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Magblo

Chapter 2 - The Visitor

By: Andrew J. Kolesar

 

Princess Samandra stood in front of the gates. She looked at her surroundings and realized that this wasn’t the location she had intended on walking into. There were no snow-covered mountains here, lakes, or gigantic trees. In fact this area looked more like a swamp or bog with a really huge castle in it. The landscape she now looked at was cold and dead. This area was very creepy looking, but she felt quite at ease.

She was about to call out to the lord of the castle, when the gates swung open. Samandra looked around; no one was in sight. She walked through the gates and up to the main doors of the castle. She grabbed the giant, cast-iron doorknocker. But before she could slam it home, the doors opened. Inside stood a man. He was around five-foot with a long white beard. He was bald except for a line of hair that ran behind his head.

“Princess Samandra Tymerian of the Elven Nation, why I am honored to have you to my home princess. Please come on in. What do I owe this great honor too?” said Arden

“You must be Lord Arden, Lord of Arden Keep. To be perfectly honest Lord Arden, I do not know why I’m here. The spot I had set to enter this world was not this one. I’m afraid I don’t know what happened.” Said Princess Samandra

“Please, just call me Arden, we need not use our formal titles. Come in and have a seat. I have some elven tea if you’d like.” Said Arden.

Arden led Samandra up to his study. Jack could hear voices coming from down the hall. He folded up his paper, and stood up. When he saw Samandra his eyes lit up. She was about the most gorgeous creature he had ever had the privilege to lay his eyes upon. He continued to look her over as she entered the room and sat down in Liam’s customary seat. Arden of course sat down in his old, thread worn chair. Jack waited until they were both sitting before he took his seat once again.

“Jack, this is Princess Samandra Tymerian of the Elven Nations. For reasons unbeknownst to her she has arrived here. I have invited her to stay with us for an unset amount of time. Be on your best behavior Jack, she is a princess after all. I want you to help her feel at home here. Maybe the two of you ought to take a walk. Jack can show you around the castle just as well as anyone else can. But that can wait until later. Right now I’d love to hear about the Elven Nation. It’s been a long while since I’ve visited. Tell me Samandra, how is your father these days?” Arden remarked.

Princess Samandra told Arden about her father’s fears that the Children of Death were slowly coming into their nation, how he suspected that there was at least one in his palace. Samandra did not mention that she, like others, suspected her brother Cyric to be a Death Child. She told Arden about how this was affecting her father’s health. Lately he had been looking tired and weak. How her eldest brother Latharous, had started to take over some of the Lord’s duties. Then she continued on with the affairs of state, gossip of court, and military actions. As she talked she barely looked at Jack. There was something about him that she knew right away she wasn’t going to like him much.

Jack, who’d been practically bored to death, perked up a bit when the military was mentioned. The idea of flying on a griffin was a completely fascinating thought to him. To sit on the back of a mighty beast, flying through the clouds, wind whipping your hair about, was just incredibly cool sounding. He hoped that one day he’d get the chance to try it. He’d like to meet an elven warrior as well. He’d read a great many things about them, strong, agile, and deadly. Jack knew almost all of the elven military’s history by heart. It was some of the most interesting subjects he had read.

After Samandra finished speaking, Jack politely waited a few minutes before announcing his retirement for the evening. He stood up, and bowed towards the princess, nodded at Arden, and then walked out. He rushed up to his chambers, and headed for his library. He was looking for a particular book, and then he found it. ‘The Elven Nation, The Reign of Lord Tymerian.’ It was time to do a little catch up reading.

In the middle of the night Jack awoke with a start. He was breathing heavy, and was drenched in a cold sweat. He turned his pillow over to lie on the dry side, folded his hands behind his head, and laid back. He closed his eyes trying to remember what he had dreamt. He could only remember pieces. He remembered seeing Samandra on her knees, scared but calm. An elven man with a sword standing over her. Black flame shooting out of her mouth, and a hideous laughter. When Jack remembered the laughter a chill ran down his spine. He knew that’s what caused him to awaken. But what did it all mean? He rolled over, and grabbed a pen and notepad. He jotted down what he remembered. Later today he’d have to ask Arden about it. Maybe he could explain it somehow. It felt too real to be just nothing. But then again, at a quarter to four in the morning, everything looked worse than it really was.

 

Jack was up, dressed, fed, and showered by eight-thirty that morning. As customary for him, he went down to the melee weapons hall for some morning drills. He walked in the hall and decided that today he’d practice with a Bo staff. As he was going through his intricate dance, Samandra walked in. At first Jack didn’t notice he wasn’t alone. He was to occupied in the dance.  She stood and watched him for almost twenty minutes before a sweaty, shirtless Jack noticed her. He quickened his pace a bit, still graceful and fluid, but there was a certain fierceness to it now. He ended his training session with an elegant move, then stood with one ankle locked behind the other, holding the staff as one would hold a walking stick.

Samandra half heartily applauded. She was more impressed than she would let on. She had never seen a human, much less a male human, move with such elegance and grace. She was sure Jack was cocky enough, and didn’t need her help in inflating his ego all the more. All she said was, “That wasn’t to bad for a human. You should see an elven weapons master dance. It would take your breath away. At least you didn’t make me yawn. So it wasn’t all that bad.”

“Coming from a rich spoiled princess. I’ll take that as a compliment. So your Royal Highness, what brings you down to the slave quarters eh? I figured you’d have wanted to avoid this area of the castle. Wouldn’t want to get that dress dirty would ya?” Jack ripped out.

Princess Samandra Tymerian of the Elven Nation stood there with her jaw dropped, and her eyes slightly bugged out. Never, ever, in all her life had anyone dared to insult her! She was stuttering for words when Jack cut in.

“I know, I know, it’s hard to be a princess. So much money to spend, so little time. Must be very hard indeed deciding what to wear, and who to plan a plot against. You’re greatest enemy being time, and your only ally is money.”

Samandra regained her composure, and with a cold hard stare looked Jack straight in the eyes, and retorted, “Obviously you’re not as smart as everyone seems to think you are. Time is hardly an enemy of mine. Seems to me that time is something you should fear, not I. As for money, at least I have it. I’m not the one who’s been mooching off of an old man I’d just met a few years back. As for getting my dress dirty. You’re right, I don’t wish to soil it in this dirty area of the castle.”

Jack stood there for a moment, wide eyed in amazement. It was his turn to be speechless. Samandra turned to leave, but before she did Jack said to her back, “Not only is she gorgeous, but who’d have thought that she was actually intelligent and witty too? And such a lovely voice would carry with it such a sharp tongue. Careful your Highness, one day a tongue that sharp might cut your throat.”

Samandra turned around and faced Jack once more. She replied, “I’m not the prissy little princess you had imagined, now am I Mr. Karde?”

“No, honestly you’re not. I expected you to run off in a temper tantrum. Not stand toe to toe with me. I’m quite impressed.” Jack said, as he gave a low sweeping bow.

Samandra eyed him up and down, she of course favored the lines and contours of an elven male over that of the stocky, brutish build of humans. But she wasn’t so blind to see that Jack was quite a muscular guy. Plus he had very nice muscle definition, and decent lines and contours of his own. She wondered briefly what he’d do if she were to come onto him. ‘What would sex be like with a human?’ she wondered. She decided that one day she’d find out, but for now he’d have to keep his body parts to himself.

She looked at Jack and said, “You stink, that’s a problem you humans have. You work up a sweat, and all of a sudden you reek like a sweatshop. Go and bathe, I’ll meet you in Lord Arden’s study in one hour. From there you can show me around the castle.” At that she walked out.

Jack stood there for a minute, watching the doorway she left through. He lifted up his left arm, and took a good whiff of his underarm. His nose crinkled slightly, and he said to himself, ‘They don’t stink that damn bad.’ But he took off for the showers anyway.

 

Exactly one hour later Jack met Samandra in the study. Instead of a dress, she wore a tight black halter top shirt, tight black jeans, black leather boots, and a silver choker around her neck. She was wearing her hair braided and pulled back in a ponytail. Jack look down at his apparel. A Dave Matthews T-shirt, faded blue jeans, old beat up sneakers, and his favorite New York Yankees ball cap. For a romp around the castle, he suddenly felt underdressed.

When Jack stepped into the room she stood up. Jack mistook her politeness as eagerness. He just stood there for a moment, waiting for her to get a move on. She stood there waiting for him to come in and have a seat. After a few seconds they both laughed, and Jack came in and sat down.

“You know, with all the things you’ve learned, etiquette should have been on that list. When someone enters a room Jack, it’s considered polite to stand.” Samandra instructed

“I know, Arden tried to teach me some manners, but that’s the one thing that didn’t stick. I think it’s the most complicated thing I was taught. Stand here; don’t stand there, pinky finger out, kiss hand here, take a bow there, ah who needs it. It’s showy, and just plain dumb, plus it’s a pain in the ass.” Jack replied.

“It might be “showy” but it separates us from the barbarians. But a barbaric man like yourself of course wouldn’t care.” Said Samandra

“What I’d like to know is, is how come you seem to know so much about me? For a woman who didn’t intend on popping in, you sure seem to know a lot about Arden and me.” Jack questioned.

“I know very little about Arden. When I stepped out in front of the gates here, I recognized the name, but couldn’t place it. It was when I saw him that I remembered seeing him at my father’s court several years ago. I was but a small child then. You do know that Arden is almost four hundred years old don’t you?” answered Samandra partly

“Actually I didn’t. But I can’t say I’m surprised. In a way it makes sense.” Said Jack

“As far as knowing about you goes, who doesn’t know about the famous Jack Karde, The Magblo who has pure magic for blood. You need to get out more, everyone knows about you, and most distrust you. Honestly, you’re not what I expected, not at all. I’m rather let down in a way. I expected you to be much more intelligent, handsome, and well taller. Instead in reality you’re a egotistical, cocky runt, whose not much to look at.” Remarked Samandra.

