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On the surface, the forces of General Uleb, The Kin of Champions are pressed to its last man by the rampaging forces of Airu The Plague Bearer. Knowing no other path of retreat, General Uleb raises his hammer, the Heaven’s Boulder, that stands the full height of a grown man and slams it down against the ground. The ground cracks, creating a wide rift that separates the armies of the allied nations and the plague monsters.

It is unfortunate that he is on the side with the plague monsters, for he could not control how the cracks would form. He could not foresee what would happen in the future. Yet he stands firm.

A man against many, his blows throwing monsters twice his height to the sky, his hammer smashing the skulls, bones and flesh of the plague monsters to mush. The blood of the plague monsters falls on his face, burning him with their corrosive substance. Yet he stands firm before the thousands of plague beasts, each the match of a hundred men.

Alas, not even he can stand against so many. For he is only one man. A single man who bought the allied armies precious time to retreat and reorganize at what would be the last line of the defense just outside the city of Gralnika.

It is the same on the high grounds of the mountain pass. While the long-eared soldiers of the Lost Woods stand their ground better than the others, they are about to face their greatest adversary. The black dragons, long thought to have died off, appeared at the battlefield right after the sun reached midday. Despite the power of their long bows made of the sacred oaks nurtured until a spirit resided inside them, they were no match for the scalding breaths of the black dragons.

As the flames with the heat and substance of volcanic magma burn their soldiers, the venerable soldiers of the Lost Woods are routed. These legendary soldiers thought to be mere myths passed down from parents to children, lost their will to fight against the unstoppable might of the black dragon flight. None of them were alive during the battle that saw the annihilation of the black dragons a millennia ago, as all those who fought died during the battle or during the march home. What they knew of the black dragons prowess were second hand stories passed down to the folks who went to look for the survivors before being passed down to the rest.

How did our ancestors defeat them at the height of their power? That same thought plays in each of their minds. Despite their pride of being the most powerful warriors in the world, they now understand that it was mere arrogance. Facing a true foe, their power is found wanting.

Yet one among them stands firm. Slapping the banner bearers and trumpeters to their senses, she urges them to their feet. Sounding the rallying call for perhaps the final time, High Commander Restini stands firm. With her armour broken, her helm missing and her body still suffering numerous bloody wounds, she raises the legendary spear Hal’geris in the air with one good hand and charges alone.

She knows her army’s morale is at its lowest point, yet she is unwilling to give up. She realizes that she can no longer urge her army to fight, not with the powerful black dragons as the enemy’s vanguard. But she must fight, for this must not be the end. She swore to live and die with Selenia, so how can she run away now and allow Selenia to fight alone?

“Great ancestors, I am Restini, daughter of Sayol and Ileas, descendant of Aharis, who fought the black dragons at the valley of death. Grant me the strength with which my ancestor slew the foul black dragons. Take my blood and give me the strength to annihilate them again!”

Restini can feel the ancestors answering her call. Her power surges, her wounds close and her broken right arm heals itself. The ancestors have responded to her wish, to turn her blood into pure power. The same power that the long ears once relied on in the same battle thousands of years before.

She jumps ahead at the face of a vile black dragon. Seeing the lone long ear warrior approaching them, the black dragons together pour forth a torrent of fire and magma at Restini. As Restini is still in the air, she has no way to avoid the rush of fire and magma. Thus she calls to the spirits, “Spirits of air, I beg for wings!”

Mere seconds before the flames devour her, she appears above the torrent of flames, seemingly lifted up by the very wind itself. Concentrating her wild magic into the spear, she makes a wide slash downwards towards the three black dragons that released their breaths at her just a moment before. The force of the slash makes a blade of wind and magic, carving deep into the backs of the dragons, cutting their tough bodies into twos.

Seeing her resolve, the other soldiers of the Lost Woods turn back toward the dragons. Firming their hold against their spears, swords and bows, they take a step forward. And then they take another step. And another. Until in the end it becomes a thunderous charge.

“Great ancestors, I, Murle son of Yum and Sarla offer my blood, my life. Grant me the power to fight besides my lord.”

“Great ancestors, Arin of Ayn and Mare pays my respect. Give me the power to defeat our ancient enemies, no matter what the cost.”

“Great ancestors, great spirits, I am Felmor. Take my everything, let me fight again for the last time!”

“Great ancestors, grant this child your blessing. Let our blood never be remembered as the blood of cowards.”

And so they fight again. Not with weapons made by mortal hands, but with weapons made of blood and nature. Their own bodies become the weapons by which they cut and stab hundreds of black dragons. What was once a hopeless fight has become a fair battle, with thousands of long ears fighting together to defeat hundreds of their ancient enemies, the black dragons.

Yet still, they fail. The power received by exchanging their blood was a temporary and final measure. Had it only been a couple hundred black dragons, they might’ve won. But they were too many. As the long ears skin pales and their movements stiffen, one by one they are ripped apart by the black dragons’ claws or burned to cinders with their magma breath.

As for Restini, she already fell long before the first of the other long ears start to fall. Not even able to utter a single word as she breathed her last, her spirit uttered, “I go first, Selenia.”

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Shiina Ai
Author Works


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