Metagore, The Battle For

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: House of Ghosts


The time had finally came for Daeavar to face the manticore in the pit.

Chapter 11 (v.2) - Man Versus Beast

Submitted: January 06, 2016

Reads: 290

Comments: 5

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Submitted: January 06, 2016

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In the chilly, frosted keeps of Cornelius' castle, sat the former yeoman, Daeavar. Forced to reside on the cold, hard, concrete floor, with nothing to sleep on, and not a single thing to eat aside from stale bread and putrid water to drink---Daeavar was miserable and weak. The only thing he could do was to try and figure out what had gotten him thrown into the cell. Who really killed Lord Brighton? And why would they frame him?

For the past six days, Daeavar had no contact with anyone except the guards---the huge trolls had no care in the world for the prisoners under their watch.  They showed no sympathy for neither their isolation, nor lack of sleeping materials, nor even the courtesy of a simple bucket for the prisoners to relieve themselves in.

The keeps were beyond freezing---enchanted by the djinns who had helped design them---making the prisoners believe they were sitting in a block of ice, even causing frost to form on their bodies. Each keep had the capability of causing the inhabitants to feel like they had been imprisoned for years, forcing their bodies to undergo the symptoms of being in such a climate. They would grow sick and stiff, and their limbs pained from frostbite. Thus, most of the prisoners never survived in the keeps for any longer than a moon.

Fearing his punishment---for a crime he pleaded to be innocent of---and being left without any belief or hope left in him, Daeavar prayed to Nya, their goddess of life and death, for a quick end to his undeserved suffering.

As he sat there---praying his life would be taken before he suffered anymore---Daeavar could hear the sound of footsteps approaching. With his head hung down, he could tell the person approaching had to be a female by the sound of her traveling lightly with each step.

He knew the steps taken into the keeps, as he dreaded to face the one woman people feared to anger. He slowly glanced up towards the approaching feet. Quivering and shaking, he could feel the stiffness in his neck muscles. His eyes caught a glimpse of burning embers falling onto the ground outside of his cell. His eyes traveled up a thick, white, fur coat snugged around a feminine body. He finally locked his sight onto the blazing ruby red eyes glaring down at him; her nails were razor sharp, and her curled hair flaring with fire. Lady Topaz---who was loved just as much as her late husband, and her beauty never faltering---looked deadly and dangerous.

It didn't take her long to find her words through her rising anger. "How dare you?" she shouted, as her voice echoed through the keeps.

"I-" Daeavar started, but was quickly drowned out by more shouts from the enraged widow.

"How dare you take him away from me! How dare you kill my only love! My life! My fire!" Topaz hissed and screamed at him, tears streaming off her bronze face. She truly adored her husband, as he had her.

"He was the only one who understood me!" Topaz paused for a brief moment and reflected upon the life they had spent together. She closed her flooded eyes as she started back up, this time more soft and broken. "He took me in and made me his love forever."

Daeavar made his way to his feet, and walked over the metal bars, wincing in pain as he went. "I didn't...I am innocent," he started, but was cut off once again as Topaz's eyes shot open and loud screams came out from her mouth.

"Then you took my children's father...you took my beloved husband...my beloved Brighton! You took him away from me! You will be damned forever! You will pay in hell!" Lady Topaz screamed, as she reached through the bars of the cell. Fire engulfed her, as she nearly grasped the prisoner. Her nails almost scratched his arm, as he edged away from her in fear.

Daeavar had never seen Topaz's anger. He had always steered away from her when she looked like she was about to explode, but he had heard rumors of how she could burn down a kingdom with her anger.

"What do you have to say for yourself, you abomination?" She snapped, with a face that could kill.

Daeavar, completely terrified of the woman he had grown to know so well over the years, slowly inched his way back into one of the far corners of his cell--his face frozen in fear. He slumped down onto the ground, and just stared at Topaz.

