"GLORIANNA, THE CHOSEN WORLD"
Saga One:"MEANING OF HONOR: THE LEARNER SAGA"
CHAPTER IV - "ENTERTAINMENT"
Tulgehar slowly slipped his curved dagger from his belt, maneuvering around Elsa. She turned with him, her guard up. She had seen how fast he could move, and though she maintained her confidence in her own abilities; she knew that her responsibilities as king required her to use prudence. The ill-looking man twirled his inwardly curved, foot-long knife elegantly in his nimble fingers, a cocky grin marking his face as he hunched down, now eye-level with Elsa. His eyes caught a row of three of the guards approaching him from the flank, spears lowered. He snickered arrogantly.
As the three guards reached within five yards, they ran at him in an all-out charge. At enough speed to send a soft rumbling through the air around him, Tulgehar crouched low- low enough to avoid the lowered spearpoints. In a maneuver that appeared painfully joint defying, Tulgehar kicked upwards, snapping one of the spears with his foot. He then rolled sideways, hacking off the right leg of one of the three soldiers with his glowing weapon as he did so, and then rolled forwards, snapping into stance behind the three-man phalanx. Tulgehar, from behind, implanted his weapon into the collar of the man standing adjacent to the now one-legged guard. The guard with the severed leg fell forward, while screaming out in pain, at nearly the same time as his dead comrade struck the sand. Tulgehar then kicked the remaining guard, the one whose spear he had broken, and sent him tumbling chaotically into the surrounding formation.
Elsa swung, hoping she had chosen an unguarded moment in which to attack. Unfortunately for her, he easily dodged her attack; bending back, and avoiding by a hair her high swing. Elsa followed with an overhead, vertical swing; attempting to lure his reflexes into defending against the dummy attack as she rushed into him, bracing behind her shield. Tulgehar sidestepped the shield rush, and with his back to her, ducked under another high swing. He turned lithely and parried a horizontal swing at his midsection; vanishing as she was drew back to lunge into another assault- her dragon slayer arced through empty air. A buzzing sound drew her attention to the opposite direction in which she faced; on the other side of the formation of guards, stood the oddly powerful invader.
"OVER HERE!" He shouted merrily, "THIS IS SOOO MUCH FUN!" Elsa pushed through the formation of guards and took the lead to head their charge. Tulgehar slipped his knife back into his belt as she ran at him, laughing as he placed his hands on his hips.
Elsa reached the vampire first, swinging high. He dodged without so much shifting his feet in the sand, and then he sidestepped the follow-up vertical attack. She followed, as he made no attempt at a counterattack, with a slash at his midsection. He, laughed, expertly batting the sword aside- smacking the flat of the blade with the back of his hand. The force of the blow almost sent the sword flying from Elsa's grip, but she managed to retain her hold on the weapon. It did jolt her off balance however, and she stumbled away from the strange warrior.
Tulgehar drew his knife again, and entered into combat in a merciless show of superior strength and speed. He swept into the flood of guards, decapitating three in one arcing slash and then being enveloped into the formation. The melee surrounded Tulgehar on all sides. He cackled gleefully as he swept his weapon in an arc, disemboweling two guards simultaneously. The vampire dodged one spear thrust from behind, snatching the spear and shoving it into the chest of one of the guards standing before him. He elbowed the one behind him in the belly, denting his armor into his abdomen and sending him backwards, through the air, for almost ten feet.
Tulgehar then sunk low to the ground, and kicked upwards with both feet, supporting his weight with his arms, and sent another guard flying backwards. In the same fluent motion, he threw himself into the air, upside-down. He twirled in an impressive display of acrobatics skill, nearly thirty feet in the air no less, and then activated his flight waza and darted, in a nearly invisible flash, to the other end of the arena; landing softly and safely on his feet. Tulgehar charged with blinding speed into the rear of the confused formation of guards, plowing through eight of them like hot butter before he and Elsa found themselves, once again, face to face.
