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*

It swung its massive arm and as Nadia stood there ,faced with death, her life flashed before her eyes.

That was what happened when someone faced eminent death, or at least that was what she thought happened. What flashed before her eyes was not her life though, not the life that she had lived anyways;

"She was on a tree, waiting for them. She knew they were coming. Any moment now and the signal would go up. She looked to the other trees. Everyone was in position. A classic ambush.

But the signal never came. No fireball shot through the sky to announce their quarry's arrival. It was when she heard the cries of her fellow mages that she realized the horrible truth. They had been expected and their trap outmaneuvered.

She climbed down from the tree. The walking forest flashed with firelight as the mages fought desperately to keep their enemy at bay. But it was all in futility. She turned to join the fight but a mound of sand erupted from the ground and plunged itself at her..."

A darkness...

"She was waiting. The sun had set. She stood at the very edge of the barley fields. She was in full armor. Her sword out and ready. A light breeze carried the smell of ash and smoke wafting in from the forest. Any moment now...

'Attack!' yelled the commander. They all rushed at the forest. The enemy had to be kept away from the city. They had to keep the enemy away from the city. So she fought. With all her strength and all her will she fought. Her comrades fell besides her and still she fought. She stabbed and parried, rolled and sliced just as she had been trained. but her muscles tired, her motion faltered and she was drowned in sand..."

A darkness...

"Now she was on a roof. The last of the women and children had been evacuated. Stars shone brighter than ever before. It was hard to believe that all that was, was real. None of what was happening made sense. But she was just grateful that she'd lived long enough to see it.

'Knock your arrows!' She heard the cry and focused on the task at hand.

She lifted her bow, swiftly drew an arrow from her quiver and armed it.

'Aim!'

She aimed at the barley fields which stretched into the distance. Without the sun for light she could not make out where the fields stopped and the forest started. But she could see the slithering figures that were the shifters pouring in from darkness. She estimated the distance, lifted the bow, aimed at the stars and waited.

'Loose!'

She fired her arrow and knocked another onto the bow. She was about to take aim when a tree came hurtling towards her. Before she could question how it came to be that a tree was flying straight for her face-"

A darkness...

"Children crying. Mothers singing. A bard plucking tentatively at his lute with trembling hands..."

Darkness...

"She shifted into the princess. It seemed the appropriate thing to do. Together with her companions they stalked towards the throne. The king was in full armor. He rose and came at her without a word or warning. He didn't even flinch when he saw his own daughter standing there. He swung his longsword with the strength of ten men. She stepped back to avoid the arcing blade, allowed him to follow through, then stepped in and drove her small knife under Nachum's breastplate and through his heart.

Light flashed!

*

The knight turned a corner and saw it. His worst nightmare come back to haunt him.A giant stone golem stood before the princess and it was about to crush her.

"No!" he yelled. "Not again!"

He ran full tilt at the princess. He was not about to let the golem claim another life he cared for. This mission was all he had left. He had to save her.

Hands wrapped themselves around his waist and he was tackled to the ground.

"You won't make it in time. You'll die!" Daniel scolded.

"No." The knight punched Daniel in the face but he held on.

"No No No!" The knight cried. "I can't let this happen again. I can't let you die..."

The knight kicked and shoved at Daniel.

"Let me save her. I have to save him... He is... my friend." The knight started to sob, tears stinging at his eyes.

"I have to save... Timothy..."

Daniel tightened his grip around the knight. They couldn't fight that thing. He had to keep him away. It was the right thing to do. No matter what happened the knight could not be allowed to interfere. It didn't matter that his arm was bloody and sizzling with pain from where the troll had bit him. It didn't matter that the knight's kicks had broken a rib or two. Daniel had to keep him there. It was the right thing to do and somehow he knew it. Yes, he was certain of it. So he held on and watched through swollen eyes as the golem's hand fell onto the princess...

*

A heat wave washed over him and Matthew gave a loud wail as a white light drowned his vision;

"Everything was white. The whiteness stretched as far as his eyes could see in every direction. He searched around the emptiness until he came upon a figure.It was not human and neither was it feline. It didn't fit into any of the six races that inhabited true Sollestia and it was not a creature that Matthew was aware of. It was indescribable. It was all the colors and none of the colors. It had as many limbs as he could count and yet no limbs. It was not the beginning but the end and only the end. Yet it was whatever you wanted it to be. He then knew that he was staring at Fate....

'And the gems.' Fate asked someone Matthew could not see.

'Still looking my lord. They were not in Solestia like we assumed. There was only gold and other worthless trinkets.' A voice replied.

'You've had five thousand years to look for them. If they were not in Solestia you should've searched elsewhere. Without them we cannot win this war. Without them I can lot leave this prison!' Fate said pointedly.

