Trixie stood over Ahir’s body holding the shield she had just received in front of her, her eyes clenched shut and a grimace on her face. This shield better protect us. What am I doing? Ahir would have gotten out of the way, he’s Ahir! No! I wanted to help Ahir, and this is my chance to really help him. Lang’kahn threw the fiery lance down at Ahir, and the air surrounding it began to warp from the heat of the lance. The lance struck Trixie’s shield and the shield glowed a brilliant golden color, and the lance collapsed down into a white ball of fire before forming back into a lance and flying back at Lang’kahn.
Lang’kahn’s eyes went wide in shock, and he put his hands up in front of him to meet the attack. The blast met his hands and exploded, a smile crossing his face, until some of the flames rolled around the barrier he had created and enveloped his body. Lang’kahn cried out in pain and waved his arms, drawing the heat away from the fire until it went out. Lang’kahn glared at Trixie, burns covering his face and his hands. The fire that burned on top of his head grew until it enveloped his body, and then retreated back to it’s normal size, leaving his body healed. “You are going to wish you hadn’t done that little girl.”
Ahir jumped back up to his feet and grabbed his sword, and stood in front of Trixie. “Thanks for the save Trixie, but I’ve got this from here. Go and see if Milton needs any help.” Trixie looked at Milton, laying on the ground twenty feet away, and then at Ahir. She bit her lip in concentration as she thought it over.
“Okay, just don’t get yourself killed. I’ll bring Milton back and we’ll take down this monster together!” Trixie turned and ran over to Milton. People were screaming and running out of the burning apartment complex.
Lang’kahn formed a fireball in either hand and threw them at Ahir. Ahir dove to his left and rolled, came out of the roll and back at the place that he had been standing and saw the tree he had rolled into before catch fire, sending more black smoke upward to join with the smoke from the apartment fire. If he wasn’t careful, that could be him. He needed to try and lure Lang’kahn into getting closer, he would never be able to get a hit off if he kept attacking from up in his apartment. He also knew that he couldn’t let this fight drag on too long, otherwise the authorities would show up to deal with the fire and get themselves killed.
A thought crossed Ahir’s mind, causing him to smile. Aureus’aevum may be immune to all damage except for from the Gladio Protegat, but this wasn’t an Aureus’aevum. This was a human that could use magic. He glanced over at Trixie and Milton and saw Milton back up on his hands and knees, shaking his head. He looked back at Lang’kahn who was lifting his hands above his head. Ahir’s eyes followed Lang’kahn’s hands and noticed a black cloud forming over his head, electricity crackling in it and thunder rumbling.
Ahir dove to the side, and lightning crashed down into the spot that he had been standing moments before. The dog that had come through the portal and given Trixie her shield ran over, with Bar’bou riding on his back and shouted, “Ahir, you must work together with Trixie to defeat Lang’kahn. The Escudo Spegel can reflect Lang’kahn’s attacks back at him. Quickly, before he attracts too much attention!”
Ahir ran over to Trixie and Milton, mumbling under his breath, lighting crashing down behind him. “You think I’m taking my time with this? Why couldn’t I attract crowds this big when I was doing my performances?” Ahir reached Trixie and Milton. “Milton, are you okay?”
Milton rose quickly to his feet, and then staggered. He winced and grabbed his head in his hands. He shook his head and then glared at Ahir. “I don’t need the likes of you worrying over me. This is all your fault, you know. If you had just warned Captain Ember like I told you to, this wouldn’t be happening.”
Trixie put her hands on her hips and glared at Milton. “Ahir tried, but Captain Ember wouldn’t listen.”
Ahir looked up and saw the dark cloud spark again. “Trixie, quick raise your shield over head!” Trixie lifted her shield up and lightning struck down, and then bounced off of her shield back up into the sky. “That dog thing that came through the portal said that we need to work together to stop Lang’kahn.”
Milton snorted and smiled at Ahir. “What’s the matter, Ahir? Finally figure out that you aren’t sufficient to deal with Lang’kahn on your own?”
Ahir sighed. “What is your problem? We’re both trying to save people’s lives, what do you have against me?”
Milton glared at Ahir. “The fact that you don’t know is part of the reason! Now, why don’t you go save the day? My bow doesn’t seem to have any effect on him.”
Another lightning bolt rained down from the sky toward Ahir, but Trixie moved over to send the lightning bolt back up at the sky. Ahir grabbed Milton by his collar. “Listen, I can’t get close enough to hit him with my sword, but that’s not the problem. He’s human, not an Aureus’aevum! That means that we can hurt him with things other than the sword!”
