Zytra - land of the brave, a haven for adventurers far and wide. It promised riches and glory and offered plenty to those who she deemed worthy.
Like many others seeking to mark their names in the lands, he had come here with little more than twenty Syros (currency of Zytra). That did not deter him however; his lust for battle and his desire to be the best thrust him neck deep into the hairiest of situations, but he always found a way to beat the odds and emerge victorious.
The battles he fought though, were the happiest moments of his life. From the elder dragons of Skrymdoor to the famous murderers of Zetana. He had seen them all, beat them all, and now there was nothing left he could challenge.
Every now and then, an adventurer would show up to challenge him. Sadly, none of them could match him and the fights never lasted long enough for him to get any real pleasure.
That was his sole emotion. He needed something more, something to reawaken his thirst, and the answer was...
“It truly is lonely at the top,” he muttered silently.
The man who spoke was laying down at the top of a mountain. It was called ‘Oni Hill’, because of the several demons that made it their home. This large mountain was right in the middle of Dreiza, home of the demons and the most dangerous place for all adventurers.
This mountain had been claimed by him long ago, and over time it had turned into his base. He could not remember the last time he had stepped outside of Dreiza. Probably months. And since he needed a place to sleep when he was done rampaging, he had naturally chosen the most iconic spot in the land for himself.
The jagged mountain, surrounded by the darkest forest in all of Zytra peaked past the dark clouds that encompassed Dreiza. Unlike the barren sides of the mountain, the peak was truly beautiful.
A small garden with an assortment of flowers, -mostly planted by him- decorated the path leading from inside the mountain to a glass marble throne that sparkled ever so magnificently when the sun rose. There was also a small lake with the most beautiful fish living freely in it. Truly, it was a spot for the king of the land.
But, it would not be his after today. After today, none of these would matter.
With a sigh, he stood up and walked to his throne. On it sat a mask, one so grotesque, it had given him the nickname ‘Demon King of Dreiza’ by the adventurers.
He did not mind the name. If anything, he loved it. It was a testament of all his accomplishments and an assurance his name would live on forever.
Resting on the side of a throne was a sword so large, many had asked how he managed to wield it, let alone swing it the way he did. Unlike many of his weapons, he had made this one himself. Using metals from the depths of Groknir, land of the savage dwarves, and flames of the dragons, he had poured all his desires for greatness and power into every strike of his hammer.
The black masterpiece had been born from the embers of the dying flames. The skull on the hilt was picked from the feeding grounds of some monsters. He was not sure if it was human or not, and it mattered not to him.
With a devilish grin, he put on the mask, picked his sword and sat on the throne. He rested his chin on one hand, twirling his sword with the other as he, got into a more relaxed position.
“I’m waiting,” he groaned impatiently, staring at the path in front of him as if it would make whatever he was waiting for appear sooner.
His plea was answered soon after in the form of a lock of brown hair rising slowly up the end of the path. As it rose, it revealed its owner; a young mage in his late teens. He was dressed as the traditional mages in a blue gown, and held a staff whose power even the demon king respected.
“Impressive,” the king acknowledged with a smile, “I daresay you must be an A-list mage, to have survived the perils of my mountain.”
When the man did not reply, the king went on. “From your appearance, I presume the rest of your party died in the mountains.” This the mage did react to in the form of a wince.
With an amused smile, the king stood up from his throne, balanced the sword on his shoulder and strolled towards the mage nonchalantly. “Now then, your party lays dead behind you, and you cannot possibly hope to beat me on your own. So, what is it you desire? Gold? Power? Fame? I will grant to you that which is your desire as your reward for making it this far.”
“...ake,” the mage replied, barely above a whisper.
“A handshake!” the mage repeated with an embarrassed yell.
“Ho? A fan then?” the king sighed, a tinge of disgust in his voice. “Fine then,” he replied and stretched out his hand.
“It is an honour,” the mage acknowledged with a bow and grasped the king’s armoured hand with his. Just then a dangerous glint appeared in his eyes followed closely by a grin just as, if not more grotesque as the king’s.
Realization dawned upon the king but before he could react, the mage screamed, “Teleport!”.
Teleport - one of the most used skills in Zytra but it could only be used on one’s self. To use on an ally or friend required either a high transmutation skill or an appropriate item. To use on an enemy however ,required a mastery of the conjuration field of magic.
It had too many restrictions on it so it was very rarely used by anyone. Restrictions included, body contact, teleportation takes both you and your target, and worst of all the lengthy spell required to cast it on an enemy.
The king had seen it used a few times for suicide missions. Taking an enemy with you to the sky and falling with him, among many others. If this mage thought he could kill the demon king like this, he had severely underestimated the power of the king.
The king watched as a rotating blue light enveloped their bodies and braced himself for the journey. With a flash, nothing remained where they once stood. The clearing fell into a deathly silence as the last embers of the sinking sun, disappeared, drowning it in still darkness.
Several miles, away on an open field - rather what used to be a field- the land bore heavy scars of a battle once fought here; the vegetation never quite recovering. Pockets of grasses could be seen scattered around but the majority of the land was scorched earth.
At the middle of this field, a tiny soft blue light appeared, pulsated like a heartbeat, then expanded rapidly, taking on the form of two men. It softly dissipated, revealing the demon king and his captor, their hands still clasped still tightly clasped.
The mage fell to his knees, exhaustion evident on his sweat-drenched face. This was yet another drawback of the ‘teleport’ skill; it rendered its user incapable of further movement for a few minutes. It also drained all the mana from whoever casted it no matter how large his/her mana might be.
It was for all intents and purposes, a suicide option to use it, which was why it mildly surprised the king to see he was not up in the sky or above some volcano.