Matthew knew the gems would not help. He knew they were not the key fate was looking for. The humans were truly cunning creatures. They had tricked Fate once again. He didn't know how he knew this. He just knew. And yet something felt... off.

He also knew the identity of the invisible person. He had heard that voice before. It was unmistakably familiar. It belonged to the human girl. The shifter. The one responsible for his mother's death. He moved forward to confront her before as she left but was pulled back by an unseen force. Fate turned and looked straight at him with his many eyes but seemed not to see him. He closed his only two eyes and took a few blinks. He opened them and stared at him but still saw nothing. Then..."

A darkness...

"Matthew was in a cavern of some kind. It was too dark to make out anything. He would not have known it was a cavern if not for the hollow drips of water that sent echoes bouncing off the walls. A large groan shook the ground and pebbles fell. A gust of wind brushed past him as something moved in the darkness.

He strained his eyes to try and make out what was in there with him and saw nothing but blackness. Then an orange light flooded the cave, blinding him momentarily. He shielded his eyes with his hand then slowly released it to try and make out the source of this new light. Red veins lined the edges of its surface and at its center, standing as tall as he was, a vertical, elliptical mass of blackness.

Hard bone like armor surrounded what Matthew realized was an eye despite it being the size of a mammoth's head. Its armor curved back and rose into a horn. Its green scaled muzzle twitched as it gave another purry groan that shook the cavern. Snake-like tendrils that were its mane glimmered under the dim light. A fierceness radiated from its intimidating existence and made Matthew wish he'd never been born. He stumbled back in fear and kicked something that clattered across the floor. He looked down and was met with dozens of shattered swords. From long blades to great-swords and even some battle axes littered the ground. Among the metalwork charred remains of skeletons of men who'd met their fate rested there.

Matthew suddenly wanted to be back under the mass of trolls, anywhere else but there. And then..."

A darkness...

"Matthew was standing beside the princess. A large boulder was bearing down at them. Upon further inspection Matthew noticed that it was not just a boulder but a hand. He was not afraid, he instantly knew what to do. Compared to the creature he'd just seen, this was... nothing. He raised his own hand and his calf burned. The boulder crashed down and struck an invisible shield. The golem looked surprised to see the princess unharmed when it lifted its hand. It struck again, and again, and again. Alternating hands like it was playing a drum but the shield held strong, giving a fiery glow with each impact. Pieces of rock flew in all directions and a dust cloud enveloped the scene.

In the chaos the princess spotted something on the monster's abdomen. It knocked her back from her shock and she started moving towards the stone giant. Matthew moved with her, holding the shield up like a torch. The golem grew frustrated seeing it's quarry move forward instead of lying dead in flattened chunks and pieces. It changed tactics and started jumping up and down whilst simultaneously bashing at the shield bubble in an attempt to stomp and smash the girl. The shield held and was now constantly distinguishable as sand rolled off its sides.

The golem stopped to inspect the resilient human.

Nadia saw it stop and immediately barked an order.

'Now!'

Matthew retracted the shield and she reached out and took hold of the sparkling object which had caught her attention. The beast gave a loud roar as its stony being was sucked into the gem.

Light flashed!

*

Matthew woke with a cough. He looked at the dozens of trolls that surrounded him. All of them now naught but smoking carcasses lying in the evening sun. The ground around him lay black burnt by whatever fire had burnt the trolls. The horse lay a few feet behind him. Its belly ripped open and its fur burnt black. Without stopping to consider the countless questions in his mind, he ran in the direction of his travelling companions.

~*~

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About the author

Maxwell Dark

  • South Africa
  • Mr

Bio: *Published Author: English Alive 50, a National Magazine. Phuluso-My story (A little token from when I was in high-school, good were those days.)

*Editor of The Lost Redeemer by @DavidMusk (Currently editing this. Check it out, it is Epic!)

Maxwell Dark is a pretty great fella. If he is not writing wholesome fantasy novels or poems, then he can be found reading wholesome fantasy novels and poems. Not that he does not have a life mind you. He does occasionally do the socializing and has a few he calls friends.
Now, back to the writing. Here are some of the stories that he'll be sharing on here. He would really appreciate you checking them out and perhaps chatting with him through comments or personal messages. He will make it well worth your time.

Some books to watch out for by Maxwell Dark.

*The Blades Of Fate Trilogy
- King of Solace (ongoing, also available on Wattpad)
-King of War (Coming soon)
-Demon King
*Dark Reviews (Only on Wattpad)
*Lillian and the Seeds Of Hope (A Blades of Fate prequel)
*Beauty In Darkness
*Mascara Tears (A Romance, Crime Thriller)
*A dreamer's Journey (A Short story Collection, featuring: Phuluso- my story)
*A Broken Man's Ballads (A poetry collection)

Do consider donating to my Patreon to keep my works free! Link can be found on my fiction.

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