A pack of shadowy puddles raced over the ground of the Dounku Province toward a man seated on a tan horse. One of the shadows rose up next to the horse and bowed to the man seated on the horse. “General Caine, I bring new orders from our master.”
The general snorted and turned away from the fight he had been watching between two of his subordinates and two rebels. The rebels were fighting with a steel wolf beast blade and an air turtle beast blade against the fire monkey and earth owl of his subordinates. “Of course the master sends new orders. I’m only nearing completion of this task he set before me, why would he want me to finish it. What are these new orders?”
The Acerbus narrowed his eyes. “That sounds dangerously close to disrespect General Caine. Don’t forget who it is that has given you the power that you wield.”
“And don’t you forget that it is my loyal service that allows your master to continue to conquering this continent while he is unable to move from the location where he plunged your blade into his shadow. I am the one spreading the fear of his name, I am the one expanding his rule, now tell me of these new orders!”
The Acubus sighed. “The master orders you to Kilke to deal with a young boy and an old man, and to retrieve the beast blades that they wield.”
General Caine looked at the Acerbus with a skeptical look. “Really? He needs me to leave the front where I am needed to deal with a boy and an old man? What, you Acerbi weren’t up to the task?”
“The boy wields Pryequine, the legendary fire beast blade, and the old man that came to the boy’s aid was no ordinary old man either. He fought along side his beast blades, and was just as dangerous as they were.”
“Hmm, a legendary beast blade you say? I’m sure I can gain even more recognition from our master if I was to obtain one of those. This fight doesn’t seem to be going anywhere quickly, I’ll just finish this, leave my captains in charge, and then we can be on our way.” General Caine pulled a sword out of the sheath on his back. He then reached for his canteen at his side, opened the top and poured some of the water onto the blade. “Awaken, Aquacornu!”
The top of his sword bent into an upwards curve, forming a horn, and a large blue body began form from the rest of the blade. Water dripped down the sides of beast, revealing a blue rhino, which stomped and pawed at the ground, sending splashes from the puddles that formed at it’s feet. “Aquacornu, stampede through all those fools.”
Aquacornu charged into the midst of the fighting beast blades, a tidal wave forming behind him and slamming into General Caine’s subordinates, their beast blades, as well as the enemy beast blades and the rebel fighters. All the beast blades besides Aquacornu turned back into swords and dropped to the ground. Caine walked past his subordinates, who glared at him, and he picked up the rebel’s beast blades. “I’ll just take these for now and make sure that they get to some of my troops. Men, take these rebels prisoner and find out what information you can before taking them to one of the work camps.” Walking to his beast blade, he muttered, “Slumber, Aquacornu.”
Aquacornu transformed back into a sword and General Caine bent over and picked up the blade. He put the blade back into his sheath, whistled and waved his hand up over his head, and two men walked up to General Caine. “Captian Walter and Captain Philbert, I am putting you in charge of this campaign until I return. Don’t let me down, men.”
The two men saluted and then started shouting some orders at the other men nearby. “Get those men back to the camp! You two, are you going to lay in that puddle all day? Come along now! We have a province to capture!”
General Caine climbed back up onto his horse. “Lead the way Acerbus, I will claim that beast blade myself!” The Acerbi turned back into puddles and sped across the ground, and the Caine’s horse galloped behind them. With the power of Pyrequine at my side I might even be able to dethrone Lord Geraldo, and then these armies will conquer in my name! Emperor Caine has a nice ring to it.
Lucas and Apollos circled each other across the clifftop above the cave where they had spent the night, both of them stripped to the waist and holding a sword in front of them. Apollos was an old man, and he wasn’t a large bulky fellow, but there was no fat on his body; every muscle was defined on him. Lucas compared Apollos’ body to his own, and was ashamed at the comparison. He was lean and muscled from poor feeding and long hours in the field, but he was in his youth still; he should be in much better shape than an old man.
Lucas darted forward and thrust his sword at Apollos. Apollos moved faster than Lucas could follow, sidestepped the attack and brought his blade down on Lucas’, pinning it to the ground. Apollos then plowed his shoulder into Lucas’ chest, knocking Lucas to the ground and the sword from his hand.
“Lucas, you have to remember to watch my movements. If you fail to do that, you will end up in trouble every time.” Lucas grumbled under his breath. “What was that?”
Lucas cringed at first, but then looked at Apollos with confidence. “Why should I learn to sword fight? Letting the creatures fight for me seems like a much better idea. It keeps me out of danger, and they are so much more powerful than I could ever hope to be!”
