Lucas ran through the field, knocking corn stalks out of the way and ears of unripe corn to the ground, as the stalks scratched his skin. Shadows flowed through the field after Lucas, occasionally rising up into a humanoid form before turning back into a black puddle on the ground. Tears flowed down Lucas’ face as his feet pounded into the dirt of the field. He tripped over a rock and fell to the ground. The shadows surrounded him and rose up into their solid forms..
Lucas looked at the shadowy figures surrounding him, with long dark arms reaching out to grab him. Lucas screamed and quickly pushed himself onto his feet and started running again, pushing his way past the shadows. One of the shadowy figures reached for Lucas, but in a low, gravelly grating voice another of the shadows said, “Wait, let’s let him run some more.”
The reaching shadow’s arm stopped inches from grabbing Lucas, who ran down the field, his every footstep raising dust. “Why? We have orders to let no one escape from the plantation, and to bring back all who try.”
The face of the shadow who had spoken first split open to reveal dark fangs and jagged teeth inside of it’s mouth. “It’s been a while since we’ve been given someone to chase. Why should we let the fun end so soon?”
The other shadow’s all started laughing, and melted down into shadowy puddles once again, chasing after Lucas. Lucas continued to run through the field toward the cliff that it grew along. Lucas reached the end of the field and turned to the right to start running along the cliff’s edge, but he tripped over a corn stalk and went tumbling into a bush on the edge of the field, and into the cave the bush was growing in front of.
The shadows gleefully pushed through the bush and followed Lucas into the cave. A traveller watched it all from the top of the cliff..
Lucas tumbled down the sloping floor of the cave a little bit. The rocks he rolled over scratched and bruised him on the way down. He came to a stop when the floor leveled out. He looked back up toward the faint light at the mouth of the tunnel, and he saw the occasional shadowy figure rise up and block the light. The laughs of the shadows echoed down the tunnel and all around him. Lucas sobbed and started crawling further down the tunnel with one hand in front of him groping about in the darkness to make sure he didn’t run into anything.
Lucas felt the path slope upwards briefly before sloping downward again, revealing a warm reddish glow from further down the tunnel. That light must be the end of the tunnel! Lucas crawled faster toward the light. The light grew closer and closer, and Lucas’s hopes kept rising, and then fell as the light took the shape of a sword.
Lucas finally reached the light and broke into tears of despair once again when he realized what it was and that there was no way out. The sword’s point was embedded into the floor of the tunnel, and the sword itself was giving off the faint reddish glow. The glow of the blade revealed that the tunnel ended right behind the sword.
“Time to stop running, kid.” Lucas turned and saw the shadowy figures surrounding him, and the laughter continued to echo around him.
Another of the shadows reached out toward Lucas. “We have a nice spot picked out for you back at the plantation…” It’s eyes fell on the sword, “Wait a second. what do we have here?” It reached past Lucas for the glowing sword. “Lord Geraldo will be very happy to see this.”
A deep and authoritative voice echoed down the tunnel, “Awaken, Petrursa!” This command was followed by a deep rumbling and a sound that was a combination of the scratch of stone against stone and the deep bellow of a mighty beast. The voice filled the tunnel once more, “Send those creatures back into the shadows that spawned them!” Heavy footsteps echoed down the tunnel towards Lucas.
A large stone paw slashed through the left arm of one of the shadows, and a black smokey substance began to leak from the shadow’s arm and rise upward, where it slowly broke apart and disappeared. The shadows moved away from Lucas to surround whatever it was that had attacked them.Their arms flowed into blades and they began to attack, their blades bouncing off with the sound of ringing steel. The voice filled the tunnel once again, “Awaken, Aeroslithe!” This time, it was followed by a whistling kind of hiss. “Strangle the life from them!” Several seconds passed and then something wrapped around the body of one of the shadows, binding its arms to its side and grabbing tightly around the shadow’s throat. it made a gurgling noise as the air was forcefully squeezed out of its body.
Footsteps echoed down the tunnel and the light of a torch came into view as the footsteps drew closer. The light, carried by an old man, revealed a large bear made out of stone, as well as a large cobra that appeared to be made out of air tearing into the shadowy figures that had surrounded Lucas. The shadow that the cobra was strangling melted into a puddle on the floor of the cave, dripping out of the cobra’s grip. The bear slashed its stone claws through the body of the shadow it had attacked before, and the shadow creature’s body exploded into nothing but the same black smokey substance that leaked out of its arm moments earlier.
