The Fallen Guardian (The Guardian Chronicles 2)

BOOK: The Fallen Guardian (The Guardian Chronicles 2)
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The Guardian Chronicles

 

The Fallen Guardian

 

By

Steven R. Burke

 

Copyright © 2010, 2012
by Steven R. Burke 
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or
mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without
permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who
may quote short excerpts in a review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either
are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely
coincidental.
Steven R. Burke
Visit my website at
www.stevenrburke.com 
Printed in the United States of America
First Printing: December 2010
ISBN-13 978-0-9887865-1-6

 

Dedication

 

For my parents and
parents-in-law

The Siege

 

As
Kana flew toward the southern edge of the Black Forest, she could see a massive
group of orcs below her. They were bustling about, making preparations for
their impending assault on their woodland neighbors. She could feel the hate
and animosity growing within the ranks as they prepared for their attack. They
would be her most faithful servants; she did not doubt this. As she continued
to fly toward her quarry, the shadow that her winged beast cast grew larger as
they descended. She was now riding an enormous dragon with fiery-red eyes and
black-as-night scales that appeared to be tougher than the finest plated armor.
The beast glimmered oddly in the first rays of morning, which put fear into the
hearts of the soldiers as they caught sight of it. As the guardian looked down
again at her minions, she could see that they were ready to move out. She
smiled savagely at the sight and yearned to begin the first open battle on Tuwa
since the days of the Eldar.

She
knew that this day would mark the end of the elves’ reign in the land. She
guided her beast toward an opening at the head of the armies and landed with a
commanding
thud
. She quickly dismounted the black dragon that had
carefully tucked its wings against his body and sat there like an obedient pet.
Kana called the five generals of the different armies to come forward. She
needed to divide up the army and then devise a strategy for the attacks they
would make on the elves and the dwarves who lived in Mount Adem. The orcs knew
nothing of this plan to divide the armies, but they would trust her reasoning
once they had heard it. General Akuji Tadok K’K arrived first and stood
silently as they waited for the others to show up. Generals Maurizio G’Dang,
Nero Oggoamak, Synan Thrudak, and Tomo Bruguk Tak appeared from the crowd of
orcs at the same time. Kana motioned for them to follow her to one side of the
dragon so that they could speak in private.

“Generals,
thank you for preparing your armies so quickly and thoroughly. It appears that
you are ready to go, so let us get our plans in order without further delay. We
will implement our designs right after we are done here,” she explained
intently to the mute generals. Anyone who knew an orc general would have known
that this stony silence was unheard of. They had a healthy respect for the
witch’s powers and knew that she would provide them with an opportunity to
exact their revenge on their immortal enemies.

“We
are ready,” replied General Akuji with a slight nod. The other four generals
bowed slightly to indicate they were ready to listen. This was exactly what she
was hoping for.

“General
Tadok K’K and General G’Dang, you will lead your armies to lay siege to King
Kasim in his red mountain,” began Kana.
They will do what I want, or I will
make examples of these two!

“What? 
Why are we attacking those stunted hole dwellers?  I thought we were going to
wipe out the elves?” asked General G’Dang incredulously.

“Because,
my good general, we need to capture the entire southland for a reason that will
become apparent as we continue our discussion. As we speak, the goblins and
rock trolls are attacking King Jarvis at Mount Carrick. If you attack the other
southern dwarves, we would have control of the majority of the dwarven nations.
King Edric will not leave his island fortress, so we will really have full
control over one of the most powerful races. While you are securing the hole
dwellers, the elves will be under attack by the remaining orc armies from the
south while the high elves attack from the north. We would then have control
over the two most troublesome races in Tuwa. Men will fall much easier than the
rest. Remember, the high elves are laying siege already to the men of Nairi, so
we would only have two kingdoms of men to contend with. By that time, we will
have a combined army of high elves, orcs, goblins, rock trolls, and several
creatures under my command. They will not be able to stand against us,” Kana
declared boldly.

“Your
explanation makes sense,” General Tadok K’K said with a look of disgust at
General G’Dang.