“Could you have come up with anything more insulting, or was that the best for a spur of the moment insult.” Jack asked, with a bit of a genuine hurt tone.

“Well it’s the truth. Almost, you are ruggedly handsome, for a human. Are we going to sit here all day insulting one another? Or is there a castle for you to escort me through?” asked Samandra.

At that Jack stood up, and took Samandra’s arm, and together they left. He took her on a tour of the castle; he made sure she knew exactly where his chambers were located. The only place he didn’t show her was Arden’s quarters. For the first time in five years Jack realized he didn’t even know where Arden’s quarters were located. They spent the entire day together exploring the castle. When they got down to the dungeons, Jack told Samandra all about how he was a short time resident down there.

 

Over the course of the next few months Jack and Samandra developed a love/hate relationship. They talked about a great many things, child hoods, families, lost loves, and whatever else sprung to mind. They were thoroughly enjoying each other’s company, never missing an opportunity to see one another. They also never missed an opportunity to insult one another either. They were the greatest of friends, and their own worse enemies.

So it wasn’t to surprising when they started sleeping together. And even though the sex was incredible between them, they were both too stubborn to tell the other. And so late one night, with the two of them lying naked under the sheets, there came a knock on the door. Groggily, and cursing quietly, Jack slipped on his pants, and tip toed to the door. He could hear Samandra mumbling something incoherently, and assumed she was still asleep. He opened the door as quietly as possible, but the old oak doors had a tendency to groan no matter what. He looked at Arden. For the first time ever, Jack could see that his mentor was worried, if not scared about something.

“Wake the princess, and get dressed. When you’re ready, I need to see the two of you in my study. Time is of the essence, so I trust you won’t dawdle.” Arden said rather sharply. And then he left.

Jack stood there for a few moments blinking. Arden had woke him from his nightmare that he was having. The same nightmare that had first occurred when Samandra arrived. He had been having it regularly now. At least a few times a week. But nothing was clear; he still couldn’t remember anything other than Samandra on her knees, an elf with a sword, black flames, and the laughter. Thankfully Arden had saved him from that tonight. And he shuttered at the thought of that hideous laughter. He was also thankful that Samandra was a heavy sleeper, or else he would have woken her up several times. Jack still hadn’t told anyone about the dream, and just figured it was because of the love and hatred he felt for Samandra that was the cause of it. And now, by the look on Arden’s face, his dream was about to be the least of his worries.

Jack snapped out of his trance and jumped on the bed shaking Samandra, or Sam as he called her. Sam was a much easier name to repeat in the heat of the moment. She awoke with a start and slapped Jack across the face while yelling, “No! Not again!” Jack grabbed her, and shook her fully awake, letting her go he explained to her what Arden said. She gave Jack a curious look for a moment, and then the two of them hurriedly got dressed and ran down to the study. They found Arden sitting there with a person they hadn’t met before. The being that sat in the chair that usually held Liam or Samandra, resembled that of a rotting corpse.

For a few minutes the two of them stood in the doorway. Samandra was horrified at the sight of this thing; Jack was shocked that this creature could even have been alive, let alone sit in audience with Arden. They were both shocked that Arden would let such a grotesque being in his castle. They both practically jumped out of their skins when it turned on them and spoke. Its voice was hollow, deep, and sounded as if it came from the grave.

“Come in and sit. I haven’t got all night.” It hissed at them, in what sounded like a sharp tone.

Arden stood up and walked over to the terrified kids. He took them each by the hand and helped them to their seats. He then sat down in his old, but comfortable chair. Jack noticed that Arden shook a bit as he picked up his teacup, his voice wavered as he called his drink request of ‘Brandy’ into his cup. Arden took several sips before setting it down. He straightened up, regaining his composure, looking more confident and slightly more relaxed. He then looked at Jack and Samandra and said, “Let me introduce to you, Lord Byron. As you might recall Mr. Karde, I told you several years ago I knew a Child of Death, and as you may recall I wasn’t pleased to know his acquaintance. It has been quite sometime since Lord Byron and I met, and trust me when I say that he wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t of the utmost importance. I am sorry I have to drag the two of you into this, but what he has to tell us, will effect us all. With that said I turn the floor over to you Lord Byron. You may begin when you are ready.”

Lord Byron did indeed look as if he had been dead for decades. His grayish withered flesh hung off his bones and in some places along his face and hands his flesh had peeled back from the bone, body fluids dripped from him, and he carried with him the stench of a decaying corpse. But it was the voice that bothered Jack the most, hollow, cold, and evil. The same type of voice that would produce the laughter from his dream.

Lord Byron clutched a glass in his decaying hand that held a strange, inky black liquid inside. He brought the glass to his mouth and awkwardly drank from it. Since he really didn’t have lips, it was a wonder how he didn’t drench himself, but not a drop was spilt. He closed his eyes as convulsions ran through out his body. Lord Byron gasped as pain tore across his shattered body. His head drooped suddenly, and he sat there, still as a corpse. After a few minutes of silence his head shot up and he removed the cowl of the cloak he was wearing completely.

His appearance had changed, instead of looking like a corpse he now somewhat resembled a man in his late sixties. Or in his case, a form that was less corpse like, but not by much. He closed his eyes and cracked his neck. He set the glass aside and began to speak, his voice sounding more full, and rich. “I have come here tonight to tell you of a grave danger that will affect every living thing. Not just on the Earth, but on all known worlds and planes of existence. The creatures of the dark, we who call ourselves evil, feel it is time to join forces. The Children of Death together with the aid of the Bazuluka, demons, vampires, creatures of the abyss, and other such realms will join together and crush all that oppose us. For years this has been the will of the Death Shroud, and years this union has been in planning. On every realm there have been signs. Here on Earth, the humans have been slowly turning away from what is considered to be “good”. They have been building and creating a world where power and money are essential in order to survive. They serve false gods, created by the Shroud in order to direct their minds. So when the time came to strike, he’d have their loyalty.

“In the Elven Nation hordes of goblins have attacked, killing many in their wake. Even though the elves were harder to corrupt, we have gained a foothold in their numbers. One elf in general will help us concur, the Nation of elves. Even now as we speak, the wheels are turning and our agent is doing his duty. Soon the Elven Nation will be brought to its knees.” He looked at Princess Samandra, now speaking to her directly. “It was our agent who five years ago killed your betrothed, Captain Gabriel Moonfrost. It was foreseen that he would have been a thorn in our side, and if our plans were to succeed in the Elven Nation he must be eliminated at once. He was a worthy adversary; the arrow to his chest should have killed him. But apparently he was much stronger than anticipated. Much stronger means became necessary to destroy him.”

Jack and Arden both looked at Samandra. She bore no expression, and sat there in absolute silence staring at Lord Byron. Jack put his hand over hers, and gave a gentle squeeze. If she felt it she gave no indication. She just sat there quiet and still, with no signs of emotion.

Lord Byron continued, “I will not give you exact information, or particulars in our plans. Just know that it has begun, and you must prepare yourselves for what lies ahead. There will be no use in trying to resist. It will only cause many unnecessary deaths. I have every intention of helping to win this and the only reason I have come forward with this information is due to my debt to Lord Arden. Which I now consider paid in full. So take this information to the other council members Lord Arden. Let them squabble over what they feel must be done. Let them know that they have been forewarned of their inevitable down fall.”

Lord Byron paused, and looked at Jack. Jack noticed then that whatever that black liquid was it appeared that it was starting to wear off. Lord Byron was definitely becoming corpse like again. Jack shivered a bit hoping that Lord Byron would be gone before the potion had worn off completely.

Lord Byron, still looking at Jack said, “And you dear boy were very lucky. If it weren’t for that accursed beast, you to would be dead. Dear sweet Alisa had been looking for you for quite sometime. Your blood would have been to potent for her to drink alone, but as you well know, she had back up with her. But no matter how strong vampires are, even eight of them are no match for one werewolf warrior. You were quite lucky Liam had been stalking her. Quite lucky indeed.”

With that said Lord Byron stood. Arden stood up as well, looking at Lord Byron he said, “The Council and I thank you for the information you have given tonight. We except and understand your warnings. But know that we will not stand aside and let the wheels of destruction level the worlds. We will of course do everything in our power to stop you. No matter what the cost.” Arden paused and said, “I knew I was expecting to much thinking that you were here to help us destroy this assault. I had hoped that you were acting as a spy, maybe joining forces with us. But I see it can not be so.”

Lord Byron turned to face Arden directly and replied, “You know as well as I do Arden that my place is with the Death Children. We knew it hundreds of years ago. We knew then that each man has his own fate, and can only try to do the best in what fate has set for him. I must carry out what fate has set for me, as you must do the same. Good bye my old friend. May our paths never cross again in this world or the after life.” And in a puff of black smoke, Lord Byron was gone.

Arden sat back down in his chair propping is elbow on the armrest and started to rub his eyes. He hated the thought of having to assemble the council to tell them the news. Because of his past relationship with Lord Byron they’ll probably believe it to be a joke of some sorts. A sick twisted one, but a matter they’ll not take seriously. Before he went to the council, he needed to inform Liam. That way the werewolf tribes can stand ready. They were always looking for a good fight anyway.

He had nearly forgotten that Jack and Samandra were about, until he heard a cough. He looked up and told them to try and get some sleep. There was nothing they could do right now. As he watched them leave he picked up his teacup and asked for brandy. He then prepared to call on Liam. He hoped the man was in a good mood. He was too tired to deal with him if he wasn’t.

 

Jack and Sam walked up to Jack’s quarters. Jack walked over, lit the fireplace and wished for a pack of cigarettes. He hadn’t smoked in almost five years, but now he felt he need one more than ever. They sat in silence for awhile, both of them staring into the fire. It was Sam who spoke first.

