The Gathering

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Chapter 26

While most of the heroes went either north or west, Avalon and Vortiger traveled east, beyond the dead woods and into unknown territory, The Black Mountains. The Black Mountains were once the ancestral homes of the Desmodus, but they had since moved on. Upon nearing the base of the mountain chain, the two wendigos stop for a moment. Avalon feels his medallion hum and glows blue.

“Seems this is the place, Sparrow must be nearby,” said Avalon.

“In these mountains, he’ll be hard to find,” replied Vortiger.

“Let us hope we find him first. Best leave the Basilisks here,” Leaving their beasts behind, the two trackers began scaling the rocky cliffs. As they climbed further up, they heard the ominous sound. It almost sounded like a bird. Avalon and Vortiger take cover behind some rocks. Once hidden, Avalon talks to the guardian.

“Guardian, what was that?”

"It appears an Avian has followed us.” Avains were being that could turn into bird-like creatures. These range from small harmless birds of the forest, to massive raptors of the sky.

“Any idea why it is hunting us?” said Avalon.

"The Avian is not hunting us, rather something else,” said the guardian.

“Or someone else,” said Vortiger.

"Precisely,” replied the guardian. Avalon knew he and Vortiger had to find Sparrow before this Avian did. Peeking his head around the corner, Avalon looks into the night sky. Thanks to their keen eyesight, the two can see in complete darkness, especially around these parts.

Looking all over, he could not find nor hear any Avian. That did not mean one was not present. Thinking they are safe, the pair continues to scale. Nearing the middle of the mountain summit, Vortiger stops for a moment.

“What’s wrong?” asked Avalon.

“I hear something,” said Vortiger. Just then, there is loud, high-pitch screech coming from the sky. Its sheer noise paralyzes the two trackers as they both cover their ears to block it out. Then out of the darkness, two glowing red eyes descended upon them. As they duck, they narrowly escape the grasp of vicious talons. Reeling from their encounter, Avalon and Vortiger were able to see what had attacked them.

Standing before them was a jet-black, feathered, 9-foot-tall bipedal creature with the head of an owl. It had razor-sharp claws on its wings. Its large round, glowing red eyes glowed within its grey face. Extending its wings, it made itself look more massive in appearance. Avalon and Vortiger pull out their weapons.

“Where is the Sparrow?” screeched the Avian.

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” replied Avalon. The Avian lets out a loud caw. It then looks back at the two.

“Do not test me scavenger. The Sparrow will be found, and you will all die.” Screeching once more, the massive owl creature flies back into the air to resume the hunt.

“That was close,” said Vortiger. The pair also continue their hunt for Sparrow. As they reached the top of a nearby cliff, the couple finds themselves at the entrance of a cave. Avalon looks at his medallion once more and sees it glowing even brighter.

He looks at Vortiger, who, despite protesting, knew they had to go in. Heading inside, the pair made sure to stick together; they did not want to be lost. As they walked further in the cave, Avalon felt the walls close in on them. It was soon getting hard to breath.

There is no way Sparrow is in here? It is too small even for him, Avalon thought to himself. Suddenly, the king unknowingly made his way to the end of the cave.

“Damn, guess we got to go back,” said Avalon. Yet, as he turned around, Vortgier was not there. He looked around him, but there were no other pathways except the one they went through.

“Vortiger!” he whispered but got no response. He asks the guardian to locate Vortiger’s last location, but he also got no response from the guardian. He looks down and sees that his medallion is cold.

There was no glow at all. Avalon was no alone in the dark. Now he relies on his senses to get him out of the cave and find his companion.

Even without his medallion, Avalon was skill an experienced tracker. He has gotten himself out of a few caves in the past. Using his keen sense of smell, he follows the scent left behind by himself and Vortiger. Tracking the scent, he was able to pick up on his friend’s scent, and someone else’s.

Sparrow? He thought. Following the scents, it led him out of the cave and back at the rock cliffs. Sniffing the air again, he picks up the smell, this time, above the cave.

Climbing further up, the smell gets stronger and more reliable. Reaching another ledge, he pulls himself up and sees Vortiger tied to a rock with a gag in his mouth. He rushes over to him and pulls the cloth out of his mouth.

“What happened?” said Avalon.

“Got hit from behind, next thing I know, I tied to this stupid rock like bait,” replied Vortiger.

