Birdcage

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 10 (v.1) - Chapter X - Protector, or: the battle by the fountain

Submitted: July 02, 2019

Reads: 43

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Submitted: July 02, 2019

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While Eric was busy breaking into the palace, Sterling and I were doing our normal job guarding the castle gate. Like the previous day, merchants congregated at the fountain, and we were sent to tell them to leave.

 

As we walked towards the fountain, we saw a blast of purple lightning break open the window at the top of the palace spire. “What is that?” I asked.

 

“That appears to be a blast of dark magic coming from inside the princess’s bedroom,” Sterling said as he pulled out his bow and nocked an arrow.

 

In the distance, we saw a small object fly out from within the tower. The object flew across the Capital. As it grew closer, I was finally able to make out what it was: a man in blue armor gliding across the city in a hand glider. “Is that Mr. Rice?” I asked.

 

Instead of answering, Sterling let the arrow loose. It flew through the air, striking Eric in the face. Stunned, Eric lost his grip on the glider and plummeted down into the city below.

 

Eric placed his hands on his chest and detonated a blast of magic energy, slowing his fall. He crash landed in the unofficial marketplace by the fountain. Specifically, he landed on the twins’ recovered tools and weaponry stand, breaking the legs of the table. “Landing on a pile of swords, that’s great,” he muttered to himself.

 

Eric sat up slowly. An egg hit him in the back of the head. He turned his head to see Cas sitting in front of him, a smile on his face. “You seem to have broken our table,” Cas said.

 

Eric groaned and pulled himself to his feet. “Listen, kid, I just fell forty feet onto a pile of sharp objects. If I hadn’t put padding in my armor for this specific situation, I’d probably be dead,” he said. “I’m not in the mood for a fight.”

 

Pollux walked over to the broken table and picked up an old lance. “I don’t really like fighting either, to be honest,” he said. “But, something tells me the Knights will pay some good money to us if we kick your ass.”

 

Cas grabbed a claw hammer and struck Eric in the knee. Eric grabbed his axe and swung at Cas’s head. Cas dodged just in time. Pollux charged at Eric to skewer him with the lance.

 

Eric slammed his axe down on the rusty old lance, shattering it, and kicked Cas in the stomach. Pollux dropped the busted lance and lunged at Eric, punching him in the face.

 

Pollux yelped and pulled his hand back. Eric, unfazed by the punch, jabbed Pollux in the jaw, knocking him on his ass. “Word from the wise, don't try and punch the guy wearing a helmet in the face,” Eric said.

 

Eric turned around just in time to see me swing my sword at him, cutting through his thin armor and creating a large gash on his side. Eric lifted his axe in the air to bring it down on me. Cas, seeing this, grabbed a circular shield and threw it to me. I caught it and blocked Eric’s strike.

 

From a distance, Sterling used his Verse to reshape the fountain, blasting Eric with gallons of water. Using this distraction, I sliced across Eric’s chest.

 

Eric swung his axe once again. I intercepted his swing and cut off the head of the axe. As it fell, the axe head exploded, blasting me and Eric away and knocking off Eric’s helmet.

 

My armor protected me, but the blast still took a lot out of me. Still, I found the strength to stab Eric in the stomach. Eric coughed up a mouthful of blood and fell to his knees.

 

“Who are you?” I asked.

 

“My name’s Eric,” he wheezed.

 

“I take it you aren’t a merchant?”

 

“Guilty as charged. Personally, I’d call myself a scientist. Although, if I’m being honest, most people would call me an evil dark mage sack of shit.”

 

I twisted my sword and Eric screamed. “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that,” I whispered. “Did you say that you’re a practitioner of dark magic?”

 

Eric sighed. “Again, I prefer the term scientist,” he said.

 

I ripped my sword out of his chest and raised it above my head, preparing to bring it down on him. Eric lunged forward and grabbed my legs. Suddenly, I felt very tired, as if all the strength had been ripped from my body.

 

I fell over. Eric stepped over me and started walking away. “Neat spell I learned a while back,” he said. “Allows me to heal my injuries by draining another’s lifeforce. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine after a short rest.”

 

An arrow flew at Eric. He caught it and crushed it between his fingers. Turning, he spotted Sterling standing fifty feet away, bow in hand. Eric rolled his eyes and pulled the braid from his pack.

 

The braid turned to dust and an aura of violet lightning surrounded Eric. He charged at Sterling, moving as fast as lightning and destroying Sterling’s arrows with blasts of dark energy.

 

When Eric reached Sterling, he punched Sterling in the face, knocking him out. Eric drained the lifeforce of the unconscious Sterling, replenishing the energy expended destroying the arrows.

