Zachary StrongHoof, chief of snake tribe and war commander halted. He sniffed the air. It was unusual for a human to do so. But this was no human. This was the half-man, half-horse creature known as centaur. The other centaur took a pace forward, realised their leader had stopped and did the same. Zachary stroked his chin thoughtfully. He looked at the other centaur. Lines appeared in their faces as they formed a frown. There was a pause, then: out of the corner of Zachary's eye he saw the slightest movement. Then jerked back in surprise as a blade-no more than two inches, shot past his face.
The blade hit a tree. There was a sound of leather on metal as the centaur drew their weapons: swords, battleaxes and bows. Zachary, as war commander had skill with all weapons. He drew his bow, and sent an arrow flying at the puny human huddled in the tree. There was a cry of pain as the arrow landed in his eye and another as he hit the ground. Zachary returned the bow to one of his saddle bags- which were always in reach. Zachary drew his sword, from the scabbard on his waist. “What is a human doing so far from Agon” asked Cortan to no one in particular. Agon is the land of the humans. “I don’t know” said Zachary puzzled. He lifted his sword, but barley a few seconds before he beheaded the man a group of half a dozen humans burst out of their hiding places.
The entire tribe of centaur drew their shields- which held their tribe’s symbol: a snake. There was a series of flashes as Zachary parried a blow, then thrust his sword into the man. He then deflected another blow, which sent the man staggering. Zachary grabbed the man’s collar and stabbed him in the throat. Then he saw someone sneak up behind Cortan ready to stab him. In the blink of an eye Zachary replaced his sword, drew his bow and sent an arrow at the man. The arrow struck the man- which pierced his throat. The man fell to his knees. Cortan disarmed the last man and was about to end his life before Zachary shouted “don’t kill him! We need to ask him some questions” Zachary said as he drew his dagger. The man fell to the ground gratefully. Zachary held him up and pressed the dagger against his throat.
“Why did you try to kill me?” Zachary asked the man. The man winced at the dagger’s pressure. “The king planned an assassination on you” he answered carefully. King Richard is the king of Agon. “Why?” asked Zachary. “He wants this land for himself. Without you- the war commander, the armies of Tarnis would be confused.” He said still very nervously and slow. Tarnis was the land of centaur. And what this man was saying was true- without Zachary, the armies would be leaderless. “Don’t kill me” the man pleaded. Zachary hesitated then knocked the man unconscious. “Someone tie him to that tree” he shouted, “we’re going back home” he added finally.
“Why do they have to be so far away” Zacharymuttered under his breath. He looked at the other determined faces. He was at the Council of War Meeting. The Council of War Meeting, where all the chiefs gather around at table and discuss war situations. They were asking Zachary to sail to Perik- land of dwarves, and ask them to join them in the war. It was most likely they would agree for the ancient treaty they made.
“Why me?” asked Zachary. “Because you’re the one they’re after. In Perik you’ll be safe.” Replied Rick, leader of tiger tribe. He was right. There was no point for Zachary to refuse.
“When do we leave” asked Zachary. “Tell the snakes to set shore as soon as the sun comes up.” Rick said. Zachary nodded and turned for the door. He looked back and asked: “are you sure this thing with the dwarves will work?” “Of course it will. The dwarves may be small, but they’re true-born warriors. Also they have sorcerers, and they can beat those puny humans for sure.” Rick replied. “I hope so” Zachary said as he left the room.
“Zachary? Is that you?” asked Corak, king of dwarves. “Yes it is, my lord” Zachary replied. “I haven’t seen you in- what was it? Fifteen years?” the king asked. “Yes, my lord” Zachary answered the King.
“Anyway, what brings you here, so far from Tarnis?” The middle aged king asked. “Its king Richard, he’s planning an attack on Tarnis. We need your troops- and yoursorcerers of course.” Zachary explained, and then finally added: “my lord”.
“Interesting, I’ll send fifteen boats-fifty men on each” he said, “including myself” he added. King Corak never misses a good battle. “I’ll leave my second in command in charge” he answered the question witch Zachary was about to ask.
Everyone in the training ground stopped to hear the three horns which meant war was coming. From far away they could see the humans forming. There was a buzz of excitement as the tribes moved into line. The centaur drew their swords. The archers drew their bows. The sorcerers wielded the elements. And the warrior dwarves held their battleaxes. Everything was silent. Silent until the next horn was sounded. The sound of metal against metal was unbearable.
From where Zachary was standing he could see it all. He turned around and thrust a man through the heart. He forced an arrow through another man’s head. He saw a man get pushed back by an invisible force. “Magic” he muttered to himself as he cut a man down.
King Richard looked at the battle which was happening before him. There was barely two quarters of what he started with. "This battle was a mistake" he said to himself. He was surprised to see that Zachary StrongHoof was still alive. He had no choice. He knew what he had to do next. “Sound the horn to retreat” he said to the horn bearer.
Zachary looked around and nodded, satisfied by what he saw: the humans fleeing back to where there ships were moored. It had gone how he had planned. Zachary turned to his horn bearer and said: “withdrawal, the battle is over”. The man nodded and six loud noises were produced from the horn.
Everybody turned and headed back through the border. Now they could live in peaces until king Richard came up with another crazy idea.
© Copyright 2017 Zachary Burke. All rights reserved.
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