Milton pushed Ahir away from him and limped away. “Perfect. This fight is mine, don’t get yourself involved, I’ll clean your mess up myself.”
Lang’kahn yawned, and then shouted, “If you aren’t going to fight back, maybe I should start attacking these people.” Lang’kahn formed a fireball in his hand and pulled his arm back to throw it, but a light arrow flew past his head and embedded itself into the ceiling above him. Lang’kahn looked up at the ceiling and then back down at Ahir and Trixie. A tire flew through the air and nailed Lang’kahn in the face, knocking him back into the burning room.
Ahir turned and looked at Trixie. “Trixie, Milton just turned himself into a target, and he’s the best chance we have of beating Lang’kahn. I need you to go and protect him with your shield. With his leg hurt he’s not going to be able to dodge as well as he could before.”
Trixie looked at Milton and then back at Ahir, a confused look on her face. “What about you, Ahir? I should protect you too!”
“Listen Trixie, I appreciate all the help you have given me, but at the moment, I can’t even get to Lang’kahn to do anything. I’m going to do what I can to try and get those people out of here before Lang’kahn follows through on his threat and attacks them. I’ll be looking for an opening to attack him, but for now Milton is our best hope! Now go!” Ahir turned and ran away from Trixie towards the group of people watching the fight. Trixie turned and ran to Milton.
Lang’kahn stood up, flames blazing on all sides of him and walked back to the edge Ahir’s apartment, and stepped out onto the air. He moved his jaw around, turned his head to the side, and spit out a tooth. “You are going to regret that. I’m going to rip that bow from your hands, and use it to send you into that inferno behind me! I’m going to enjoy listening to the flames ripping screams from your throat.” Lang’kahn raised his hand up, and a fireball formed over the tip of each of his fingers. He flung his hand forward, and the fireballs sped over the distance separating Lang’kahn from Milton, the fireballs growing as they drew nearer and nearer.
Milton’s eyes darted back and forth, looking for someplace safe, something to use to protect himself, but he found nothing. A look of resignation crossed his face, ready to accept his fate, until Trixie stepped in front of him and held her shield out. The fireballs crashed into Trixie’s shield, each of them glowing golden, and then flying back at Lang’kahn. Lang’kahn stepped to the side and snarled at Trixie. “You won’t take me by surprise anymore, human! You can join your friend in this fire once I’m done with you! I’ll burn your whole world!” The fireballs crashed into the apartment complex, causing it to shake, and begin to collapse as the flames rose even higher.
The trunk of the tree that had caught fire snapped with a loud crack and fell over onto the ground. Milton turned, looked at the tree, and then fired a beam of light into the smoldering wood of the tree and then fired another into Lang’kahn. The tree lifted off of the ground and flew at Lang’kahn, who made several chopping motions with his hand, sending tiny blades of air flying at the tree and chopping it into splinters. The splinters continued to fly at Lang’kahn and pelted him, sticking to his body.
Lang’kahn let out a bellow and thrust his arms out wide, sending the splinters flying away from his body. The splinters rained down onto the ground, some hitting the sidewalk, the road, and some landing on the grass, which started smoldering. Lang’kahn formed a ball of energy in his hand and threw it at the ground. The ground absorbed the attack, and little furrows appeared in the ground, traveling toward Trixie and Milton. Milton looked at the furrows and started limping away. “Move!”
Trixie looked down at the ground and then ran after Milton. Vines exploded out of the ground behind her, writhing and twisting as if they had some life of their own, the vines reached out and grabbed onto Trixie. Trixie screamed as the vines wrapped around her legs, her arms, and her torso and dragged her back into the mass of vines. The shield dropped from her hand, tears filled her eyes, and she reached out to Milton. “Milton, help me!”
Milton looked back at Trixie and he pulled back the string on his bow, and he released, the beam of light flying into Trixie’s body. Before Milton could pull the string back again, one of the vines reached out and wrapped around his arm holding the bow. Milton spared the vine a glance and quickly tried to grab onto the string, but another vine wrapped around his arm and pulled it away. Vines wrapped around all of Milton’s limbs, and he cried out in pain as the vines grip on his injured leg tightened. The vines pulled Milton towards Trixie, and Lang’kahn’s deep laugh echoed throughout the building.
Lang’kahn’s laugh cut off when the blade of the Gladio Protegat sliced through the vines binding Trixie. Trixie dropped to the ground and looked up at Ahir, who was cleaving through more of the vines. “Trixie, get your shield, we need it to win this fight!” Ahir left Trixie’s side and made his way to the vines grabbing Milton.
