Chapter 28- The Battle of Truce
600 AD, Truce
"Don't let them go around our flank!" Aragorn shouted. "They're probably in the woods off to the east. Wait for them to emerge and then charge from the north west!" The battle front swirled with the actions of the Mystics and Humans in what looked to be one final battle between the two races which destiny had picked to battle each other. Aragorn had assumed chief control, moving as quickly as possible to work with what limited troops he had available to him.
The King had asked him to help. King Guardia finally saw the truth behind Aragorn's trial, and had given a Royal Pardon to the Knight. Now, Aragorn was placed back in the field in which he performed best: the battle field. The front line sat at about half a mile from the Square. There, the bloody melee between the foot troops was being fought without relent. There had been little time for any ranged attacks such as bow fire, as the forces had met in hand to hand almost as soon as either side had come into view of the other.
Aragorn was standing at a central point, about one hundred yards behind the main fighting. There, he was being bombarded with men on horseback, asking for orders. He was quick and decisive. Sending the new orders, then officers then road back to their units to deliver changes in orders. Aragorn's main plan was to achieve an anchored flank to the west of the Square and cut back across the neck of land which led to the Square. In the mean time, he had dispatched a series of light skirmish units through the woods to the east to dispose of the threat there.
With the aide of his magic using friends, Rayith and Tristan, he hoped to form a hammer which would proceed to the opposite flank and deliver a finishing blow as the Mystics were being routed to the east. All of this, however, was based on the concept that the humans would rout their Mystic opponents.
Tristan hovered above the new General, returning raining down storms of lightning from the skies. "Any new special targets boss?" Tristan asked casually, planning his next action of drawing down death from above on to the Mystic troops.
"Keep it up," Aragorn said. "Try to move over to their left flank and push them over this way." Tristan nodded before flying off to his commanded position.
It was clear that the Mystics had been shocked by the humans who used Magic. Rayith and Tristan had combined to destroy a great deal of their forces, when it was considered that they were only two people. After all, the Magus was the only human that could cast spells, and he was dead, wasn't he?
Rayith's experimentation with the Winds had led to the discovery a broad range of attacking spells with a wide range of affected area. She was floating above even Tristan, hurling down fiery defeat upon the confused Mystic forces. None the less, the Mystics far out numbered the humans even after the thorough magical punishing which the Time Travelers had unleashed.
Human reinforcements would arrive in roughly an hour, but Aragorn knew that the battle would be over by then, one way or another. Either his companions' magic would overpower the masses of Mystics, or they would fall under the crushing wait of the Mystics' superior numbers.
As Aragorn sent off two more officers with changes in orders, Tristan flew back in from his right, landing about ten feet to the right of the Knight. "Bad new!" Tristan called as he ran up to the General.
"Don't tell me that," Aragorn said, shaking his head. "We can't have bad news. As it is, our melee troops aren't faring as well as I would have liked them to. The elite Knight units aren't here, at the time, so I'm using mostly simple footmen. On top of this, those damned freaks aren't dying as quickly as I'd like them to."
"Well, then you're really gonna hate what I have to say," Tristan said. Aragorn looked at him as if to tell him to speak. Tristan sighed. "We're running low on magical energy, mi amigo."
"Winds are running dry?" Aragorn questioned. Tristan nodded curtly.
"They cast magic too, Aragorn," he said calmly. "Those Mystics all have basic spell casting abilities. They don't seem to have any serious magic users, or even anyone on par with Rayith or myself, but when you have that many entities drawing on the Winds…"
"Right," Aragorn muttered.
"They're not using attacking magic, though. I just notice that the Winds are fading faster then Rayith and I are using them."
"Battle enhancements," Aragorn cursed. "Haste spells and what not. That would explain why our men are being so easily out done on the front line. Their reaction time and strength is probably being increased by magic."
