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Sword of Kings: Tempered By Fate

 by Bill W
Copyright 2015 by billwstories
Chapter 13 -


Drop thy weapon or prepareth to die,” Turquinine said loudly enough for his companions to hear.  He did this to give the others time to get ready to defend themselves and Kieren, just in case he wasn’t able to eliminate this threat on his own.

While issuing his warning, Turquinine also kept his eyes fixed on the troll, since he wasn’t exactly sure what type of reaction to expect from this unknown entity.  The knight suspected the behemoth would eventually attack, although he had no way of knowing exactly how he might carry out such a maneuver or how much time might elapse before it would happen.  For that reason, the Mitikuan opted to remain alert and was prepared to do battle, if necessary. 

Turquinine grasped the hilt of his broad sword tightly with both hands, so he’d be able to generate the maximum amount of power when he needed to swing his blade.  The large knight understood it was probably going to take nearly every ounce of strength he possessed to battle this truly gigantic creature, but he would not force a confrontation.  Instead, he would wait for the ogre to make the first move, while silently hoping it might not come to that.  There was a chance the others might rush to his aid after hearing his challenge, which would cause the troll to either flee or force him to battle them together.   

Bilgy, on the other hand, had been eyeing this uninvited guest suspiciously, because the Mitikuan was considerably larger than any of the other warriors he’d been exposed to before.  Even though the knight was impressive in his own right, Bilgy still towered over him and made the Mitikuan appear almost insignificant in comparison. 

After sizing up the situation for several minutes, the troll started to lumber toward the intruder, with the intent of bashing his brains in.  As Bilgy awkwardly lifted his club above his head and stepped forward, the knight used his quickness to exploit the unexpected vulnerability suddenly presented to him.   Showing amazing agility for one of his stature, Turquinine seized the opportunity and struck the first blow. 

The warrior had been holding his sword slightly off to his right side, but now swung it forcefully at his hulking foe.  The troll was not prepared for such a move and didn’t have the quickness to avoid the blade, which succeeded in rendering a rather large gash in Bilgy’s left arm.  The ogre screamed out in pain after a brief period of disbelief, but then he began swinging his club haphazardly about with his other hand, in a desperate attempt to hurt the one who had just caused him such agony. 

Unfortunately for the troll, his club flew harmlessly through the air and merely slammed into the wall.  The impact of the weapon hitting the stony surface made a rather distinct cracking sound when a portion of the wooden club splintered upon contact.  Even though Bilgy continued to wildly swing his weapon about, Turquinine skillfully avoided the troll’s next flurry as well and patiently waited for the ogre to tire himself out.  Once the force of the assault started to abate in intensity, the knight suddenly initiated a counter-attack.

A short distance down the tunnel, the companions heard their friend’s initial challenge, which was followed shortly thereafter by a scream.  Once they heard that pitiful cry, the entire group bolted forward so they could lend their comrade a hand.  They had no way of knowing whether the painful wail had come from Turquinine or an opponent, but they weren’t about to take any chances if their friend’s welfare was in jeopardy. 

The companions hadn’t gotten very far when they heard the sound of the club smashing into the rocky wall, but to them it sounded as if it were the sound of a cracking skull.  Although they feared Turquinine might have already been felled, they prayed this wasn’t the case and hoped they would still arrive in time to assist him.

Bilgy’s fury was immense and spurred on by the pain radiating from his wound.  Regardless of the amount of agony he was in, the troll somehow managed to regain his composure and no longer continued to swing his weapon about in a wildly erratic manner.  Instead, he gradually began to focus upon his target and noted where he should aim, so his efforts were coming increasingly closer to hitting their mark. 

In response to the change in this truly giant creature’s tactics, the Mitikuan was forced to parry Bilgy’s blows so they wouldn't make contact with his body, but the assault was staggering.  As each powerful swipe of the troll’s club ricocheted off of the knight’s sword, it caused the Mitikuan’s body to be bounced around as if it were nothing more than a child’s toy.  As the barrage continued, Turquinine began to wonder how much longer he could hold out, which was the best outcome he assumed he could achieve.  He had no illusions that he could defeat this opponent on his own, so to that end he adopted a completely defensive posture.  His goal was merely to survive until help arrived, which he hoped would be soon.