“Where are...?” he started but the question died in his throat as he recognized the field they had landed. Nostalgia flooded him like a wave, as he remembered the fight he had had here. Yes, this was where it all began. It was only fitting that this be the battlefield.
“Child, Your life shall cease now,” he said to the young mage whose hand he still held tightly. “But as a just reward for your bravery, I grant thee this staff,” he said with a smile as a white oak staff materialized in his left hand. “Wield it well. The staff of Eid has a monstrous power even I found hard to control, but I am sure it will not prove too difficult for one such as you.”
The mage weakly reached out and accepted the weapon, immediately feeling his body grow stronger once his hand made contact. He did not have time to relish his new weapon because his vision was immediately blocked by a black mass.
“To the circle he returns,” whispered the king as the body of the mage dissipated into to petals of light, which softly flowed upwards towards the blackened sky.
They both knew however, that was not a true death. Those marked by the goddess - as he once was - had the gift of immortality. When killed, they would simply be brought back in one of her temples. He had lost that gift when he rebelled against her, which in turn had turned him into the most wanted man in the land.
“Now, I wonder what plans these children have thought up,” the king mused as he surveyed the field around him.
The ‘Valley of K’iol’ was once the battleground or more correctly a coliseum for the Perians. A nation of giants which when not waging war with itself, terrorized its neighbouring towns. The valley was surrounded on all sides by large mountain cliffs where the giants watched the battles that were fought within.
With the position of overlord occupied by him, he led the giants across the ocean to a different land where they could rampage to their hearts content.
But that’s a whole other story.
Years past, a decree had been sent out for all adventurers to find a way to stop the tyranny of the giants. The demon king who was but a young adventurer back then, challenged Roth, overlord of the giants to a duel. After a long and terrible battle, he emerged victorious to the surprise of all present.
The important thing was, that battle put his name on the ears of every adventurer, noble and even gods. All of whom came after him for their own agendas unwittingly granting him even more power, until eventually he became far too powerful.
Such is the fate of the strong
A change in atmosphere snapped him out of his reverie. What looked like fog began to rise from the mountains around him. It coiled its way around the field with a sinister hiss, increasing in height and thickness as it did so.
The fog formed a circle around him, making it so he could no longer see the mountains. The formless beast rose even higher, and arched in around him till it cut off his view the clouds. As if, recognizing its prey was captured, it abruptly plunged towards him, engulfing him rapidly in a thick fog.
The king, unfazed by the unnatural fog drove his sword into the earth, just as a silhouette formed in the mist.
“Demon King Razznik Y’Terlow,” the silhouette called with the voice of a mature lady. “You have been charged with treason against the Zytraen Empire. What say you in your defence?”
“Ha... Hahahahaha!” Razznik bellowed with exaggerated amusement. His mask warped the sound of his voice into a deep, sinister laugh akin to a thousand demons.
“What amuses you so?” the silhouette asked.
“Treason? Against the Zytraen Empire?” he challenged with a chuckle. “Surely you jest?” he asked, disgust and anger evident in his voice.
“You were tasked with destroying the demon clan, instead you chose to not only side with them, but also deigned to attack your fellow adventurers. What is that if not treason?”
“What gives you the right to decide if an entire race lives or dies?”
“The goddess, Aethir giver of life ordered it so.”
“What consequence does that hold? Are you saying the gods cannot be wrong? Or perhaps you believe Aethir may take life because she offered it?” The woman in the fog seemed not to have an answer for his question, so he continued in a lighter tone. “It matters not does it. Our words, thoughts and methods are completely different. Nothing I say will get through to you, nor will anything you say get through to me. There is only one way for people like us to truly communicate,” he said as he picked up his sword with clear gusto.
“It is regrettable. I had hoped we could resolve this peacefully. I suppose this is a fitting end for ‘Razznik the destroyer’” the silhouette said wistfully.
“How about we begin?” he said as he swung his swords around him, creating a shockwave that blew away all the fog in the valley. “Ho. This is quite the reception,” he said as he surveyed the once empty field.
Adventurers of all races had already surrounded him, their approach masked by the fog that had settled in earlier. Their numbers easily ranged in the thousands and most of them looked strong enough to give him trouble.
“This is not a reception Demon King,” the silhouette voice called from one of the surrounding cliffs. Its owner as he had thought was a lady who looked to be in her late twenties. Hair the color of snow fluttered in the night breeze as her blue eyes glared coldly at him. Adorned in a white robe, and a matching headgear, she was a true figure of matchless beauty. “This is your funeral,” she corrected, while she raised her left arm.
“For one such as I to be sent off by so many? This is truly an honour,” Razznik smugly replied. His sword dematerialized as a different one took form in his hand. They were twin, blood red swords with chains that wrapped around his arm.
“Do not flatter yourself,” she chided and brought down her arm.
Like a bolt of lightning running through metal, a frenzy arose in the warriors surrounding him, which increased in intensity the closer they were to him.
A flurry of arrows, spears, balls of fire, ice (basically every projectile in the nine realms) tore through the air, their target the lone warrior in the middle.
“Ha! So it begins,” Razznik laughed, whirling his swords around him. With a cry of defiance he slammed his swords onto the earth. Instantaneously, cracks appeared in the earth around him and flames erupted around him, destroying or blowing away all the projectiles.
The sight of his black armour amid the pillars of flames, strolling ever so slightly towards them, sent a chill up the signs of everyone.
“Monster,” was the word on the lips of every one present as he suddenly lunged towards them swords drawn.
Terror seized the valley of K’iol as Razznik jumped right into the middle of the army. This action was not just out of blind pride, but a calculated move to prevent ranged attacks.