"And with all of them drawing on the Winds like that, we don't have much time left. Naturally, they won't be able to cast spells either, but the indirect spells which their using probably have a time limit on them. In other words, Rayith and I are going to be out of attacking magic, but they'll have the effect of their spells for a while after that."
"Damn," Aragorn said. He paused in thought. Suddenly, he was hit by a plan which an old commander had once communicated to him in a time of dire straits. "…Challenge…" he muttered.
"Huh?" Tristan asked.
"It's the only way," Aragorn said. Not having time to explain, he quickly worked out the plan in his head. "Tristan," he said sternly. "I need you to clear me a path to behind the battle line. We need to get at Keltar. If I can off him in one on one, I hope that will demoralize them enough to surrender."
"Why would that stop them?" Tristan asked.
"Well, next time you see the one who is strongest among your kind get beaten to a bloody pulp, see how you feel," he said with a wry grin. Aragorn reached to his back and drew his sword. "Now," he said to Tristan, "what have you got for me?"
Tristan reached into his coat. "I've got just the thing, my friend. One shot only, but I think we only need one shot, correct?"
"That's all we've got, Tristan," Aragorn said. Tristan nodded and drew a small device which fit over his fist. It was a silvery metal with a small hole at one end, but it didn't look like it could do much damage at all. "That's it?" Aragorn asked in disbelief.
"Just watch," Tristan said, hitting a button and smiling. Abruptly, the small device seemed to grow. It morphed outward with a sliding of metal components and slight humming noise as the innards of the weapons shifted. The weapons continued to germinate outward, forming a large, sleek weapon with a long barrel. Tristan hoisted the weapon in victory, grabbing the rear handle and locking the stock underneath his armpit.
"Shape memory alloy," he said. "I won't go into it in depth, but basically, it can shift forms. We keep these on hand in their smaller state for storage."
"What is it?" Aragorn asked, readying himself for his run through the path which Tristan would create.
"It's a fusion gun. We call them melta-guns or cookers." He patted the gun with his free hand affectionately. "Basically, this baby fires a sub-molecular thermal blast over a distance, causing massive molecular breakdown and turning the target into a molten slag and steaming vapor in a matter of seconds."
Tristan smiled. "And that means you better get the hell out of the way because here comes Tristan…" Tristan raised the fusion gun into position, locking his free hand on the loading mechanism. Pulling back a bar, the gun started to hum again as the highly pressurized pyrum-petrol gasses within the weapon were being forced into a sub-molecular state.
Aragorn didn't need to be told twice, jumping out of the way as Tristan aimed for a spot with as few allied soldiers as possible. Grinning almost diabolically, Tristan pulled the firing mechanism. There was a high pitched hiss as a beam of whitish-red light about four feet in diameter streaked across the battle field, vaporizing anything that got in its way. The very moisture in the air was turned to plasma, shooting of sparks of electricity around the beam, but from where Aragorn was standing, he could feel no excess heat nor did he understand what the plasma was.
True to what Tristan had said, after the blast dissipated in a few seconds, there wasn't even evidence that anyone had occupied the space which the weapon had torn through. Tristan lowered the weapon and gave Aragorn a nod. Aragorn then sprinted across the ground, running in a shallow trench that the beam had created where it dug up the very earth beneath it.
He drew his weapon back as he ran through the newly created gap of men. There were few which jumped out to attack him, but those that did were quickly cut down, severed in half or decapitated by the fearsome blade. Aragorn was now charging up Force Tech energy -characterized by a dull red glow around him- and began to move quicker.
"Good luck, man," Tristan said from his vantage point, returning the fusion gun to it's original form and placing it in his pocket. "I'll be up there as soon as I can to help." He reached back into the coat and drew forth two new, larger weapons. With one of the plasma riffles in each hand, he ran forward into the fray.
