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Chapter 14

The Battle of Heckyeth and Astrid

Astrid covered her ears, wincing in pain from the sheer agony, that had been inflicted upon her. She took her hands off her ears, though regardless of how bad it hurt. She then moved her hands over, and around and around her head, performing a spell, and spoke something in a disturbingly severe manner. A glowing haze appeared, and adorned her hair like a crown, then, she put her hands down, tense to each side of her body; she closed her eyes, and tilted her head up. There was no longer the sound, that made her cringe. She had an indifference to her surroundings, almost as if, she had a completely and heightened awareness, though pretended to appear aloof. She listened for a long time. Meditated on her enemy. Then, from a tree beside, her came the dead giveaway of his presence, in the rustle in the foliage; and Heckyeth, had jumped down, freefalling through the air. Before his feet touched the ground, she threw her hand out, and a bolt of black lightning, shot out to strike him! Heckyeth saw it coming, and put his palms out in front of him. The lightning bounced off some kind of invisible shield, and ricocheted back at Astrid! Astrid put her palms out in front of her chest, and formed a bluish, transparent liquid, forcefield. The bolt hit the watery shield, and sprang off to the side, to crash into a tree. The bolt left a huge scorched, and smoldering gash, and the tree fell over, plundering down loudly. Heckyeth and Astrid looked at each other, to wait and see, what the other would do next. Heckyeth tried to read her thoughts, but something was wrong! There had been static and white noise; something was blocking him from doing so! He laughed. “I see you’ve managed to find a way to repel me from reading your thoughts! You’re more powerful than I imagined, Astrid… that’s why you’re so beautiful to me.”

He mad-dashed straight at her; his feet, not even touching the ground once. He stretched out both of his hands to grab her, but she disappeared; and he crashed into the tree, that had waited for him, right behind her. What a trick. He turned, and wobbled a little, while he still hovered a foot off the ground. He thought about what happened, and then, laughed loudly, and mocked her. “That was lucky, but you won’t be so lucky again… my dear!” Then, like a ghost from out of nowhere, Astrid appeared, right by his ear, and whispered. “You’re afraid of me.” He turned his head, to look, but she was gone!

Then suddenly, the loud roaring, of an unnaturally large cat, blasted through the trees from his right! The roaring turned into a wailing of pain. Then, a giant, mostly gray, furred beast, dropped from the sky; and crashed down, within yards in front of Heckyeth’s feet! He looked at it for awhile in bewilderment, then, grinned, and walked over to the beast. He tapped on the back of its bonce, lightly, then, the cat beast got up, and spoke the words Heckyeth commanded, in his thoughts. “Astrid? Astrid? Where are you?” Heckyeth controlled the beast’s movement with his mind, and made it stand on its hind legs and clap, while saying through, its deep beast voice. “Astrid look… I’m Heckyeth’s new pet!” Blood splashed out of the dead cat’s mouth, as it spoke. Astrid watched from afar, and had been sickened by it. She could not even begin to imagine, what kind of twisted mind, would do such a thing. Heckyeth stood the beast down, upon all four limbs, and then, made it turn its head all the way around! The sound of its neck snapping, disgusted her, now more than she could tolerate; she couldn’t take any more of this! This sick demented fun, and disrespect for the dead.

Astrid sent a fireball, speeding off straight for Heckyeth! This gave away her position, and he quickly counteracted with a water blast; coming from out of his palm, with great pressure and force! The fireball had been put out, the instant it collided with the forceful water. Astrid, swiftly moved out of the path of it, and spoke something in her, well recognized, now, strange tongue. She jumped high up into the air, and started to form a black and purple sphere, facing both her palms together, and moving her hands back and forth, then in circles. The black and purple sphere, began to spark with white electricity. She descended slowly to the ground, and threw it at Heckyeth! He jumped up into the air to dodge it; but this time, it didn’t run into a tree, or miss him; it followed him! Astrid smirked. The black and purple sphere, tracked hot on his heel, as he landed on the ground, and zoomed off, with an extremely fast pace! He wasn’t going to let this get the better of him. He ran straight at a tree, and hadn’t turned, even when he had come close enough to crash into it; but, as he reached the front of the tree, he quickly dashed to the side; and the sphere, broke through the tree, stopped, moved back, close to it, then idled, and gave off a hissing sound. The surface of the globe, cracked open, then, an outer shell blew up; as it detonated the tree, debris had dropped down from above Heckyeth, as he continued to zoom away.