His blood swords were perfect for ambush situations as they extended for several meters ahead of him with each strike, wiping out his enemies before they could get close.
“He seems to be doing well, Aileera,” Frena, a old mage said. Together with five other guild masters, he watched over the battle from a surrounding cliff.
“It is of no consequence,” Aileera, the mage who had confronted Razznik in the mist replied. “Those blades, while powerful possess a fatal flaw.”
“And what pray tell is this consequence?”
“It shall present itself soon enough,” she replied calmly.
However, the weakness refused to show up as Razznik continued to slaughter his way through the armies, pillars of fire rising on every spot his swords crashed on. Despite this, the army did not waver in the slightest, for they had numbers and glory on their side.
The looks in their eyes brought a smile to the king’s face. Yes, that was a look that could be brought on only by an insurmountable wall. A wall you throw everything at including your own body, with the knowledge that just beyond that wall lies your greatest desire.
The thing about those with that look is that while it may take a long time, eventually a crack will appear on that wall. And when it does, it is only a matter of time before it comes crashing down.
A pugilist dodged to the side as the swords came crashing down, and signalled a mage close by who casted a spell on him that increased his speed greatly. He kept low and dashed forward, shamelessly using his fellow adventurers as cover when the swords came down.
Soon, he was right under the nose of the Demon King, and before Razz could retract his swords, the young pugilist launched an uppercut that barely missed because Razz had dived back.
“Impressive,” Razz admitted. The short respite caused by that blow had given the adventurers enough time to close the gaps he had forced around him. It was time to change weapons. The swords dissipated and was replaced by a black staff. This was another one of his own creations and one he truly loved.
Just as the excited warriors lunged at him, he stomped the butt of the staff on the ground, creating a shockwave that repelled them. He held the staff with one hand behind his back and motioned with his other for them to come at him.
Enraged by his taunts, they did just that and soon regretted it.
“His swordsmanship is truly impeccable,” Frena remarked as they watched him, clear wave after wave of adventurers, using last minute dodges and lightning fast reflexes to dispatch his opponents.
“That’s not all,” Borg, a warrior from the wolf clan stated. His brown fur ruffled with impatience, itching to join the skirmish. “He isn’t defending any of the attacks from his back.”
“You noticed,” Aileera observed. “That cape he bears once belonged to the previous demon king. It is said till the day he was defeated, he never sustained an injury at his back.”
“Then it is charmed,” Frena remarked with a low chuckle. “he truly is a frightening fellow.”
“Aye,” Rono, a pirate from the Eursian seas, said. Unlike the other people on the hill, he was not a guild master, but he ran the largest pirate crew in all the seas, so they had enlisted his help too. “He faced off the worst of Jone’s locker alone. That man is no ordinary chap.”
Aileera rummaged through her pockets and pulled out a small clear sphere the size of a marble. It was called a Rink and it was their primary source of communication in the land.
“Focus on the cape,” she said into the pearl, and she soon got a shaky ‘yes!’ from her contact in the valley.
“Hm?” Razz said when he noticed a group of people hacking away at his back without care whether it was futile or not. “They have a good commander...” he mused, as he spun the staff above his head, “... but her strategies cannot overturn my might!,” he roared and struck the staff again on the ground.
The adventurers braced themselves for the shockwave but when none came, they snickered at Razz, who they thought had finally weakened. However he seemed unperturbed and was pointing at the sky. They followed his gaze and looked to the sky where a frightening reality befell them. Unnatural clouds had gathered in the night sky and the discharge from the lightning was so bright, it illuminated the battlefield.
“I suppose it is safe to assume that is his doing?” Freya asked.
“Hey, hey. Just how much has that guy mastered anyway?” Rono asked as he balked at the size of the approaching storm.
“This is where his advantage lies,” Aileera said calmly. If the approaching storm had any effect on her, she surely was not showing. “We cannot afford to use any Area spells because we might hit our allies, but he may fire off as many as he wants.”
“He’s gotta run out some time right?” Miles, the youngest in the group, spoke up. He was an archer, the best in the realm and it was rumoured he could hit a fly several miles away, hence his nickname.
“He surely will,” Aileera affirmed. “Send in the summoners once the storm is past,” she said to the rink.
On the valley, Razz continued his one man battle against the army, as rain began to pour down. A drizzle at first, then a terrible storm that robbed all of their sight.
The pugilists and archers had been trained to fight with terrible sight, and they surrounded Razz, and at the same time notched their bows. The archers fired off their arrows using the rain to mask the whistling sound as it flew through the air.
Razz’s staff dissipated and he was left with a pair of black gloves that appeared on his hands. The arrows came whistling down towards him and though he could neither hear nor feel them, it did not faze him. Instead, he slammed his hands against each other, releasing yet another shockwave that blew the arrows away.
“He appears to be well versed in area attacks,” Freya observed, impressed by Razz’s continuous counters.
“It’s only natural,” Aileera said, unimpressed. “He fought a lot of his battles alone and needed to prevent himself from being surrounded.”
“Missy, you’ve got a mighty beef against the lad don’t ya?” Rono said with a laugh.
In reply, she gave him a cold glare that froze the laughter in his throat.
Almost instantly, a bolt of lightning struck the valley, burning everything around its landing spot.
“The true horror of the thunderstorm spell begins,” Freya remarked just as a translucent barrier formed around the group, protecting them.
True to his words, a light-show of random lightning bolts fired down on the valley, sparing nothing it hit. The adventurers already panicked from the initial storm, lost it during the thunderstorm. Barriers were created in no real order, protecting only those lucky enough to be near a mage, and even then, most could not
withstand the force of the bolts.
“Tis scary ‘n’ all, but won’t the lad be struck down by he own spell at this rate?” Rono asked. It was a valid point too. The strikes were completely at random and if they hit the caster it would still turn him into human bacon.