Tulgehar parried her sudden low swing, the momentum sending her spinning around; she masterfully used the spin to flow into another high slash. He crouched under this, and, as she swung low to follow-up, he leaped up and over her, landing behind her. Back-to-back with Elsa, he sheathed his dagger again. The whole of his body began glowing with an orangish hue, as he continued to; with a disturbing lack of effort; evade all attacks made from all directions.
"I just love it when he does this one." Y'ell Caminth said, laughing.
"Scorchy, scorchy." Yarimarg laughed chillingly with his comrade.
"Want to make a bet?" Y'ell asked in a somewhat indulgent tone. "I say he'll toy with kingie, err...queenie... err, uhm... whatever... At any rate, I betch'ya he'll toy with her until he's done killing all the guards."
"I'll take that bet." Yarimarg nodded, though with his massive helmet, the nod was an undetectable gesture. "If he doesn't kill Elsa last, I get your next turn. If he does save her for last, you get my next turn."
"DEAL!" The two then looked back down to the battle, watching as their comrade continued to slaughter large amounts of the 'weakling humans'.
The undead warrior continued to glow brighter and more intensely as he dodged spear after spear, as well as Elsa's swings.
Tulgehar then dodged a spear thrust at him from the side, and jumped back. He snatched the guard, and took him into a headlock. The vampire released the soldier, only to wrap grip his bare forearms. As he did this, he chuckled; the glow of his body, for all appearances, flowing into the guard's. The soldier began screaming, whether out of fear or agony, the others didn't know.
The surrounding men tried to save their comrade, but as they reached spearing distance, Tulgehar's victim burst into magical flames of such intense heat, that globs of liquid metal from the victim's armor showered the guards surrounding them. The would-be saviors were pushed back by the extreme heat, some stumbling and falling down as flaming body parts, chunks of liquid bronze, or a combination of both struck them.
Tulgehar, laughing, released the still aflame, now-skeletal arms, and allowed the man's remains fall to the ground. He slipped his dagger from his belt, and charged into combat with the now scattered formation of guards, cutting into the abdomen of one of the men that still remained standing. Dodging the spear of another of the guards, he spun around and implanted his weapon into the base of his assailant's skull. Removing his weapon and allowing the latest of his kills to drop, lifeless, to the sand, he turned to again engage Elsa as she attacked.
She kicked at his head, and he blocked with his left forearm. She attempted a shield punch, but he merely swept his hand, his fingertips brushing across the shield's surface, denting into it deeply and sending it flying from her arm. She ignored the pain of her now injured left shoulder, spinning around with the momentum instead of fighting it and coming about with a slash furious enough to whine s it cut through the air. Tulgehar parried with his knife, and she attacked low. He leaped back a few feet to avoid the blade. As he came back into range with the counter-momentum of his feet hitting the sand, Elsa attempted to run him through. But he sidestepped, spinning around behind her. She followed Tulgehar's maneuver, and turned with a slash at his torso, but again he parried with his knife.
Elsa kicked at the vampire's thigh, but he merely jerked his body to the side, and came back into stance in time to dodge another of her midsection-swings. Elsa grunted as she spun the blade expertly and brought it down in a vertical swing that surely could have cleaved a head in two. He caught the blade with his free hand, and re-sheathed his dagger once again.
"So," he said with glee-tainted venom on his voice, squeezing the blade and watching his black, vampiric blood flow halfway down the blade and then drip to the sand. "Your weapon is magical, is it? Easy to tell, you know." He looked to the side as a guard hit him with his spear. To the guard's amazement, it bounced off the vampire's flesh. "Because otherwise it wouldn't penetrate my skin." He kicked away the guard who attacked him. Several more guards approached; he kicked them all away, and they finally realized they could do nothing, even if his lowered guard allowed them a blow. "Let me guess," He said as he inspected the obvious hilt and crossbar of the sword, "a dragon slaying weapon? No matter, watch very carefully." Elsa tried to jerk the weapon free, cutting deeply into his hand, but he acknowledged the pain with little more than a wince.