“What are we gonna do Jack? You know as well as I that we can’t just sit here and do nothing. My father is in danger, if he hasn’t already been killed. My nation is at peril and yet I sit here, staring into a fire. We need to get out there and stop this somehow.” Sam said.

“Just how exactly do you plan on doing that? You and I alone can’t stop it. I know that it sucks, but we’ve just got to sit it out for awhile. We’ll wait for the council to reach a decision on what to do. We can help out then.” Turning to look Sam directly in her eyes he continued, “I know it must be hard for you. You’re family and nation are at risk plus someone you loved has already died because of this. But right now there isn’t anything we can do. We’ll just have to wait.”

“No, no there is something I can do. Lord Byron informed us. Us Jack. We know what’s going on, but everyone else is in the dark about it. We or I, can go back home. I can at least inform them of what’s being planned. Maybe it won’t be too late to stop it. Hopefully I can still save my father. The security is pretty tight in the palace right now anyway. I can tell him that he was right, he was right about the Children of Death.” Sam said excitedly.

“Well your not going alone. I’m coming with you. Give me a few minutes to grab some things. I’ll meet you up in your chambers in half an hour.” Jack said.

Samandra agreed and ran up to her own rooms. She gathered her things, and prepared for her return trip home. In less than thirty minutes Jack came in. He was wearing a burgundy collarless three-buttoned shirt, black jeans, and black boots. On his waist was a semi-automatic pistol on one side, and a long knife on the other. He carried a sword in his right hand and had a backpack slung over his left shoulder. Samandra looked at him and thought he was over doing it. But she kept quiet. She walked over to the mirror in the room and said a few magical words. The glass once again started to spin, once it stopped she saw her bedroom in the palace. She grabbed Jack’s hand and together they stepped through.

 

Jack looked around the room; the walls and floor were made from an exquisite white marble with gold veins running through it. Everything in the room spoke of wealth and comfort. The Lord, her father obviously spared no expense when it came to his daughter. Now Jack understood why she was such a brat. She was spoiled beyond comparison. There wasn’t one item he could see that wasn’t just a plan old anything. Nothing, not even the doorknobs looked cheap.

Jack unceremoniously threw his backpack on a couch, and drew his sword. It was an ancient weapon his master had given to him on completion of his training. It was over seven hundred years old, and was enchanted with powerful magic. Jack treated the weapon with great respect, and felt towards it the way most men felt towards their wives. No one was allowed to touch it other than himself, and he knew what he must do if any did. It was an old custom, but if anyone else handled it, it must be destroyed. He looked down the gleaming edge of the blade and smiled. He was ready.

Samandra scoffed at the sight of Jack with his sword drawn. She stepped over to him and grabbed the hilt, try to take it away. They struggled with it for a moment until Jack freed one hand and pushed Samandra down on the couch. Jack looked at the sword, hung his head and deeply sighed. As he was preparing to get into a position to snap the blade, the doors to Princess Samandra’s chamber flew open. Jack quickly changed from a kneeling position to a fighting stance, in the blink of an eye.

Four guards ran in, and before Princess Samandra could say anything, they attacked. Jack drew his long knife just in time to parry the first attacker. Making sure to use the flat of the blade he used his sword to smack the elf in the ribs. Another elf attacked from his right. Jack arched his sword around and spun slightly on his heel, deflecting the blow. His first attacker took the opportunity and swung in with a low cut, intending to disembowel him. Jack jumped back and once again parried with his knife. He swung high with his sword while leaping forward. The elf on his right didn’t anticipate the move, and tripped on a handsomely carved wooden chest. Jack brought his sword down, tip slightly pressing in the elf’s throat.

The other guard stopped his attack, as the other two stepped forward. Princess Samandra stepped forth and looked at the five men. She shook her head slightly, and told the guard on the floor to get up. At that, Jack removed his blade from the elf’s throat, the elven guard got up and stood next to his comrades. Samandra dismissed the guards, informing them to let the other men know that Jack was a friend and not an intruder. As they left she looked at Jack and handed him his sword’s scabbard. She told him to leave his weapons there. He was about to argue then decided against it. He sheathed his sword and took the belt holding his gun and long knife off. Samandra turned to leave. As she turned Jack hastily scooped up his gun, dropped it in his front left pocket, and placed his shirt over it.  He quickly caught up to Samandra.

“Let’s go see my father. We’ve got a lot to tell him. I only hope it isn’t to late.” She said

She led them down the corridors at a half run, half walk pace. Jack noticed that the corridors and adjacent rooms were also made from the same marble as Sam’s room. He also noticed that it all seemed to have been carved from one piece. He couldn’t see a single seam at all in the floor. Even the places where floor and wall meet were perfectly smooth. Jack then wondered why he had an obsession with the damn marble. He decided that he wasn’t going to think about it anymore.

As they were hurrying along the hallways Jack also noticed how the guards were coming to stand at full attention when the Princess passed by them, and it only confirmed Jack’s theory of why she was such a spoiled brat.

Samandra rounded a corner and hurriedly burst through the door immediately on her left. Jack, closely on her heels followed. Sitting in a high-backed chair behind a desk was her brother Tarian. Samandra stopped so suddenly that Jack slammed right into her. She gave Tarian a strange look. Then asked, “What are you doing here? Why are you sitting in Father’s chair?”

“Calm down Samandra. Father asked me to come in here and get his spectacles. He’s meeting with the generals. The goblin armies have attacked a few of the villages just inside our borders. The damage and death they’ve caused is tremendous. By the way, where the hell have you been?! Everyone’s been worried sick. You up and disappear with out a trace. Father already suspects a Death Child is on the loose, and you leave. No note, no nothing. And who’s the human behind you?” Tarian remarked.

 Momentarily ignoring her brother’s questions Samandra said; “I’ve got to see Father right away! What I’ve got to tell him is a lot more important than goblin attacks. In fact the news I have involves the attacks.”

Tarian rubbed one of his long pointed ears in thought. Smiling he then said, “Follow me then, he’s in the war room with the generals.”

At that he got up and started walking out of the room. Samandra and Jack followed. They walked down several corridors until they came to the entrance of a massive tower. The tower must have stood at least a hundred feet high, and was made from a black stone material Jack had never seen before. The surface of the stone was smooth, so smooth in fact that your hand kept slipping off it when you tried to touch it. Looking into the stone’s surface was like looking into oblivion itself. The stone in actuality seemed not to have a surface, it looked as though you could touch it and fall in. Samandra stopped and grabbed Jack’s arm pulling him away from the stone and began leading him towards the stairs. Up the stairs they went, Samandra quickening her pace as they drew near. Then with no warning at all she burst through a set of double doors. Everyone inside instinctively drew their weapons, but was quick to put them away.

Lord Tymerian grabbed his daughter and held her in a crushing embrace. After a few moments he stepped back looking his daughter over, somehow she looked different but he couldn’t decide how exactly. Then he looked over at Jack, who stood there looking around the room. It was a war room for sure. In the center of the room was a large table with what looked to be a model of the city and surrounding areas. The detail was incredible, it looked like someone took a very long time in designing and building it. Jack could see little markers of red on the outskirts of the city, he assumed that those were the villages that the goblins destroyed. He could also see small markers, which he assumed were griffins, though he had never seen a griffin in real life he had read about them in several different books. The way this map was set, it looked as if the Elven Nation was preparing for war.

Tarian handed his father his spectacles and went over to stand next to his eldest brother Latharous. Everyone that looked at Jack bore an expression of dread. As elven law went, during times of war, anyone that wasn’t of elven blood that sees into the war room will be summarily put to death. Although it seemed harsh and maybe cruel it was a protection measure to guard their plans.

Two guards came to stand behind Jack as four others waited outside in the hall. Lord Tymerian looked at his daughter; it was obvious she didn’t have a clue as to what was about to happen. Lord Tymerian nodded, and the two guards behind Jack stepped forward and grabbed his arms, forcing him to his knees.

Princess Samandra cried out and looked at her father, his expression was blank. He said to her, “My dear, I’m sure you didn’t know, but there is an old law which states that anyone who isn’t elven born and sees the contents of the war room while the nation is at war will be put to death. It is to insure that we are not being spied upon. I’m sorry dear, but he will be taken to the dungeon until a date can be arranged for his execution.” At that he looked to Tarian, who fully knew that Jack shouldn’t have entered the room.

“Father you can not have him killed! We have come here with news far greater than this law, or this war. Keep him restrained and/or under guard if you must. But listen to what he has to say. Besides, you’re about to execute him as a spy with no proof, and you know that there is a Death Child in the palace, he could even be in the room with us.” Samandra said, as she finished she looked at her brother Soren.

But Jack wasn’t waiting around for someone to decide his fate. He kicked off the floor hard and went into a forward roll, breaking free of the guards’ grasp. As he did so he pulled out his weapon and shot a round into the air. Everyone cringed from the deafening sound. Jack put his back to the wall and pointed the muzzle of the gun at anyone who dared come near him. When the chaos had died down, Jack looked around and said, “Look you Vulcan wanna be’s! You bastards have been trying to kill me ever since I arrived here. So back the fuck off, I’m not just gonna sit in your dungeon to be killed. If you want me dead you’ll have to kill me in a fight. So which of you pointed eared fucks are first?”

“Jack! What the hell are you doing! I told you to leave your weapons in my chambers. I’m trying to save your worthless hide here you idiot. Put the damn gun down, and step aside. You don’t want to hurt anyone.” Samandra yelled

“No, but they sure as hell want to kill me! And sorry that isn’t going to happen. Thanks to a little spell I learned I can fire this gun until the worlds end and not run out of bullets.” Jack retorted

Samandra turned to her father and said, “Father, tell him you won’t kill him. He’s a pupil of Lord Arden and…”

At that Lord Tymerian cut his daughter off. “Lord Arden’s pupil? You must be Jack Karde! Well in Daganion’s name, why didn’t you say so? Put away your little thunder stick, we’ll go to my private chambers and you can tell me about the information you have.”