What was that? Rayith asked herself as she cast a Fire-Three spell on the mystic troops surging below her. That looked like it came from where Aragorn is! She looked down the newly created gap in the fighting to see Aragorn's form sprinting through, fending off the enemies as he went. Man, I hope everything down there is okay… she muttered before drawing again on the diminishing Winds, hoping to deliver some decisive blows before the Winds were completely gone.
After the short sprint through the front line, Aragorn quickly came on his goal. Finally passing by the main fighting, he came within sight of the Mystic Command unit, sitting about fifty yards ahead of him. It was his last chance to end this thing without any more needless loss of life. Coming out of his run, he blasted his voice as loud as it could go towards the Mystic Command.
"Keltar!!" he screamed. One of the figures in the distance stood up and made a few hand motions. Soon following, a number of Mystic officers came running at Aragorn, full speed. Aragorn quickly dispatched the warriors, though, without to much trouble. Aragorn began to walk forward.
It was almost as if that fighting that was going on a mere twenty yards behind him wasn't happening. Aragorn had suddenly become completely focused. The world around him became silenced to his ears as he walked purposely towards what would hopefully be his final opponent of this blasted war.
"Keltar!!" he screamed again. "Are you that cowardly that you send your punks to challenge me?!". Keltar's voice finally came back over the plain.
"Sir Lestrides!" the voice of Keltar mocked. "And what do I have the pleasure of your company for?" Keltar also began to walk forward towards the Knight.
"Oh, cowardly scum of Mystic feces!" Aragorn taunted. "I challenge you!"
"Challenge me?!" Keltar spoke again. "And where do you get the balls to do that, you meaningless human? You don't deserve the opportunity to lick my boots, let along challenge me to single combat!"
"Is that fear I find in your voice, shit for brains?" Aragorn spat. "You know you'd never win!"
"What an insolent creature!" Keltar countered. Finally, the two of them had made it up to each other. One stood a few feet from the other, trading insults for a few moments. While they had not begun to fight, the melee that was taking place behind them had already noticed the meeting of their commanders. Some of the soldiers, both Mystic and Human began to move towards the two generals, sensing an impending duel.
"And what of you?!" Aragorn said preparing the ultimate blow to Keltar's pride. "The only reason that you ever rose above your brother was because he was killed! You couldn't even pull yourself to where you are now! You're powerless!"
"You want us to get him, Lord Keltar?" came the voices of one of the Mystics off to the side. Keltar made a signal to hold them off.
"No," Keltar said grimly, now finally taking an insult above all others as far as he was concerned. "This human wishes to be put to dishonorable death at my hands. I have decided to grant his wish."
"Grant?!" Aragorn said, laughing loudly. "Okay," he drew his sword into a fighting position. "Let's go!"
There was now a crowd formed around them. In fact, most of the surrounding fighting had ceased simply to watch the one-on-one combat that was about to ensue. In this odd state of affairs, Mystic and Humans stood on opposite sides, each backing their leader, but neither tried to take a blow at the other. The battle had, in all essence, stopped in the name of this challenge.
Keltar responded by drawing his own sword, a smaller weapon than Aragorn's, being only three feet in length, but it would be more than enough in the Mystic's eyes. Both held their weapons at the ready, waiting for a move…
Aragorn attacked first, with a lunge to the torso. Keltar swung his blade around in a circular parry, knocking the blade aside and countering with an overhead swing. Aragorn responded by side stepping the attack and bring his blade upwards towards the Mystic's chest. Keltar barely avoided quick death by jumping over the blade and recovering into a roll.
"Oh come on!" Aragorn taunted. "You're almost dead already!"
"Tch," Keltar muttered, wiping a bit of dirt off of his face. "Bring it on, human." He held out his hand and signaled Aragorn to attack. Aragorn sarcastically shrugged, quickly attack with a flank cut. Keltar parried and re-posted to the head, but was met by Aragorn's blade. Spinning around his enemies weapons, Aragorn smacked at Keltar's blade with the flat of his own, knocking it away, and lunged at the opening his created. Keltar again barely avoided being impaled with an off-balanced hop backwards.