Trixie looked over her shoulder at the vines, which were starting to regrow, and she half ran, half crawled across the ground to where she had dropped her shield. She grabbed it, stood up, turned around, and saw the vines darting after her once more. She held the shield to her chest and took a few steps backward, tripped and fell onto her rear. The vines crashed into her shield and broke apart. Trixie stared in amazement at her shield. She was beginning to really like this shield.
Ahir cut Milton free and Milton fell to the ground. He groaned, stood up and glared at Ahir before limped away. “You’re welcome!” Ahir shouted after him.
Trixie ran up to Ahir. “Were you able to get the people to leave?”
Ahir grimaced. “I did, but it wasn’t easy. Too many of them know who I am. I get the feeling it has just become more difficult for me to move around freely and make rent. I can worry about that later, though. For now, we need to figure out a way to beat Lang’kahn quickly. I think if we time it right, Milton can pull Lang’kahn close enough for me to attack.”
“But Milton hates you and does the opposite of whatever you suggest.”
Ahir sighed. “That’s true, but I don’t believe that Milton is a fool. He knows this fight needs to ends soon too. It’s the only chance we have, so we need to try.” Ahir started running over to Milton, but before he could reach him, the ground under his feet exploded upward, sending Ahir flying. He landed on his back with a loud gasp. Trixie ran to Ahir’s side.
“Ahir, are you okay?”
Ahir winced. “I’ll be fine, but you need to go and tell Milton our plan.” Trixie looked hesitantly at Ahir, but then turned and ran to Milton’s side.
Milton launched a beam of light into a car parked nearby and then into the burning building. The car lurched into the air towards Lang’kahn, but Lang’kahn brought his hand down in a chopping motion, clasped his hands together and then moved them apart, sending a slice of fire through the car and a gust of wind, slicing the car in half and pushing it around him. Lang’kahn glanced at Milton. “I already know your tricks boy, you may as well give up.”
Lang’kahn snapped his fingers, and the two halves of the car that were stuck against the ceiling in the smoking remains of Ahir’s apartment flew back at Milton. Milton started to move to dodge, but couldn’t move fast enough with his injured leg. He fired one arrow into his leg and turned his bow to fire another but, Trixie ran in front of him, holding her shield in front of her, cringing at the impact that she knew was coming. The car halves slammed into her shield, and changed direction once again, flying towards Lang’kahn.
The smile disappeared from Lang’kahn’s face and dropped down to the ground, the car flying through where he had been hovering. He glared at Trixie and spat out, “I’m really starting to hate that shield of yours, little girl.”
Ahir ran up to Lang’kahn, his sword held high. “Really? I’m really starting to enjoy her having it.” Lang’kahn turned and looked at Ahir, a look of horror crossing his face. Lang’kahn brought his hand up, a fireball forming on it, but before he could launch it, Ahir brought his sword blade through his neck. The fireball that Lang’kahn was holding exploded, sending Lang’kahn’s body flying through a window on a lower apartment and his head through a different one.
Ahir dropped down to his knees. “We did it. We beat Lang’kahn.” He turned and looked at his apartment building and sighed. “I just paid next month’s rent, and I’m probably not going to get my security deposit back either.”
Trixie ran up to Ahir the same time that Bar’bou rode up on the dog that had come through the portal. Bar’bou leapt from the dog to Ahir’s shoulder. “Exemplary job, Ahir, even if an encounter here was less than desirable.”
Sil’abo sat down and held out his paw to Ahir. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, young hero. I’m glad that I was able to aid you in keeping the Gladio Protegat from Lang’kahn.” Sil’abo held his hand out to Trixie. “Excellent work by you as well, miss. You were thrown into the middle of a fight with a weapon you have no experience with, and were a major help.”
Tor’jahd landed on the ground a next to Sil’abo and Milton limped up. Tor’jahd cleared his throat. “Who are you exactly? Did the king send you as well?”
“Indeed he did. It is I, Sil’abo, scribe to King Dar’duo. I was sent to give the human’s more aid in their fight against Lang’kahn, and with a message for you. It was never the king’s intention for you to isolate Milton. He sent you and the Powaga Jousi over to aid Ahir in his fight.”
Tor’jahd preened his wing feathers and replied, “Humph, the human we chose has a history with Ahir, and doesn’t want to work with him. Besides, he’s doing a better job than Ahir ever did and he’s not needlessly killing our people.” Tor’jahd turned and looked at the body of Captain Ember and then back at Ahir. “He’s even started killing his own now.”