As they battled, Turquinine continued to study the aggressor’s moves, in an effort to spot a weakness in his style.  At the same time, he was also forced to acknowledge he had never faced an opponent with so much raw and seemingly unlimited power before. Grudgingly, the Mitikuan finally conceded it would take his total concentration and every ounce of strength he had left just to avoid being overcome, when something unexpected happened.  Just as the knight was ducking another forceful swipe directed at his head, he spied a momentary opening in his opponent’s attack. 

Reacting instinctively, Turquinine took advantage of this new opportunity and thrust his blade into the troll’s right thigh.  As the sword pierced his flesh, Bilgy screamed out in agony, just as the rest of the group came into view. 

After being wounded for a second time, the ogre pulled back slightly, so he could regain his composure and assess the damage.  He had just finished doing that and was nearly ready to attack again, when he became aware of the arrival of these new combatants.  This made him suddenly come to a halt and take a moment to reconsider his hasty plan, since he was now significantly outnumbered. 

Not only was the troll shocked by the sudden appearance of this additional group of intruders, but he was also gravely concerned about the unfavorable odds that were suddenly stacked against him.  Reluctantly, Bilgy began to give ground and hobbled backward to give himself time to determine what his next move should be.

You come here to harm Bilgy, so you can get to my master,” he announced dryly, while expressing his thoughts aloud.  “Bilgy cannot let you do this.  Bilgy must kill you first, unless you go back the way you came.”

The others quickly acknowledged that Bilgy was trying to give them a way out by telling them they could leave and exit through the rear door, which he figured is how they'd gained admittance to this area.  Bilgy probably did this so he wouldn’t have to battle this sizeable group and thus possibly save his own life, but the companions knew that going back the way they came was not a valid option.  When they didn’t take advantage of his generous offer, the troll unexpectedly lunged at Turquinine again, because he wanted to react before the large warrior had a chance to make another move. 

Instinctively, Rhys jumped forward to assist his fellow warrior and lifted his sword as he moved to the Mitikuan’s side.  Hadwin also stepped forward, but he couldn’t get past the other large bodies in front of him, which effectively established a massive barrier in his path.  At the same time, Alairic and the dwarfs formed in a line behind the others, so they could protect Kieren, Garreth and Qaim, just in case the troll got past the rest of the warriors. 

After Bilgy pulled back again, nothing more happened for a few seconds, but each of them knew they couldn’t maintain this stalemate forever.  With that in mind, Rhys decided to get things started again.  In order to do this, he feigned a lunge at their monstrous foe and hoped Turquinine would see what he was up to and react accordingly.  Rhys kept alert as he waited to see how the Mitikuan was going to respond to his move, and then he quickly determined how to best carry on from there.

When Bilgy reacted to Rhys’ maneuver, the Mitikuan recognized what was the Akiktite was doing and took the chance to press their advantage.  He delivered a powerful swing at Bilgy, but the troll blocked it with his club.  When Rhys saw that happen, he made his own follow-up thrust and pierced the troll’s side.  The Akiktite watched with satisfaction as his blade broke through the ogre’s tough hide, just above the waist.  This caused Bilgy to recoil and wail out in pain.  Now that the troll realized he could not hold off all of these warriors by himself, Bilgy resorted to summoning assistance.

Help me, my pet.  Help Bilgy!” he screamed.  “They hurt Bilgy bad.  Help me, Srejan.  Please help Bilgy!”

Kieren, Garreth and Qaim were unable to see what was going on, since their protectors’ bodies were blocking their line of vision.  However, they did hear Bilgy’s screams and his follow-up pleas from where they were standing and wondered whom the Dark Lord’s sentry was calling. 

Reflexively, the trio swiveled around, but Kieren and Garreth were also brandishing their weapons in front of them, just in case they were attacked from behind.  After they discovered nothing approaching from that direction, they turned back around so they could find out what was happening with the warriors. 

Since they weren’t able to see anything from where they stood, Kieren urged Garreth and Qaim to move closer to the action.  Kieren did it because he desperately wanted to be able to witness what was going on with his own eyes.  The other pair, however, weren’t nearly as curious as Kieren, because they were twice as frightened, but they still half-heartedly followed his lead and moved forward. 

After Bilgy failed to receive an immediate response to his cry for help, he realized he would either have to continue to fight or these intruders would most likely finish him off.   With that in mind, the troll attempted to mentally block out the pain so he could concentrate on those assaulting him.  He knew the only way he might possibly survive was to hold out until Srejan arrived, and that wasn’t going to happen if he sat passively by.  Therefore, without warning, he launched a new assault hoping he would catch his opponents with their guard down. 