He came back, not for more, but to where Astrid had thrown the black and purple sphere at him. He stopped by the dead animal, that was still standing upon its four limbs, just how he left it. He looked around into the trees, and said out loud, for Astrid to hear him. “I didn’t expect you to be powerful enough to perform magic, that I myself, have never seen! Where have you been for the last eight hundred years... Astrid?” A void that he yearned for, to be filled, was not; only more of this yearning, had filled him, and silence overtook the atmosphere. He waited and waited, but still, Astrid hadn’t answered! Heckyeth’s eyes, wandered over to the beast, and then, he looked back into the trees, sending it out; and the beast turned, and did so, like a puppet, obeying its master. Grotesque; the dead, but animated, walked on forward, as Heckyeth kept a watchful eye out for Astrid, and slowly followed after the beast. A soft, but chilling breeze, whipped through the Forest. Heckyeth continued to walk behind his beast puppet; looking to the far extreme directions, from him, he opened his mouth, and shouted, with a sense of invincibility, and superiority. “Astrid, I know you’re out there!”

Astrid stood on a tree branch, high above and far off, watching Heckyeth, as his eyes scanned the area, that had kept them apart. He stopped, glanced back behind him, and then, looked back in front of him, through the trees, just ahead of his idling puppet. He stalled, then, gradually continued forward, catching up to the walking dead. “You can not hide forever! I will find you… Astrid…”

Astrid was horrified and unsettled, by the sight of the beast; had he meant to disgust her… Its head, tilted to the side, dragging on the ground; the spine was severed, but the flesh had kept the dangling head, attached. Blood dripped out from its open mouth, and its eyes, rolled back into its skull. Heckyeth had his closed hand out, yet, close to his chest, and whispered something, no more than two syllables. He held forth his open hand, and a small red light appeared. It, then, moved forward, and flew up high into the trees; Heckyeth, said, as he watched it, raising his head, following it with his sight. “I will find you!” He closed his eyes, and stood still.

The red light, flew on, from tree to tree, getting closer and closer to Astrid! She ducked low, behind the tree. She would have to act now; plan a surprise attack, or come up with something quick; and if she didn’t do it, here and now, she wouldn’t have the chance to again! Astrid whispered a rant, so quietly, it was as if, she hadn’t spoke anything at all, just breathed it into existence instead. She completed her spell, and a knife, with a sharp pointed tip, materialized in her hand. She used the sharp tip, to prick her finger, then, let go of the knife, to drift away in the soft breeze, and disintegrate into dust. It was as mysterious as it was misunderstood; as being a dastard thing.

Astrid held her hand out to the ground below, and squeezed a drop of blood from her finger. The drop of blood, fell in a large empty space, for a long time; on down through the air. She waited calmly and patiently, for the drop to make its way to the ground. She was quick and keen, on sensing when it had finally reached the Forest floor, beneath. It had touched the ground, and began to spread up and out, taking the form of Astrid. Astrid, from above, looked down at her replica, now below, and had said, from her to Heckyeth, throwing him off with this decoy. “You think I’m in the trees? That would be foolish… I wouldn’t have a good defense; I’d be vulnerable!” Astrid controlled the copy with her mind; the same as Heckyeth did with the disgusting cat beast. She had made it dart far beyond the tree, next to her, and as she saw that her plan had worked; panning out successfully, and the decoy had Heckyeth’s attention; she started a whisper, in a low tone, but unfortunately, her distraction didn’t keep him misled for long.

Suddenly, the red light had come up from behind her; he’d found her. Swiftly turning his head, his eyes shot upon her, and he uttered violently, in a tongue unknown, and threw an onyx fireball at her! She jumped down through the air to dodge it. The moment she hit the ground, Heckyeth had sent the cat beast lunging toward her; this demented and ungodly, above all else, unnatural thing! She whispered something harsh and fast under her breath, and threw a great fireball!

The flesh, burned off instantly, but it was still running straight at her; a burning demon from hell! She jumped up, and landed upon its back! It was something that would give one a start, from how it looked, when it abruptly stopped. The beast turned its clumsily dangling head, all the way around, to face the complete, and opposite direction, and snapped at her! Its neck was broken; she wondered what was keeping the head connected to the body; she saw a chunk of burned and bloody flesh on the back of its neck, that held it joined; the rest of the flesh, was straggly and torn, from the apparent and extreme stretching of muscles, to move in a way, where no rules applied. She kicked it hard in the jaw, and its head fell off, rolling on the ground.

Heckyeth rushed over the trail of ashes, left behind from the beast, and strut up the side of the headless, skinless morbidity, of its body. He gave a long, loud, intimidating shout! Black flame, blew out from both his hands, as he threw them into Astrid’s face. Astrid quickly ducked, and blocked the blasting fire, using the same watery forcefield. The flame blew off of the sides of the convex shield, and ate away at all that surrounded; turning the beast’s flesh and bones, to ash, and setting the trees, behind her, ablaze! The three trees closest to her, were burned up entirely, and fell back, heavy; pushed over by the force of the blowing flame, crashing to the ground with the sound of cracking and crushing, that reverberated through the Forest.

Neither of them, showed signs of being conquered by the other, or of exhaustion, or of diminished strength. Behind the shield, Astrid threw her head back, and screamed at the top of her lungs, in two abrupt syllables. She carried out the last one for a long while, and then, the ground started to shake! The quaking, then, grew even more intense. Heckyeth strained to stay on his feet, to hold the blasting flame just a little longer; maybe he would have this yet. But he couldn’t; he fell back, and the blasting fire, ceased from his hands, when the force of the shaking earth, had spread them apart, and knocked him down off the beast!