Jack was a bit confused. He knew he was known to the Magblo on Earth, but he didn’t know that his name carried over to here as well. But then again Sam knew about him when they first met. He accepted the offer and put his gun away.

“But my Lord.” Soren rasped, “The law clearly states that any non elf who sees the inside of this room must be killed. Just because this human is supposed to be “special” would not make him immune or above our law.”

Lord Tymerian rubbed his smooth chin, he knew of course that his son was right. But he couldn’t very well have Lord Arden’s pupil killed, especially not this one. If the stories were true, and the elven legends to be believed then this human was to special to be destroyed for a mistake that wasn’t his fault to begin with. But before Lord Tymerian could say anything Jack cut in.

Looking at Lord Tymerian, Jack said, “Let me fight for you in this war. If I die then your laws have been up held. If I for some reason turn traitorous then you may kill me. But if after the end of the war I am still alive and standing then you must grant me my freedom to come and go as I please. All I’m asking for is a chance to prove myself, that’s all.”

“Very well young Lord…” Lord Tymerian was saying before Jack quickly cut him off.

“No Your Highness, I’m no lord. The name’s Jack and I’m just a guy with a gun. Let me get my weapons and then you can send me to the front lines. You’re daughter can tell you as well as I can about the news we bring.”

 

Back in Princess Samandra’s chambers Jack was donning his gear. He still wore his boots and jeans, but was wearing a leather jerkin instead of his shirt. Samandra was trying to get Jack to wear some armor, but he kept refusing. Even just a breastplate would slow him down; he wasn’t used to the weight of armor. Even as he hefted the breastplate he knew it was much lighter than that of human quality. It was made from an exotic metal Jack had never seen before; it was strong and extremely light weight. The other problem was that he was really to big for it. Elves were tall and slender; they didn’t have the bulkiness to them that a human had.

He tossed the piece on the bed and thought that one-day, if he lived through this, he’d like to have a full elven suit of platemail made specifically for him. The intricate detail that was etched into the suit was remarkable. It looked more like a piece of art than an article of war. Jack reached into his backpack and pulled out his ball cap. One thing was for sure; there was no way he’d go off to war without it. He stood there, looking around, cigarette in hand as he calmly puffed on it. Something was missing; he just couldn’t put his finger on it though.  

Samandra looked at him; she had never seen such a mismatch before. He didn’t look like a warrior, and he didn’t fit into any category she could think of. In fact he looked kind of comical standing there dressed in common clothing with weapons attached to his belt. She then realized that she was actually somewhat worried about him. Flashbacks came to her as she remembered Gabe leaving her thirty-five years ago to go off to war.

 

“What! What do you mean you’re leaving for the military tomorrow! When the hell did you decide on this? Why did you wait so long to tell me?” screamed Princess Samandra

“I wanted to tell you sooner, but I didn’t want you to brood over it for weeks on end. I’m sorry Samandra I know this must come as a shock. I’m entering the Griffin Riders Company as a lieutenant. I’ll write you letters everyday, and let you know what’s happening day by day. I have something for you, I know it isn’t much, but well, I hope you like it.” Gabriel said.

He reached into a pouch at his side and drew from it a small package, about the size of a ring box. Samandra’s heart leapt at the sight of it, could Gabe really be doing what she thought, what she hoped? He handed her the box; it was wrapped in a cute pink paper with a large yellow bow. She held it in her hands for a moment, wishing that this night would never end. Then she slowly and carefully unwrapped the box. She held her breath as she opened it and looked inside.

Inside lay a small silver band; etched in its surface was a lily. Lilies were Samandra’s most favorite flower. The way they looked and smelled could always make her smile no matter what mood she was in. Then she noticed a small inscription on the inside. ‘For The Princess Of My Heart’ Tears coursed down her face as she stared at the ring.

Gabriel reached over and took the ring out of the box and placed it on the middle finger of her left hand. She then noticed that the scent of lilies was in the air. Gabe then told her that it was enchanted to carry with it the scent of lilies. She hugged him so hard that he thought she’d crush him. But that was just fine by him.

 

Before Jack could notice she quickly wiped the tears away. She’d never tell anyone but she missed Gabe more than anything. If there was only someway to bring him back. Maybe then she’d have something to fill that void in her. But right now another man in her life was leaving for war. And once again, but no where near as bad, she was worried.

“Ok Jack, now don’t go and get yourself killed out there. Remember that these aren’t kids playing war. People are actually dying out there. Just find a warrior who knows what he’s doing and stick close to him. I’ve seen you fight, and, oh god. You’re gonna die Jack. What the hell were you thinking you idiot? Fighting a war that has nothing to do with you at all. Do you have any family I need to inform about your death? Do you need me to write your benediction or would you prefer I wing it?”

“Sam, shut up. I’m not going to die.” And for a brief moment his mind went back to the book Arden had handed him by mistake. The book’s title was ‘So, You’re Gonna Fuckin Die!’ Jack dismissed the thought quickly and continued. “Hell, I’m not even nervous; I’m practically shaking with excitement. It feels like I’m getting the chance to actually do what I only dreamed about. I have the opportunity to play out one of my role-playing characters. Now I just have to think what Hafdan the Black would do in a situation like this.” At that Jack grabbed Sam around the waist and spun her dipping her down and kissing her strong and passionately upon her lips. He then whispered “Who loves ya babe.”  And then he stood her up and stepped back.

A little winded and a bit aglow, Samandra said, “Jack! You’re not taking this seriously at all, are you? People are dying Jack. Blood, guts, gore any of that ring a bell? There’s a war out there and you’ve placed yourself right in the middle of it. Instead of preparing like a warrior should, you’re prancing about acting like a child whose about to go play a game with his friends. This isn’t a game Jack, it’s real. If you die then fine, but I want you to understand the severity of it. Can’t have you dying surprised that death was actually possible.”

“I’m not gonna die. They’re only goblins for god’s sake. I can understand villagers being over run and killed by them, but it would probably take a few of them to take down a trained elven warrior. One on one they’re not that tough, I know that.” Jack said

“Jack I don’t know what you’re expecting, but goblins aren’t little creatures with crude weapons. They’re at least eight feet tall and as thick as a full-grown tree. They’re enormous, strong, and very deadly. One swing from a goblin’s sword can cut down three elves. What were you expecting? Little, green men with rusty weapons?” retorted Sam

Jack swallowed hard, the color drained from his face. Samandra could tell that Jack had certainly not expected what she just told him. She felt somewhat bad for him, now he did look nervous. In a comforting, soft tone she said, “It would be a bit dishonorable and slightly cowardly, but you do have a way out. I can open the portal and send you back. I’ll meet you at Arden’s in a few days. The elves of course won’t think to kindly of you, but I’ll understand. It’s not your battle to begin with.”

Jack stood there for a moment, silence building between them. Then he responded, “Not only would that look bad on myself, but that course of action would most definitely look as if I was a spy. Besides, it’s something I couldn’t live with. I’d rather be dead and cool, than alive and uncool. So lets get this party started.” And at that, Jack looked very confident once again.

Princess Samandra led him to the front gates. Lord Tymerian was there with Latharous, Soren, Tarian, and the generals. Tarian was dressed in armor and had the appearance that he to was going to the front lines. They all looked at Jack and his equipment. Lord Tymerian spoke, “Lor, er, Jack, you do know that there’s a war out there. We have better equipment if you’d like it? Some armor perhaps?”

“No thanks, I tried a breastplate on, but it was so small, it cut into my chest. What I have is good, I don’t think I need anything else. Well maybe a quarterstaff, I could use one of those.” Jack stated.

Tarian stepped in front of Jack and said, “Since I got you into this mess I’m going with you. I didn’t seriously think they’d have executed you. I guess my prank backfired. So I’m going to be your escort.” At that Tarian extended his hand and continued, “My name’s Captain Tarian Tymerian. Just call me Tarian, everyone else does. Gets sort of confusing with two other brothers all having the same last name and title. When you’re ready let me know, I have my griffin that will fly us to the front.”

 Jack’s eyes lit up a bit. He was actually gonna be able to fly on a griffin! He thought that this might not be so bad. He knew that because he was a human, the common soldier would probably treat him differently, but with a prince/officer as an escort he wasn’t worried about anything bad happening to him while in camp. Then again he wasn’t worried about it before.

He looked around at the faces surrounding him. Sam seemed to be a little bit relived to see that Tarian was going with him. She looked much more relaxed. Jack looked at the sky and thought that at least it was a nice day. If he had to die, it was better to die with the sun shinning down upon you, then to die on a cloudy, sunless day. Even the temperature was perfect, although the elves looked like they were a bit chilled. “There’s just one last thing I need to do, and then we can be off.” Jack said

He walked over to Sam, grabbed her around the waist again, putting his other hand behind her head. Pulling her towards himself he kissed her again. Everyone’s eyes widened in amazement at this human’s brashness. Lord Tymerian cleared his throat loudly.

Jack broke their embrace and whispered to Sam, who was breathless, “I’ll be coming back, you’ll see.”

At that Jack spun on his heel, all heads turned and watched as Jack and Tarian headed towards the stable where Tarian’s griffin was kept. Samandra was still slightly flushed when her father looked at her and told her it was time for them to meet in the study and discuss the news she had.

 

Arden sat in the council hall. He really didn’t feel up to this, but he didn’t have much of a choice either. All eyes were upon him as they sat at the table. Like in the Arthurian legend, the Council to had a round table. This way they could also say that there was no one person, who sat over them. They were all equals, at least in the eyes of their law.

