The Slayer’s warning game me enough time to jump to one side and avoid the arrow that was aimed at my heart. The remaining orcs were drawing their blades. They were poorly made things that barely qualified as a sword. Orcs may not be the best sword makers the be blades were sharp and orcs were strong.
A drew my sword and called for guards but I didn’t expect anyone of them to arrive. They were still fighting the other orcs at the bank and where unable to hear me shout. There we a dozen of them approaching me.
I could feel the ring on my finger and knew that it was my only chance of survival. I muttered under my breath to the Slayer, “Any suggestions?”
“Great, thanks, that was really helpful.” I said sarcastically.
They rushed me and I tried to remember all the sword training that I had been given over the years. Most of it had been when I was younger and I had forgotten most of it. I had convinced Sir Janet to train me in the sword again but I had only had one training session so far.
Even my poor training was enough to prevent the first orc from gutting me. The second gutting was prevented because I was wearing armor. I would thank the gods for armor but the only god that might listen was the one trying to kill me. The blade clattered against the plate and I felt the force of the blunt impact pushing me back.
I swung my sword trying to keep them at bay but I was vastly outnumbered and even if I was a good swordsman I would still be overwhelmed by them. The power of an Apostate however was not so easily overwhelmed. I don’t know how I did it but I mentally reached into the ring on my finger and called upon the power of Zillk once again.
It rushed in upon and me and I felt my perspective of the world shift. This time I was more prepared to it. I fought back that heartless urge to make them lose despair. However I could feel it at the back of my mind wanting to break free, to make the orcs regret ever going up against me.
With the newfound strength I spun a skewered one of the orcs. Its defense was lowered because it assumed that I was a inexperienced warrior. I then lifted my leg and placed it on the orcs chest and pushed the orc of my sword. I then swung around facing the rest who had forced a semi circle around me. Even with boosted reflexes and knowledge of swordplay I still was vastly outnumbered.
I needed another advantage, something better then what I already had. I didn’t know what I did, something like asking Zillk’s power what it could do to assist me. I feel the darkness grow deeper in my mind as I pulled deeper at Zillk’s power. I felt the air around my skin grow colder and colder. The orcs seemed to slow down around me. I whipped between then. Blood sprayed the ground and orc after orc fell to my blade.
Five were dead around me when I realized that they were falling back from me. I stared at them waiting for them to make a move. There there was a roaring sound and I glanced to look at its source. There was a pillar of fire over at the wall where the main force was still fighting the orcs. However it seemed to be centered where the crowns forces where.
That was strange, very strange. I looked back at the orcs who were still watching me. Then another orc came from the woods. This one was different then the others. It looked older. And around its neck held by a leather necklace was a golden symbol. There was what looked like a scythe on the strap.
“An Apostate, and orc Apostate. I didn’t know that was possible.”
The Slayer responded, “Considering there is one in front of you then I must assume they are possible. I guess dead gods don’t really care if the person using their powers is human or not.”
“Good point. Any suggestions?”
“Kill him before he can stop you.”
I nodded. It was the best suggestion. The orc reached up to grab the necklace but I instead rushed toward the orc with the sword. I was a little too slow to reach the orc. There was a golden shine and a rod of golden light appeared before the orc Apostate. It blocked my sword and there was a strange ringing sound. I staggered backward from the sound and there was a rigging that bogged my hand.
The other orcs took this moment to rush me. I had just enough wits to block their attack. The chill spread out around me more. My thoughts grew darker and the thoughts of making them gain despair grew deeper and deeper. The chill grew colder and colder and I could feel frost on my skin. The corpses of orcs fell around me and my blade killed them one by one.
Moments later there was just me and the orc Apostate standing near the command tent. I grinned at him showing my teeth. If I had wits about me I would have realized how crazy I looked. The orc was now beginning to look scared. I stalked toward it and it backed up. The golden rod still stood between us.
Winter, something I hadn’t realized that before, was an aspect of Zillk. The dispare of winter, the darkest and worse part of the year. I reached out with my ringed and icicles sprouted from the ground and ensnared the golden rod. The ice began cracking as the rod struggled to get free but it gave me enough time. I sprinted toward the orc who was trying to command the rod.
“Too slow.” I then dove the blade, not into the orcs heart, but through the metal talisman around his chest. I cut is free I there was a brilliant flare of light behind me as the golden rod disappeared. The orc staggered backward and tried to turn to left. I slammed my foot down on one of its leg knocking it down and then I kept my foot planted on its leg keeping it from leaving.
