Kinda boring, but the next wld be packed fullof action? lolz. more of the plot is revealed in this chapter and a few hints will be exposed in the next. R & R pls. Thx. This chpt seems confusing but it would be explained later on.
Alex opened his eyes slowly. The sun was glaring into his eyes and he lifted his hands to shield them. He then slowly pushed off the ground. He then realized that he was on a wooden cart.
"Don't move. You are injured."
"I will be alright." As soon as Alex said this, he started coughing up blood. A pair of strong arms pushed him down.
"There, what did I tell you? Rest, son."
Alex turned his head to look at the speaker. It was the platoon leader.
"What happened?" Alex asked.
The leader flashed a smile. "I should be the one asking you that. Fancy us not knowing that such a powerful mage was traveling along. Anyway, good job. We would be dead if not for you. Hell, I didn't know that the Elven Empire would resort to such despicable means of getting rid of us. No wonder. Many reinforcements were wiped out on their way to the battlefield. They never reached there of course. I have to report to General Klaitz. Perhaps I can get a promotion for you. I'm getting you a transfer out of the cavalry to the mage platoon. Your abilities are too precious to be wasted on us. There are better uses for you."
Alex frowned. "No, I want to stay here."
"I'm looking after Mike. I promised his parents to look out for him. No way I'm going to leave him alone. Not after I just witnessed the probable dangers lurking around in this forest."
The leader shrugged. "Sure, if you choose to."
Alex attempted to shift himself in the cart but only managed to spit out more blood. He winced.
"How long was I unconscious?"
The leader replied. "Three days. We wanted to save time so we placed you on a cart to enable us to continue on our journey."
Alex nodded. Three days, his vital energies should have replenished so what he was experiencing should only be physical injuries. This would be easy to solve.
He closed his eyes and attempted to sit himself upright in a crosslegged position. The leader insisted on him to lie down and rest but to no avail. Alex, after coughing up considerable pints of blood finally succeeded in sitting up. He spread his arms apart and chanted short phrases of the ancient tongue. He then placed his arms across his chest as he visioned his internal structure.
He took a quick check on the wounds he was currently suffering from. There were a few punctures to his organs and multiple bone fractures. But nothing he could not ease out. He started pooling magic from nature together and transmitted it bit by bit into his bodies. Slowly, the wounds started to heal. He rearranged a few torn ligaments and finally had the job done with.
A surprised platoon leader then saw him leapt off the back of the cart and strolled towards him It took him a while before he reminded himself that there was few that a mage could not do.
"So, how long more to the battlefield/"
"Two days I reckon. Kinda tough a track. But we will get through this. Meh. It's good that you are up. We were kind of worried that more shades will assault us." The leader smiled nervously.
Alex smiled back. "It would be a real surprise if they would send anymore sneak attacks. If I'm not wrong, they would think us dead by now. Few can par with that lot of shades. And second thing, they won't dare anymore. That's what I can assure you for the rest of our journey."
And so for the next two days, Alex spent his time chatting with Mike and Aaron. There were quite a few things that he was oblivion to. As a 12-year old boy, his parents had never told him much of the outside world. And the next 3 years were spent for revenge, the deep hatred burning within him compelled him day and night to master the arts of magic so that he could parry with whoever killed his father. If he had burnt out and wither to death, it would be no surprise.
Mike and his newly made friend, Aaron, told him more of the war and its origins. He learnt an important fact through this interaction. Mainly, that the war had something to do with his father's death and the mysterious enemy. The war had lasted till now for seven years. The first four years had been merely little fights or warnings to the other empire that they would resort anytime to violence had they been bullied. Yet, only three years earlier, the Elven King and his entire family was assassinated. No-one of the royal bloodline had lived to tell the truth of what happened. This mysterious assassination resulted in an uproar in the entire empire. A period of internal chaos ensued and finally a new ruling system had risen in the Elven Empire – Democracy. It was like nothing before and the elven citizens could elect their own King. That was when trouble started. A powerful Elfish mage was elected as the King and almost immediately, he declared an all out war on Humans.
Aaron then followed on and talked about his previous war experience as Mike listened on attentively, captured by the "dazzling" descriptions of the fight. Alex merely ignored most of it for he doubt that any of it will hold much truth to them.
It was night fall when the cavalry finally reached the base. The leader waved and urged them to follow him as they entered the gates of the camp. They then led their horses to a corner of the camp to pitch their tents.
"God, you feel like puking?" Aaron whispered.
"Yea." Mike answered.
Alex frowned slightly. "No, why should I?"
"Man, just look at them." Aaron pointed towards the right where injured men were being brought back from the battlefield to be treated by the nurses. Mike's face turned pale as he repeatedly whispered, "The blood … so much blood …"
"Shut up guys. If you feel like puking, you can save it for later. Get going with your tents. I don't wanna be pitching them in the dark." He then gave a hard slap on the duo's back and their attention snapped away from the bloody scenes.