The Council consisted of eight members. Each of these eight members was a master in the path they had chosen to walk. The Council members were: Lady Windwater of the Sun Path, Lady Prince of the Soul Path, Lady Ariel of the Astral Path, Lady Chapel of the Life Path, Lord Vladskov of the Man Path, Lord Bittner of the Enchantment Path, Lord Gould of the Wild Card Path, and Lord Arden of the Conjuring Path.

Arden stood up, and spoke, “Lords and ladies, what I have to tell you all is grim. I will inform you now that I will not revel my source, but he is thoroughly reliable.” He stopped and cleared his throat, taking a sip of his tea he continued. “The Death Children are planning on mounting an attack here on Earth. Not only that, but they are also employing the Bazuluka, vampires, and any other vial beast to help them. If that’s not bad enough, Earth isn’t their only target. They plan on spreading their chaos to all known worlds. The Death Shroud has been planting its evil seed everywhere, and it’s just a matter of time until the attack comes out into the open. I implore you to act swiftly, we must gather our forces together to stop this evil from spreading. We must attack, not wait to defend. Do not take my words lightly.”

Lady Prince stood and when she spoke it was in a dark quiet voice. She seemed to whisper rather than speak at a normal volume. “Lord Arden why would we, as the Council believe this tale? It is preposterous to think that the Children of Death would even fathom such an event. Even they know that there must be good in order for evil to survive, and vice versa.”

Lord Gould spoke next from a standing position as well; “We have no reason to doubt Lord Arden. He has never brought with him false news in the past. We all know what the Death Children are capable of and if they really are planning this all out invasion then I agree with Lord Arden, we must act quickly.”

As Arden feared the council fought amongst themselves. And as he also had feared the decision to attack or not was split down the middle. ‘Having an even number of council members is quite annoying.’ he thought. He looked at Lady Chapel, who could only shake her head. Lord Bittner was the only other supporter for the attack vote.

Then what Arden had been waiting on all night suddenly happened. Lord Vladskov and asked the question he knew that someone would eventually ask. “Lord Arden,” Lord Vladskov hissed, “where is you’re priced student? If matters are so grave, I would think that you’d want your pupil around. Wouldn’t you want the “Miracle Boy” by your side?”

  Lord Arden closed his eyes and let out a profound sigh. He knew it was too much to hope for, but hope he did, that no one would bring Mr. Karde up. He wished he knew where Jack was exactly, but for now he could only guess. When he went to fetch Jack this morning he discovered him missing along with Princess Samandra. He assumed that they went to the Elven Nation, but that was only his hypothesis for now. He hadn’t had the chance to send out his underlings in search of the young Magblo. Arden hated to lie, and so he convinced himself that what he was about to say wasn’t so much a lie, as it was expressing his opinion in a way that sounded factual.

“I believe that Mr. Karde is in the Elven Nation right now. Princess Samandra Tymerian of the Elven Nation had dropped by for a visit some months ago. I am assuming he is studying the elven culture in the city of Tymerianesti.” With that said he grabbed his pipe and took a few long deep puffs.

The Council seemed to accept that, even if they didn’t believe it. It was only a matter of seconds before they were back to arguing again. Lord Bittner looked at Arden and Lady Chapel, he stated that if this kept up, the worlds would probably be nothing but dust, and then they’d be sitting arguing about who was right. Lady Chapel and Arden chuckled a bit and agreed.

Once again Arden thought to himself, ‘We really do need another Path that way we won’t have anymore of these spilt decisions.’

 

Princess Samandra sat in her father’s study along with her two other brothers, a few advisors, and of course her father. She told them everything that Lord Byron had said, including the part about Gabriel. As she spoke about the Death Child spy in the palace, she kept a close eye on Soren. But if he knew something he wasn’t professing to, he was positively calm about it. As she continued on with her tale she began to yawn. She realized then that she’d only been asleep for a very short amount of time before Jack and awoke her. But she wasn’t about to go to bed now. She wanted to hear what her father and his advisors were planning to do. But shortly after she finished reciting her tale she fell asleep, curled up in her chair. Her father carried her to her chambers, and placed her in bed.

 

As she slept, she dreamt. She dreamt about Jack on the battlefield. He was absolutely stunning. Weaving and dodging, feinting and attacking, he showed no fear to his enemies, he was completely confident in his abilities. Goblins lay dead at his feet in scores, with more awaiting the same fate as their brethren. Then all of a sudden Jack fell to his knees; Samandra saw a long, thin elven blade sticking out of his chest. Someone or something had impaled him in the back, piercing his heart. Princess Samandra screamed and awoke with a start. She felt around where Jack would normally be, but of course he wasn’t there. She knew she had to do something, she had to alert him, warn him of the danger.

 

Maeve sat in her class at P.C.C., she was day dreaming again, wishing she was running with her pack and not sitting in biology. Not only was the class a dreadful bore, but also the professor was such a geek. If there was anyway for a professor of science to be cool, this guy sure as hell didn’t know it. Maeve hated the city in which she lived. Lakeland, FL was about as close to “boring as hell” as it came. Most people considered it a “black hole” in the world. She had lived there her whole life, and she knew that nothing interesting ever happened. If ever anything a bit strange or unethical ever popped up, the damn Bible Belt would see to it that it was closed down. She only went a few times with a couple different boyfriends and didn’t really care all that much, but thanks to the Bible Belt all adult stores in the Polk County area had to shut down for good. To think that these religious fanatics could actually stop a whole county from selling hardcore pornography! So much for keeping the church and state separate. People would now have to go all the way to Tampa just to get their kicks.

Whatever happened here was fine though, she had plans, plans to get outta this shit town. When she was done at Polk Community College, and had earned her degree in massage therapy she was either going to go west to Tampa Bay or Saint Petersburg, or head east to Orlando or maybe even Daytona. She didn’t want to go too far. Although she hated Lakeland or Lameland as it was coming to be known, all her friends and family were here. She looked out the window and sighed, it was an overcast day, and a little nipply to boot.

When class was over she headed for her car, and as she approached it she noticed a fairly large man leaning against it. He looked as if he was searching for someone. Maeve walked up to the man, and asked him to move. The man looked down on her, he stood at least a foot or more above her, and it wasn’t until he turned towards her that she noticed just how damn big he was. This guy with the red hair and beard was huge!

“Excuse me, ye be Maeve, Maeve Black o’ the Bloodstone tribe?” the man asked with a thick Irish accent.

“Y-Yes I am, who wants to know?” Maeve stuttered while looking around.

“Good I’m glad I found ye, I be Liam o’ the Steelaxe tribe. We be need’in a place where’s we can speak in private. Da ye know o’ any place we can go? He said

“Yeah, I live with a roommate, but she won’t be home from work for a few hours still. We can go there. What’s going on anyway?” Maeve asked.

“It’d be best if ye heard it while sit’in down. And I ain’t mean’in in a car neither.” Liam said

They got in her old, slightly beat up, Satan red Pontiac Firebird and took off down the road. In a half-hour they were sitting at her kitchen table, waiting for the coffee to brew. Liam watched her move about the kitchen, for a young pup of about 22 or 23 she was quite attractive. She was around five foot four or five, with short jet-black hair. She had the most remarkable eyes he had ever seen, they were so blue they looked violet in most lighting. For a werewolf she was very graceful, she had the grace and agility of a cat. The thought of that made Liam snarl a bit, damn he hated cats.

When the coffee was done she sat down handing Liam a mug. She lit a cigarette and offered one to Liam who turned it down. Liam produced a cigar, and puffed away on it. Then he began to ask Maeve all sorts of questions. Some she could answer some she couldn’t. He nodded at her answers, but didn’t fill in any to the questions she missed. She was about to ask what this line of questioning was all about when Liam finally got into the reason he was there.

“Well lass, it seems that the tribal pack leaders feel that yer the one to help. The soothsayer was a mumblin something about the planetary alignments and stuff like that. She was quite specific when she mentioned yer name. So they sent me ta break the news ta ye. I’m ta take ye o’er to Ireland to Lord Arden’s castle, he’s there now waitin on ye.” Liam said.

Maeve soaked it all in, and then calmly responded, “So I’m just supposed to drop everything I’m doing and run to help this Jack Karde guy fight this battle against the most ugliest, meanest, evil bastards the worlds have ever seen? Oh gee Mr. Liam, sign me up!”

“Now hold on there lass, the pack leaders wouldn’t be sendin ye if there weren’t a good reason. Ye might not be knownin it, but there’s a reason. O’ course I ain’t knownin it neither er else I’d a done told ye. So get yer gear together an lets be off. I got me a bit o’ powder that’ll turn a mirror ye got into a door to Arden’s place. So hurry up lass! We ain’t got all day.” Liam said

Maeve got together a few things, and quickly scribbled a note to her roommate saying she had to leave for a funeral and would be back ASAP. ‘My own probably’ she thought as she read it and then stuck it to the fridge. When she had her gear together she looked at Liam, sighed, and said she was ready. Liam sprinkled some dust on a full-length mirror in her roommates’ room. The glass swirled around and in a few minutes they could see Arden sitting in his chair thumbing through a book.

“That there is Lord Arden.” Liam said

“I sort of gathered that, but thanks anyway.” Said Maeve a tad sarcastically.

They stepped into the portal and out the other side. Lord Arden looked up from his book and smiled. He beckoned them both to sit, and he explained to Maeve about how her teacup worked. She held it up and thought for a moment, then said, “whiskey” and rapidly shot down the contents of the cup. She repeated her request and sipped it more slowly this time.

Once Maeve was settled in, Arden brought her up to speed on what was going on. He answered all her questions as best he could, and made notes to remind him to find the answers he didn’t know. When at last Maeve had all the information, she asked Arden where Jack was; she’d like to meet him before they were waist deep in demon blood.

“Have you ever heard of the Elven Nation?” Arden asked.

“I’ve heard of it, but that’s about it. I know that it’s on a different world and it’s run by a Lord Ty something or other. But that’d be about the extent of my knowledge.” Maeve answered.