 

Eric continued his charge towards the gate. At the end of the road, standing as the last line of defense, stood Captain Calvin Cross, lance held at his side. Eric fired a massive blast of energy at the wall. Cross jumped in the way, protecting the wall with his body.

 

When the dust cleared, Cross was fine. Green scales covered his skin and armor. Cross pointed his lance at Eric and fired the energy back, shattering Eric’s armor stopping his charge.

 

The Verses granted to chosen warriors by the Gods often said a lot about their wielders. Cross’s Verse, Protector, allowed him to absorb damage dealt to himself and allies, negating all damage in the process, and channel absorbed energy into powerful attacks. A fitting Verse for a defender of innocents like Cross.

 

Eric crawled to his feet. “Neat trick,” he muttered.

 

“Years ago, I met a young man cursed by a cruel lot in life, a man with the potential for greatness who instead chose the path of darkness,” Cross said.

 

“That’s cool,” Eric said. “Mind letting me leave?”

 

Cross walked up to Eric and stared in his eyes. “It’s been a long time, Eric,” he said.

 

“Yeah, it has.”

 

Eric punched Cross. Cross crossed his arms and took the blow. Eric struck Cross a dozen times as hard as he could and still, Cross didn’t budge. Finally, Cross swung back, striking Eric with the force of a dozen blows.

 

A loud crunch, presumably the sound of Eric’s jaw breaking, could be heard throughout the Capital as Eric twisted and fell to the ground.

 

“I’m surprised you went down so quickly, Eric,” Cross said as the scales faded away from his armor. “You’re smart enough to know that normal attacks don’t work on me.”

 

Eric’s Verse, Carve, allowed him to carve designs into anything he touched. Because dark magic is activated by complex runes, this Verse made Eric a deadly foe. As he stood over Eric, insulting the dark mage’s intelligence, Cross’s gauntlet exploded. This explosion, born from runes left by Eric the moment Cross punched him, blasted Cross away from Eric.

 

Eric crawled to his feet and blasted the gate, turning the wooden bars to splinters. He walked through the gate into the wilds beyond the city, victorious.

 

Sterling and I stumbled over, still groggy from our fights with Eric. Cross sat on his knees, clutching his busted hand. “He got away,” Sterling said with a sigh.

 

“Who was he?” I asked.

 

“His name is Eric,” Cross said. “I met him when he was a boy. Even then, he was a dark mage with few peers. Now that he’s older, there’s no telling how dangerous he is.”

 

“I can’t believe we let him get away,” I said.

 

“I don’t know if this will console you or terrify you, but I doubt this will be the last time we’ll encounter Eric,” Cross said.

 

The three of us plodded to the Temple for healing, sullen in our failure. Still, some good came from the day Eric got away. The next day, I returned to the marketplace by the fountain. “We get it, you don’t want us selling things by the fountain,” Pollux said as I walked up to his stand.

 

“That isn’t why I’m here,” I said.

 

I picked up the circular shield. “This shield served me well yesterday,” I said. “I think I’d like to buy it.”

 

I handed a few coins over to Cas for the shield. “You know, the shield isn’t the only thing that helped me out in the fight against Eric,” I said.

 

“I am more than willing to sell you any and all eggs we have,” Cas said.

 

I chuckled and shook my head. “I was referring to you two,” I said. “Have you considered joining the Knights of Cieleta?”

 

“You’re offering us a job?” Cas asked. “That’s amazing. Can you imagine it, Polly? Fighting monsters, saving people, going on adventures-”

 

Pollux shot his brother a stern look. “We aren’t exactly fond of most Knights,” he said.

 

“We aren’t most Knights,” I replied. “There are only three of us right now. Myself, the archer you had the little spat with yesterday, and our Captain. Really, we’re kinda desperate for new recruits right now.”

 

“Oh, so there are only a few people to watch our backs when we fight monsters?” Pollux spat. “How wonderful.”

 

“Come on Polly, don’t be such a downer,” Cas said.

 

“We aren’t joining, and that’s final,” Pollux said.

 

I sighed. “I’ll tell Captain Cross your decision,” I said.

 

Pollux narrowed his eyes. “Did you say Captain Cross?” he asked.

 

I nodded and Pollux placed his hand on his chin. “I know a Captain Cross,” he said. “Met him when I was a kid.”

 

“Does that mean you’ll change your mind?” I asked.

 

Cas turned to Pollux and gave him his best puppy dog eyes. Pollux sighs. “Aw, what the hell,” he said. “It’s not like this stand is making much money anyway.”

 

And, with that, Squad V grew to from three to five.


© Copyright 2019 Casey Jarmes. All rights reserved.

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