Ryupoto reared back it’s head and roared out in pain. It shot a stream of water at Aldrick, who jumped back out of the way of the aquatic blast. The water from the blast froze on the ground, forming an icy sheet, and freezing a part of the river. Aldrick slipped and fell on the ice, and looked up at Ryupoto in wonder. “You are more amazing than I ever imagined. Geraldo will be very pleased to have you at his call!”
Apollos lashed out right and left with his swords, seeking an opening in his opponents’ defense, but all of his attacks were repelled. Apollos growled, “I don’t have time for this!”
Hugh leered at Apollos. “Maybe you should try showing some of that skill that Aldrick used to admire you for! Or have you lost it all in your old age?”
Apollos squatted down and swept his leg through Hugh’s legs, knocking him to the ground. Apollos lunged to finish Hugh, but Charles deflected his blade, and forced Apollos back. Hugh pulled himself back up and Charles hissed, “How about you spend more time fighting and less time taunting? If not for me this old man would have claimed your life a hundred times over!”
Hugh spat to the side, and started circling Apollos once more. “You sound as if you actually respect him!”
Charles nodded his head. “I do, and I’m surprised that you don’t.”
Tara ran to the bank of the river clutching her two beast blades to her chest as well as Lucas’ Petrusa, and watched in awe as Ryupoto and Aldrick battled. Somehow Aldrick always managed to avoid Ryupoto’s attacks and get an attack of his own off. Tara shook her head. “If that’s all that a legendary beast blade is capable of, then I’m not impressed.” She started to wade through the river, shivering as the icy water cascaded into her body.
Magnavansimia was knocked over by a powerful swing of Terrumbarrus’ trunk, but when Terrumbarrus moved over to stomp on Magnavansimia’s chest, the water gorilla grabbed Terrumbarrus’ leg and threw it to the ground. Magnavansimia began to pound on Terrumbarrus’ body with heavy fists.
Lucas watched in awe as Aldrick battled Ryupoto. Ryupoto took slash after slash from Aldrick’s blade while being unable to retaliate with any attacks of his own. He jumped in surprise when Tara’s dripping form appeared at his side and punched him in the shoulder. “You weren’t planning on running away and leaving us here to fight, were you?”
Lucas shook his head. “No, I left the iron I got from Sharen City on the wagon, and I was trying to get to it to summon Ferrumlupus.”
Tara pushed Petrusa into Lucas’ hands. “Why aren’t you doing that then? Instead of gawking at Aldrick you could be doing something to help us win!”
Lucas blushed. “This is my first time seeing Ryupoto in action. He’s beautiful, isn’t he?”
Tara sighed. “If you don’t get moving this might be your last time seeing it in action too! Besides, how do you know that it’s a he? Beautiful is something you use to describe a she.”
Lucas grinned. “You could be right. Let’s go.” Lucas and Tara started for the wagon, and Lucas glanced over at where Apollos was fighting. “It doesn’t look like things are going well for Apollos.”
Tara grunted. “Who cares about how he’s doing? He’s been hiding things from us, Lucas. We can’t trust him.”
Lucas shoved Tara. “Even if you don’t think you can trust him anymore, he’s still fighting with us. If he loses, we’re going to have to deal with Aldrick and his captains alone.”
Tara glared at Lucas, but then she sighed and her looked softened. “You’re right, we need him for right now. When we’re done here, if we make it out of this, will you run away with me? We can leave Apollos behind and search for the rest of the legendary beast blades together.”
Lucas looked away. “I still want to give Apollos a chance to tell us the truth. We can always leave afterward if we don’t like what he tells us.”
Tara crossed her arms and grunted. “Why do you stick up for him so much?”
Lucas shook his head. “He saved my life when we first met. He didn’t know I was going to find the first legendary beast blade then, how could he? He decided to help a random stranger he happened upon in trouble. I owe him the benefit of the doubt for that at least.” They finally reached the wagon, and Lucas climbed up onto the bed and started looking around for the bag that contained his scrap iron.