“Well I believe that’s where Jack’s at now. The morning after Lord Byron’s visit both Mr. Karde and Princess Samandra were gone. Considering that part of Lord Byron’s story had to do with the Elven Nation, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where they went. Tomorrow you and I will be traveling to the Elven Nation, we’ll see if they’re there or not. So you’ll need to get some rest, tomorrow’s a busy day, and you’ll need your sleep. I’ll have Wawki show you to your rooms.” Arden replied.

As Maeve was escorted out, Arden looked at Liam; “Do you know why the soothsayer has deemed her necessary to fight at Jack’s side? I mean out of all the other werewolves, why pick such a young, inexperienced girl?”

“I’m not knowin, but I guess we’ll be seein soon. Maybe she’s a whole lot meaner than she looks.” Liam said.

At that they laughed, whatever the reason was, Liam was right, they’d find out soon enough.

 

Jack looked around him from on top of the griffin. He’d been on airplanes before, but this was completely different. To Jack, this was freedom. In all his years he never felt so free. At the moment nothing mattered, it was just him and the sky. He knew that no matter how long he lived to be that he’d never forget this moment. His smile started to fade as he realized they were slowly descending, he could make out small figures running to the general area in which they were about to land. As they touched down Jack slide off the saddle, giving it one last look. He’d have to do that again, and soon.

Tarian led him to a tent in the elven armies’ camp. Jack walked in and found himself standing in front of two men. “Jack, these are Generals Alosha and Ryamyian, they’re the field commanders for the front infantry lines. They need to speak with you about some things, I’ll wait outside.” Tarian informed Jack.

Jack stood there looking at the two generals, they resembled each other a lot, both had blonde hair and blue eyes, and both wore extraordinary armor. Looking around the tent Jack saw what was on the table that stood between him and the generals. It was a map just like the one in the war room. Jack could see the markers moving. And it looked as if several yellow markers were crashing into a lot more green markers. Jack understood then what peril they faced, he looked at the elven generals and in a grim tone he said, “The elves are badly out numbered, aren’t they.”

General Alosha looked at Jack and gave a weak smile and nodded. “Mr. Karde you are right. That is why right now we need every man, elf or human right now. We know that you offered to fight for us, and are honored to have your services.”

The generals walked over to where Jack stood; General Ryamyian was holding a dagger and pointed to the front lines. “As you see the goblin forces are driving us back. Everyday we are loosing more and more ground. We know that even one man can make a difference, but we also have to be realistic. We know next to nothing about your fighting abilities, or your magic abilities. All we know is that you have a weapon that is called a gun. We don’t even know what that is but it must be a weapon to fear. The generals in the war room reported that when it went off a loud ‘boom’ sound came out and it shook parts of the ceiling loose. If you have this weapon, might we see it?”

Jack wasn’t exactly sure he liked that idea, we wasn’t really sure he wanted to be the one to introduce guns to the elves. How was it that in their entire existence they never even knew what a gun was? Sam seemed to know what they were; she wasn’t surprised when she saw his. But at that moment Jack didn’t care, the elves were being slaughtered up on that hill, and if he could help change the tide, then goddamn it he was going to. He reached in his holster and withdrew the weapon. He looked at the markings on the side, Kimber Combat Elite, Made in USA.

“Is that it? It’s so small, how can that hurt anything?” General Alosha replied.

At that Jack spun it around like an old style gun fighter, he drew sights on a shield propped in a corner and fired. The two generals crouched and covered their ears, and as quickly as he had drawn and fired it, it was back resting comfortably in its holster.

Jack walked over and grabbed the shield, and took it to the generals. They saw the large gapping hole and stared in wonder. “Yeah that’s what a 45 caliber will do for ya. Now think of this hole in someone’s body. But if the goblins are as large, and fierce as I’ve been told, then it’s probably gonna take several shots to down just one. But it would still be quicker than an archer-firing arrow after arrow. You see as fast as I can pull the trigger, this hole will appear in whatever I hit. And this gun, not any other, will never run out of ammunition.” Jack explained. He still felt uncomfortable about this, but he didn’t really have a choice, even now he could see the yellow markers, representing the elves, being driven back. All of a sudden a feeling of urgency overcame him.

“Generals, I have to get to the front, like you said, every man counts. We can go over this some other time. But right now I feel it’s important that I get to the front lines.” Jack all but pleaded.

General Ryamyian looked at Jack and nodded. Jack gave them a standard United States military salute. The generals at first just looked at each other, and then a little awkwardly they followed Jack’s lead. Jack ran out of the tent and found Tarian. He hurriedly told Tarian that he need to get to the front lines. Tarian ran and Jack followed. They mounted two pure white horses and proceeded to head towards the battle. As they rode, Jack started to feel guilty about showing off his pistol. If the elves were meant to use guns, wouldn’t they have already invented them? Who was he to change the face of a world? Look what guns did to Earth. There are more crimes then ever; sure there were a lot of other things to attribute to his planet's faults. But the invention of the gun sure as hell didn’t help matters.

Jack hated moral and ethical dilemmas, but right now he faced a big one. He knew he could cast a spell and create a few automatic rifles, that wasn’t a big deal. Thanks to morals and ethics Jack had to figure out if it was right to hand a race of people weapons that were way beyond their understanding. But was it beyond their understanding? Or were they just not evil enough or stupid enough to build and improve upon a weapon this deadly? All the weaponry the elves used was exactly, or very similar to what earth used in the dark ages era. Jack felt it was wrong for him to give the elves this kind of weaponry, but on the other hand, how could he let an entire race of what seemed like good people, be annihilated. This was something he needed to think about, but now was not the time. Sounds of battle were carried to his ears.

They reached the battlefield, and for the first time Jack saw the chaos that surrounded them. Although the actual fight was still several yards away. He could see the elves being driven back. Sam was right, the goblins were immense, to Jack they resembled Ogres more than anything. But whatever you want to call them, they were destroying the elves. As Jack watched, a goblin force broke through the elven defense line. The remaining elves turned and fled back to their next line of defense.

“Where’s the rest of your forces? These men need back up.” Jack shouted above the sounds of battle

“This is it Jack, there are no more forces. There’s only the few thousand troops here, and once they’re killed the goblins will over run the city and bring down the Elven Nation.” Tarian said.

Jack gave Tarian a hard, disbelieving look. How on earth, could this of happened! Jack knew he had to do something, and fast. He drew his gun and started firing into the closest goblin. It took seven shots for the beast to go down. At this rate it was gonna take forever, there was no way he could do this alone. He holstered his weapon. Morals and ethics be damned! He began to concentrate. He blocked out the sounds of steel ringing against steel, the cries of the wounded and dying, and began to cast a spell.

Sitting in the mud were several large wooden crates. Jack jumped off his horse and threw off the top of one crate. Inside were ten automatic assault rifles. The Kalashnikov AK-47 was without a doubt what these elves needed. With it’s simplistic design, easy handling, and it’s ‘take a beating, keep on killing’ durability, these elves would turn the tide of the war. Jack threw one up at Tarian and yelled for him to select twenty of his best archers, and thirty warriors. By the time Tarian returned the goblins had retreated, not in defeat, but out of boredom.

As Jack looked down at the Kalashnikov AK-47 automatic assault rifle in his hands, he kept telling himself that what he was about to do was a good thing. But if it was such a good thing, then why did he feel so guilty? He shook his head, driving out those damned morals and ethics. When Tarian got back, he stood in front of fifty men. All of them looked beaten, tired, and bloody. But there was something in their facial expressions that made Jack smile. For though they looked as if a strong wind would do them in, they bore the expression of determination. At that moment, there wasn’t a single doubt in Jack’s mind that what he was about to do was wrong.

He held the Kalashnikov above his head, and began to give a crash course in how it operated. He handed each warrior and archer one weapon and one clip. He showed the archers how to fire single shot rounds, and how to aim it. Then they picked their targets from the dead goblins on the battlefield. On Jack’s command, they let loose. On the almost quiet field, as twilight started to fall, twenty shots rang out, the sound was deafening. Elves all over became curious, Tarian was ordering them back, he knew Jack needed room. Jack told the archers to practice and with his own weapon showed them what a ‘dry fire’ sounded like. He instructed them to cease firing when their weapon sounded like that.

Jack then went over to the warriors, since they were going to be in the front, he decided that he ought to show them what a three round burst was. After about an hour of practice, Jack felt confident that the elves knew enough about the weapon to safely use it. He made sure that they were given a quick lesson in gun handling and safety.

Tarian walked up to Jack after the men had dissembled and went to their camp. Tarian noticed that Jack looked worried. He figured it had something to do with the men and the weapons.

“You know Jack, they’re going to do fine with those new weapons. They are warriors after all, and no matter how strange and exotic a weapon might be, a warrior will always be able to figure it out.” Tarian said.

“It’s not that Tarian, it’s a problem of doing the right thing. Was it right for me to introduce such a weapon to a culture that before today had for the most part, never even heard of it before? Sure you’ll be able to destroy your enemies more quickly and with greater ease. But I also know how guns changed my world, and it wasn’t for the better. I know that I couldn’t just sit here and watch those things pulverize your people. But I don’t know if handing out a few dozen AK-47s was such a good idea either. There’s a reason your people haven’t invented guns yet, and I alone have just changed the history and course of your nation. Me, little Ol Jack.” Jack confessed.

They sat in silence for a while; Jack pulled out his cigarettes and started smoking. Then Tarian jumped up, and looked at Jack. “I have an idea. After this is over, we collect all the rifles and destroy them. That way your conscience can be a bit clearer, and we won’t even have anything to study from, just our memories.” He added.

“That’s not a bad idea, but I know that there’re going to be many a people who’ll hate me for it. I help out, only to take back what I’ve done. In my world it’s called Indian giving and that’s not a good thing anywhere. Maybe they’ll understand? Do you?” Jack asked.