After a few moments of no reply, Topaz grabbed one of the bars to his cel. It started to steam, and eventually started to turn into magma as it began to melt. She quickly released her grip on the cell with no intention of going in after Daeavar, but to simply strike even more fear into his mind. Leaving him knowing she could easily seek her revenge if she so wished to do so. Still staring down the former yeoman, she turned and stormed away.

As Topaz left the keeps, one of the guards who had been watching over Daeavar started to unlock the cell's door. "'Tis time to go," the guard said, as he quickly walked up to Daeavar and placed him in shackles. "Dammit, 'tis colder than a hairless arse in here," the guard stated as they exited the cell.

As Daeavar walked along---mostly pushed and shoved by the guard---he was mostly in a state of shock, but could feel his limbs as they started to burn. His frozen and frostbitten skin had started to thaw, and it had started to thaw quite rapidly. His strength had left him causing the weight of the chains force him to trek slowly---thus, the guard shoved him even harder---and the rugged ground under his bare feet felt as if he were walking on broken glass.

After leaving the keeps, Daeavar was loaded up into a caged wagon---which was drawn by a dralion---to be taken to The Pit where he would meet his death.

***

A few floors about the icey keeps of the castle, Cornelius sat in his cabinet. Across from his desk sat a dark elf, Marquess Tylon.

Tylon was relatively young, even though he was still older than his newly elected lord. He had dark, red eyes, and short, black hair which had a few strands of gray peppered through it. His posture wasn't of honor or nobility, but of a careless, arrogant child.

"The kingdom is growing violent outside of these walls," Cornelius spoke towards his marquess. "We need to establish order in the streets."

Tylon, slouching in his chair, responded, "So actions do you propose we take?"

"Send some of your knights to patrol the streets." Cornelius turned and glanced out the window. "Send orders for six guards to accompany me at all times, starting at sun break tomorrow."

Tylon leaned forward in his seat, supporting his elbows on his knees. "You wish to have six guards at your side?"

"Aye," Cornelius responded as he turned back to Tylon. "I feel too threatened by walking the streets with just one escort."

"You don't feel safe in the streets?" Tylon asked redundantly. "What about feeling safe from the dangers that lie beyond the kingdom's walls? What about the war that the grand dukes have brought upon us-"

"They are no longer grand dukes," Cornelius cut him off, with a sharper than usual tone in his voice.

"Maybe not anymore," Tylon responded. "But you haven't issued any battle plans. For pity's sake, you haven't even given any command to defend our walls. How do you expect us to survive, if you don't even try to protect us?"

Cornelius lowered his head and stared at his desk. It was becoming harder for him to see clearly, as tears started to slowly form in his eyes. After a brief moment of looking down, he raised his head back up, and stared off to the side of the room---trying not to make any eye contact with Tylon.

"I..." Cornelius paused and sniffled. "I knew in the back of my mind, that I needed to do something. I knew that war was amongst us, and I knew that I needed to give the orders to line the walls with archers, and to have you get your armies prepared." Cornelius paused again to sniffle once more, then continued. "I had hoped that it all would have blown over. That maybe they were just upset for the moment, and when they returned to their manors, they would have forgotten about the war...I had..." Cornelius looked back down for a moment, then back up at Tylon. "I had hoped that I wasn't as big of a mistake as what everyone else thought. I wanted to be lord so I could help people...So I could do something that would make a difference; and this war isn't the difference that I had in mind."

"I seriously doubt that they've forgotten about the war," Tylon responded in a soft, caring voice.

"I know," Cornelius replied as he tried to stop the tears. "I've just been under so much stress-"

"If you want people to respect you as their leader, and feel safe in your own kingdom, then take charge...Even I am aware of that."

"Aye," Cornelius stated. "Go and prepare the walls for defense, and ready up your knights. If they wish to come here and attack us, then we will be ready. But incase they did forget about the war, I do not wish to rekindle the flame." Cornelius sat at his desk for a brief moment, just staring at Tylon, as he had started to slouch back in the chair. "Well? What are you waiting for? You wanted me to give the command-"

Tylon let out a slight chuckle. "Aye, I've already got the walls lined with archers. Plus, I have sent out scouts to patrol outside our walls, keeping an eye out for any incoming attacks."