The man bearing the torch was charging down the tunnel, his long silvery hair and his blue cape flowing behind him. Aside from the torch held high in his left hand healso carried a sword in his right. He charged into the midst of the shadowy creatures, his sword slicing through their shadowy bodies alongside the stone bear and air cobra.
The cobra lashed out and sank its fangs into one of the shadow creatures, and the creature began to grow larger and larger until it burst into a cloud of dark, inky shadow. The shadow creatures ducked in and out of their shadowy puddles and changed their arms into dark blades with which they struck back at their foes. The old man seemed to have his hands full as three of the shadow creatures fought him, and four others harassed the stone bear and air cobra.
The old man spared a glance at Lucas and the sword, and his eyes went wide. He threw his torch toward Lucas. It landed next to Lucas, and Lucas shied back from it. “Pull out that sword and put it into the fire! Once you have done that, shout out, ‘Awaken, Pyrequine!’”
Lucas looked hesitantly at the old man, and then back and forth between the sword and and the torch. He finally stood up and pulled the sword out of the ground and put the blade inside the fire. “Awaken Pyrequine!” he called out. The flames of the torch swirled around and around the sword. Lucas let go of the blade and it floated as the flames spread out to form a small horse made of fire. The horse whinnied, shooting flames from its nostrils. It was a white horse with flames that danced from it’s hooves and dazzling flames in place of its tail and main. A small horn extruded from its forehead of the pony-sized animal It turned its head and looked at Lucas with intelligent eyes.
Lucas looked confused and then stuttered out, “W-w-what do you want? G-g-go help that old man!” The pony obeyed and dashed into the fray, turning around and kicking with its hind legs, flames bursting forth from it’s hooves as each landed firmly in the middle of the backs of the shadow creatures. The two shadow creatures became wreathed in flames and spewed, black smoke from their disappearing figures.
With the two shadow creatures that the stone bear was fighting defeated, it turned it’s attention to the three fighting with the old man. It opened it’s mouth wide in a mighty bellow and sunk it’s fangs into the shoulder of one of the shadow creatures. The old man used the aid of the bear to slash through chest of the shadow creature.
The pony lowered it’s head and a small flame formed on its horn and then shot forth in a stream of fire which engulfed one of the shadow creatures engaged with the air cobra, and it disappeared into a black cloud that slowly disintegrated. The other shadow creature raised up it’s blade-like arm and swung it at the fire pony. The fire pony danced back out of the way and the air cobra lashed forward and sunk its fangs into the shadow creature’s neck, which inflated like a balloon before bursting. The two moved over to help out the old man and the stone bear.
The two remaining shadow creatures dropped back down into shadowy puddles and started flowing up the tunnel, the old man took a swing at one of them as it dropped down, but his blade was too slow and it passed over the shadow creature’s head. The fire pony lowered its head again, and another flame appeared on its small horn. The flame shot forth and engulfed one of the puddles. While the puddle sat there and slowly burned, giving off lingering black smoke as it slowly disintegrated, the other puddle sped up the tunnel, and out the cave.
The old man and the three creatures chased up the tunnel after the shadow puddle.Lucas lay on the ground panting heavily. What is going on? I should just leave before that old man gets back, but I don’t want to be all alone either. I guess I’ll wait for him to come back.I hope there aren’t any more of those shadow creatures hiding around here. The old man returned after several minutes. “That cursed beast managed to escape. Are you unharmed?”
Lucas nodded his head. “I’m fine, they never touched me. Who are you, though?” The bear and cobra moved over to the old man and the pony walked up to Lucas, and started nuzzling him. Lucas fell over and backed away. “And what are these things?”
The old man looked blankly at Lucas. “You mean you have never heard of beast blades before?” Lucas shook his head. “Where did you grow up, under a rock?” The old man grumbled under his breath before continuing. “Let me start by introducing myself. I am Apollos, a traveler from the land of Eltare. These creatures you see around you are know as beast blades, creatures that were captured and stored in the form of blades, and given amazing powers as well. This, is Petrursa, the stone bear and this is Aeroslithe, the air cobra. They are two of my beast blades, and they serve me well. Petrursa, Aeroslithe, slumber!” The bear’s body started to compress together and reshape itself until it became a sword with a stone bearpaw decorating the hilt. The snake straightened itself and shrank while reshaping itself into a sword with a pair of fangs pointing forward from the guard, and a whirlwind design on the hilt. The old man looked expectantly at Lucas.
“Slumber, Pyrequine?” The horse disappeared in a brilliant flash of fire. Lucas had to look away, the fire was so bright. When he looked back, there was a sheathed blade with a fiery hoof print decorating the hilt. Lucas stared at the blade.
