The Exodus Sagas: Book I - Of Spiders And Falcons (7 page)

BOOK: The Exodus Sagas: Book I - Of Spiders And Falcons
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From behind in a rush of echoed stampeding, the hooves of a white minotaur broke the silence and Saberrak’s unknown approach. Blood covered and screeching in their bestial troll tongue, the three wretched deformities, green and warted, turned to see an albino minotaur charge into the pit with its head down and great curved scimitar in its hands. They also saw the gray gladiator, positioned on the other side of the entry, whip out his grappling hook round the charging beast’s horns. The hook caught its eye and lodged deep into the skull. Saberrak raised his arm and planted his feet forward, lifting the white off the ground from its own momentum. It roared in pain and thrashed, reaching to get the hook from its deep embrace. With two calculated steps, watching his foe reach for the huge curved sword, the gray warrior struck down with his double edged axe into his foe’s chest and buried it deep through bone and vitals. He raised his weapon again, this time bringing it down across the first gaping wound. Blood puddled into the air and landed with a quick splatter. More blood poured from the X on the twitching albino’s chest and Saberrak crouched, head lowered, eyes fixed upon the trolls that he assumed would come for a meal. The gladiator whipped the chain free from his adversary’s horns and began spinning it playfully as he approached the slope down.

Saberrak felt no fear, not a tremble, he had fought trolls in the arena and ones with armor and spikes adorning their soft yet strong figures. He knew where to hit a nine foot troll, and that was in the back or through the side with something sharp and heavy. The gray had been told that the only part of a troll that was bone was the spine, the rest, including the skull, was just cartilage and prone to regrow given enough time. The only way to put one of these swamp colored, black-toothed, razor clawed fiends down for good was to cut through that spine. The first two came directly, screeching to the third back and forth in whatever hissing language that they used. Saberrak noticed that one was moving round the left side to get behind him. The chained hook flew out at the feet of the first one, catching tight into the flesh. The beast laughed at the minotaur, until he hit the floor, still seeming to enjoy the pain. Saberrak’s axe swung high, taking off the left hand of another troll cleanly, then he swung again with a stroke from the back blade using his great strength to cleave the axe blade into its flank. Dark green blood coated the weapon and the smell of oily rotten fish was all the minotaur could compare the penetrating nostril poison to. The third, still moving in from behind, would be hard to get the minotaur now as he rolled between the front two standing up only to sever the spine of the tangled freak with a mighty two handed chop from above. The steel blade hit stone floor, echoing loudly in the pit. Saberrak rapidly stepped behind the second troll, still stunned by his wounds, and used him as a shield from the craftier one behind. The horned gladiator lifted from below, hoisting the tip of the axe into the crotch of the green demon with no hand. Face to face, it cringed and grabbed the minotaur. Saberrak let out his low roar, anger and determination filled his throat as he stepped back, lowered his head and rushed forward, crushing the two into the wall. His curved horns soaked in troll blood from the screaming beast he just punctured and carried, the minotaur pulled his adornments free from the soft flesh and suddenly cut the wretch in half just under the ribcage with a fluid stroke of his double headed battle axe.

The pieces fell to the floor, rolling downhill in a disturbing visage of soft flesh and pattering and twitching parts. The third troll, fearless as his horned enemy, ripped into Saberrak’s flesh. The shoulder bled first, then his chest, leaving deep cuts and running blood with its black dirty claws. The minotaur raised his axe, deflecting more heavy clawed hands that were knocking him back step by step. The beast made a fatal move as it thought it had the upper hand, it tried to bite the horned warrior over the axe and take him by force. Saberrak lifted his weapon, turning one of the ichor covered blades inward at the swamp demon’s throat and then with his hand between the double blades and the other on the lower handle, he pushed. With pure arm strength, being pushed down the slope, the minotaur’s axe cut clean through the neck, spraying more slimy troll blood all over as the head came clear off. Its head rolling and screaming curses, landed at the feet of the tortured man. Saberrak kept focused on the body of the troll, still using its black eyes from afar to guide the movements of a headless body. The axe pulled back, one handed now, as Saberrak pushed the unstable creature back with a strong-arm blow followed by an arcing cleave from the axe through just inches above the hips and cutting the spine. The collapse ended the motion and the eyes of the screeching head closed. The minotaur looked at his wounds, still dripping red, they would heal he thought, and eventually be just another unpleasant reminder of home.