Apollos picked up Lucas’ sword and helped Lucas up to his feet. “That’s the problem with this generation: everyone is afraid of getting hurt. You are a wielder of a legendary blade, that makes you the target of every servant of Lord Geraldo, and most of them will likely just kill you and take your blade from you. I’m teaching you how to survive. Now take your sword and prepare to defend yourself.”
Lucas looked away. “I never asked to get a legendary beast blade, I never asked for any of this. If someone decided they wanted to kill me, I don’t think I could stop a beast blade even if I was a sword master.”
Apollos thought for a moment. A smile crossed his face and he dropped into a fighter’s stance. “Go ahead and call your Petrursa out, and I’ll show you just how well a man with a sword can do against a beast blade.”
“Are you crazy? Petrursa could kill you!”
“He could, but he won’t. Send him out and see what a master swordsman can do!”
Lucas hesitated and Apollos nodded at him. Lucas plunged his sword blade into the ground and hesitantly called out, “Awaken, Petrursa.” The dirt and stones surrounding the sword swirled around the blade and a large stone bear rose up out of the ground and roared. He stood there looking at Lucas. “Attack him?”
Petrursa dropped down onto all fours and charged at Apollos. Petrursa raised up one of its front paws and swung at Apollos. Apollos sidestepped Petrursa’s attack and swung his sword, the blade bit into Petrursa’s side. Petrursa roared in pain, reared up and took another swing at Apollos. Apollos met Petrursa’s paw with his sword. The blade cut into Petrursa’s paw once more and it roared out in pain. It slammed the ground, triggering a small earthquake that shook the clifftop. Stones and bits of dirt tumbled down the cliff, and threw Lucas and Apollos off balance.
Petrursa charged in with its head down, intending to headbutt Apollos, but Apollos regained his footing and leapt up over Petrursa’s head, and came down, driving his blade deep into Petrursa’s back. Petrursa bellowed out in pain, dropped to the ground, and transformed back into a sword. Apollos pointed at the blade sitting on the ground. “Do you understand now the importance of learning swordsmanship?”
Clapping sounded from behind Apollos, and he turned to look behind him. General Caine stood next to his horse, his black cape flapping in the wind, surrounded by the Acerbi. “A most impressive display of swordsmanship, sir. I was sent here to kill you, but perhaps I could persuade you to join me instead?”
Apollos turned his body and dropped into a fighter’s stance, his sword held in front of him. He turned his head to speak to Lucas. “Pick up the sword and be ready for a fight.” He turned back to General Caine. “Who are you, and why do you travel with the shadow scum of Lord Geraldo?”
The Acerbi hissed at Apollos and started to move forward, but Caine held out his hand to stop them. The shadows stopped advancing, but glared at Apollos. “There is no need for that, friend. I am General Caine Loriaben, one of the generals of Lord Geraldo’s ever victorious armies. If you choose to fight against me, you will most certainly lose your life. Now, wouldn’t you rather stay alive to use your talents?”
Lucas’s eyes, went wide and his body started to shake. “G-g-general Caine? The same General Caine that led the conquest of the nation of Kilke? The one that killed my parents?”
General Caine frowned. “I see, you are one of the survivors then? I wasn’t planning on leaving you alive anyway, but you, old man, could possibly work his way up to captain under my guidance. What do you say?”
Apollos never took his eyes off of General Caine, and he eased a second sword out of the sheath on his back. “Lucas, go ahead and call out Petrursa, we have quite the fight ahead of us.” Apollos thrust the sword he had pulled out up into the air and called out, “Awaken, Aeroslithe!” The air began to swirl around the upraised blade, which began to twist and coil itself into the form of a snake, the tip of the blade becoming the snake’s darting tongue.
Lucas drove his sword into the ground once more and called out, “Awaken, Petrursa!” The surrounding rocks began to clump together around the sword and took on the form of a bear. “Petrursa, attack!” Petrursa began charging forward toward the general.
The shadows began to move forward to meet Petrursa and Aeroslithe’s advance, but General Caine held out his hand and stopped them once more. “I will deal with this. Stand back.” General Caine pulled out the two swords that he had taken from the rebels, raised one of them into the sky and shouted, “Awaken, Aerotestudine!” He released the blade as a small twister formed around the blade and transformed into a turtle made out of air. Caine then pulled out a dagger and pressed the tip of the dagger against the other sword. “Awaken, Ferrumlupus!” The steel of the dagger bent around the steel of the sword, and it bent and reshaped itself, growing into the form of a steel wolf. “Destroy them.”
