Herold was panicking. The only thought on his mind was reaching his sister. He dodged and drifted between the rotting zombie soldiers, feinting to the side to get out of their direct path. There was deep guilt as he ran from the crowd of fighters, knowing that leaving them alone might cause them to fail. He had to shake it off. He had too. His only mission was to reach the princess from the sacrifice. He had no other family left; she was all he had. He had to reach her in time to stop the ceremony. If he had known she had volunteered…he shook his head and gripped his sword tighter. Swinging his sword he gave the Dreg soldier following him one last parry before slicing its head from its shoulders.
As Prince Herold reached the gardens, he skidded to a halt in front of the large stone wall on the back of Sanctum. It concealed a staircase that would bring him to the small room where the priestesses got ready. He just hoped it wasn’t too late. He set about looking for the secret brick that would open the passageway.It was a slightly different color, a slightly different texture but they were all under heavy foliage and ivy. There hadn’t been use for it in years, and he hoped it still worked. After pressing every brick to no avail he started slamming the pommel of his sword against the wall willy nilly before the door groaned open. A long sword slammed in front of the opening blocking his entry, interrupting his sigh of triumph.
Herold raised his eyes. His neck craned uncomfortably before he could comprehend the beast before him. One giant had followed him. Over 7 feet tall, its animal’s head did not match its body. The rotting corpse soldiers he could handle. This Bull Headed warrior he could not. He gulped. He had dreamt about riding into glorious battle, bards writing songs about his great deeds. Now, he felt like a child playing with a stick. An ant facing down a raging bull. He gulped again. No matter his training, no matter the beast’s size, he was blocking the secret entryway to the sanctum. That was the only thing that mattered. So, Herold steeled his gaze and lunged with his sword, which was unsurprisingly blocked immediately by the beast’s own.
Cyperian was impressed. There was hardly a human that didn’t take a look at him and run in fear, or piss themselves and pass out. He was impossibly massive in this form, his curved horns making him even taller and more imposing. This young thing was attacking and with surprising vivacity, too. A block and a parry, and Cyperian was forced to spin and defend his free arm. He half laughed at the tenacity and skill, again impressed by the young man. He was casually blocking the advances when the young man simply turned tail and ran towards the entrance Cyperian had been blocking moments ago.
“Oh, no, you don’t.” Cyperian growled, grabbing Herold by the scruff of the neck and held him aloft to meet his eyes.
“Fuck off!!” Herold waved his sword in an attempt at menacing, which Cyperian could only smile ruefully at. “I am Prince of this land! I will not stand idly by while a monster preys on my city!!” Cyperian dropped him to the ground. The prince gained his footing and again dashed to the open space in the wall. Cyperian again wrenched him backwards.
“And if you are trying to defend your city, why are you headed towards the door and not trying to cut my head off?” Cyperian’s bull head spoke with a thick tongue.
“You are not the monster I am worried about.”With a lunge toward the beast, Herold feinted right and sliced at Cyperian’s torso. Hitting skin, but not marring the flesh he took a step back.
“What are you?” he gasped as he backed away. “Seriously, what are you?” Herold was crazed and slashed wildly with the sword. Cyperian simply grabbed the sword with his bare hand and wrenched it from his grasp. He casually tossed it behind him, where it landed point down in the damp earth. He placed a giant hand on the young prince’s shoulder in an almost consolatory gesture. Herold froze with fear.
“That is none of your concern. This city will be removed from the face of this planet before the day is out. You can run. If you surrender no harm will come to you.”Cyperian lightly pushed him down, so he sat hard on the ground. Stepping over him, the bull-headed man strode towards the open door. Herold righted himself and roared, causing the beast to stop and roll his eyes. “I really don’t want to kill you. Will. You. Just. Run?” He pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes, waiting for what he assumed would be the inevitable pitter patter of sad human feet running in the opposite direction. Instead, he felt a sharp slice against his arm, and looked down to see the prince’s sword dripping blood. It couldn’t be. No mortal, not pathetic human should have been able to rend his skin. His body stung as he raised his arm to examine the wound, which was an anomaly. This young teenager had done what no one in this city should have been able to do.
Herold was seething, his anger rising inside. He shook with energy, and if there had been a mirror handy he would have seen his eyes glow. He tried a final time to make it to the door. With a shake of his head and a sad sigh, the beast simply grabbed the prince by the neck and tossed him against the wall. Even lightly thrown with Cyperian’s strength it would be fatal. Wondering what could be so precious that the young man had tried three times to best a beast over twice his size, he made his way to the door. With a disappointed look towards the crumpled body, he shook his head again.
“You were..very brave. I’m sorry.” The boy’s chainmail hood had slipped off, and only then did Cyperian notice his dark skin and white blonde hair. It immediately intrigued him.
Cyperian thought back to the last time he was injured, and recognition flashed of a bloodline he thought was almost extinct. There were few surviving descendants of Celestials, his own Lieutenant Nachi being one of them…one of the few left. It couldn’t be. He crouched next to the body, rolling it over. The eyes fluttered, and Herold found the strength to open them fully one last time.
“Whatever you do,” he grabbed the hem of Cyperian’s cloak, “find her. She’ll be on the altar.Find her.”
“Find her.” He gasped. The golden light faded from his eyes as he spoke for the final time.“And kill the monster who took her from me.”