They had finished pitching their tents and were having their dinner by the campfire when Aaron nudging Alex quickly.
"Huh?" Alex inquired but he slowly followed Aaron's gaze. A high ranking official was striding towards them.
"My god … Just look at his shoulder … So many stars. Meh. I think we are in trouble. What else, besides disciplinary problems, can cause such an official be looking for us?" Mike groaned.
Alex dismissed their discussion and continued with his food. He then slowly placed the cutlery on the ground and turned around to greet the official.
"Aye, sir." The trio saluted smartly and the official returned simultaneously.
"And I assume the rest of you two are Mike and Aaron?"
"Okay. The three of you are transferred from the cavalry to the Shinaumi with effect from tomorrow morning. They will be undertaking a mission to the frontline straight at noon tomorrow. Be prepared for it, you guys get me?"
"Aye, sir." The official then walked away swiftly.
"Meh. Alex, thanks a lot."
"Boy, are we lucky to have you. I bet our leader went to tell him about how you slayed all the shades back there in the forest. Shinaumi … Shinaumi .. man, you know what's that?"
Alex shook his head slowly and waited for an answer.
"It's … it's the elite troop! And to think us recruits will be transferred to there when we have just reached here…"
Alex sighed and retreated back into the tent for an early night, leaving Mike and Aaron to chatter about their recent promotions.
The very next morning, he was shook awake by a very excited Mike. Alex almost immediately scowled as he asked for the time. It was very early …
"Mike … he said to report at noon. Please, I want sleep."
"Suits you." Mike shrugged and left to train at the parade square in prepare for the battle. Alex slumped back and attempted to fall back into sleep but to no avail. He knew it too for it was not one of his habits to retire into sleep when he had just awaken.
Alex stood up and exited the tent. He went to his backpack and took out his spell book and sheets of paper. He then set himself on the task of decoding the book. It was a new language that he had never come across before. He reckoned that it would be a significant discovery if he ever made a breakthrough.
Yet, it was complicated. He could tell that part of the symbolic structures used in the language was somewhat related to English and Elven tongue but the other half was not. The problem was that this other half could be another language or even worse, a fusion of two or more other languages. And that to him, was a fearful thing for if he ever were to have to par with the enemy, he had to first success his father's abilities.
Alex fingered the amulet hanging from his neck. Three years, and still, not a single clue on what sort of magic does the Dragonnite amulet behold. It has been said that this legendary amulet contains some extinct form of energy that had been enchanted onto it a few hundred thousand years ago. There was a faint mark left on the surface of the gem that was somewhat similar in shape and design to the mysterious language.
"Grab your gear. We gotta be off to the Shinaumi. Let's leave a good impression on our other teammates so we could get along well. They say you must have good teamwork to even survive the battlefield."
Alex had almost burst out a string of vulgarities but later thought better of it. Anyway, what was there to gain from uncovering Aaron's load of crap and lies? He stood up and marched down the path to the Shinaumi campsite, bringing along his backpack.
In actual fact, this army life was getting quite sickening. He hated the mud, the sweat and the rocky trails. He wondered how long this list would be getting by the time he had gotten into the heat of the war. Had he made a wrong decision in accompanying Mike to this field of death?
Alex made a smart salute to a passing official and then continued jogging towards the campsite. He was going to be late for the assembly.
"So you guys are the three new recruits?"
"Aye, sir." They replied the Shinaumi General. He then nodded and made a quick reference to his papers.
"Good. You will join the assault team. You will leave at noon sharp to the very frontline. Get it? Yea, your comrades are over there. Go join them now. It's almost time so prepare to leave."
They nodded and the General quickly dismissed them. The trio then made their way to the assault team where they made brief exchanges of greetings.
"I'm Alex. This is Aaron and that's Mike."
"Good to meet you guys. What are you people?"
"Huh?" Mike cast a questioning look.
"You see, I'm an archer. Crossbow guy. My friend over there is a magician. This comrade beside me is very professional in lances. He's a knight you see, but most of the time, he loves to swing his beloved Morningstar. And this little buddy here's a scout and he likes to stick to his rapier. There's about fifteen or so other people here. We don't get around much but yea, we all listen to orders from Wist."
"Team leader around here. You'd better listen to what he says or you guys gonna get it from him. He's an arrogant piece. Nothing we can do about. That's him."
Some massive man had exited the tent and made his way towards them.
"Gather, friends. He doesn't like slow responses."
And so, the entire team quickly formed up into their squads. The trio had decided to join the footing squad and everybody stood still for the guy named Wist to make his announcements.
"I see that we have new recruits here." Wist stared down at them and continued. "Well, I trust the General's decisions and that they are up to the task. Let's set off."