Saberrak the gray approached the man, looking for his wounds, yet there were none to be found. The man stayed perfectly still, breathing deep breaths, staring at the minotaur as he came closer. The horned one hefted his axe over his head, striking hard into the chains that bound the man. The noise was deafening, and again Saberrak struck the chains, though he knew not why. Over and over, the gladiator chipped his axe blade, yet managed to get through the chains obviously meant for something of a monstrous size, not this human. Finally, after what seemed like hours of hard labor, the four chains were cut through.

Not a word, the man made no gesture from behind his unkempt and ancient beard to talk, speak gratitude, or communicate, just staring with those inhuman eyes. “You are free, human, no one should endure what you have…” He stopped, looking at this person, stained from years of imprisonment by the looks of it, yet healthy, standing eye to eye with the minotaur, full of strength. Saberrak looked around, no waste, no smell of it, no bones or food.
has this old man survived
he thought. “Who are you, human? How long have you been here?” asked the minotaur, still searching for something to take away his confusion. Nothing, not a sound. Saberrak looked again, not a scratch on the body from recent wounds that should have left him a bleeding mess. Gone, all of them. Then the man moved, searching with his filthy hand for something behind his back on the ground by the pillar, the minotaur stepped back, prepared for anything from this strange prisoner. The freed human produced by his right hand a spool of stone, roughly carved gray rock about as long as his forearm, and motioned to hand it to his rescuer. It had strange paper rolled on it and writing that the minotaur had never seen, which was little to start with. Saberrak could barely read any Agarian, the language custom to this continent of Agara, but this was nothing even remotely legible. Dark brown writing, symbols, designs more than words and there had to be twenty feet of the mess rolled onto this stone rod. Confused, Saberrak accepted the gift, for it was most likely by the look of the man, his only possession short of a dirt covered mass of hair in this ever increasing cold. Saberrak and the man exchanged a long stare, quietly, for how long the minotaur lost track of. It seemed to the horned warrior that he was at peace, safe, and that he could rest while he stood, feeling like he had awoke from a full rest yet wide awake.

“Saberrak, I can smell you Saberrak. Why don’t you just give up the escape and come with me, it would be quicker for you.” The voice snapped the gray out of whatever had happened here, turning to hide in the shadows of the great pillar. Chalas’ voice, deep, taunting, he was outside the pit right past the broken wall. Saberrak turned to motion for the man to take cover but there was no one there, stone scroll in hand, the minotaur stood alone in the pit. The man with the blue glowing eyes was gone.

The gray tucked the scroll into his belt, knelt down to the body of the dead albino minotaur, picked up the great scimitar and moved down further into the pit. Water filled the lower portion, still surveying for the mysterious man or blue glowing eyes, Saberrak moved toward the unknown again. A stairwell, a stone set of stairs, old and worn, was spiraling upward into more light. The horned one moved faster trying to make up for the lost time in the pit. Up he went, pushing his legs faster and harder, taking three or four steps at a time. He kept his head down and noticed his chest had no wounds, no cuts from the vicious troll claws, not a scratch. He could not explain it, it was as if it never happened at all.

“Nice work on your cousin, fugitive. And the local troll wildlife as well, you have been busy!” yelled the sarcastic voice of the horned brown hunter. Saberrak knew he had to get to open ground to face Chalas Kalaza, in a tight area with no room to move the killer could overpower him. He kept moving, knowing that two handed greatsword was already out and ready in the hands of his pursuer, he heard it dragging and tapping the stone behind him in the distance. The gray knew that silence was his ally here despite his urges to retort and fight.

The top of the stairs were in sight, at least ten floors later, and much more light shone, almost too much for his underground eyes. Saberrak looked at the area, open ruined buildings, green grass, wet smells in the proximity, gray sky, and the air that moved. Breaking his fascination of his first step to the surface, he looked at the stairs knowing his enemy came closer every moment, an enemy he was not equipped to battle today. Saberrak looked where to hide and then noticed the loose stones at the top of the stairs, large square stones, old and cracked. He thought for a moment and dropped the scimitar down toward the middle of the spiraling stairs where the clang echoed several times until it rattled faintly out of sight. At least three floors down, “perfect” said the gray and backed up about fifteen feet under the strange sky.