Ryupoto lunged at Aldrick with its mouth open wide, and Aldrick nimbly danced out of the reach of the creature’s deadly fangs. Ryupoto’s jaws snapped shut and it grunted in disappointment that Aldrick had eluded him once more. Aldrick brought his sword down into Ryupoto’s neck and Ryupoto’s eyes opened wide. It reared back and bellowed in pain, and then its body shattered and it dropped to the ground in the form of its beast blade.
Aldrick smiled and pulled Ryupoto free from the ground. “Magnavansimia! Knock over that wagon and then return to me!” The water gorilla gave Tarrumbarrus one last kick to its midsection and Tarrumbarrus gave one last weak trumpet before changing back into its blade form. Magnavansimia charged over to the wagon and backhanded the wagon, sending it and Lucas flying to the side. The horses screamed as they were flipped into the air and landed with a crunch on the ground. The horses twitched and kicked weakly before falling still.
Tara chased after the wagon with wide eyes. “Lucas!” She reached the wagon and looked through their fallen supplies for Lucas, and found him unmoving amongst their belongings. Tara gently shook Lucas. “Lucas, wake up! He has Ryupoto! Please, just wake up!”
Lucas grunted and gently stirred. “I’m fine, Tara. We can’t let him get away though!”
Magnavansimia walked up to General Aldrick and Aldrick patted him on the head. “Excellent work, as always, Magnavansimia. Now slumber, you earned it.” Magnavansimia turned back into a sword blade and Aldrick put him into the sheath on his back. “Charles, Hugh, distract the old man for as long as you can, and then rejoin me down river!” He turned and started to run up the river.
Tara started to run after him, but Lucas shook his head. “No, Tara, we need to help Apollos first. We wouldn’t stand a chance against Aldrick on our own.” Lucas weakly pushed himself up to his feet, a chunk of iron held in his hand. Tara frowned, but after a moment nodded. Lucas pulled his beast blade free of his sheath and touched it to the piece of iron. “Awaken, Ferrumlupus!” The iron twisted itself around the sword and formed into a wolf. Lucas pointed at Apollos. “Help him in his fight!”
Ferrumlupus howled and charged toward the waterfall and leapt over the river, landed behind Hugh on the other riverbank, and bit into his calf. Hugh cried out in pain and dropped down to one knee. Apollos took advantage of the distraction, and lunged at Hugh and ran his blade through Hugh’s heart. Hugh looked down at the blade before his eyes opened wide and he dropped to the ground.
Apollos pulled his blade free and spun to meet Charles’ attack, knocking his blade aside with the sword in his right hand and plunging the sword in his left hand into Charles’ chest. Charles looked at Apollos and dropped to his knees. “You cheated, old man.”
Apollos pulled his blade free and shook his head. “There is no such thing as cheating in a fight, only disagreements in the tactics used.” Charles dropped to the ground and Apollos glanced at Aldrick’s retreating form. He started after him. “Come on, you two, we can’t let him get away!”
Tara crossed her arms under her breasts. “No, I’m not going a step further with you until you tell us how you know Aldrick, or if any of the things he said about you were true!”
Apollos threw his hands up into the air and shouted out in frustration. “Fine! But we’re going to get that wagon fixed up while we do it or I’ll leave you here and chase down that beast blade myself. Slumber Areoslithe!” The air cobra straighten it’s coils and turned back into a sword that Apollos picked up and put into his sheath. Apollos picked up Pijaro’s blade and waded through the river, Ferrumlupus trotting along at his side.
Apollos reached the wagon, and set his shoulder into the side. “Lucas, help me get this pushed over.” Lucas started to push on the wagon next to Apollos. The wagon tipped over and landed back on its wheels and Apollos sighed. “Thank you, Lucas.”
Tara looked at Apollos. “You promised us some answers now.”
Apollos looked away. “Yes, I did. Tara, you and Lucas start loading our supplies back onto the wagon, I’ll tend to the horses.” Tara opened her mouth to complain. “What Aldrick said about me is true. I am the one that trained him, and it is because of me that Geraldo is in power.” Tara’s eyes opened wide in fear. “It is all true, but not in the way that Aldrick made it seem. I am the guardian of the Shadow Sanctuary.”