Bar’bou glared at Tor’jahd. “You uttered no suggestions for putting an empowered human possesed by Lang’kahn into submission. Portals to send him through were lacking, and the use of magic risked our own corruption. Clearly the method chosen was the best. If your human had aided Ahir in his effort to prevent Captain Ember employing magic rather than abandoning us, maybe this situation could have been avoided!”
Tor’jahd glared at Bar’bou and opened his beak, but before he could say anything Sil’abo shouted, “Enough! The King sent me to unite us into one team, not to allow you two to squabble amongst yourselves.” Bar’bou and Tor’jahd glared at each other, but then turned their heads away.
Bar’bou growled before replying, “In accordance with the desires of King Dar’duo, my cooperation is offered to Tor’jahd. The difficulty will be great, but I have survived the near impossibility of working with Ahir.”
Tor’jahd shrugged his wings. “I can work with Bar’bou if I really need to, but the decision doesn’t lie with me, it’s up to Milton. I watch over him and the Powaga Jousi, so I go where he goes.”
Everyone turned and looked at Milton expectantly. “I’ll listen to what you have to say, hound, but I make no promises of my cooperation. I seem to be doing fine on my own.”
Sil’abo shook his head. “It’ll have to do for now. We have discovered much since you have left us, Bar’bou. Did it ever strike you as odd that Lang’kahn only opens a portal and sends his minions through every couple of days?”
Bar’bou scratched his head. “Indeed I did question it, but I assumed that opening multiple portals was a strenuous task, and the power to do so eluded even Lang’kahn .”
Sil’abo nodded at Bar’bou. “That is true, but it isn’t the only reason. While it is usually three days between portal openings here, Lang’kahn opens a portal every three hours. We have have discovered that time passes much more quickly here than it does in our world. You may have been here for two months, but only two and a half days have passed since you left.”
Bar’bou’s eyes went wide. “Two and a half days? You followed so closely behind Tor’jahd? The heart of the King was swayed so quickly?”
Sil’abo shook his head. “No, his majesty still is grieved by the loss of life by any of our people, but he desires that all three of these humans work together to face what is coming next.”
Tor’jahd turned his head with curiosity. “And that would be what exactly?”
Sil’abo responded. “We don’t know anything with certainty, but we believe that Lang’kahn is strengthening his attacks. As you know Tor’jahd, in his last attack Lang’kahn sent two of his minions over.”
Bar’bou turned and looked at Tor’jahd in shock. “Two Aureus’aevum at once? Milton’s injury must be the result of that, correct, Tor’jahd? Do you care to enlighten us as to why you declined to inform us of this?”
Tor’jahd snorted and turned his head away. “Milton and I have told you to leave fighting the Aureus’aevum to us. I didn’t really see why it would be necessary for you to know about it if that was the case.”
Bar’bou leapt up and down angrily on Ahir’s shoulder. “’Not necessary’? The life of Ahir and possession of the Gladio Protegat could have been lost by withholding this information from us. You could have assured Lang’kahn’s victory!”
Ahir patted Bar’bou’s head. “Take it easy Bar’bou, Lang’kahn had us all kind of busy when Tor’jahd and Milton got here. We should be grateful for their help. Besides, I’m sure that Sil’abo has more to tell us.”
Sil’abo bowed his head to Ahir. “Thank you, Ahir. We believe that Lang’kahn is going to strike with all his power very soon. It has been rumored that he has started having some of his other minions learn the spell for opening portals, so you should expect to see more portals opening more often, and more Aureus’aevum coming through at once. Lang’kahn wants to begin kidnapping humans to use in his plot, and he wants you dead, Ahir. You are going to need the help of the other two if you want to protect this city. Eventually we’re going to have to take the fight to him, though.”
Milton shouted and threw his arms up in the air. “It’s always all about Ahir, isn’t it? You think that this city needs Ahir to protect it? What’s so great about Ahir?”
Bar’bou leapt off of Ahir’s shoulder and landed on Milton’s, and slapped him. “Listen here, Milton. We didn’t pick Ahir to protect this city, the Gladio Protegat did, just as the Powaga Jousi chose you. Ahir isn’t a selfish brat like you; he’s willing to do whatever it takes to keep this city and its people safe. What about you, Milton? Are you willing to put your prejudices aside to help these people and work with us?”
Milton’s hands formed into fists at his side and his face turned beat red. “Selfish? You think I’m selfish? I took up this bow and got involved in your fight to protect this city without any hesitation. I have fought against monsters that would have liked nothing more than to kill me with no promise of reward. I have kept this city and your people safer than Ahir has, and you have the nerve to call me selfish? I don’t need this. I’ve been doing just fine on my own up till now, and I think I’ll continue to be fine.”