“I doubt it will hit him,” Freya said confidently.
“He casted it,” Freya answered simply.
“Aye,” Rono acknowledged as he watched Razz, “He’s a fearsome one, he is.”
The king ploughed through the disorganized army dodging at the last second every time a bolt crashed down close to him. The gloves he wore imbued him with the strength of a hundred men as he broke through armour, shields and some low level barriers.
This advantage did not last long though as Aileera sent an order that was carried out swiftly. All spear bearers pierced their longest weapons into the earth, with the metal pointing to the heavens above their heads. These acted as conductors that sent the powerful bolts into the earth, rendering them less than harmless. Thus the lightning threat was immediately eliminated.
By her second order, a regiment of mages gathered up at the back and started a spell to counter Razz’s storm. Her third and final order however was the most effective. A lot of knights and marauders, surrounded Razznik with the intention of holding him at bay. While they held him off, the remaining adventurers merged into small parties of five to seven.
“This is a tactic used in major battles against numerous foes. To think we would be forced to employ it against a single man,” Freya said with a chuckle.
“He is by no means an ordinary man,” Miles said, and unconsciously tightened his fist around his bow. This of course did not go unnoticed by the others, but they could not say anything because they all felt the same way.
Razznik noticed the change in the atmosphere around the adventurers and was doubly impressed by their commander. His armour was already cracked in several places, and his cape was all but reduced to tatters.
Still, he was completely calm, almost detached even from his own dire situation. This confidence was also a weapon of his that struck fear into the hearts of his opponents.
A ray of moonlight burst through the dark clouds like the goddess herself had shot an arrow through them. The efforts of the knights paid off and even though most had been decimated, they had bought enough time for the mages to break the spell and also for the parties to be formed. Most of the injured had also been healed by the druids(magic healers).
All in all, the army was prepared for a second round of combat, only this time, they were going to work as a unit. A frightening prospect made even worse by the sounds of howling coming from the rear.
“Damn,” Razznik cursed. The howls came from a tribe called beast-tamers. Their attacks were mainly from the beasts they defeated and tamed. These could range from dire-wolves to griffins and in some very rare cases; Dragons!
Flying beasts however were of no use in that battle since it was just one person and they excelled more at large crowds or one giant opposing monster, like an ogre or something similar. That left only a few choices and sure enough, the howls, accompanied by roars, and hisses rushed closer through the mass.
“A magnificent display,” Razznik complimented the adventurers, “I shall usher my respects by going at full strength from here on out.” As he said so, his armour cracked to pieces and fell to the ground. Instantaneously, he was enveloped by a bright light, and when it disappeared, his attire had completely changed.
Where he had once worn a heavy breastplate, he wore nothing, save a black long-sleeve trench coat with runes drawn all round it that glowed faintly. On his legs, he now wore black leather pants with similar runes drawn on them. On his feet, he wore black combat boots with similar runes glowing faintly. His gloves had been traded for twin swords which he handled like kitchen knives. Even his mask had changed; it was now a pure white mask, with claw marks that ran from the bottom left to the top right.
If one looked at him in a painting, they would all say his demon attire was far more intimidating. But to those who stood there in front of him, he had never appeared scarier than he did right then.
“Prepare yourselves,” Aileera said to the masters, “Our role shall soon be upon us.”
“Indeed,” Freya confirmed. Even he could not stop the feeling of goosebumps which should be impossible for one such as he.
An assortment of dire-wolves, spirit-wolves, chimeras, giant cats of all species and... (A rhino?) burst through gaps in the formation around Razznik and lunged at him but he responded in kind dashed towards the rhino.
He grabbed the horn of the beast, instantly stopping its charge and swung it around, knocking over several beasts like dominoes. He released the beast mid-swing and it crashed into a group of adventurers. The rest of the beasts, undaunted by his display of strength attacked him.
Prepared for such an attack, he placed the hilts of his swords together and they merged into one, forming a double edged sword. He swung the weapon around himself as they came, ripping through their flesh like it was nothing. An arrow whizzed by him just as he dodged a lunge from a wolf.
The adventurers were clearing aiming for the moments when he dodged attacks since that would be the hardest time to dodge anymore attacks. Clever. Very clever. The commander was truly one of a kind.
As he tore through the beasts, the ranged attacks increased in intensity, and he realized it was time to even the odds.
Still occupied by the beasts, he started a chant, that increased in pitch and intensity with each word that passed. “Servi Domini, Meisque invocant . Ego te in certamine vinci...” he started.
“Impossible!” Freya screamed when the chant started, his cool demeanour shattered completely by the new revelation. His reaction was shared by everyone else, as they realized a daunting truth.
“...formatum est ex sanguinibus convenant usque in finem dierum. Circumdederunt undique hostes, Et quaerunt animam meam...” the chant continued, uninterrupted by the beasts lunging at Razz.
“He is a summoner too,” Miles muttered.
“Runemaster, Master crafter, Sword-master, Sage, healer, battle king, Knight, marauder, rogue, assassin-,” Rono counted.
“And those are just the ones we know of,” Miles continued, “What kind of monster is he?”
“That is not all,” Aireela said calmly.
“What do you mean?!” Blorg growled. His furs stood on end, and his eyes had gone dark yellow, a sign he was already preparing for combat.
“As planned, he has been forced to use his trump card,” she replied, “You shall witness his power soon, and also, the reason why I requested you all wait behind.”
“Nunc impleret pactum quod fecimus, percutiat inimícos meos. ” Razz continued as his pitch and voice rose higher and carried through the crowd.
“Whaddaya reckon the beast’ll summon?” Rono asked.