The wolf and turtle charged out and met Petrursa and Aeroslithe, the turtle stepping on Aeroslithe’s tail, and the wolf sinking it’s steel fangs into one of Petrursa’s stone legs. Aeroslithe wound it’s way around the legs of Aerotestudine and then around its shell, and struck out with its fangs, which were repelled off the shell of the air turtle. Petrursa swung his paw down onto Ferrumlupus’s back, leaving a dent in the wolf’s back. Ferrum Lupus released it’s hold on Petrursa and jumped back, avoiding another of Petrursa’s powerful swings, darted around behind Petrursa and launched himself onto Petrursa’s back, dug his claws into the stoney hide and his teeth into its neck.
Petrursa bellowed out in pain, desperately trying to reach Ferrumlupus, until Apollos darted in and ran his blade into the side of Ferrumlupas. A tiny puncture was made, and Ferrumlupus released its hold on Petrursa and leapt away, landing a short distance away and warily watching to see how Petrursa and Apollos would react.
Aerotestudine pulled it’s legs into its shell, and gusts of wind shot out of it’s shell, causing to begin to spin rapidly, unwinding and sending Aeroslithe flying. Aeroslithe landed in the branches of a nearby tree, near where Ferrum Lupus was crouching.
General Caine smiled and pulled the last sword sheathed across his back, and pulled out his canteen. He unscrewed the cap of his canteen and poured out some of the water onto the blade. “Awaken, Aquacornu!” He released the blade as it bent and reshaped itself into a blue rhinoceros. “Stampede them.” Aquacornu charged towards Apollos and Petrursa, a tidal wave forming behind him. Apollos’ eyes went wide and he leapt up and landed on Aquacornu’s back.
Aquacornu charged right into Petrursa and plunged its horn into Petrursa’s chest. Petrursa bellowed out in pain, and slumped over before being battered by the wave of water. He transformed back into a blade and clattered onto the ground, the water from the wave continuing on and rushing over the edge of the cliff and onto the field below.
“No, Petrursa!” Lucas cried out. Aquacornu turned its head and glared at Lucas, and pawed at the ground, sending water splashing behind it. It lowered its head and began to charge at Lucas. Apollos swung his sword again and again, his blade biting into the flesh of Aquacornu, with little effect.
Apollos plunged his blade deeply into Aquacornu’s back. Aquacornu bellowed and staggered, but continued on with its charge.“Get out of the way, boy!” Lucas dove to the side and Aquacornu ran past Lucas and off the cliff, Apollos jumped off of the rhino’s back and landed front of the rhino, using his body to protect Lucas’ from the oncoming wave. He pulled his last blade off of his back and held it into the oncoming wave. “Awaken, Aquaper!” His blade split into two, forming twin tusks on either side of the head of the boar that formed from the rest of the sword. Between the bodies of Aquaper and Apollos, Lucas avoided the brunt of the wave. Aquacornu fell to the ground below with a big splash and turned back into its blade.
Apollos stood up and pointed at Aerotestudine. “Aquaper, attack that turtle, Aeroslithe, bite into the puncture I made on the wolf!” Apollos pulled Pyrequine out of Lucas’s sheath and charged across the clearing at General Caine. Aquaper opened its mouth and squealed, water shot out of its mouth and hit Aerotestudine, knocking it over onto its back. Aquaper charged across the clearing.
Aeroslithe darted down off of the branches that he had been lurking on, his mouth open and his fangs plunging into the hole that Apollos had left in its hide earlier. The wolf began to swell and bulge until it burst open, and formed back into a sword blade.
Apollos bent down and picked up Petrursa’s blade and continued his charge, a blade held in each hand, pointed forward toward General Caine’s chest. He growled out a challenge as he pounded across the clifftop, “I will rid the land of your darkness!”
Aquaper lowered its head as it neared Aerotestudine, and plunged its tusks through the hard shell that covered the air turtle’s back. Its horns turned into water and powerful jets of water shot through Aerotestudine’s body, changing it back into its blade form as well. Aeroslithe and Aquaper joined their masters’ charge toward the gathered Acerbi.
General Caine’s eyes went wide as all of his beast blades changed back. “Acerbi, protect me and retrieve my beast blades!” Acerbi darted toward Apollos and his beast blades, but two broke off and went after General Caine’s fallen beast blades. The rest of them, ten in total, stood up in front of Apollos and his beast blades, the shadowy limbs morphing into long, sharp shadow blades.
Apollos stopped short of the Acerbi. “Aquaper, blast through them!” Aquaper stopped and open up his mouth, a fount of water burst forth and slammed into a group of the Acerbi, blasting holes through them. Aeroslithe slithered across the ground and struck his fangs into one of the Acerbi that Aquaper hadn’t hit, and it swelled up and burst like a balloon, it’s shadowy essence flying up to join that of its brethren.