Aragorn pounced on his opponent's off balance with a flying cross-slash and two overhead smashes, all haphazardly blocked by his off balance opponent. The crowd behind them cheered on their respected leader. While neither knew it, almost the entire battle had circled around the duel and those Mystics that hadn't were being exterminated by Tristan and Rayith. If you were watching the fight, they left you alone, but honor in single combat comes before all others, and that was the conflict that deserved the attention of the armies.
And so the duel raged on. Attack, parry, re-post, parry re-post, counter parry re-post, counter parry re-post lunge, counter beat parry re-post lunge retake. Over and over went the cycle with brief pauses ever now and again before starting it anew. Sometimes the attacker would change. Sometimes, death came close. Both fighters had nearly landed killing blows several times. Yet, as the battle wore on for the forty minutes or so, Aragorn began to gain the upper hand, the decisive blow coming when Aragorn scored a glancing hit on Keltar's upper left thigh. Aragorn began to win, and he began to know it.
"You've gotten slow, you old fool," Aragorn said, laughing loudly. "This is nothing like the battles we've had in the past!" Now was the time to finish it, Aragorn knew. Keltar was off balance and physically hurt from the attack that Aragorn had landed on his upper thigh. Now, his pride would hurt as well.
"You'll swallow those words, human! Or, if you're head is relieved of your body at the time, I shall shove them down your throat!" Keltar, panting heavily, growled deeply and rushed at the Knight with sword outstretched. Aragorn smirked, blocking the attack and then swiftly punching the Mystic in the face with his gloved left hand. Keltar staggered back and clutched his broken nose.
"You human scum!" Keltar screamed, rushing at Aragorn again. Now grinning widely, Aragorn blocked again, punched his enemy in the stomach and, as Keltar buckled over, kneed him in the genitals. He stepped back as Keltar crumbled to the ground in pain. The surrounding Mystics gasped and the Humans cheered. Keltar shook in pain for a few moments.
"Are you finished yet?" Aragorn asked the floored Mystic. Keltar let out a battle cry before stumbling up and running at the Human in an attempt at a tackle. Aragorn side-stepped the ill-thought out attack, sticking out his leg and tripping Keltar in the process. As the Mystic fell, the Knight brought his other leg around and slammed it upward into Keltar's ribs. The Mystic groaned.
Looking and reaching down to his unarmed enemy, Aragorn lifted the massive Mystic up by the top ridge of his cloak. Holding him up with his left hand, Aragorn delivered multiple fearsome blows to the ribs of his opponent, hearing a cracking noise as each one of them snapped inward. Then, drawing his head back, he head-butted the Mystic in it's broken nose. Smirking, Aragorn let Keltar fall to the floor in pain. There he sat, writhing and slightly twitching.
"Pathetic…" Aragorn said, spitting on his long-time enemy. He kicked the fallen form again, hoping to drive his point even further into his enemy's minds. "Do you see this!" Aragorn announced to the audience. He slowly spun to face the Mystic side of the observers.
"This was your strongest!" he yelled, lifting his sword above his head.
"I'm…" Keltar started to say, coughing up blood. He spoke in a throaty tone. He had managed to rise to his knees, but his head wasn't even raised. His broken ribs had begun to tear into his internal organs, causing massive internal bleeding. "I'm…not….done…with…"
Aragorn sneered at the Mystic. Not wishing to hear his final words, Aragorn made swift movement. With a precise attack, Aragorn leveled his massive blade on the neck of the fallen warrior. Cutting through the bone and flesh like butter, Keltar's head was cleanly removed from his body, rolling along the ground slightly before coming to a halt. The body jerked momentarily before crumbling lifelessly to the floor. Aragorn wiped the blade clean on Keltar's garbs before sheathing it again.
