Chapter 17 - Duel to the Death
The three month pregnant Queen of Westoria was forced to stand by and watch helplessly as her husband fought against the giant Bounty Hunter, Drovan in a one-on-one armed combat duel to the death. Only one of the two would leave this field alive.
She could feel her heart thudding away inside of her chest as her emerald eyes watched the two battling before her. Although she knew that Draxus was incredibly well-trained and skilled in the art of combat, his massive opponent was somehow able to withstand dragon fire! How could he possibly hope to defeat him?
Lillian feared losing him again, after finally being reunited after so long. In truth she could only assist her love by staying out of harm’s way and allowing him to do what he did best; kill.
Spinning around, Draxus quickly deflected an oncoming thrust from Drovan’s double-bladed axe and kicked the giant Warlord in the stomach, causing Drovan to take a few steps backward to steady himself once more. Draxus used this as his chance to turn and call out to the Master Mage close-by.
“Paladin, get the Queen to safety!” he commanded toward the shadowed treeline before being forced to defend himself once again against his brutal and overpowering opponent.
Lillian turned to see a hooded figure wearing a long red and golden cloak step out into the moonlight of the clearing after hearing the King’s command. It was the Master Mage Paladin and he quickly made his way across to where Lillian was standing. As he reached her he held out his hand for her to take as he spoke calmly.
“Your highness, I must ask that you come with me, now.” he advised.
She shook her head and looked back at the two figures heavily engrossed in battle before them.
“I’m not going anywhere…” she announced confidently, “…not without my husband!”
Paladin looked hesitant, as if unsure of what he should do next. He needed to follow his King’s command and get her to safety but she was not making his task any easier! As he was about to cast a spell to assist persuading her, the Master Mage suddenly cried out in pain as an arrow zipped out from the surrounding trees and hit him in the back of his shoulder.
Lillian watched with great concern as Paladin hunched over, desperately grasping at his right shoulder and moaning in incredible pain. She moved across to kneel beside him as he fell to his knees at the same time, overcome by the pain.
“Oh my god, you’ve been shot!” she panicked.
Checking his wound she found the shaft of the wooden arrow protruding out of his blood-stained clothing and knew it would have to be removed. Without thinking about anything else in that moment, the Queen comforted the Master Mage with her words.
“I’m going to have to remove it.” she tried explaining, seeming calmer now. “You’re going to be alright, here let me...”
Paladin panicked. “No, no! Please don’t… it already hurts too much! I couldn’t bear any more pain.”
“We can’t just leave it sticking out of your shoulder!” she reminded him, moving to stand behind his back. “Just breathe deeply, in and out. I’ll remove it on the count of three…”
She ignored him and began counting aloud.
“One… two…” she pulled hard at the shaft.
“AAHH!” Paladin shouted as Lillian had successfully managed to pull the arrow out of his flesh and throw it to the ground beside her. “Hey, you said three!”
Lillian shrugged in response.
“It’s out, isn’t it?”
Taking a closer inspection on his now open wound, she gave him an assessment from behind his back being careful not to touch it.
“It doesn’t look that deep, I think the bleeding has already ceased.”
Paladin turned around to face her now. “Oh, that’s a relief.”
“We’ll need to get you to a healer though, to ensure it doesn’t get infected.” she reminded.
Glancing up over Paladin’s shoulder for a second her emerald eyes widened with sheer terror and her entire body froze as a lone figure marched across the grassy field headed in their direction.
It was Rathman and he had a small crossbow in his hand!
“Oh my god!” she whispered in fear as Paladin furrowed his brows with concern at her terrified expression.
Paladin, having had his back faced against the approaching figure, had no idea that Rathman was even approaching.
“What is it?” he asked her, “Your highness, what’s wrong?”
As if caught in a fearful daze, Lillian couldn’t manage a response as she stood staring into Rathman’s hateful eyes as he marched right up behind Paladin. The Master Mage turned around to see what had Lillian so terrified right in time to meet with Rathman’s closed fist. With one hard punch, the King had knocked the Master Mage out cold and Lillian stood by succumbed to her fear as she watched Paladin fall down to the ground, now lying unconscious just below her feet.
She didn’t get enough time to respond before Rathman lunged forward to grab her…
Drovan charged forward at Draxus who quickly dodged his oncoming attack and used the sharpened blade of his long sword to quickly slice through the back of Drovan’s left ankle, severing his akelas heel and causing blood to spurt out across the grass below.
“Ah, fuck!” the large Warlord cried out in pain as he limped on his incapacitated foot, now struggling to stand on his own two feet as warm blood gushed out rapidly.
Draxus circled back around as the Warlord turned to face him, clearly not finished with their fight. Drovan put all of his added weight onto his right side and prepared to swing his axe to defend himself once more.
“The battle is lost, you have been defeated... Yield now and I will spare your life.” Draxus spoke with his deep and husky voice.
“You celebrate too soon, Dragon King! I still stand!” Drovan barked back at him.
“Don’t be a fool, surrender yourself now while I still feel somewhat merciful.” Draxus urged him. “Go on and live to fight another day.”
“I will NOT fail my master!”
Drovan had clearly made his decision with this comment.
With a large sigh of frustration, Draxus knew what he would have to do and he mentally prepared himself for it, though he had to commend his opponent for such bravery. Drovan was well aware that he stood little chance of surviving long enough to see his next sunrise and yet he had not backed down from their duel. He had the heart of a true warrior and Draxus respected that. The Dragon King would make certain that his opponent received a quick death, one of honour.
“Very well then.” Draxus spoke softly.
Gripping the handle of his long sword tightly he moved in on the larger opponent with a boost of newly-found confidence. Lifting his sword up over his head, he successfully deflected the predicted thrust Drovan had made with his axe and remained in complete control as he used all of his force to push the axe away. Then with one fluent movement, Draxus spun around and his sword sliced effortlessly through both bone and flesh, severing the Warlord’s head from his shoulders.
Now standing with his back facing Drovan, Draxus’ large chest heaved in and out with deep, heavy breaths as his opponent’s head slowly slid off of his shoulders and toppled down to the grass below with a meaty ‘thud’. The Warlord’s body followed soon after, crumpling in a lifeless heap to the floor as Draxus turned around to view his defeated adversary.
“You were a worthy adversary.” Draxus spoke softly to the headless corpse of the Bounty Hunter lying before him.
Suddenly Lillian’s voice pulled him from his thoughts and he quickly spun around.
“NO… Draxus help!”
Facing in the direction of his wife’s terrified screams, Draxus was met with a sight he had dreaded far more than anything else in the world; it was the bastard King Rathman with his arm around Lillian’s neck and his crossbow aimed directly at her stomach!
“No, please don’t!” Lillian pleaded with her captor.
“Rathman! Let her go you cowardly bastard!” Draxus growled with fury.
Without thinking, the Dragon King bolted towards them, desperate to separate his enemy from his wife and finish off the menacing King once and for all.
“That’s close enough, Dragon King!” Rathman snapped as Draxus skidded to a halt a few meters in front of them. “Come any closer and my trigger finger may slip…”
Lillian gasped with fear.
“No please…” she whispered as tears began to fill her eyes.
“Shut up!” Rathman barked back at her.
As he tightened his grasp around her neck and caused her to groan in obvious discomfort, Lillian fought desperately to keep herself calm. Unfortunately, she knew the seriousness of the danger she was now in; both her and her unborn child.
“Oh, I have waited so very long for this moment…” Rathman announced with a menacing smirk painted across his face, “I will truly enjoy every single second of making you both pay for what you did to me. For everything you took from me!”