Apollos dove into the fight, his blades slashing and thrusting, knocking away the shadowy blades of the Acerbi and scoring wounds when he was able. His beast blades fought alongside him wreaking much damage in the ranks of the Acerbi. The two that had gone off to gather General Caine’s beast blades returned to his side and offered the blades up to him. He took them and turned his horse and started to gallop away. “Finish them off and deliver the bodies to me!” he shouted as he moved away from the fight.
Lucas watched on in awe as Apollos not only held his own against the Acerbi, but was doing as much damage as his beast blades were. Maybe there is something to this sword fighting that Apollos wants me to learn. He turned and looked down at the bottom of the cliff, and noticed General Caine’s last beast blade embedded in the ground. he decided to climb down and grab the beast blade, remembering the power that it possessed and the damage it had done in the short while it was in the fight.
Lucas half slid, half climbed down the cliff. Once he reached the bottom he pulled Aquacornu’s blade free of the ground and put it into one of the sheaths on his back, and turned back to face the cliff. He rubbed his hands together and started working his way up back up .
Apollos drove both of the blades he wielded into the chest of the last Acerbus, and then slashed outward with them, slicing it in half. Dark shadowy smoke rose up from the fallen Acerbus and joined the dark cloud over their heads made up from the rest of the Acerbi that had fallen. The cloud slowly dissolved and broke apart. Apollos turned, breathing heavily, to face the edge of the cliff. “Well, I certainly hope that this shows you the value of swordsmanship, Lucas. Lucas? Lucas! Where did you go?” Apollos looked back and forth frantically across the clifftop.
A hand popped up over the edge of the cliff and planted itself on top of the cliff. The hand was followed by a grunt, and then the rest of Lucas’ body as he levered his body back onto the cliff top. Apollos ran to his side, Aeroslithe and Aquaper following him. “Lucas, what happened? Did you fall off of the cliff? Are you injured?”
Lucas smiled at Apollos, stood up, and started brushing the dust off of his pants. “That rhino seemed pretty powerful, and I figured that General might try to go and get it back, so I decided to climb down and grab it before he could.”
Apollos looked down over the clifftop and noticed General Caine getting off his horse. He started looking around on the ground, looking through bushes and in the field. General Caine dropped down onto his hands and knees and started crawling around. “Where is it? I saw it fall off of the cliff top over there, it should be right around here!”
Apollos handed Lucas back his two beast blades. “Give me the beast blade you picked up, Lucas.” Lucas pulled Aquacornu’s blade out of the sheath on his back and handed it to Apollos. He put the other beast blades back into their sheaths. Apollos held the blade up over his head. “General Caine, is this what you are looking for?”
General Caine’s head snapped up and he glared at Apollos. “When did you have time to get that? Return it to me at once!”
“I’m sorry, but I’m not going to give this blade back to you. However, I will give you something. Aeroslithe, attack Caine!” Aeroslithe darted past Apollos and Lucas and off of the clifftop, his light body letting him glide toward General Caine.
Fear filled General Caine’s eyes and he jumped back onto his horse and got it galloping. “I will track you down, someday, and I will make you pay for what you have done!”
Apollos and Lucas started laughing. “Aeroslithe, come back up here, he’s gone. Well, what do you think now, boy? Is swordsmanship still a waste of time?”
Lucas smiled at Apollos. “No. You were the star of the fight today, Apollos, and I hope that someday I can become more like you.”
Apollos smiled back at Lucas. “One day perhaps you will. We should get moving, though. I’m sure that General Caine will return and bring more Acerbi with him. Can we stop at the plantation you are from and gather more supplies?”
“No, I don’t think that would be a good idea. There are too many Acerbi there, and there really isn’t much that we could use there anyway.”
Apollos picked his shirt and cape up off of the ground, and put them on. “Then we should head to Sharen city. I have a friend there that might know where to look for the other legendary beast blades, and we should be able to resupply there.”
Lucas pulled his shirt on over his head as well. “How far away is Sharen city?”
Apollos stroked his beard. “Oh, from here I’d say it will take us at least a week to get there. We have some time yet before dark, let’s try and put this place behind us.”
Lucas looked off of the cliff top at the distant walls of the plantation. “We’ll return one day, and free everyone at the plantation, right?”
Apollos rested a hand on Lucas’ shoulder. “Of course we will. When we are done, the Acerbi and Lord Geraldo will be defeated, and we can bring freedom back to this place. Now, let’s go.”
Thank you for checking out my story, if you liked this and want to see more of it, you can find the first part, as well as other stories I’m working on writing, you can find them here: https://ejborchardt.wordpress.com/index/ check out my facebook page for updates on the stories here: https://www.facebook.com/EJBorchardt?ref=aymt_homepage_panel, and follow me on Twitter for random facts about my stories here: @EJBorchardt.