Apollos sheathed his blades behind his back, where he had another sword strapped, as well as one at his waist. “Well go ahead, pick it up. The sword choose you to find it. That means you are the hero I have been searching for.”
Lucas picked up the blade, and warmth flooded through his body. “Thank you for saving me, but you must be mistaken, I’m no hero. I’m just a simple farmer. My name is Lucas, from Kilke. What just happened here?”
Apollos stroked his long silvery beard. “That is a bit of a long and complicated story, one that I would be happy to share over a warm meal in your home, if you would be so kind as to invite me into your families home?”
Lucas’s shoulders slumped and he turned his head to look at the ground. “I’m all that’s left of my family. My parents and sister were killed when General Caine took over the region for Lord Geraldo. I actually just escaped from the plantation that I was enslaved at. That’s why those shadow creatures were chasing me.”
Apollos looked upon Lucas with sympathy. “I’m sorry to hear that Lucas. I will tell you the story of beast blades over supper, but I will be the one to provide it. Let me go and grab my pack from the mouth of the cave and we can stay the night in this cave.” Apollos turned and walked up the tunnel. Lucas picked up the torch from where it was blazing on the floor of the cave and looked around at his surroundings. The tunnel actually opened up into a small cavern, with a pedestal up against the end of it where the sword had been resting. Off to the side of the cave, the tunnel continued to slope down deeper into the earth.
Lucas walked around the cave, examining the room. “This would make a nice place to live. Sure it’s dark and all, but it’s dry and open and the tunnel is hidden pretty well.”
Apollos’ voice echoed around the cavern. “I’m afraid that you won’t be staying here boy. One of the Acerbi escaped, to Lord Geraldo no doubt, and he will have a particular interest in that blade you are holding. I have no doubt they will return, and in greater numbers.” Apollos walked into the cavern, his pack over his shoulder and a bundle of wood under his arm. He dropped the wood onto the floor of the cavern and put his pack on the ground. “Bring that torch over here so I can get a fire going, and I’ll explain more of what happened here today.”
After a few minutes the two of them managed to get a fire started. Apollos pulled a pot off his pack, placed it over the fire, and put water, vegetables, and some hunks of dried meat into the pot. The ingredients began to cook together and a pleasant aroma filled the cavern. “Sorry that it’s nothing special, but I’m running a little low on supplies.” Apollos pulled two bowls and two spoons out of his pack, filled one of the bowls and handed it to Lucas. “Here, eat.”
Lucas bowed his head to Apollos. “Thank you for the food. This smells much better than the slop they serve us at the plantation.” Lucas loudly slurped his soup.
Apollos dug into his pack again and pulled out half a loaf of dry, crusty bread. “I know this bread isn’t very fresh any more, but if you dip it into the soup it helps to soften it up and makes it a little better.” Apollos sliced off two pieces of bread and put the rest of the loaf back into his pack. He handed one of the slices to Lucas.
Apollos dunked his piece of bread into the soup and then bit off a bit of the soup-soaked bread. “That sword you found, it is one of the five legendary blades, and it is known as Pyrequine, the Fire Pegasus. The fact that you are the one that found it, means that you have been chosen to gather the five blades and face dark lord Geraldo, who holds the Acerbus, or the shadow sword.”
Lucas stared at Apollos, his spoon halfway to his mouth. “What? Me? Chosen? But I’m just a runaway slave, the son of farmers! What could I do against someone with the kind of power that Lord Geraldo wields?”
“I keep asking myself the very same questions, but here you are, in a hidden cavern that no one even knew existed, and you wielded Pyrequine, therefore it is you that must take up the search for the blades.”
Lucas looked Apollos over and saw that he carried four blades with him. “No, there must be some mistake. You already have the other four blades, so obviously you should have this one too.” Lucas put his bowl down and stood up. He offered Pyrequine sword to him. “Thank you very much for the meal, but I really must be going. You should take this sword and go to face Lord Geraldo.”
Apollos shook his head. “It doesn’t work that way boy, so sit down and finish your soup. This blade, and fate, has chosen you to face Geraldo. If I were to try to face his with the blade it can only end in disaster. These other blades that I carry that you pointed out are nothing like the one you carry. These blades were created by wizards, but the six were discovered.”
Lucas sat down, picked up his bowl, and started eating. “The six? You have been talking about five this whole time, where did the six come from?”