"Thanks," Cornelius said as he gave a slight smile. Then with a slight chuckle himself, he continued. "This is why you still remain as my marquess. I'm glad I can count on you."

As they continued to speak, a knock came from the door as Duchess Zorie walked in. "It's time to go to Galdwulf, my Lord," she said as she gave a gracious bow to Cornelius.

"Aye, most certainly." Cornelius turned back towards Tylon. "Will you excuse me? I have other matters to attend to."

Cornelius stood up from his desk, and left the room with Zorie. They walked down to the main level of the castle, then out through the hall. Outside the doors sat a white and black carriage, suited just for the lord and his duchess---a small banner hung on both sides. In front of the carriage sat two guards, who were holding the reins attached to two dralions.

After Cornelius and Zorie had entered the carriage and left for Galdwulf, Zorie looked at Cornelius' damp face. "Are you nervous, my Lord?"

"Me nervous? Why would I be nervous?" Cornelius responded with a chuckle, trying to not look sadden. "I have no reason to be nervous. After all, I'm not battling in The Pit."

"No you are not, my Lord," Zorie responded as she placed her hands in her lap, and straightened up her posture.

***

Just an hours ride into Galdwulf---close to the base of Mount Eryn---rested a large stone structure unlike any other, known simply as The Pit. With an iron caged dome towering ten meters over the ground in which it covered, and wooden seats placed outside of the dome structure to house the audience in attendance, The Pit was the place all battle-to-the-death fights were held. Some of the fights were for entertainment---merely a sport for bragging rights---while others, like the one being held on that day, were for punishment.

As the crowd started to take their seats, Lord Cornelius and Duchess Zorie---accompanied by the two guards---made their way to their seats under a canopy placed in the center, right next to The Pit, designated just for them.

"Welcome," Cornelius addressed the crowd, as he stood in front of his seat, looking around at the audience who had gathered. "Today we are gathered to witness the gods' judgement of the accused, who is being condemned for the late Lord Brighton's death. He has yet to confess. So may thy gods' judgement be merciful and just. Now without further ado, enjoy the show."

The crowd erupted in a roar as Cornelius sat down. They were excited for the free entertainment. It had been a while since the last pit duel. Many of the audience members weren't really concerned if Daeavar was innocent or guilty, they were just there to see the bloodshed.

After Cornelius had taken his seat, he motioned to a guard who stood above a large iron gate connecting the arena to Daeavar's holding cell. The guard raised the gate, as the prisoner was shoved out of the cell by another. Daeavar staggered a little as he was forced into the arena, but managed to maintain his balance. He glanced down at his wrists and rotated them for a brief moment, glad one of his captors had removed his bondages.

Across the arena, Daeavar could see two yellow eyes, surrounded by a thick coat of brown fur, staring at him through the iron bars. The beast growled and hissed as it rammed the gate---two long, sharp horns becoming visible to all who were watching.

Daeavar stood close to his gate, trembling in fear, as the guard started to lower it back down. Still in much pain from being in the keeps, he could feel his body going numb. With his legs feeling weak, he decided to take a seat---wishing they would just let the manticore out so his torture would be over quickly.

As he sat there waiting, he saw a person lighting the torch placed above the manticore's cell. The torch was covered in a residue which would burn out after one hour. He knew his time had finally came, as he continued to sit there and look around at the crowd. As he glanced around, he noticed Lady Topaz in the stands. The seats around her were vacant as her hair burned with anger and sorrow over the death of her husband. Daeavar detoured his eyes, unable to look upon her, as she glared back at the one she believed killed her husband. Daeavar continued to scan the audience again, when a few elven looking people caught his attention. Sitting in the front row he seen his wife and two children with tears flowing from their faces.

Why she bring 'em here? He thought to himself.

As the thought passed through his mind, he heard the sound of the other gate starting to rise. His attention was quickly drawn to the large feline, as he awaited its release.