"Is there any among you that thinks they can better him! Come now! Send me an enemy!" Now, he would see if his plan would work. He waited, preying that it went according to plan…
"I think I understand now," Tristan said to himself. Then, to Rayith, "Ray!" The two of them were flying about fifty feet apart, taking care of any stragglers that didn't get caught up in the excitement of the one on one battle. The young adventurer responded quickly.
"Yeah?" she yelled.
"I think we need to go over there," he shouted back. "Aragorn is trying to rout them by busting their moral."
"You think it will work?"
"I guess we'll find out soon enough. At any rate, they'll need our magic. Since all those Mystics stopped drawing on the Winds, we've got a few big spells worth left, wouldn't you say?" Rayith nodded. Quickly, they flew over to the fight area.
The Mystics gazed in sheer terror at the destroyer of their Lord. In all of their hearts, they knew the battle was all down hill from here like an avalanche that had started with a few mere stones. A few of them tried to attack Aragorn while he was basking in his victory, but they were cut down before they could even get within a foot of the Knight.
Then, the crucial moment came. A voice from the within the Mystic mob. "Run for it!!!" It screamed. As the tension built up, more and more Mystics began to bolt for the escape rout, hoping to retreat with their lives. Aragorn's plan had worked.
"Now!" Aragorn shouted in his booming command voice. "Go after them! Cut them down! Rip them apart! Decimate their ranks and then desiccate on their corpses! Don't let a single one of them leave here alive!!" he pointed his sword towards the retreating Mystics and the Human army cheered. In an outpouring of moral superiority, the Humans charged the retreating foe.
"Tristan, Rayith!" Aragorn called upwards to the Air Support which was flying overhead. They looked down, waiting for their orders. "Cut off their escape route!" Tristan and Rayith nodded and jetted off in a flurry of Force Tech colors.
Looking at the sun and guessing at the time, Aragorn knew that help was almost here. He was rewarded momentarily by the clomping hooves against the ground. Close at hand, a dust cloud was being kicked up by the mounted knights of Guardia. Wearing resplendent armor which glittered in the sun and wielding massive lances which reflected their power, the Knights road up to Aragorn. Their leader stepped forward.
Pulling up his face plate, he looked at Aragorn in mixed confusion and happiness. He was about Aragorn's age and carried a similar number of battle scars on his face. "Lestrides!?" he asked. "I thought you were in dead!"
Aragorn let out a big smile towards the Knight. "It's good to see you again too, Rion!" Aragorn shouted. "But there's no time to explain."
"What's the command?" Rion asked.
"I need mounted support. We've routed the Mystics, but we need you to run them down."
"You held out this long?" Rion asked. Aragorn nodded.
"I used you-know-who's little trick."
"That whole 'challenge' thing?"
"It worked," Aragorn said.
"Right on," Rion agreed, smiling. "I'll be back here in no time." He turned to his men. Raising his lance, he shouted, "We shall run down the Mystics as they flee with their cowardly lives!" A war cry echoed from the men as Rion slid his face plate back into position, reared his horse and charged forward. The men followed in a stampede of chargers.
As they rode by, one Knight slowed up and stopped next to Aragorn. He was leading along a black horse with powerful limbs and a long mane.
"Sir Lestrides," the Knight said. "I was told to bring this for you!" The Knight handed him he reigns to the black horse.
"Maximus?!" he asked, speaking to the horse and running his hand through it's mane. "I never thought I would see you again!" .I guess someone up there the Castle knew I was running this show…Reunited with a companion of old, Aragorn mounted the steed and kicked his heels against the horse. He and the Knight bolted forward to catch the rest of the pack.
"The time is now to finish this!" Aragorn shouted. "Our enemies flee with their lives as we shall run them down. Their bitter souls will find eternal damnation at the hands of our lances! We shall cut them down as the cower in terror! The day is ours, foes of humanity! Long live Guardia!!"
"The people who started the war are the reason. And unless you fight to get rid of the reason, nothing will ever change. I fight to get rid of the reason." - Bartholomew Fatima
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