“Thank
you, General Akuji. As I was saying, we will need to divide the armies and lay
siege to the elves and dwarves so that they do not have time to unite against
us,” began the guardian. “Generals Akuji and Maurizio, you will need to leave
immediately to make your march on Mount Adem. Beware of dwarven traps, and be
prepared for a long siege. Those bearded folk will dig in and try to outlast
you. Be persistent and do not let any of them live. I leave the tactics of your
assault to you two. I trust in your abilities and know that you will succeed.”

“We
will rain down on them like fire from above!” General Akuji said with a hurried
bow. He and General Maurizio did an about-face and ran to their respective
armies. Within minutes, their armies were marching in a southwestern course
toward the red mountain.

“Generals
Nero, Synan, and Tomo, we will attack the elves within the hour. We need a much
more strategic battle plan than what Akuji and Maurizio will use on the
dwarves. We must try to use the cover of the trees to our advantage. Does
anyone have a suggestion about how this could be accomplished?” Kana asked
coolly.

“My
witch, we could try setting ambushes using the trees as cover,” offered Tomo.

“We
could do that, but they would probably hear us waiting for them. Those
pointed-eared freaks can hear a fly breathing a mile away,” countered Synan
aggressively.

“Burn
it down!” exclaimed General Nero. He had a look of great distain on his face as
he said this.

“Why
should we burn it down, General?” asked Kana patiently.

“It
would get the attention of those wicked elves and would rid us of the accursed
Seda at the same time,” Nero explained. He did not like to mince words and got
to the point right away. Kana appreciated this in her lead general.

“That
is why you are my first in command, General Nero. We will burn the forest, and
we will avoid the Seda altogether. They are too dangerous to trifle with and
cannot be killed by any means you have at your disposal,” Kana explained
smoothly.

“Won’t
the fire attract the Seda to our presence?” asked General Tomo.

“Not
if we set the fire northeast of their home. They will think that the elves are
trying to push them out of the forest,” explained the Elemental.

“How
will we accomplish this?” asked General Synan.

“I
will take care of the burning while you approach from your positions here. I
will fly to where the Seda are purported to reside and set the fire. Then, I
will head north over the elven capital, Tarisdell. I will try to get their
attention and lead them to the high elves, which are waiting for the signal to
attack. As soon as I leave here, you will begin your march into the forest.
Take a northeastern approach so that the size of your armies remains hidden for
the time being. When you reach the capital city, you should find the elves in
disarray. They should be relatively easy to capture at that point. Be careful.
They do possess formidable magic and could fight against us with great
efficiency if you are not cautious. Surprise will be your greatest weapon,”
Kana said pointedly.

“How
exactly should we conceal our approach?  Surely our massive armies will not be
able to hide from their farseeing eyes,” said Tomo doubtfully.

“I
will cause the winds to move a mist into your path making it impossible to see.
I will have my bats accompany you with instructions to guide you to where the
elven outposts are positioned. You can take out the sentry units before they
could report back to the king that you are coming,” explained the guardian.

“How
big is the army of the elves?  ” asked General Nero.

“The
elves do not have a standing army. They have about twenty-five thousand
soldiers that comprise the home guard and another ten thousand that make up the
king’s guard. However, there are nearly five hundred thousand elves in the
capital city alone. They could assemble an army of considerable size quickly if
your approach is detected,” she said sternly.

“What
about the high elves?” asked General Nero undeterred.

“They
have about forty thousand troops. They are being led by a powerful warlock who
could easily make up for the smaller numbers by himself. I believe that three
hundred and forty thousand against the pitiful defenses of the elves should be
sufficient. Make sure to keep a vigilant rear guard to protect against an
attack from the men of Aran. I do not believe that they will get involved, but
it is better to be prepared for anything,” explained Kana.

“What
is our main objective then in this assault?” asked General Tomo.

“Once
you have attacked the capital, take it. I want you to secure Tarisdell and hold
it. Let the high elves hunt down their brethren,” replied Kana. She really
appreciated how the orcs did not waste their breath on pointless queries. They
were all about business and getting the job done.