“Honestly, no. But I can only see the weapon from a warrior’s point of view. I understand the damage it can do, and for now I like it. You have made it possible for us to actually drive the goblins back, and possibly win this war. But I have to admit I don’t understand why you fear what you’ve done is wrong. You may have changed our course, but you’ve helped save a nation. A nation that houses good people Jack, after this is over there will not be a man, woman or child that won’t know you.” Tarian said.

Jack was about to respond when they both noticed two forms approaching them in the dark. Elves having much better night vision, Tarian informed Jack that Generals Alosha and Ryamyian were headed their way. They both stood; Tarian bowed to the Generals who in turn did the same. Jack realized that that’s what they did instead of saluting. General Ryamyian stepped forth and handed Jack a roll of parchment. Jack untied the ribbon around it, and unrolled it and read what was written.

After he read it he rolled it back up and looked at the Generals in disbelief. General Alosha spoke, “It was delivered by his Royal Highnesses personal messenger. We have no reason to believe that the document is a forgery. Captain Jack Karde of the Elven Nation’s military force, you are too personally lead your troops into battle tomorrow. I suggest you plan your strategy tonight. Your Company of men have already been segregated and informed. Goodnight to you both, Captains Tymerian and Karde.” With that they left.

Jack and Tarian stayed up late into the night discussing tomorrow’s events. Jack would personally lead them to fight. The archers like always would be in the back. He didn’t come all the way to this war to sit on the sidelines barking orders. He was gonna fight, just like everyone else. Although Tarian didn’t like the idea, Jack had told him he needed him to stay back with the archers. He needed him to lead them. And so after different ideas and strategies were thought out, they both called it a night.

When Jack entered his tent he found a suit of elven plate. It looked big enough for him to wear, and he hoisted on the breastplate. Sure enough it fit perfectly. He took it off and looked at it, and then he noticed that it almost exactly resembled the armor Tarian was wearing. He realized that instead of stripes and bars to represent rank, the design on the armor was the insignia. He laid it on the floor, and thought that at least he wasn’t facing an enemy with guns. The armor would somewhat protect him against the goblins. This no longer felt like war, now with the Kalashnikov’s it felt more like premeditated murder.

 

“Ah, I’m glad to see that you’re awake. We’ll leave for the Elven Nation shortly. Would you like some breakfast before we leave?” Arden asked a bleary eyed Maeve as she walked into the study.

“Yeah, I’m starving actually.” Maeve answered.

Arden lead her to the dinning hall where a lone plate sat on the table, he instructed that the plate worked like the teacup. He then left her to her meal and went to his study once more. He sent Wawki over to inform Lord Tymerian of his desire to visit; he was now awaiting his reply. As Arden skimmed through a book about the mating rituals of dragons, Wawki flew in and dropped a letter onto his lap. Arden broke the wax seal, and unfolded the letter.

 

Lord Arden

                Under normal circumstances it would be my privilege and honor to receive you as a guest. It is with sad ado that I must decline your visit. The Elven Nation is currently at war with the goblin tribes. Although I am not personally fighting in the war, I am on the Council of War and therefore would not be a proper host. I am sure that you will accept and understand my reasoning. As for Mr. Karde, he his helping the Elven Nation fight the war. Early yesterday evening he was promoted to Captain. He now commands a company of elves that will be fighting with a weapon called a rifle. My deepest regret is that we did not have this weapon sooner.

                                                                                                                                Lord Tymerian

Arden folded up the letter and sat back, thinking of what Jack had done. Surely the boy had thought things through. Giving the elves rifles, no matter what kind, would tip the scales drastically. Even though Lord Tymerian stated it was not a good time for a visit, Arden knew, now more than ever, he must go. He stood up and went to the dinning hall where Maeve was still eating. She was a werewolf all right, he could tell that just by the healthy appetite she had. He told her to gather her things, they were leaving.

 They stood in front of the portal; Arden could see the palace gates. They then stepped through into the Elven Nation.

 

“Father! Father, we must warn Jack! I had a dream that he was betrayed and killed. Now I know you’re just gonna say that it was only a dream, but it was real. I know it. We must warn him, Father.” Samandra quickly said.

“Samandra, Captain Karde is about to lead an attack. One, it would be impossible to send a message in time. Two, he is the only man out there who is qualified enough to lead his Company into battle. He’ll be fine dear; it was just a dream after all. You knew the man was going into battle, so of course you would dream about it. It’s only natural, unlike your relationship with Captain Karde.” Her father replied in a bit of a stern voice. Showing his disapproval for what he feared his daughter and Jack were up too.

Princess Samandra understood that her father wasn’t going to help her. As long as Jack was fit and able, he’d lead his Company into battle. If he died on the field, he’d receive a hero’s burial, but he would fight. It didn’t matter that Samandra believed his life was at even greater risk than before.

Samandra bowed to her father and left the room. She needed to get a message to Jack quickly, and she could only think of one way to do it. She ran like hell to her chambers, locked the doors and began casting a spell.

 

Tarian walked into Jack’s tent, and prodded his leg. Jack looked up, and saw Tarian smiling.

“You know Jack, you sleep to heavy. If I were an assassin I could easily have killed you. You need to learn to sleep lighter, like an elven warrior. We ride out in an hour; General Alosha would like to see you before then to discuss our strategies. I’ll see you then.” At that Tarian left.

Jack sat up and looked around. In the last few days he’d had little to no sleep. He really didn’t feel like getting up, and it was still dark for god’s sake. But he stood up, stretched, and grabbed a smoke. He was donning his armor with little success when he heard a noise from the entrance of his tent. He spun and looked at the intruder. Soren was standing there; he looked behind him and then walked over to Jack.

“I know everyone thinks that I’m the Death Child, I’ve given them little reason to think other wise. But I have come to warn you. Because of your generosity with these new weapons, there will be an attack on your life. Someone will try to assassinate you. I do not know who, and I am not sure when, but you must be careful. The Children of Death have agents everywhere, don’t trust anyone. Watch your back at all times.” Soren warned and in a puff of black smoke he vanished.

Jack felt somewhat confused. If the assassin could be anyone, then what the hell was he going to do? Nothing for the time being, he decided. He’d try to finish putting this damn armor on, and then he’d meet with General Alosha.

 

Jack walked into the command tent and found General Alosha and Tarian already waiting. Jack stood at the map, his armor hanging in places it shouldn’t, pieces put on the wrong way and buckles missed. He looked as if a goblin had grabbed him and shook him with in an inch of his life. The General and Tarian laughed, and Tarian started fixing his armor. Jack explained that before today, he had never worn armor before. It wasn’t as easy to put on as it looked.

They explained their strategy to the general who nodded and agreed. He of course didn’t know a thing about how tactics worked with this kind of weapon, but as a professional soldier and knight in the Elven Nation he could understand the basics. The two captains left the tent, and headed towards the company of men with the strange new weapons.

Jack explained to the warriors and archers what the plan of the day was. He made sure that once again each man understood exactly how to operate his weapon, before handing each of them ten, thirty round clips. Then they marched off onto the field of battle.

When they got to their position, Jack was relieved to see that they were alone. The goblins hadn’t come this far yet. They could set in and ready themselves for the battle. It was still a little dark out; the sun was just starting to rise. Jack lit another cigarette and watched the hilltops. He had used an old expression from Colonial America, to let the men know when to shoot. “Don’t shoot until you can see the whites of their eyes.” That way Jack wouldn’t have to worry about them trying to shoot something out of range.

The sky was beautiful, shades of red, violet, orange, and blue. Jack was getting lost in his own thoughts when he caught movement. Then he saw it; just cresting the hilltop was a large group of goblins. His men were seasoned warriors, they waited as instructed.

Jack looked back at Tarian, and gave him the signal that all hell was about to break lose. Tarian acknowledged and informed his archers. Jack turned back on the hill; the goblins were casually walking down it. They didn’t fear the elves, and knew it was only a matter of time before they were crushed completely. Of course they didn’t know what waited at the bottom of the hill.

 

Princess Samandra stood in Jack’s tent. She wasn’t wearing armor, but she was wearing clothing more suitable for combat than the dress she previously wore. She had a long thin blade at her side and a dagger. She looked around and quickly realized that Jack had left already. As she burst through the tent’s flaps, the few elves near by gawked in wonder. She glared at them, and they hastily bowed in respect to her. She went to the nearest elf and demanded he take her to either General Alosha or General Ryamyian. The elven warrior led her to the command tent. When she entered the generals displayed a surprised expression, but promptly turned to their professional expressions, none.

Dawn had just risen and already the sounds of battle could be heard, but this time an alien sound could be heard above all others. The enunciated sound of a Kalashnikov being fired. Samandra knew that that meant Jack’s assassin could strike at any time. She didn’t understand why she was putting so much stock into this dream. Sure she had dreams that felt real, everyone had. But this was distinctly different; something told her that this was about to happen. It felt more like a premonition than a dream.

“Princess Samandra, this is quite a surprise. This is wholly unscrupulous and incorrigible. Why would the only Princess of our majestic nation put herself in such jeopardy?” asked General Alosha

“It’s Jack, he’s in grave danger.” She said, practically breathless. She may have kept active, and in good shape, but she wasn’t a runner.

“Princess Samandra, Jack is leading a company of men into...” General Ryamyian was cut off.

“I’ve heard it all before, save your breath.” Then she added very calmly and with an air of authority, “I want at least two guards to watch his back, I fear that he will be the target of an assassination. We can not let the man who brought us these weapons die at the hands of an assassin.”

The Generals looked at each other; once again they bore their professional expressions. General Ryamyian then stated, “We have not a single man to spare, and as Your Highness knows, during times of war, we only take orders from Lord Tymerian or his advisors. We are truly sorry Princess.”