Milton turned and started to limp away. Ahir walked up to him and grabbed his shoulder to stop him. “Milton, this is about more than just us. We need to work together to keep these people safe.”
Milton turned and slapped Ahir’s hand away. “Work together? Like you worked together in the orphanage? No Ahir, you turned your back on us orphans and we suffered for it. You didn’t want to help us then, well maybe I don’t want to help you now.”
“The orphanage? You were in the orphanage too? What do you mean I turned my back on you?”
“We were all needed to do our part at the orphanage to keep each other safe and fed. You left us behind to be bullied, and took away the income that you brought in. I’ll never forgive you for that!”
Ahir eyes went wide and his mouth dropped open. “Wait, you’re that kid that the bigger kids used to pick on for being so small! No, I fought with those boys and told them to leave you alone.”
“Yes, and after you left, they started picking on me even more than they did before. They would beat me up every night and take my food from me. Even after I started just giving them my food they still beat me up. I had to run away otherwise I would have starved to death. I learned to take care of myself, and I didn’t need anyone then, and I don’t need your help now.”
“Milton, I’m so sorry. I had to get out of that place, the orphanage was terrible.”
Milton gave Ahir one last glare before turning away. “Yes, it was, but you didn’t care enough about anyone else to take them with you when you left. Tor’jahd, let’s get out of here. We can take care of this on our own!”
Tor’jahd flapped his wings and rose into the air. He glided over to Milton’s shoulder and landed on it. Ahir raised his hand to try and stop Milton again, but Sil’abo interrupted him. “Ahir, let him go. He’s too worked up right now to listen to you, but you will need to get him to work with you eventually. We need you to start fighting against the Aureus’aevum again, and, for now at least, you will have Trixie to aid you.”
Ahir glanced over at the shield that Trixie was holding onto. “That’s right. Trixie got a new shield. What kind of powers does this artifact have?”
Bar’bou cleared his throat. “That, Ahir, is the Escudo Spegel, a bulwark with a capability to reverse onslaughts of any origin, physical or magical, upon its source.”
Ahir looked blankly at Bar’bou. “I have no idea what you just said Bar’bou.
Sil’abo smiled at Bar’bou. “I guess the humans don’t understand you any better than we do friend.” Bar’bou glared back at Sil’abo. “Not to worry, I’ve been around Bar’bou long enough to figure out what he’s saying most of the time. He said that the shield will return any attack back at the attacker. It’s quite useful to be sure. With the two of you fighting together it should make things significantly easier. Not as easy as if Milton was here helping, but we will win him over to our side someday, so don’t give up.”
Trixie looked down at the shield she was holding. She whispered quietly to herself. “Finally, I can actually help Ahir out.”
Sil’abo’s ears perked up and he smiled at her. “That’s right dearie. We have been watching your efforts to help Ahir, and it was decided that you should be given an opportunity to do so. Maybe now Ahir can refrain from using magic.” Sil’abo turned and looked at Ahir. “You have been using magic frequently of late, Ahir, and this is something that must stop. If you aren’t careful, you will become another Captain Ember, and then Lang’kahn will have everything he wants. This cannot be allowed to happen.“
Ahir held up his hands. “I know I have been using magic often lately, but if my defense, I only use it when I don’t have any other options.” He turned and looked at Trixie. “Trixie and that shield should help to keep me out of those situations.”
Sil’abo’s ears perked up, and he turned his head toward the road and stared at it confused. “I hear some sort of high pitched siren coming this way. Does that mean something?”
Ahir turned and looked down the road. “We need to get out of here. Too many of my neighbors saw me here, and this whole situation is going to bring up more questions than I want to answer.” Ahir’s face dropped and he looked at Bar’bou. “Where are we going to live now, Bar’bou? Looks like we might be back to living on the streets.”
Trixie shook her head. “Don’t be silly Ahir, you can come and live with me. Bar’bou too, of course.”
Ahir looked at Trixie skeptically. “Are you sure that would be okay?”
Trixie nodded. “Yep, I live alone so you won’t be imposing on anyone.”
Bar’bou bowed his head to Trixie. “Thank you for your kindness, miss Ameliason. Ahir and myself humbly accept your generous offer. However, I believe it is time to vacate this area?”
A firetruck came around the corner of the block. Ahir looked at it and then turned and started running. “We need to get out of here now!” Trixie and Sai’abo started following Ahir.