The Gathering

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Chapter 13

“Who are you? Are you some kind of siren, perhaps even a harpy of sorts?” The prisoner laughs at Amyntas’ questions. Even tied to a tree and suffering from bruises, she would not tell them anything.

“You humans and your mythologies. So primitive. Always trying to make sense of the unknown.” The Valkyrie gave him an arrogant grin and simply chuckled to herself. Amyntas was getting irritated. In Sparta, if a prisoner did not give up information, they were brutally tortured.

Yet Decimus persuaded the young spartan not to kill her outright and try to question her. He was beginning to regret agreeing to it. Walking back the stump, Decimus studied the map, trying to find where she would have come from.

“Any luck,” said Decimus. Amyntas slams his find on the stump. That was his answer. “This pointless let us just kill her and be down with it. We’ve already lost precious time trying to get her to talk.”

Rubbing his fingers through his hair, Amyntas paced back and forth. Decimus, however, was still looking at the map. “If we killed her, it would have been a sign that we were here. Whoever is chasing us cannot know where we’re going.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that if I were you,” said the Valkyrie. Decimus looks up and stares at her.

“Why is that,” he replies.

“They already know where you are. Any moment now, you both will be dead. It may be sooner. Hear that.” Perking their ears up, both Amyntas and Decimus listen. In the background, they hear the faint sound of a howl. Wolves.

“We have to go now.” Amyntas went to grab the map. Suddenly, they feel vibrations coming from the ground. Placing his hand down, Decimus recognized it. The thunder sound of galloping horses. Untying his horse, he quickly mounts on and looks back at the prisoners.

“Cut her loose.”

“What!?” screamed Amyntas. “Are you serious? We can’t let her go.”

“We aren’t; she’s coming with us.” Amyntas gave Decmius a confused look.

“There is only one horse, how do you expect all three of us to get on?” Now Decimus was the one getting irritated.

“Improvise dammit, now get on.” Hating this plan, Amyntas cuts the prisoner free and uses the remaining rope to bind her feet, hands, and wigs before flinging her over his shoulder. With one heave, he gets himself up onto the horse. The beast wobbles to adjust to the added weight. Hearing the wolves getting closer, Decimus grabs the reins and spurs his horse onward. With a mighty yell, the horse begins galloping away. Through the trees and over the river, our heroes scramble to escape their pursuers. Amyntas struggled to stay on the horse while carrying the very rowdy prisoner. Though tied, her persistent struggle made it difficult for them. He also noticed that they were going to slow, even though Decimus was pushing the horse beyond her limits.

Looking behind, he sees the faint outline of two jet black wolves quickly approaching them. Leading them were couples of Hades reapers atop their Nightmares. Knowing that they would be overtaken, Amyntas makes a judgment call and throws the Valkyrie off of the horse. She tumbles onto the ground, and with her arms, legs, and wings still bound together, she hits her head hard on a fallen tree log. The wolves and nightmares move past her unconscious body as they still pursue their targets.

“Where’s the prisoner,” said Decimus, eyes still facing ahead.

“She fell off,” replied the spartan.

“Amyntas!”

“She was slowing us down. What did you want me to do?” Before either one has a chance to argue, Decimus’ horse is shot from underneath him, and the pair go flying off. One of the reapers managed to ride ahead and shot a crossbow at them. He and Amyntas both land hard on the floor, and the horse flips over onto it back with an obsidian tip arrow embedded in its chest.

The rears in pain and shock as Decimus scrambles to help his wounded equestrian. Rubbing his hand on its belly, he soothes the beast as he gently removes the arrow. With one quick pull, he removes the shaft, and the horse begins to panic. As Decimus attempts to calm it, Amyntas gets up and sees the wolves charging at them.

With one wolf jumping over the horse and roman, it bears its teeth as it lunges for the spartan, mouth drooling with foam. Raising his shield in front of him, he centers himself for the lunge. Using all of his body, he lunges forward and knocks the wolf away. The force of the shield causes the creature to stumble backward, dazed, and confused. Filled with adrenaline, he rushes over to the fallen beast and plunges the shield tip down onto the creature’s skull. After a few yelps, the Amyntas steps away from the dead wolf and grabs his spear.

“Back to back,” he shouted. Stepping away from his horse, the roman reaches for his shield and sword. With their backs against one another, they poisoned themselves, ready for a fight. In a matter of minutes, the sound of galloping horses and growling wolves soon surround the duo. All around them were fifteen black riders and three massive dark wolves. Their glowing blue aqua eyes were consumed with hunger and blood lust.

Their savage growling fills the forest air. The black riders, clothed in dark priests robes, dismount. Their weapon of choice was the glave, known to cut down hordes of enemy soldiers, or fleeing peasants. Amyntas and Decimus began to feel cornered as their enemies started to close in on them. Eerily making their way closer to them, Amtnyas palms start to sweat. His grip was failing, and his knees began to wobble. Decimus was also feeling a sense of fear as his heart raced in his chest.

“Your souls belong to us now,” said one of the reapers. With their glaves pointed directly at them, our heroes begin to think that this was the end for them. To die in an alien world without seeing home one last time. However, before anyone has a chance to react, a loud boom is followed by a reaper falling dead. A bullet wounded, shattering his chest and ripping his heart out.

“What the hell,” said Amyntas. Next thing before anyone knew, two more reaper’s fell dead, both with crossbow arrows logged in the back of their skulls. With utter confusion taking over the reapers, Amyntas and Decimus take the opportunity and directly attack the enemy. As Amyntas kills one with his spear, another tries to slice him across the back. Taking a step back, he jabs the reaper behind with the end of his spear, pushing him away. Decimus hacks one reaper face off and stabs another in the eye with his dagger.

All the while, the other reapers were being killed off one by one by the unknown attackers. Even the wolves were not safe. Just as Decimus slits a reapers throat, Amyntas hacks off the leg of the last rider. Breathing heavily, they look around and realize arrows and other forces killed most of the reapers. They and the reapers were not the only here.

“How are they all dead? They did not even get near us?” Decimus helps ease his horse up back onto its feet, only to fall back down again. She was in no condition to travel anymore.

“Maybe it’s a sign from the gods.” Amyntas kneels and begins praying to the almighty for their intervention.

“The Gods had nothing to do with it,” said a mysterious voice. Amyntas and Decimus both look up and huddle back to back again, weapons at the ready. The voice laughs from the trees. “Relax, we mean you no harm, we are friends.”

“If that’s true, then show yourself, whoever you are.” Just then, two shadowy bursts from the trees and landed directly in front of the two. Their bodies were covered in dried grass, robes, and mud. On their heads, they wore leather hoods, which allowed easy visibility.

“Who are you both?” Removing their camouflage attire, they revealed their proper clothing. One wore steel armor and chainmail with a Red Cross symbol on the front of the chest. His eyes were green, and his hair light red. His skin was fair and had two scars on his face—one over the eye, the other down his lip.

On his waist was a sword with the same emblem on the pommel. Strapped to his back was a quiver of arrows of varying design. In his right hand was a steel crossbow with an armor piece arrow notched in.

His partner wore little armor but wore a lotus flower symbol on his weathered shirt. His skin was much darker and had brown eyes with long black hair tied in a knot. Slung over his shoulder was a hand cannon, also known as a matchlock musket, with a powder horn of black power tied around his neck and a pouch of metal balls.

Tied to the back of his waist were two swords tied, one shorter than the other. Whoever they are, they were humans just like them. Taking a step forward, one of the strangers politely bowed before Decimus and Amyntas.

“Greeting friends, my name is Richard Hawk, and this is my compatriot Kaido Mori. We need your help.”

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