Astrid, had had enough! She developed a fierce and unpredicted glaze to her eyes, as she stared down at Heckyeth; she was out for blood, no mercy, no holding back! She put her hand out in a grabbing manner, and Heckyeth rose up into the air, as if he was being held up by his throat. Astrid brought her fingers slightly closer together. Heckyeth stifled in distress, and his face began to turn red, in robbing him of oxygen.

Astrid cocked her head to one side, and watched him, with a little too much enjoyment. “Yes! It hurts... doesn’t it? But this is nothing compared to what I am to do next. I’m going to make you suffer unspeakably. You will feel ten times multiplied, the pain you’ve caused others; and even if the torture would kill you naturally, you will remain alive, until you’ve suffered all of their pain.” Heckyeth replied with a scratchy, choking whisper. “You should have never come to this Forest. You’ve brought the chaos with you, and it follows you everywhere you go... you can’t get away from it…my sweet… you’re cursed. You’re hypocritical… be who you really are, and welcome the curse... embrace it… use it for what it was designed for. Join me. Accept what you really are... you are beautifully, and exquisitely, cursed.”

“I’ll accept what I am... a hypocrite… and I will own up to the title, and do as a hypocrite does… and kill you. Damn my soul.”

Astrid grinned, and drew up her other hand, pointing her index finger out at him. A tiny speck of blood-red light, drifted slowly through the air, and made its way to Heckyeth, absorbing into his body. “Let it unfold.” She released her stranglehold from him, and he fell to the ground.

All at an instant, it was upon him. An eating pain, stirred up from inside his bowels, and he scrunched over his middle, and gave out a horrifying scream; rolling back and forth on the ground. His suffering, grew, and turned to cutting pains, as if from a sharp object; and though his limbs weren’t torn off; he felt as if they were being torn; and it had been happening to him slowly, and torturously.

Astrid walked away, leaving him, as his fate was sealed. The screams and bellows from him, will die with this Forest, if that is what’s to come. The bigger picture, his agonizing pain, was all of theirs...

She wandered over to the tree, of where the replica of her, had stood idle, and touched it. It returned to its true form, a drop of blood; and absorbed back, from where it came, into the tip of her finger. Gremoff looked so majestic, frozen, how he was; like a statue of ice. She turned, and walked towards Gremoff, in her particular way. She jumped up into the air, appearing as the exalted image of power, and landed on the floating rectangle, where Tesmorlah rested. Tesmorlah glanced at her, as she finally came back up to her, after quite some time of being gone. All manner of question raised. She came over by her side and looked at her wing. “Please don’t use the healing spell on me. We don’t have the time to wait for me to recover and wake… in the morning… it will be too late. There is something terrible ahead… something evil and powerful. It is the shadows, it is the darkness… it is of a corrupted existence, and must be stopped!” Astrid replied. “I don’t have to; it’s just a minor wound, there’s not much blood loss… lucky for you, your wings are mostly cartilage. I don’t have to do all that much to heal it… actually, just a simple healing spell, just to seal your wing closed.”

Astrid touched Tesmorlah’s wing, on the outer edge of the hole, and it closed up with new flesh. Tesmorlah stood up, and looked at her wing, and then, looked at Astrid, as Astrid looked at her. “I will be by your side, to fight with a heart of bravery, honor, and strength.” Astrid gave her a nod. “Come on!”

She jumped down from the transparent rectangle, and landed next to Gremoff. Tesmorlah looked over the edge and on down, and saw Gremoff, frozen in a layer of ice. She stretched out her wings, slowly gliding in her descent, to land near Astrid, in the Forest below. As she came down, something came to her attention; there was an unexpected sound; a sound that grew louder and louder. She finally could make something of it. It had been a bloodcurdling scream, and she looked, for where, and what, it was coming from; and then, there was the horrific sight; she saw a man, lying on the ground, not just in spasms, but in a number of other things. Astrid watched her, looking at Heckyeth. “He’s the one that threw the fireball through your wing. We have to wait till he’s dead, to unfreeze Gremoff; he conjugated a controlling spell upon him, and you see that beast without a head, standing there... he’s made it to do that… to stand, to be animated. I’m not taking any chances; I’m afraid we are to wait here… for Gremoff won’t be free from his control, until he’s dead.

Hours passed, and Heckyeth finally died. Astrid unfroze Gremoff, and he shook off the remaining ice, while looking around frantically. “Where is he? That fiend! Where is he?”

That knowledge was hidden amid the dark and thick Forest. Significantly, to Astrid; as Heckyeth’s existence was discovered by her, it was also, ended by her not long after. She had learned, the will of this fiend had manifested within her, wielding her, in her vulnerable state, what was it now... eight hundred years ago. How she vexed herself for it. “He’s dead… I killed him…”

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