“Long ago an adventurer found the first six blades, the five legendary blades and the shadow blade. It was discovered that the five legendary blades could be used to summon forth powerful creatures to fight for the blade’s wielder. The shadow blade however, is very different. It summons forth many creatures, a seemingly infinite supply of them as long as the blade is plunged into someone’s shadow. In exchange for this power, the blade’s wielder cannot move, but no one needs to when they have so many minions made out of shadow to work for them. All other beast blades, including the five, must be plunged into a specific element in order for the creature they contain to be summoned forth.”
“If they only discovered five of them, how are there more of them now?”
“A great many wizards studied the first six, and today’s beast blades were the closest they could come to replicating them. The way new beast blades are created is a wizard casts a spell on a blade, granting it the element that the creature will take on, as well as the element needed to summon it. After that the blade must then be plunged into the beast. The beast will then become one with the sword, and a new beast blade has been forged.”
“Is that how you got all of your beast blades?”
“No, I have an acquaintance that deals in beast blades that gave me all of mine. I was actually on my way to meet with him to see if he had heard any news I could use in my search for the five legendary blades. We will continue my journey to meet with him in the morning.”
Lucas put his spoon into his empty bowl and set it down. “We? You mean you’ll come with me?”
Apollos snorted. “Of course I’m coming with you. I saw how you reacted to that handful of Acerbi that attacked you today, and I will not allow Geraldo to get his hands on the five legendary blades.”
Lucas sat with his head turned in thought. “Apollos, why haven’t the legendary blades been found before now? And if you don’t have any legendary blades, what are your other blades?”
“The legendary blades hide themselves from the world until someone draws the shadow blade. Its as if the blades understand when the world needs them and then encourages the one they have chosen to come and find them. As for my other blades, one of them water is necessary to summon it, and it is in the form of a bore. As for the other, it is one that I rarely get to summon, a lightning tiger, and I carry it at my side to fight with as good steel. I recommend you do the same with Pyrequine, because fire is a rare thing to find on a battlefield. You can use this to summon in most fights. Earth is an abundant element.” Apollos held out Petrursa to Lucas.
“I can’t accept this blade from you. Besides, I don’t know how to fight with a sword, so I’ll just focus on getting Pyrequine out if it comes down to a fight.”
“Don’t be a fool, I have plenty of blades and know where I can get more. Now take it; I will be teaching you to fight starting tomorrow. I’ll make a fighter and a hero out of you yet, boy.” Lucas reluctantly accepted the sword. Now, get some sleep. We have a long and perilous journey ahead of us.” Apollos threw a couple more pieces of wood onto the fire. He pulled one of his blades out of the sheaths that he had strapped to his back and held it up into the air. “Awaken, Aeroslithe!” A small tornado swirled around the blade and formed into the air cobra. “Guard us and warn me if any approaches.” Then Apollos lay down and wrapped his cloak around his body. Lucas lay down upon the ground near the fire and curled up in a ball, the events of that day going through his mind. Sleep eluded him for several hours before he finally found rest.
A shadow in the form of a puddle flowed through a long stone hallway and into a grand throne room with beautiful tapestries and finery everywhere you looked. The room was filled with musicians and servants waiting on the figure sitting upon a throne that cast a long shadow across the room. The shadow had a blade plunged into it and smokey blackness rose from the blade. The figure seated on the throne stared menacingly at those scattered throughout the room with his one eye, servants looking away whenever they gaze lingered on his empty eye socket. A golden crown sat perched above his shoulder-length black hair and his mouth was surrounded by a well-trimmed black beard. He raised a black leather gloved hand into the air and all music and chatter from the servants abruptly ended.
“Report,” was the only command uttered by the figure on the throne, and the shadowy puddle raised up into one of the Acerbi, dropping down onto one knee.
“Sire, I was assigned to guard the plantation in Kilke, and I was chasing a runaway with my brethren. We chased the boy all the way to a cave and inside the cave we found the fire blade that you have been seeking.”
The figure on the throne pounded his fist onto the arm of his throne, sending a dull thud echoing through the chamber. “You found what I seek and yet you have failed to bring it to me?”
“Forgive me, sire. It was my intention to bring you the blade, but we were attacked. The attacker was upon us before we knew it, and my brothers were all slain, returned to the essence. I returned to tell you of this.”
The figure on the throne bellowed out, “You failed me!” The Acerbus flinched and shrank down. “But you did well to bring me news of this. Take an army of your brothers and find General Caine. He is in the Dounku province conquering in my name. Tell him to find the blade and bring it back to me. Go!” The Acerbus dropped down into a shadowy puddle and sped out of the chamber, followed by many other shadowy puddles streaking after it.
If you enjoyed this story, be sure to check out the other stories I’m working on at https://ejborchardt.wordpress.com/index/