devil inside him is about to be awaken once again.
A ghoul just climbed up the citadel wall and sees Rob in that state. It raises its spiked club to make him the fourth fallen Paladin, and CRASSH!! Suddenly, its head, two hands and club are thrown away, severed with the kiliji Rob once used to kill a full-grown orc when he was ten.
Now, Rob has gone totally berserk. He slashes with his two swords randomly without any technique. More zombies, ghouls, skeletons, orcs and vampires become casualties of this man crazed by grief. What’s worse, he even attacks his comrades!
‘Lo, Sir Robert! What are you doing? No, don’t! GYAAAH!!’
Rob kills an archer and cuts off a monster hunter’s arm. An elf who understands this symptom warns the others, ‘WATCH OUT! He’s going berserk! Move away from him, hurry!’
The Crusaders immediately pull away from their foes and only one of them falls victim to Robert. Nothing matters for him now. He just fights like a madman to his death, so he can join his fallen soulmate in the afterlife. The fiery dragon saber Grimlock has fully had him under control. Nothing can stop him now, nothing except...
‘R-Robert!! STOP!! Please stop it!’
It’s a shout from someone Robert cares for. Someone Robert though has just died. It’s a lightning bolt that shocks his brain. However, he’s still berserk and he turns to finish the one who disturbed him. But his eyes quickly stumble on the beautiful face he just kissed. A feeling of joy and love overflowed within him, overpowering Grimlock’s berserk-inciting power and clears his mind from rage and grief so he can think straight again.
However, a question still rings in his mind. It’s Carolyn! And... she’s alive! But how? Wasn’t she dead already?
Carol and the other Crusaders come and protect the Berserker. He stares at Carol with questions on his face, and the latter discloses the answer at once.
‘It was the Pendant of Preservation, Rob. I never fully understood its full potential until you took the arrow out from my back. I felt the pendant get warm, and the arrow wound mended itself like a miracle! I guess I must thank you for saving my life this time!’
‘... And thank Vadis and Avariel for giving you a greater miracle than your old lucky charm. From now on, we’ll fight side-by-side, watching out for each other and never to part again in Vadis’ will.’ Robert smiles again and will show emotions more frequently from now on.
Carol then takes Rob’s hand, saying, ‘So, let’s fight together. We have a war to win and a world to save.’
Vadis’ will really works wonders.
Image Source: Wasteland by creativeuncut.com
(Author's Note: It's 18.104.22.168. Clash of the Brainiacs, start Script Page 278/487)