This development totally surprised the two warriors closest to him, since neither suspected he had the strength left or the determination to make such a move.  They believed Bilgy was fatally wounded and temporarily forgot the old adage that an injured animal was often the most dangerous. 

Turquinine reacted first to this new assault and stepped forward to absorb the initial impact of the blow.  The force of the attack proved to be so powerful that it knocked the Mitikuan completely off balance and caused him to fall backward, onto the ground.  Seeing this, Rhys jumped forward to protect his friend, but he wasn’t prepared for how quickly Bilgy’s next move would come.  Without hesitation, the troll swung his weapon in the opposite direction to prevent a retaliatory attack.  While doing this, the ogre’s club slammed into Rhys’ body and hurled it sideways; slamming the Akiktite, head first, into the wall. 

Having regained the advantage, the troll raised his club with one arm and prepared to smash it into Turquinine’s skull.  Hadwin had been moving forward to help out, but before he could make his own move, an arrow sprung from seemingly out of nowhere and slammed into Bilgy’s chest.  The shock and pain of feeling the shaft pierce his ribcage caused Bilgy to drop his club behind his back.  The large wooden weapon clunked upon the ground, while the startled ogre stared at the shaft protruding from his breast, about a meter below his chin. 

Kieren and Garreth had been too far back to get a good look at what was going on, since Alairic and Hadwin had been blocking much of their view.  However, since Hadwin had been inching forward to assist the other pair, the boys were able to get a glimpse of the troll knocking both warriors off their feet.  Almost as quickly as most people blink their eyes, they also observed Alairic notch an arrow on his bowstring, take aim and let it fly.  The feathery missile flew straight and true, as it struck the behemoth squarely in the chest.  After dropping his weapon, the troll fell to his knees and cried out once more, while he still had the strength to do so. 

Help me, Srejan.  Bilgy dying.  They kill Bilgy.  Please, my pet.  Help Bilgy!”

After crying out, the titan reached for the arrow with his good hand and yanked the shaft from his chest.  This was not a wise decision on his part, because the arrow’s wide head ripped a sizable hole in his breast when it was jerked free.  Blood began spurting from the gaping wound it left behind, like lava erupting from an active volcano.  In response, the monstrous being merely gawked at what was happening to him, momentarily too stunned to do anything more. 

Belatedly realizing his mistake, the troll decided to make one final move.  Carefully, he threw the arrow aside, reached behind his body to locate the club with his uninjured arm and then slowly attempted to stagger to his feet again.  In a last ditch effort, Bilgy was determined to smash the life from the one who had wounded him with the arrow.  He'd decided that if he was about to die, he wasn’t going to pass from this world alone. 

Even though he was trying to stand, it became clear that Bilgy’s strength was rapidly dwindling.  Due to the immense loss of blood, he was becoming weak, yet he was still determined to carry out his plan.  Before he could get very far though, Hadwin jumped in front of him and took up a menacing stance, stopping the troll’s advance toward the others. 

Turquinine had also scrambled back to his feet and stood off to the right of the Nardinian.  However, the Mitikuan wasn’t about to wait and see what anyone else was going to do.  Instead, he darted forward with his sword held over his head and struck Bilgy with a skull-bashing blow, which dropped the troll in his tracks.  The ogre fell forward and nearly landed on Hadwin, but Bilgy never moved again after that. 

Everyone else merely gawked at the troll’s battered body, as it lay sprawled across the floor.  Seeing his immense size, it was still hard to believe that Bilgy had been defeated.  As soon as this finally sank in, Kieren stepped forward, so he could check on his protectors.

Are you all right?” the teen asked, as he looked at each one to show his concern.  “Are any of you injured?”

Nay, I be merely bruised and sore from the pummeling,” Turquinine answered, “but I shalt be fine.”

I am also uninjured, although a bit shaken after that scary encounter,” Rhys added.  “The troll was indeed a very powerful adversary.”

Most certainly,” Turquinine concurred, “and I thank thee for thine assistance.” 

I was just fortunate I was able to leap out of the way when that gigantic being began to fall in my direction,” Hadwin admitted, also relieved. 

What did that troll keep calling?” Garreth wanted to know, but none of the others could answer his question.  “He kept saying something about a pet, but what kind of pet do you think it is?  Could it be one of those giant condors?”