“We
will return to our armies and begin our northeastern march as soon as you
depart then,” said General Nero with a bow.

“If
you have need of me, send one of the bats with your message. I will be
observing from above. I will provide assistance to the areas that need it the
most. However, my eyes cannot see everything all at once, so use the bats or
the ravens to communicate with me,” she said decisively.

“As
you command,” the generals said in unison. They turned about and marched back
to their waiting armies.

Kana
walked slowly to the head of her winged beast and bent close to one of his
ears. She whispered for some time and then mounted the foul creature. The wings
of the dragon spread wide as it lurched into the air. Within moments, the pair
was nothing more than a black dot in the sky. The soldiers stood watching the
odd pair fly northwest over the sea of trees. They were so caught up in
watching the departure that they were not prepared for the surprise attack from
the elves of the forest. A sharp whistling sound could be heard in the air
about the ranks of General Tomo’s army. Several orcs went down in the first
volley of arrows. Tomo wasted no time in rallying the troops; he ordered a
counter attack. A sea of orcs began to rush toward their assailants with great
ferocity. As Tomo’s army marched into the forest, an owl shot up into the sky
and turned northward toward the capital city. The command was given to shoot the
bird down, but it was too late. The messenger owl belonged to Anlon Marowael,
the legendary elven warrior. The bird had out-distanced herself from the darts
of the orcs within moments of flight. The beast would raise the alarm, so they
had to act swiftly and take a more direct course of action.

The
other two armies caught on pretty quickly to what was happening and hastened to
their comrades’ aid. Within minutes, the three armies of the orcs were engaged
with the outer defenses of the elven home guard. As the foot soldiers neared
the hiding place of the elven archers, they were blindsided with a mixture of
different magical attacks. One side was hit with a cold blast that froze
several orcs instantly while the other side was hit by bolts of lightning.
Chaos ensued among the ranks, and blood curdling screams echoed through the
canopy of trees. General Nero reached the front of the assault with his troops
and immediately took command of all three armies. He had them spread out so
that they could move in from the south, east, and west. He was going to force
their attackers to flee or die where they were!

***

Kana
could sense the presence of the Seda just below her after only a few minutes of
flying over the southwestern part of the forest. She urged her dragon to dive
down from his high course, and as he did so, he unleashed a long uninterrupted
stream of fire upon the forest below. Within moments, the forest was ablaze and
they were off at once to Tarisdell. While Kana and her dragon were starting the
fire, a messenger owl was flying past them toward the capital city with the
alert of the southern assault by the orcs. Kana did not know of the ambush yet,
so she took her time in her flight to the elves’ central city. The messenger of
Anlon was considerably slower than the dragon, but she was able to fly through
the trees and alert some of the king’s guard as she flew. The guard was able to
pass the word along of the attack and also warned about a dragon heading their
way. There had not been one of those fell beasts in Tuwa since the days of the
Eldar. All the dragons were thought to have been killed or banished to the icy
wastes of the north lands.

As
the capital city of Tarisdell came into sight, Kana was met with a storm of
arrows that appeared to have been poisoned in some way. The elves believed that
the only way to kill a dragon was to poison it, so their archers were employing
that line of thinking when they attacked. The missiles snapped or were
deflected as they came into contact with the impenetrable scales of this black
dragon. The legends said the black dragons were the most fierce and unstoppable
breed. It was very unusual for one to appear in the first place, but it was
even more disconcerting to have a black one assailing them.

As
the arrows continued uninterrupted, Kana chided her fierce beast to unleash his
fiery breath on the assailants. Kana also called upon the clouds to gather
together, and in moments there were flashes of lightning everywhere. Huge
fireballs rained down from the skies and smashed into the southern part of the
outer wall. As the battle grew in intensity, the dragon soared high into the
air as if it were leaving. Just as the beast became a black dot in the sky, a
series of red fire balls were heading right for the elven defenders. They
smashed with great force into the wall, sending debris flying fifty feet into
the air.

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