Daeavar quickly decided no matter how much pain he was in, the only way he could prove his innocence to the crowd was to face the beast and survive. So he stood to his feet and hunched over. His body began to bulge and morph, quickly forming into a bluish-gray wolf, known as a raiju---an elemental creature which can generate lightning from quick movements.

Daeavar started to pace from side-to-side, as sparks began to accumulate from his shoulders rubbing against the side of his body.

Finally the time had arrived, and the gate was fully opened. Emerging from the darkness of the cell, stepped out a large, feline creature, bearing two scorpion tails, bull-like horns, and wings of a dragon.

At first, the manticore just prowled around the arena, stalking Daeavar, who was doing the same---both creatures assessing the other.

After a few trips around the arena, the manticore pounced towards Daeavar, who quickly darted away in what appeared to be a bolt of lighting. The manticore quickly looked around, confused from what just happened, smelling the faint scent of the ozone where Daeavar once stood. The beast finally spotted Daeavar on the opposite side of The Pit.

The manticore slowly prowled up towards Daeavar, pinning him up against the wall. He pounced once more, but again Daeavar vanished in a flash.

Growing angry, the creature started to growl loudly. He approached Daeavar a third time. However, when he pounced, he swung his tails to the side of him.

Daeavar managed to escape being pounced on, but as he fled he was stuck by one of the large tails. Daeavar impacted the ground as he slid across it. He rose to his feet, limping in pain---the numbness still had not left him. He was uncertain how long he could just keep running away.

Once more the beast pounced, this time landing on Daeavar. Its razor like claws dug into Daeavar's blue hide. Daeavar just knew his death was about to come. But as soon as he had accepted defeat, the beast drew in his claws and walked away---just leaving a few minor scratches.

What's goin' on? Why did it not kill me? Daeavar thought to himself, as the manticore just circled around the arena.

As time passed, the beast continued to pounce onto Daeavar, swatting at him and scratching him in the process, just to release him shortly afterwards. Daeavar began to think that he might actually make it out alive---broken and gouged, but alive.

As the two circled around the arena once more---snow falling from the turquoise and lavender sky---Daeavar glanced up at the torch. The flame was dwindling down, significantly smaller than it once was. He knew the hour had to be drawing near.

The ground started to shake, as a loud echoing roar shuttered through The Pit. Everyone glanced up towards the tip of Mount Eryn, as Libras flew overhead followed by another large creature---but with the snow falling, it was hard to make out what the other creature was.

Was this a sign to Daeavar from the gods? Were they going to let him live?

Daeavar, standing in awe, unconsciously morphed back into his elven form. He looked over at the torch once more, and stared at the residue embers burning from the wick. He stood there smiling, as hope filled his mangled and bruised body. Against all odds, he had actually managed to survive the hour. A feat he knew should not have been accomplished.

Joy and relief filled his body, but quickly fled as a sharp pain shot through his chest. Daeavar collapsed to the ground, grabbing at his torso, gasping for air. The realization of why Daeavar had been taking medications so often, entered back into his mind---along with the thought of Cornelius refusing him to take them while he was in the keeps.

As Daeavar laid on the ground, the beast finally gave up on playing with his food, and pounced onto Daeavar one last time. Daeavar managed to muster up just enough air to let out a thunderous scream.

The beast stabbed his body with one of its tails, and bit into his head and shoulders---ripping them from the rest of his shredded body.

The crowd drew still for a brief and silent moment, before the echoes of cheers started to bellow through the structure.

Cornelius rose up from his seat. "The gods have decided. We have found-"

He was quickly cut off by the angry chants from the crowds. "Throw Cornelius in The Pit! Throw Cornelius in The Pit!"

Cornelius' guards quickly grabbed him and Zorie by the arms, and rushed them both out from under the canopy towards their carriage---weapons at the ready in case the suddenly hostile crowd decided to attack.

 

 


© Copyright 2018 D. L. Stewart. All rights reserved.

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