Thou knoweth as much as any of us,” Turquinine told him, “although I doubt a bird that large would live in tunnels such as these.  I heard him speaketh of this pet earlier, but knoweth not if this thing be near enough to hear its master’s cries.  Seeing it may yet appear, I beseech thee to make haste and flee this spot, lest it cometh to assist him.”

Turquinine is quite correct,” Sedain interjected, “and we should heed his advice.  I don’t think any of us wish to stick around long enough to find out what this pet might be, especially if it is as large as its master.  Qaim, would you please lead us out of this place as quickly as you deem prudent.”

We go now.  Qaim lead you.  You follow Qaim,” the aignx eagerly agreed. 

With that said, Qaim spun around and moved into the chamber in which Turquinine had first spotted their adversary, with the rest of the companions following closely behind.  They first had to step around and move past the body of the dead troll, so they could cross over to the other side of the chamber.  Once they did this, Qaim took a few seconds to check out the tunnels extending from the chamber and then chose the one they would follow.  As they started down this corridor, the others urged Qaim to pick up the pace and go as quickly as he dared, since they were concerned that the troll’s pet might show up soon. 

The three largest warriors had instinctively moved to the rear of the formation, in order to protect their backsides from any unknown danger.  They feared the next threat they faced would probably come from this direction, especially if the troll’s pet had been trying to respond to its master’s cries for help.  As they raced away from the chamber and distanced themselves from the corpse of their most recent foe, the warriors constantly glanced over their shoulders and looked for signs that would indicate whether something was approaching.  Fortunately, they saw nothing, but a few seconds later they heard an earsplitting shriek. 

What was that?” Garreth gasped, while putting into words the question the others were all thinking.

I be not certain, but methinks it possible that sound cometh from the pet the troll summoned,” Turquinine told him. 

We’ve got to get as far away from here as we can,” Alairic suggested, hurriedly.  “The troll’s pet will probably come looking for us next, if it has already discovered what we did to its master.” 

The others quickly agreed with his logic and set off again.  As they continued to move along the tunnel, they heard several more intermittent shrieks, although they couldn’t tell exactly where they were coming from.  The sound seemed to echo down the corridors and appeared to be coming from several directions at the same time.  They couldn’t even be certain if the creature was on the move or grieving by its caretaker’s side. 

A few minutes later, they entered another chamber, which was nearly identical to the one they had just left and in which Turquinine had first encountered the ogre.  This alcove also had several avenues leading from it and caused Qaim to hesitate briefly, as he attempted to determine which of the multiple exits to take.  However, before he could come to a decision, an ugly, misshapen head burst through one of the openings before them. 

The sudden appearance of this monstrous and grotesque form startled everyone and caused each of them to take a small hop backward, in an effort to put some distance between them and whatever this thing was.  At the same time, they brazenly brandished their weapons in its direction, hoping to intimidate it and make it back off.  If that didn’t work, they were also prepared to defend themselves if the abomination chose to attack. 

The creature’s head was an enormous lime-green mass, with large saucer-like ebony eyes protruding from either side of it.  Its head was so big that it took up a great deal of the space in the tunnel’s opening.  Its tubular frame extended down the shaft, but it was difficult to see much of it from where they stood, so no one knew for certain how large this thing truly was.  Those who could see more of it thought the creature appeared to be worm-like and surmised its body extended farther down the tunnel than any of them could detect. 

Kieren and Garreth reacted strongly when they first saw this new foe.   They were not only aghast because of its size, but they were also disturbed by its visage.  Their blood turned cold the second it popped into view and they correctly guessed it was the pet Bilgy had been summoning.  Without needing any encouragement, both teens moved behind the warriors and sought their protection, as the enormous creature slid more of its frame into the chamber.  The sight of this grotesque beast had been equally repulsive to the others, but at the same time they were awed by its massive size.  Due to this, they instantly concluded they didn’t want to have to do battle with it. 

Quick, Qaim, get the others out of here!” Hadwin barked.  “I’ll keep it from following.” 

Qaim can’t.  That the way we need to go,” he informed them, while indicating they needed to take the same tunnel the creature was in. 

Then find another way out of here,” Hadwin bellowed.  “Hurry up and check out the other tunnels, to determine if you can find a way around it.” 

Qaim no want to go alone,” the aignx whimpered, while letting his companions know he was petrified by the sight of this new threat. 