Samandra wasn’t all that shocked. She knew the generals were right about needing every man. Though the rifles would indeed be of great help, they alone wouldn’t win this war. It was still going to take some good old fashioned hand to hand combat to win this war. But that didn’t alleviate her fears. She started to breathe faster now, her heart pounding harder. Then she yelled, “Then I’ll go and warn him myself!” At that she took off running down the hill towards the battlefield. Even at this distance she could tell where Jack was, it was the position with all the dead goblins surrounding it.

The generals barked out orders for her capture, as soon as her actions soaked in. It took them all of two seconds. Samandra knew she didn’t have any power over the military. There wasn’t a chance in the hells that she could order these men to turn around. She wasn’t a runner; it must have been her determination to reach Jack that kept her ahead of the trained warriors chasing her. That and they wore armor, when she was just wearing a light leather tunic and breeches.

She was getting closer; the sound of gunfire was close. Samandra ran past three goblins, who surprised, jumped out of her way. They however didn’t move for the six elves that followed her. As their combat initiated Samandra drew her sword to move in and help. It was her fault they got into this.

She was about to jump into the fray when one of the elves shook his head, and pointed her onwards, towards Jack. She gave them one last look and bowed. Then she resumed her course to Jack. She prayed to Daganion that she wasn’t too late. And then, a few yards ahead was Jack. It was like her dream. He was stunning, confident, and brave. Dead goblin bodies were all around him; the next wave was just stepping on their fallen. Then she saw him, she couldn’t tell exactly who it was, but he was staring at Jack. Brandishing her sword high, she exploded into action, letting out a high pitched war cry.

 

Arden looked around and noticed that there were no guards at the palace gates. He began to wonder how bad the situation really was. He knew that the elves could have easily won this war with magic. But unfortunately for the elves, their greatest threat and enemy was highly resistant to magic. Arden held out a hand and the great palace doors swung open on their own accord. They needed to find Lord Tymerian and offer their services. Even though it was just slightly after dawn here, Arden knew that the great ruler of this nation was up. He looked at Maeve, and together they headed into the palace.

 

Maeve was in awe of the palace with its beauty and grace. In all her life she never even dreamed that such a place could exist. She thought of her boyfriend Brody at that moment. Oh how she wished he could be here to see this. Sure he was a werewolf warrior, but beneath that rugged exterior lay the heart of a poet. She’d known Brody almost her entire life. They played together, fought together, cried together, and of course, made love together.

Then it hit her as hard as any full-grown werewolf could. She never told Brody she’d left! In her haste she never even thought about it! He was down in South America studying the Mayan temples. Brody had every intention of becoming the next Indiana Jones. After all it was Dr. Jones that had started his passion for archeology. But once again, Brody went into the back of her mind. She stared at two massive doors. Six elven guards were keeping to their posts.

 

After several moments of a much heated debated between Lord Arden and Lord Tymerian over not understanding what “decline your visit” means. Lord Tymerian allowed Arden and Maeve to enter. Once inside, Maeve couldn’t help to stare in wonder at the room. For a technologically inferior world, the room was filled with every type of splendor she could have imagined. The columns, furniture, fireplace, and statues were all very ornate. Everything here spoke of wealth and comfort. She wasn’t a materialistic girl, couldn’t be really, it was against her very fibers. But she could still admire it when she saw it.

 Lord Tymerian brought his two new “guests” up to date. He was about to inform Lord Arden about how a fine job he did “raising” Jack when an urgent call came from the other side of the doors. Lord Tymerian sighed, and went to answer the door. A sweaty, dirty messenger stood in front of him. The messenger bowed low, and handed Lord Tymerian a scroll. Once the messenger was dismissed, Lord Tymerian sat back down to open the scroll, “News from the front.” He said. Then he unrolled it and read it.

By the look on his face, something must have gone horribly wrong. Arden felt a hard lump in his throat. He looked at Maeve who wasn’t exactly sure what was going on. She closed her eyes as if she were concentrating. Arden’s look changed from that of fatherly concern to curiosity. He noticed a small smile curl on her lips.

Lord Tymerian started fuming as he read the scroll a second time. “That spoiled little brat! What in the hells does she think she’s doing?” he bellowed. He jumped up, and in a calmer tone apologized to Arden and Maeve for his discourteous out burst.  He handed Arden the scroll and excused himself.

Arden looked at the scroll and read it. All he could say was “Oh dear.”

He was about to explain what had happened, when Maeve informed him she already knew. Arden blinked and nodded. He’d except that. Right now he didn’t have time to wonder what this girl’s special talents were. He had already somewhat guessed. He then left the room, leaving Maeve to her own devices.

 

This wasn’t just a great day for him and the elves. It was really fucking wonderful! In almost an hour of strict combat, he had only lost five men. Granted if this kept up, in five more hours there wouldn’t be anyone but the archers left. Or as Jack liked to think of them, ‘men formally known as archers’. But he wasn’t to worried; there were countless dead or dying goblins at their feet. Though more still kept coming, his men were more than capable of handling them.

For the first time since daybreak, their position was relatively quiet. Jack climbed on top of the dead goblins for a better vantage point. He looked at his remaining warriors, and then back to Tarian and the archers. An idea popped into his thoughts. Instead of waiting here to defend against the attack, it was time to attack them. Jack told his men to hold and ran back to Tarian. Tarian wasn’t to keen on the idea. There were chains of command to go through before such a decision was to be made. Jack was about to argue the point, just before his point became moot.

The largest force of goblins they had seen was descending on them, and at a rapid rate. Jack ran to the front, and yelled, “Fire!” the muzzles of the Kalashnikovs lit up, bullets flying everywhere. Goblin after goblin fell, but yet they still advanced. Jack and the elves knew a desperate move when they saw it. And because of it they knew victory must be near. Round after round crackled from the rifles, but the goblins wouldn’t relent. Jack realized that now was the time for a tactical retreat. There wasn’t a chance in hell that these few men could stand their own in melee combat against that number.

They ran back several yards to their next line of defense. They spanned out to cover as much of the enemies’ lines as possible. When they were in range, the forty-five soldiers, Tarian and Jack let loose a salvo of death. All around them you could here new clips being slammed home to continue this rain of carnage.

Jack started yelling for a cease-fire. He looked out onto the battlefield. Nothing moved. Not a soul dared to breathe; there was just no way it could be over. They knew that other positions still had ground to defend, but they knew that they had the brunt of it all.

It was a good thing it was over with to, for most of the warriors had little to no ammunition left. They started walking out unto the field when from their left flank, hidden beneath the dead, a horde of fifty goblins attacked. There was no retreat, no time to reload; barely did they draw swords before the first wave hit. Ten archers stayed back and kept up their attack. The other ten jumped into the battle, three of them quickly gathered spare clips for the ten archers. Jack still had his pistol in his right hand, and his ancient sword in the other. Like everyone around him he was scared, but also like everyone else, he was determined to win. The archers were knocking down goblins in key locations, any threatening to kill a defenseless man.

Jack fought fiercely, like a ravenous wolverine. Anything that crossed in front of him went down in a matter of seconds. He threw his pistol to Tarian, and was now battling the goblins with sword alone, in a two-handed combat style. He knew he had wounds, he could feel the blood running down his side, into his boot. But now was not the time to worry about such trivial matters.

For a brief moment Jack had a second to breathe and look around. There were only fifteen of these bastards left, but only six of his men were up. The archers continued to fire, but their shots were slower, more precise. He knew they were almost out of ammo. Jack looked at Tarian, who was just a couple of feet in front of him.

Then a high-pitched cry rose above the sounds of battle. For one split second everything came to a halt. The elves immediately recognized her. Although they weren’t too sure why the Princess would be running out here on the field. Jack rolled his eyes, smiled and turned his back. She was such a brat he thought.

 

Samandra saw her enemy, and ran towards him. He looked straight at her and smiled. The audacity of this bastard! Then to mock her even further he turned his back to her. She charged, sword level, she’d get him before he could assassinate Jack. She had no clue as to who he was; she had never seen him before. But none of that mattered to her, as her blade found its mark, sinking deeply into the man’s back, piercing his heart.

 

Jack’s eyes went wide, pain coursed through his body. He fell to his knees, and looked at his chest. Protruding out was the tip of a thin elven blade. He could see all eyes, even goblins, looking at him. He couldn’t hear anything, and his voice was gone. He could see Tarian yelling, screaming something as he ran towards him. Jack’s last wish was to see who it was. Who had been the assassin Soren had warned him of. With the rest of the strength in his body Jack pushed himself back. He looked up, and before he could identify his killer, his world went black. Jack thought of a line from The Misfits song, ‘Last Caress’. Jack’s last thought before spiraling down into the blackness was, “Come sweet death, one last caress.”

 

Samandra smiled down at the dead man. She could see Jack running towards her. But something was different about him. His facial features were changing! She closed her eyes tight, and took deep breaths. She looked up and saw Tarian. The look on his face was of absolute horror, he was trying to speak, but couldn’t form any words. His low whisper, incoherent mumbling was being drowned out by the continued battle. The elves were fighting with much more defiance and conviction.

Then finally Tarian screamed at the top of his lungs. “WHY IN THE HELL DID YOU KILL HIM! HOW COULD YOU KILL JACK!”

Samandra was about to argue. That is until she looked down. Lying in an ever-growing pool of blood was Jack. Dead, slashed through the heart just like in her dream. Princess Samandra of the Elven Nation fell to her knees as well, but the pain in her was born on the inside. No foreign object was sticking in her body. She cradled Jack’s head in her lap, grief apparent on her face. She started to weep uncontrollably. Through her cries of pain, every elf could hear her say, “No! Please, not another one.”

Elves were coming from all over the battlefield. They had won the day, driving back the goblins, crushing their numbers to mere fractions of what it once was. But in their hearts they felt they lost something great. No one felt like celebrating.

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