I raised my sword, again not to kill it but to make is suffer, to lose hope, before I killed it.
It was the Slayer who helped bring me to my senses. She didn’t beg me to stop or entreat me to save the orcs life. All she said, “Are you going to do the impossible?”
I paused. Holding my breath for a second. The orc cried out beneath me but I ignored it. My mind didn’t quiet understand what she was asking. ‘Do the impossible?’ No, I shook my head trying to break free of Zillk’s dead hold. Free, free from what. This is what I wanted. To make them afraid, to make them regret ever trying to kill me.
The arm, that was a good target. I was about to bring the sword down and causing a crippling injury when I screamed “No”. I don’t know what meager portion of my mind managed to break free but it was just enough. I was able to pull the tip of the blade to one side and the sword sank instead into the heart of the orc. It was dead, quick, quietly. It was both a terrible disappointment and grateful relief.
I released the sword and sunk down to my knees looking at the corpse of the orc. I felt the fog of Zillk’s power dissipate and I began to regain control over my thoughts. I have managed to fight it. It had been difficult but I had done it. I could still hear the fighting behind me down the bank but that all seemed irrelevant right now. I had survived and had new understanding of Zillk’s power.
“Very good.” Came the Slayer’s voice, “You are not completely useless. There however still is one problem.”
“What?” I couldn’t clearly think through my relef after realizing I have survived.
“The supposed inexperienced lord has managed to kill a dozen orcs as well as an Apostate orc. It would surely be suspicious if anybody discovers what you have done. I recommend that you do something about the corpses.”
I looked around at the butchered corpses of orcs. She really did have a point. “Do you have a suggestion one what I do with them. I could hardly move them all by myself and I don’t know where I would move them to even if I could move them all. A dozen dead orcs is rather hard to hide on short notice.”
“While Zillk was not the primary god of dead one of his aspects was to bring the dead to the afterlife. Maybe there is a way to dispose of the corpses with his power.”
“I’d rather not rely on his power again so soon but it looks like I have little choice.” I raised my hand and concentrated. Visions and knowledge flowed into me through the ring. I fought back against the tide of lore and desolation. The area around me darkened and frost began to coat the ground. Cold blue crystal began to form around the corpses and they sunk into it disappearing into it and the ground. In a few seconds all of the bodies were gone, except for one of them.
“Clever” Said the Slayer as she read my thoughts. “The ways of war seem to come easily to you.”
“It doesn’t take that much to figure out.” I used manual labor, perish the thought, to haul that orc closer to the command tent. I then collapsed nearby. I was a bit squeamish but recent contact with Zillk’s power still removed a lot of hesitation. I used my sword to cut a wound on my leg and then I put a makeshift bandage on it. I propped myself against the tent and lay there.
It was a terrible time to relax, especially with my leg now feeling incredibly painful but I suddenly felt exhausted after the battle with the orcs and the prolonged use of Zillk’s power. I waited there resting until the sounds of battle from down the hill began to fade. It was quiet until suddenly I heard somebody close nearby shoot, “My Lord Friddnick, are you alright?”
It was Sir Janet, returning from the frontline to find me. I raise my hand and shouted back, “Alive. Over here Sir Janet.” She came running toward me and gasped when she saw me laying against the tent wounded with a dead orc nearby.
I smiled as best as I could and said, “He didn’t stand a chance.”
“Don’t joke like that. We need to get you a real doctor. Soldiers! We need a doctor for Lord Friddnick now!” She shouted down at the rest of the soldiers.
“It can wait. I think it was just a flesh wound. I’m sure some of the other soldiers need the care more then me.”
She stared grimly at me and then at my wound before she nodded. “All right but if you are lying I’ll make you regret it. So you managed to beat one of them.”
“I blame it all on my armor. It would have gotten me good a couple of times had I not been wearing it.” Not strictly true but close enough. It was hard lying to my trusted nights but I didn’t feel like I really had a choice. “I think it waited in the woods until Lord Slinder left me to join the battle. It tried to ambush me but I got lucky.”
She looked down at my leg and said sourly, “Could have been more lucky. Although I’m grateful that you didn’t get more injured. I should have stayed up here to protect you. If I had done that then your life wouldn’t have been in danger.”
It still probably would have. Sir Janet, even with all her sword skill, wouldn’t have been able to beat a dozen orcs and an Apostate. Instead I said, “No, you were needed when that monster came out of the lake. You were critical in keeping our deaths down.