Qaim, this thing isn’t going to leave all of us just to go after you,” Rhys assured him.  “You’ll be safe, but we need you to find another way out of here.” 

Very reluctantly, Qaim agreed to do as they asked and slipped down an adjoining tunnel.  This action caused their nemesis to start backing out of the chamber too, just in case the funny looking animal was planning on sneaking up on it from behind.  However, when it didn’t see anyone else going off with the aignx, it stopped before it had gone very far.  The creature quickly concluded a being as small as Qaim didn’t pose much of a threat, so it opted to slowly start reentering the chamber and cautiously pressed farther into it. 

While this had been going on, Garreth started to study the vile creature carefully.  He didn’t do this for very long though, because he quickly became sickened by the sight of this hideous being.  Those feelings made him struggle to resist the reflexive urge to vomit.  In order to keep from doing this and embarrassing himself in front of the others, he turned his eyes away from the beast and concentrated on inspecting the chamber instead. 

Kieren, on the other hand, quickly overcame his initial revulsion and uneasiness after viewing this new threat and was now observing it closely.  His reaction was to see if he could spot a weakness they might be able to exploit later, if they had to do battle with the beast.  Almost immediately, the young man noted something protruding from the creature’s face.  There were two devices, one located on either side of what appeared to be its mouth, and Kieren concentrated on them to determine what they might be. 

At first, he thought those outgrowths might be a pair of horns, but upon further examination he decided they were most likely part of its food gathering mechanism.  Over time, he began to note the similarities between these appendages and the mandibles he had seen on various insects he had studied in Wildoness.  This, in turn, led him to another realization.  If these were truly similar devices to what he noted on the insects back home, then they could become dangerous weapons in close combat and most likely be used to sever an appendage or crush a chest or head.

After working this out, Kieren began to visually investigate the rest of their opponent’s body, at least the portion that had come into view.  He noted the creature’s torso was divided into segments and each of these sections had its own pair of legs.  Its green hide was smooth, while also appearing to be very thick, and was covered with bright yellow and pale blue lumps, which erupted from its skin like festering sores on a diseased limb. 

While all of this was going on, their new opponent was spending its time studying each of them as well.  After several minutes of enduring this nerve-racking standoff, Quintain stated what many of them had been thinking. 

Would you all agree this is probably what the troll was referring to as its pet?”

I believe you are correct,” Hadwin replied, “although I wish it had not responded to its master’s cries.”

I agree as well,” Alairic added, “but we’re fortunate there appears to only be one of these things.  I figure if there was a second of these creatures nearby, it would have appeared by now.”

I totally agree,” Sedain chimed in.  “If there were multiple beasts, I think they would have tried to split our attention and then attacked from the front and rear simultaneously.”

So what are we going to do now?” Garreth wanted to know.

We’re going to sit tight and not make any sudden moves,” the Nardinian informed him.  “I think it would be best if we let it make the first move, but hopefully it will not like the odds and choose to retreat instead.”

I doubt that will happen,” Alairic countered, “especially if it has already discovered that we slew its master.  However, I agree it’s best not to force the issue and, instead, afford it the opportunity to withdraw.”

After this was agreed to, the deadlock continued.  Kieren took this opportunity to pull his hood up, so all he had left to do was draw his arms into his sleeves and he’d appear to vanish.  He was once again thankful for the camouflaging potential this garment offered, since it would increase his odds of survival.  Kieren wasn’t about to take any undue chances where this was concerned, especially now that he was so close to completing his mission.  In anticipation of an attack, he also clenched his fist around the hilt of his short sword, while never letting his gaze move away from this new threat. 

The creature remained partially exposed, but the rest of its body was still extending down the corridor it had emerged from.  No one knew for certain how large Bilgy's pet actually was, but it appeared to be gigantic.   Both sides continued to stare and size each other up, while they waited to see what their opponent was going to do next.  Neither the companions nor the creature seemed eager to force the issue and get something started, even though they all understood one or the other would probably have to do something soon.

Without warning, Qaim suddenly burst back into the chamber, but he emerged from a different tunnel than the one he had left through.  His unexpected appearance startled everyone, but not nearly as much as it shocked the aignx.  Once he realized how close he was to this monstrous beast, Qaim stopped in mid-stride and refused to move another muscle. 



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I wish to extend my thanks to Scott, Emoe57, Andy, John and Donny for editing or their suggestions with this story. 


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