“Where is Sparrow?” From behind, Avalon hears a bowstring being pulled. The young wendigo curses silently.

“Drop your weapons and turn around,” said a voice from behind. The young hunter slowly removes his weapons and places them down on the ground. He then turns around and faces his ambusher.

“Sparrow,” gritted Avalon.

“It’s Kanatakon: ha,” he replied. The two stare down each other, waiting for what happens next.

“So, this is it, I guess,” said Avalon. Kanatakon:ha nods his head.

“You are going to kill me with a bow and arrow? It seems like a dishonorable way to kill someone, especially unarmed.”

“Would you rather have an option?” said Kanatakon: ha.

“I rather die fighting, than like a cornered animal,” said Avalon. Kanatakon:ha was cautious. He knew he could kill them both right now, but his strict Mohawk code would not allow him to kill an unarmed opponent. Lowering his bow, he tossed it aside.

“Grab your weapons, “ordered Kanatakon:ha. The young wendigo reaches for his push daggers. Grabbing them in each hand, he readies himself for a fight. As for the Mohawk, he grabs his tomahawk, an iron knife. Each armed with their weapons, the two distance themselves.

However, before both have a chance to do anything, there is another loud screech in the air. Avalon, Kanatakon: ha, and Vortiger look up and see the same pair of red eyes in the sky. Then, like before, the eyes descended upon the trio, this time going after the Mohawk.

Knocking the young native off balance, the Avian pins Kanatakon: ha to the ground. The beast then tries to bite at him with her powerful beak, but the Mohawk manages to kick her off him. Tumbling over, Kanatakon:ha lunges at the Avian and stabs her with his knife.

She screeches in pain; she grabs his hand and uses her talons to break his grip holding the knife. He soon drops the blade, to which she then slashes at his face with her other hand.

The talons leave deeps slashes across his face. The Mohawk yells in pain. The Avian then kicks Kanatakon: ha back to the ground. She then quickly gets a top on him and begins to choke him. He struggles to fight back but begins to feel himself losing consciousness.

“Time to die,” she said. As she choked him, she was unaware of the other one.

“Let him go feather brains,” shouts Avalon as he threw one of his daggers at the creature. The dagger lands embed itself in the animals back, just above the below the shoulder. The Avian lets go of her grip as she tries to pull the dagger out. Gasping for air, Kanatakon: ha scrambles to get his bow.

Just as he grabs the weapon, he sees the Avian pull out the dagger out of her back and looks at him. Notching the arrow, he pulls back on the bowstring and lets loose. At close range, the arrow hits its target, dead center in the chest. But even that does not kill the beast. In pain, she still manages to limp over to the Mohawk. Trying to notch another arrow, the avian kicks the bow out of his hand. Now he was defenseless.

With blood dripping from her beak, she raised a talon above the young Mohawks head. Then suddenly, before she could deliver the killing blow, she stops herself mid-attack. Blood gushes from her mouth as she looks down and sees a spear lodged in her gut. She looks past the human and sees Vortiger, who managed to free himself amidst the encounter.

She feels her legs give out and fall to her knees. Her breathing was long and slow. Avalon walks over and helps the human up.

“You could have let her killed me,” said Kanatakon: ha. Avalon shakes his head.

“True, but then I would be no different from our enemies.” They then look at the Avian.

“What do we do with her?” said Avalon.

“Leave he be, Athena won’t last much longer. Her wounds are too great,” replied Kanatakon: ha. Athena looks at the two with anger in her red eyes.

“You will all burn!” she said, trying not to choke on her blood.

“I have no doubt about that, but I will burn on earth, not here,” said Kanatakon: ha. Just then, the guardian’s voice is heard again.

"Apologies, Avalon. I suggest we leave soon. We have unknown enemies approaching.”

“Their location?” asked Vortiger.

"Five are on their way here, the rest are following Amyntas and Cynbel towards the arena,” said the guardian. Athena chuckles.

“My, my. They are already here.”

“Who is here?” asked Avalon. She looks at the young wendigo.

“You carry a stone from the old times. You know who they are,” she said.

“We have to leave now.” Grabbing their gear, the three leave the black mountains, but not without hearing Athena blood-curdling laugh on last time.

“And the Great serpent will devour the skies and the world! We are all going to die!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA.”

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