“Something we have yet to witness,” was Aileera’s terse reply.
“Ut Quod Reatus Sanguinis Pretio Ut Possit Dissolvi In Sanguine, Ubi Facta Fuerit!” Razznik yelled just as his sword pierced through the mouth of the last Chimera and ripped its jaw off. Purple magic circles suddenly appeared all around the field in random locations.
From these portals rose a host of demons and undead. All of which had sworn fealty when he defeated the previous lord. Now the adventurers could not focus on him anymore, but it did not break their spirit. Since they were already in small groups, it was as simple as treating each demon as a regular raid.
“These are not as bad as we thought,” Freya sighed with relief. Overestimation was always a part of battle and they had fallen for it.
“No, it is not,” Aileera said with a frown. “The true threat just arrived.”
A roar like a thousand thunderclaps accompanied by the unmistakable beating of wings tore through the land and could be heard quite clearly several leagues away. A shadow larger than anything ever seen blocked the moonlight, and everyone trembled in fear as Skyrm, the lord of all dragons, descended upon one of
the mountains overlooking the valley.
He was huge! Together with his wingspan, he was bigger than most cities, and his dirty gold scales tougher than steel. He had trouble balancing on the mountain as he was far too big for it. When he found his balance, his red eyes scanned the battlefield till they rested on Razznik, towards whom they showed contempt and respect.
“I see,” Skyrm boomed. “I shall end everything,” he declared and mana began taking a physical form of fire in his mouth, increasing in size every second.
Cries of ‘what now’ and ‘it’s over’ could be heard among the adventurer’s ranks as they fell to their knees in despair. But once again, Aileera spoke, not through her linkshell, but out loud, using magic to project her voice around the battle field.
“Stand up!” she yelled, “You are all gathered here for different reasons. For honour, for power, for glory, for fame! Whatever your reasons, I implore you. Forget about them for a second and look at yourselves. You are all still alive. Not by your own power, but through the sacrifices of those before you. Now look to your side, to the mage or warrior by your side, who fights with you. Indeed, the foe is powerful. True his power is immense. But there is one thing that sets you apart from him! One strong power you possess that he does not! That is the strength from a party. Those you have banded with to raid, rob and drink. Those who agonized with you when you lost something precious. That is your strength. So when next you feel like you can’t go on, look to your partner and realize one thing. You are not alone. So fight! Abandon fear and fight! Protect your partners and fight! And at the end of the day, if you fall, you shall fall with a smile. We stand with you, you stand with us. Together nothing can defeat us,” she finished softly.
“A sword in one hand and a beer in the other!” Rono yelled, following Aileera’s lead.
“A sword in one hand and a beer in the other,” someone repeated in the valley.
“A sword in one hand and a girl in the other,” another shouted causing laughter to erupt around him.
“A sword in one hand and gold in the other,” a third shouted and soon there were various chants rising as their spirits rose their collective roars rose to a pitch far surpassing Skyrm’s roar and was heard all the way to neighbouring countries.
Razznik stunned by their spirit, faltered in his charge. No matter how one looked at it, he was the bad guy in this situation. Not that it mattered, but their camaraderie opened a wound in his heart he did not know existed.
It angered him.
Why do they get to be so happy? His choice was not wrong. He became the strongest in a world where the powerful rule. Who gave them the right to smile like that!
“RaaaaaAAAAAAWWWWRRRRR!!!!” screamed and his eyes turned red as he descended into berserk mode. His twelve weapons handcrafted by him, appeared around him, floating in the air.
“Let’s go!” Aileera ordered and the masters were launched towards Skyrm by her magic, followed closely by her.
A host of fighters who had been waiting on the hillside by her orders also jumped into the valley. And made a beeline for Razznik.
“No more mercy,” Razznik growled as a black aura emanated around him, and suddenly he was gone. Hal a second later a cry was heard on the other end of the battlefield as Razznik’s hand pierced through his chest.
He threw the already dissipating body away and disappeared. He appeared for a brief second in front of a young mage and made to impale her, but his strike was stopped by two men, and a third ran a sword through his stomach.
“You’ve had enough fun,” one of them said.
Who did not matter because they were all dead in a few seconds as he spun his hand around launching one of the men into the sky and the other head first into the ground. Before they could recover, he drew out the sword in his belly, twisted around and decapitated the one that had stabbed him. Without wasting a breath, he finished his spin and decapitated the one on the ground too before the weapon dissipated. He grabbed his black bow from the twelve weapons circling him and fired an arrow that pierced through the skull of the warrior in the air, killing him instantly. His body dissipated before it reached the ground.
“I said no mercy,” he reconfirmed, but the adventurers no longer balked at him, but instead jointly rushed him with everything they had. “Truly an annoying commander,” he said through gritted teeth as he rushed to greet them.
The battle unfolding in the valley of K’iol was unlike any ever in the history of Zytra. Several races, professions and classes had bonded together to fight a common enemy. Greater yet, the teamwork displayed by the cheering warriors was one rarely seen even in smaller units, simply because most of them had overly strong personalities.
Right before the Demon King, the warriors were proving the belief that before an even larger foe, all enemies unite. Minutes ago, he might have gloated at the prospect of being such a fearsome man, but it just irritated him now.
The attacks now were now well coordinated... But these meant nothing before his might.
Razznik pointed his bow at the sky and fired off an arrow of light, which split into dozens and showered down around him. The mages had already anticipated this however and already had a barrier set up to protect their units. He switched to a black staff which he used to block two swordsmen at his back. Without a pause, he spun around and bashed it on the skull of another warrior. Ducking sharply, he dodged an arrow and extended his staff while he was on the ground. He spun around again, upsetting several warriors around him.