The entire assault team saluted before marching off to follow Wist. Soon, they were out of the camping grounds off into the battlefield. Alex had left Aaron to chat with Mike as he continued pondering upon the mysteries of the language. He felt curious about them for apparently, the more he examined the mark on the amulet, the more he was sure that it was the key to unlocking the amulet's potential. If only he knew the language …
"Enemies ahead! Team, get ready for fighting."
"Guys, we stick together okay? It's easier to protect you guys. I don't want Mike to get beheaded just because he wasn't by my side."
"Sure, but leave some enemies for me. I wanna get into the fight."
Alex nodded as he gripped tightly on his broad-bladed spear.
"Charge on comrades!" Wist bellowed and the entire assault team ran forward to confront the advancing enemies. Alex sighed and shook his head as he observed the scene. No wonder the battle had last so long. With such leaders who knew no apparent war tactics, death was the only way to end it all.
He stayed behind the line of fight as he watched the unholy scene of bloodspray.
"Cowards you three! Get up and fight! Or would you rather watch your comrades die?" Wist thundered but Alex only shrugged.
"We should go and fight you know …" Mike urged, with Aaron nodding in agreement.
"No, not know. Those guys out there have magicians. I'm not skilled in the arts of combat but I sure know how to counter their spells."
Mike sighed and returned his gaze to the fight. Sure enough, soon the enemies re-considered their strategy and retreated.
"Give chase!" Wist roared and the assault team followed.
The enemies could be seen fumbling heavily in the pouches that hung by their waists. It was obvious what was coming up next.
"Meh, they are running? We have just won like that? That's easy. Mike, let's go after them. Man, we must get some credit for ourselves." Aaron signaled to Mike and they broke into a dead run after the retreating enemies.
"No!" But it was too late. They were too far off to hear him. The enemies had now retrieved the required runestones from their pouches.
"Shit …" Alex muttered, as he threw all his items down and removed his gauntlets. To have things wrapping around your hands would hinder and affect your spells. He didn't really want that to happen. At this time, the enemy had threw the runestones into the air while chanting some incantations. Some of the assault team members were following suit, preparing a counterspell. But it was too late – the enemy spell had been released. Several different colours of magic waves bolted from the enemy magicians' fingertips as the assault team's magicians fell to their knees. Low were the magic of the runestones but still reasonably deadly. The assault team were taken aback and it was only then that Wist shouted for them to run away.
The enemy wizards continued firing a few more bolts of concentrated magic at the assault team members before switching the runestones. The magic stored in the stones had been used up and had to be disposed of. By this time, the assault team size had been reduced to half. Wist was shouting more orders for the team to retreat, but many were snared by the spells of the wizards and could not move.
Alex sighed and paced slowly to the wizards. They began noticing him when he came within range. A few of them fired at him with their spells but they merely sizzled and withered when they came near him. It was as if an invisible barrier was diverting the energies fired. Alex stared at one of the wizards and he withered to his skeleton, dropping to the ground lifeless. He then switched his gaze and another was burnt to his death. A third wizard had his air forced from him while a fourth was rendered brainless.
"Gentlemen, did it ever come to your minds to thought of running? If not, please do. I will not give chase. Go, and master your art before returning." Alex gestured with his hands and the remaining enemies clambered from the ground and broke into a dead run away from him.
"Don't kill them. Let them go. I have slayed enough of them. Let the enemy be." Alex turned around and led Mike by the hand. "Do you still wish to remain in this war? I really think it is time for us to be home."
"No … the fun isn't anyway near yet."
"There will not be fun if I am not here to protect you."
A different voice spoke grimly, cutting their conversation. "And you won't be here for long to protect him."
Alex snapped around and faced the newcomer. There was none to face.
"Yes? I believe you have seen my capabilities. Do not threaten me. It is useless."
"Yes, quite impressive but indeed nothing compared to mine."
Alex raised an eyebrow. "You are quite sure? Or do you see a need for a duel?"
"I don't see any such need. Your father has proven himself to be strong."
"Unfortunately, I have proven myself to be stronger."
"So you killed him?"
"I did not. Merely injure. He killed himself."
The figure which emitted the voice had stepped into sight. The armour it was wrapped in was blood red, like the sword his father had wielded three years before.
"Why now? Why after three years, do you approach?"
"I fear you have surpassed your father. Hatred has eaten into your soul. What I did to your father was nothing that he did to himself. The injury I imposed of him was slight that it could not consume him. He perished to hand you the heirloom. It was very much required of him and you cannot escape this very same act that you must commit in time, years down the line."
"Heirloom? I don't even know what this piece of shit does?"
"My presence here meets the purpose of answering this question you have in mind."
"Before that, I would like to ask a favour of you. Return me. That sword of mine." Alex gritted his teeth.