Tara gasped but Lucas looked at Apollos in confusion. “What does that mean?”
Apollos knelt by the horses and checked on them, and shook his head. He started to undo their harnesses. “It means that it was tasked to me to make sure that no one was ever able to wield the legendary beast blade of shadow. The guardians that are chosen to watch over the sanctuary are made immortal until they grow tired of their duty and chose to pass it on to another. As long as the blade is in the sanctuary, I can neither be struck down or die of old age. I took my guardianship seriously, for the first ten years or so, but then Meradyth and I grew tired of sitting in one place for so long, and we started to travel. I journeyed to many different lands, and met many amazing people that I am proud to call my friends, but I’m afraid that those that yet live or that will see me are growing fewer each day.”
Tara looked down at the ground. “Sorry, Apollos.” Then she turned and glared at him. “That still doesn’t explain why you trained Aldrick or helped Geraldo!”
Apollos had the harnesses off of the horses and he was starting modify them. “I was beginning to grow tired of my guardianship, and as the guardian before me, I sought out my replacement. I found a young man that I felt would do well in the role, and so I brought Aldrick back to the sanctuary with me. I trained Aldrick in the ways of the guardians, in swordsmanship, and tactics when choosing beast blades. As you can see, he learned his lessons well.”
Tara grunted. “You did a great job of teaching him alright. Did you teach him to work for Geraldo as well?”
Lucas glared at Tara. “Would you stop interrupting him?”
Apollos smiled. “Thank you, Lucas. Aldrick was doing great in his training to become my replacement, but one day he started trying to convince me that the shadow blade should be used to help protect the people of this country. I tried to dissuade him from this course of thinking, but nothing I said seemed to convince him, so I sent him away. Unfortunately, Aldrick was able to bring my son, Geraldo, over to his way of thinking.”
Lucas’ eyes opened wide, and he dropped the bag he was loading onto the wagon. “What? Gerlado is your son?”
Apollos hung his head. “Yes, I’m ashamed to say that he is. He wasn’t always a bad person, in fact he was a gentle soul like his mother. That’s why I never suspected him of trying to steal the shadow blade. Aldrick returned to me one day, and told me he had changed his mind, and began to tell me this story about a vision he had when he was traveling. While I was distracted Geraldo snuck into the sanctuary and pulled the blade free of its resting place, and then he changed.
“He wanted to protect this country at first, but he quickly changed into a tyrant whose sole goal was to take over the whole world. Unfortunately, as long as he is wielding the shadow blade he has the immortality that normally belongs to the guardians. The only way to defeat him is to bring together the five legendary beast blades, and that’s what I set out to do. I may not have been a very good guardian, but I’m determined to set things right, or die trying.”
Tara looked at Lucas, and nodded. “If you are going to stop him, we’re going to need to get Ryupoto back from Aldrick, so let’s get moving!”
Apollos stood up and wiped a tear from his eye. “Thank you, Lucas. We’re going to need to act fast if we want to catch up with Aldrick before he has a chance to get away from us.”
Lucas looked up at the empty harness and frowned. “How are we going to do that without the horses? Do you want to use the wagon like a raft?”
Apollos walked over to where Tarrumbarrus’ blade lay and winked at Lucas. “Not exactly. We may not have horses, but we have something strong and fast enough to catch up with Aldrick.”
Thank you for checking out my story, if you liked this and want to see more of it, come back on Friday when I will publish part three, and check out the other stories I’m working on writing, here: Tales of the Imagination, check out my facebook page to connect with me and give me some feedback: Facebook, and follow me on Twitter here: @EJBorchardt. Please like, comment, and tell your friends if you like what you’ve read. Also, if you enjoy reading my stories, and you enjoy drawing, I’m looking for pictures of my characters. If you want to send me your fan art, I promise to include it with some of my posts! I look forward to seeing that art!