The staff instantaneously changed to a large black shield which he used to block a downward swing from three assassins that had jumped above his staff’s swing. Their collective blow only pushed his arm down a bit, and he soon retaliated by pushing his shield arm up, thereby pushing their sword arms up too. And a curved sword appeared in his left arm which he used to send them back to the circle.
Before the those on the ground could regain their balance, he stabbed them all, sending them off too. There was no time to rest however because ten more came in their place.
When Razznik attacked, a knight shielded then others would attack him. This was the tactic most groups came up with but it was not very effective against him simply because he was too strong. Each of his swings broke through shields like knife through butter and what made him worse was his ‘quick switch’ ability.
Most masters had the ability to rapidly change their weapons whilst in the middle of battle and even actions. These allowed for excess combos by the truly skilled. The problem was that it seemed Razznik had been born with weapons in his tiny hands and legs. He seamlessly cycled through his twelve creations at the most opportune times, and the way he switched quickly made counters and blocking completely inconceivable.
When a knight charged with a lance, he switched to his gloves and grabbed the weapon. He lifted the weapon, and the knight who was still holding on and flung him to the air. When a ranger saw this as a chance to attack and fired arrows of fire and ice, a shield appeared in Razznik’s hand and blocked them.
Razznik used the shield to stun one adventurer, then switched two his twin blades and parried blows from several adventurers. Once an opening appeared, he switched to his broadsword and cleaved right through them, tearing them into halves. None could touch him, but that did not stop them. They kept throwing themselves at him, with the consolation that eventually he would run out of both mana and stamina.
Meanwhile Aileera and the masters had formed a circle around Skyrm who had stopped his attack out of curiosity
“What is your name child?” Skyrm politely inquired.
“I am called Aileera great one,” Aileera answered with a bow. Behind her back she made signals to Frena who nodded with understanding.
“You desire to battle with me?”
“No, my lord. My quarrel is with Razznik alone,” she said, but the look in her eyes made Skyrm chuckle.
“You say you do not wish for battle, yet you make preparations for one. You humans are ever so interesting,” he said and brought his head down to take a close look at her.
He is impossibly large. This was Aileera’s thought when he brought his head down to her level. His forehead alone was more than twice her size and he could easily carry a village on his back if need be. Were the creators mad when they made something this large? No one could hope to match it in combat. Yet here it was.
“Why do you aid the traitor?”she asked with a steely gaze. Skyrm had to admit he was impressed by her bravado. It was no wonder she was appointed commander to the entire army.
“He bested me in combat...” he said flatly.
“What?!” everyone except Aileera screamed. They had all assumed Razznik earned some favours by helping the dragons with some problems but to defeat Skyrm?! That was something that normally would require an army.
“You already knew that did you not child” Skyrm said, as he rose to his full height and took to the air with a great push of his wings. “Now you seek to raise the morale of your army even further by doing the very same.”
“Forgive my impertinence,” Aileera apologized, “but I need you to fall here,” she said and signalled Freya who finished the long chant and erected a dome barrier over the valley. “If you wish to end this painlessly, you’d do well to turn away now,” she declared with a confidence that did not match the situation.
“Hahaha!” Skyrm laughed loudly, but then his expression turned grim, followed by a snarl that would terrify even the bravest of men. “You would do well not to underestimate me,” he growled as bright balls of light appeared all around him. These lights suddenly shot downwards and for every place they hit, they
created craters the size of buildings.
“No. Whether it’s you or Razznik. You’re the ones taking me far too lightly,” she declared and stomped her staff on the ground. A barrier formed around them, blocking all its hits. Then she casted several spells in quick unison, and her companions felt a surge of power unlike any they had ever experienced. “I’m sorry, but I not have time to have a proper duel with you,” she said to Skyrm as began casting a spell.
The dragon had no intention of waiting for her to finish, so he dove down to end her since her shields protected her from his projectiles. A flurry of arrows right where he would have been a second later stopped his advance and turned to its source. Miles had locked on to his target and let loose another hail.
He used a technique similar to Razznik’s splitting arrows to divide his arrows into hundreds per shot. His targets were the beast’s large wings, Their size might have been intimidating but they made for very easy targets.
Skyrm who was familiar with adventurers going after his wings, dodged the predictable arrow paths by twisting in mid-air and folding his wings. He fired off a volley of his balls of light, but Miles was already gone from that spot. Another hail of arrows came at Skyrm from much farther away, and like the first, he
easily avoided them.
The difference with these arrows were that they turned around in mid-air and pierced his wings. They barely damaged him but he was still enraged nonetheless. Opting to fly low over the surrounding forests where Miles had chosen to hide, he spotted the bowman, running through the thickets.
Skyrm swooped down till he was barely over the trees and prepared to roast Miles, but a blue form right in front of him gave him pause.
Blorg jumped out of a tree, axe drawn to cut down the beast but Skyrm merely climbed above him and sprayed both him and Miles with his flames. Both of them were saved by Freya who erected a shield around them in the nick of time.
Skyrm made a sharp U-turn when he saw they were unscathed and prepared another fireball, except much stronger this time.
“Not while I live ‘n’ breathe” he heard someone say close by and roared in startled pain as a sword was driven in-between his scales. Rono, who had used the opportunity when Skyrm had flown low to hijack a ride with his grappling hook, pulled out his scimitar from the beasts back.
Skyrm climbed sharply upwards in an attempt to toss the pirate off his back, but Rono who was accustomed to the stormiest of seas tied himself to one of the dragon’s back scales, and held on for his life.
“In all the seas have I not found myself a more worthy game,” Rono cheered as he stabbed the beast again.