“Is this a warning cousin, for if...?” the words cut off as Saberrak, knowing the place his foe stood near, rushed the stones above. Head lowered, arms in front of his curved white horns, the gray crushed his body into the stone, heaving his very breath and every pound of muscle into the rock. Slowly, cracking a bit, the top stone fell down the stairs, then another, then more. Crashing, crumbling, like an avalanche of boulders into a stone home, the stairway filled with dust and dirt and clouds of debris that flew into the air. The minotaur, knowing that Chalas had time to get out of the way, glanced around to get his bearings. The brown champion would have to find another way out and begin his search anew and Saberrak hoped to be long gone from here, wherever
was, by then. Someday, he would return to free his father and brother, someday.

He crept round ruined walls and buildings, ancient and smelling of old battles and ogre stench. Saberrak saw none, but could detect that they had been here as much as an hour or so ago. He made his way carefully, axe in one hand, chain and grappling hook in the other and came to the base of a hill that supported a great ruined tower of stone. Getting down on his hands and knees, the minotaur crept up the hill to get a better view.
Where was he
, he wondered, a vast city and more stretched in all directions save one. Nothing moved in or out of this mass ruined dwelling except for the sound of water behind him over a cliff. An ocean with no end in sight, larger than any underground lake he had dreamed of, threw waves and wind with fresh and salty air to his nose.
What was this place, and why did so little move here
he thought more. The minotaur heard faint words, not in Agarian, a womans voice, singing perhaps, and beautifully at that. Faint, to the eastern side of this forgotten city, he heard the only sound of another being. Saberrak, thinking that answers about where he is could be there, moved down the hill from the tower of Arouland toward the melody, curious and enchanted the same.


Shinayne I:I

The Western Wastes

Her stone pile was perfectly laid, not one out of place on the small mound the elven woman admired. Tears streamed down her raised cheeks, down her tan luminescent skin and soaked into her golden curly hair, the cold breeze drying her sadness around the neck. Shinayne had known Nathaniel, a brave scout for her royal T’Sarrin family, for over a century since she was a child. Her curved elven blade and matching shortblade sheathed and cleaned of troll blood, she began to sing the
Vytha Vahann
, the story of an elf’s life usually choired by everyone that knew the deceased and in grand ceremony.
Not here
, thought Shinayne, only herself to sing it to the fey spirits that would guide Nathaniel back to the forests, for her other companion, Bedesh, was not an elf. Her voice choked in her elven tongue as she laid poetic verse and tribute to what she knew of Nathaniel, his life, his family, and swore to the Fey Court of the Whitemoon, wherever they were, that she would seek justice on the trolls for his murder. Bedesh, the forest satyr, merely kept quiet and looked down at the stones, hoping to see them move and for this to not have happened. His sorrow kept inside for respect of the lady he escorted.

Shinayne finished the eulogy, the song seeming to calm all life within earshot, and pulled her purple cloak around her to keep out the cold while the fine mesh of chain from her homeland chilled her through her clothing. This place, Chazzrynn, deep to the south on the continent of Agara, was not like her tropical homeland of Kilikala. She received no bows of recognition for her status, no cheerful greetings in her elven language, not even board or food in the cities upon her arrival. She dismissed her complaints quickly, breathing in reality that she was many months from home, had enough coin, and cared not for such things. All that mattered was finding Lavress.

The satyr took a knee next to the stones, drawing out his longsword and began to sharpen it as his fur stood up in places as the wind blew harder on the southeast side of this ruined city. He watched as the elven lady, his friend and companion, meandered toward the small pond, boots crunching the frozen grass as she walked. Bedesh knew that she and Nathaniel were close, but fathomed in silence that he could not fully understand at thirty seasons old how elves dealt with the loss of loved ones they had known for centuries. The trolls had been many he recalled, hitting fast in the night and despite the keen senses of the three of them, and fantastic skill with weapons, they were outnumbered two to one. Flashes of memory hit him. Nathaniel’s lithe form being torn by the horrid green and black beasts and no way to get through to him as he fought. The red eyes in the night, the screeching, and all of this was for the lost lover of Shinayne. He kept quiet, kept his pain inside his chest and let the lady take her mourning in peace.

BOOK: The Exodus Sagas: Book I - Of Spiders And Falcons
12.23Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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