Skyrm performed several stunts including barrel rolls to get the pest of his back but he would not budge. Desperate, he crashed into a mountain, hoping the force knocked the pirate off his back.
Instead, two more passengers got on. Their names were Troy and Else. Two assassins so deadly silent and inconspicuous, they most likely would not have been mentioned in any records including this if not for the feat they performed.
The assassins, whose genders were impossible to tell, split up and jumped onto the wings of Skyrm mid-air. Before the beast could react, the both drove their daggers into its wings, and sped towards each other, ripping the wings apart in the process.
Skyrm cried out in pain as he struggled to keep his balance, but Miles, who never missed a chance fired off two arrows that grew in size as they flew. When they were about the size of large pillars, they bore two giant holes in the wings.
Left with no means to hold himself up, Skyrm plummeted helplessly to the earth. He did not crash however, but landed roughly and his feet, crushing the wildlife around him in the process.
Enraged beyond reason, he fired off his bolts randomly into the vegetation around him, destroying acres of land. He felt a tug on his tail, and turned around to see what it was.
Blorg grabbed the beast’s tail and pulled with all his might. Ranked first in the land terms of raw physical strength, and imbued with Aileera’s buffs, he dragged the beast off its feet. He did not possess enough strength to lift the beast, so this was the best he could do. But it was more than enough.
With the underbelly exposed, the assassins rushed in to stab its heart, but right then and there a deadly glow appeared around the beast and they instinctively stepped back. The glow encompassed the beast, then shrunk in size, the beast along with it.
It formed the shape of a man and then dissipated leaving an injured man in its wake. Skyrm in humanoid form still looked like a dragon, red scales and all, but he no longer had a long snout, and he had both legs and hands, with opposable thumbs. He wore nothing but red pants, clearly having no need for armour. He also possessed long red hair, which was odd in and of itself, considering dragons do not grow hair.
“To think I would be forced to use this form twice in one generation,” he said as he tested to see if there were any complications with his body. None, it worked perfectly, and in this form, his wounds would heal faster.
Blorg was the first to attack, using a shower of arrows from Miles (who was somewhere in the surrounding forest) as cover.
Skyrm looked at the arrows with disgust and countered his own arrows of light, causing a fine display of fireworks. However, her did not settle for that and sent more into the woods to flush the archer out. His aim was true this time and Miles’ camouflage wore off and he fell to the ground, overpowered by the explosive powers of Skyrm’s arrows.
Blorg swung his axe down on Skyrm who he assumed was distracting by the arrows but the dragon kicked the weapon out of his hands, sending it crashing nearby. Undaunted, Blorg attempted to grapple him instead, but Skyrm locked hands with him in a contest of strength.
“I do believe I owe you,” Skyrm reminded Blorg who cocked his head in question. Skyrm pushed down and Blorg bent backwards under his strength, then swept the wolf’s feet from under him and released him. The wolf crashed to the earth with the force of a boulder and struggled to catch his breath.
Determined to complete his payback, Skyrm grabbed the wolf by his tail, swung him over his head and tossed him far off into the woods. At that moment, the assassins came at him daggers drawn, but he parried their blows and kicked one in the stomach and punched the other in the same spot sending them both flying.
“Time to end this,” he stated as he grabbed Else and was about to crack ‘her’ neck, but instinct made him let her go and dive back just as white chains crashed into the earth where he was.
“What?!” he exclaimed as the snake-like chains sprung to life at slithered through the air towards him. He hopped backwards, barely dodging them, and was forced to continue dodging as they doggedly hunted him. An large pillar of light caught his eye and he stopped just as an arrow passed behind him, cutting off his retreat.
One of the chains tore through his arm and pinned itself to the ground, followed soon by the others which pierced through his arms and legs. He attempted to break free, but a blinding light surrounded him and he felt all the power drain out of his body.
“Seal complete,” someone confirmed and he turned to see Aileera walking up to him.
“This was your true aim?” Skyrm said through gritted teeth.
“I warned you not to underestimate me. Next it Razznik,” she said as she turned away from him.
To this the dragon laughed out loud like he had just been told the funniest joke. “Take him out? You do not understand that man’s true terror yet,” he laughed as the last of his strength ebbed. “Ah, were it I could fly once more...”
A massive explosion shook the earth and Aileera spun around sharply, true shock on her face for the first time. It’s cause was a giant black pillar of light that emanated from the valley miles away. The light had torn through a barrier made to withstand Skyrm’s greatest attack.
As she tried to get her wits together, a shadow sped by her and with a loud crashing sound, the chains holding Skyrm down broke free.
“Many thanks,” Skyrm said to his saviour and accepted the flask held out to him. He drank its contents and soon felt his power return. Not enough for a fight, but enough to fly away, which was exactly what he did.
“This is goodbye old friend,” Razz said to the retreating Skyrm, and turned to face Aileera, his black sword balanced imposingly on his shoulder. “Enough games. Your army has been decimated. I have used up my summons. We are all low on mana and health. Let’s finish this.”
“My thoughts exactly,” Aileera agreed as she composed herself.
Skyrm’s crash coupled with his indiscriminate bombing had cleared a large portion of the forest, levelling most of it. The others joined her in surrounding Razz, and with weapons drawn, they stared him down.
“Dawn breaks in thirty minutes,” Razz said, “A winner will have been declared by then.”
A drop of rain fell to from its birthplace in the sky an landed on Razz’s sword. Stubbornly, it egged on, rolling down the blade, until it reached the edge, then fell off and completed its journey as it moisturized the earth.
The adventurers rushed the Demon King for one final showdown.
Razz placed his sword in front of him, using his free hand to provide support and blocked a direct blow from Blorg. The force raised him off the ground and tossed him a few yards back while the recoil pushed Blorg’s arm back, leaving him defenceless.
Razz stabbed his sword into the earth mid-air and used it as a pivot to swing himself forward. The sword dematerialized once the swing was complete and rematerialized in his hand as he lunged at Blorg who had not yet recovered.
The wolf did not have cause to worry however because two figures charged from under him and attacked Razz, who responded in time by switching two his twin swords and parried the simultaneous attacks of the assassins. Rono who had been biding his time lunged from behind, but Razz pushed the assassin’s back and switched to his staff which he used to hit Rono.
The pirate anticipated the attack however and danced around the staff, then a quick thrust at Razz’s chest. With a smile, Razz whacked Rono’s ribs with the side of the staff, hit Else with the butt end, and whacked Troy, who barely blocked with his dagger. The force of the blow still sent him careening through the air like a tossed bottle.
A hail of arrows raced towards Razznik but he paid them no heed and charged to their source, swatting away all that fell close to him with his sword.
Archers are weak at close range. That was the general conception about his kind in general, but Miles was one of the very few exceptions to that rule. He parried Rex’s swing with his bow, drew an arrow and made to stab the king’s midriff, but Razz switched to his shield and blocked it.
With a confident grin, Miles, left the arrow buried in the shield and jumped back just as it exploded, engulfing Razznik in its blast. That was not enough to slow Razznik down but that was never the archer’s true aim.
Razznik cleared the smoke from the blast with a swing of his sword and was rewarded for his effort with an arrow the size of hundred spears right in front of him. With no time to spare, he switched to his shield and protected himself, but the force launched him right out of the forest to Freya who was waiting in midair.
The old mage kicked Razznik down with the force of a mad Behemoth. Razz blocked with his shield in time and grinned as a rope wrapped itself around the mage’s legs and pulled him down together with Razz.
The black rope was another of his weapons. One he could put his mana into and control like a snake. He did not really like the weapon but it had its uses and moments.
Aileera who had been out of the picture till then suddenly appeared from nowhere and lunged at him, clad in a knights regalia, shield and all.
“I thought you were a mage?” Razznik blurted out in disbelief at her excellent swordplay. She was well versed in the art of sword-play and it was he could do to hold her back.
“You are not the only one who mastered several fields,” she replied coolly, as she bought time for the others to recover.
“Interesting,” he said. “In that case...” he said with a sadistic grin as he pushed her back and switched to a different staff made of oak. White chains similar to the one she had casted on Skyrm burst from the earth. They danced hungrily as they waited to be given their target.
“Those won’t work on me,” she informed him with matchless confidence.
“They are not meant for you,” he replied with an even more sadistic grin and she went white. The snakes slithered past her, and went for the downed adventurers, pinning each and every one of them to the ground.
“Fifteen minutes left,” Razznik announced as he switched to his signature broadsword. “Prove your worth,” he challenged as he pointed his sword at Aileera.
The two of them rushed at each other in a flurry of swords, one a beautiful blend of attacks, blocks and agile dodges and the other a savage beast who swung with wild abandon and cared not for the little injuries caused by the opponent’s swings.
“Do you truly enjoy it?” Aileera questioned when their swords clashed and their heads came within inches of other.
“Yes I do!” Razz replied enthusiastically. “There is no greater joy than that you can find on the battlefield.”
“I mean is it so much fun fighting alone,” she asked and Razz faltered for a second. Her swing cut through his mask, ripping it off, and he responded in kind with a deep cut across her stomach. She fell to the ground together with the mask and looked up at Razz.
The face underneath was not one she had expected. He was no demon, yet he truly seemed to have abandoned his humanity. A scar ran across his face from left of his lower lip right through his right eye. His hair was all scraggly, yet somewhat orderly in all that chaos. His expression though was what got her. There was no loneliness in his eyes, but what was there instead was a clear disdain for humanity. It made her wonder just what could have happened to him.
His eyes lay fixed on her as an arrow ran through his chest from behind. He paid no heed to it though, but instead glared at Aileera. “No. I do not,” he answered coldly. “I have no use for humanity and its lies.”
“But you are human,” she countered as another arrow pierced his abdomen.
“Not while I am here,” he rebuffed. He did not like the way she got under his skin but he could not help it. From the beginning she had been the one that pushed his emotions overboard. “Here I am powerful. The Demon King even. I built my own empire, so much so you were sent with an entire army to kill me.”
“No matter how great the empire you build...” Aileera said weakly as she forced herself to her feet. “...It is nothing if you are alone in it,” she said with that unnerving confidence and Razz glared at her without a reply.
In that second where his guard was completely down, a thousand arrows pierced through his chest, legs and arms, but he kept his gaze on Aileera. The remaining masters broke free of their chains which had weakened along with Razz and each ran him through with their respective weapons.
Still, the Demon King refused to fall and kept his gaze on the girl in front of him.
“You know, this world could have been truly beautiful to you if you did not have so much hate,” Aileera said as she looked at him with pity.
Razz, unable to speak on account of the arrow through his throat took a step forward towards her, then stopped when a flood of red light filled appeared on the horizon and slowly drowned everything.
The commander of the army, stood with her back to the rising sun and a smile on her face that drained the remaining energy from Razz.
“Go to sleep,” she said softly. “You have done enough.”
Truly Beautiful... Razz thought as a darkness enveloped him and transported him to the world beyond which was just empty darkness with nothing around. A white cloud appeared in the distance and floated towards him, expanding into letters as it got closer. When in full view, it said the words that let the king know his end had really arrived.
Seventeen years old Suzuki Mato took off his helmet and took in a deep breath. He pushed his hair out of his eyes as he looked up at the ceiling.
“Truly... It’s all over...”
Stay tuned for Chapter 1