Grunting with effort, Tulgehar forced down with all of his might, snapping the sword's blade in two. A small explosion of yellow-colored magical energy escaped the blade. "My, my! That was tough, that weapon was a real piece of work! Must've taken an experienced wizard for such powerful enchantments." Elsa took a step back, and then forced forward with counter momentum and attempted to ram the jagged edge of the broken blade into his belly. Tulgehar laughed as he brought the back of his hand across her cheekbone, sending her stumbling sideways. One of the guards leaped at the vampire. He kicked the man in the throat, and swiftly turned his attention back to Elsa, grasping her by the hair to prevent her from staggering across the arena from the force of the blow. "Weakling, I didn't hit you that hard!" Tulgehar laughed as he lifted her up, holding her at arm's length by the hair.
Elsa growled in pain, and then began kicking him as hard as possible with both feet. She then reached up, and, grabbing hold of his arm, she pulled herself up in an attempt to prevent her body's weight from being 'supported' entirely by her neck. He lowered her to eye level, brought her closer in- face to face- and stared into her eyes with his wild, insane gaze.
"You know, you really should be proud of what a healthy head of hair you have there. Mine would have been ripped out of my scalp by now." He laughed, giving several would-be-hero guards quick deathblows to the backs of their necks.
"Back off!" Elsa said as loudly as she could for her soldiers. "You can do nothing! Back away!" She took advantage of the closeness, bringing her knee up into his groin. The attack seemingly had no effect; she repeated the action.
"Now," he said, turning his head from the depleted group of city guards and back to her, lifting her up, and again at arm's length; "that wasn't very nice. You hurt my feelings!" Tulgehar laughed again, as his ki-sense detected a small power ping from far behind him. A deep, authorative voice sounded out from the entrance to the arena.
"SURRENDER! PUT HER DOWN!" Rakeesh demanded as he began limping towards them, unsheathing 'soulforge' and igniting its blue flames. The vampire turned to face him, still holding Elsa at arm's length by the hair.
Hey! Everyone knows that face! That liontaur's a paladin! Furball said there were no paladins in the city... Ah well, like they say, 'never trust a katta'. Tulgehar laughed again, directly at Rakeesh, before speaking. "AHHHHHHH!" Tulgehar mocked, "Oh no! It's the mighty liontaur paladin, Rakeesh!" The mockery in Tulgehar's voice only grew in intensity. "Oh, please, mister paladin! Don't hurt me! Oh, I...I'll do whatever you say, just please don't kill me! PLEASE!!" Tulgehar cleared his throat, and then laughed. "Stupid liontaur. I will surrender and put her down. But," Tulgehar jerked his arm, shaking Elsa's hold and jolting her painfully, "there's a catch. You see, I will surrender to my hunger, and suck every last ounce of life from her, and then I'll put her down." He began laughing; Rakeesh charged as fast as possible with his bad leg.
Rakeesh attacked high, aiming for the arm with which Tulgehar held Elsa, but the vampire sidestepped, to Elsa's discomfort, and kicked Rakeesh in the leonine underbelly, sending him rolling through the sand painfully for yards. The vampire flexed his free arm and began gathering ki into it.
Rakeesh knew not what the vampire now attempted, but could easily guess that an intensely glowing arm wasn't a good thing. A faint glow, of the same yellowish-green hue that so brightly enveloped his arm, formed about all of the vampire's features. Elsa began flailing violently, kicking at him with every last bit of strength she could muster and trying to dig her fingers into his arm, which felt like iron. Tulgehar only smiled. Rakeesh healed himself and got back up on all fours, immediately charging at Tulgehar again. "NO!" Rakeesh bellowed as he thrust 'soulforge' at the vampire's side, cutting a chunk out of his lower back and burning the flesh.
"AHH! DAMN WEMIC!" Tulgehar shrieked the words, sweeping his leg across Rakeesh's body in a vicious kick that sent the liontaur paladin tumbling along the sand until the far wall halted him. Hearing his companions laughing, loudly, in the sky, Tulgehar swore as he threw Elsa face-first into the sand, violently- stunning her. The vampire, without looking, kicked Rakeesh away again as he charged, then looked back down at Elsa. "Maybe I'm not so hungry, after all." He said, as he aimed his shining hand, palm-open, at her- his four fingers together with the thumb folded into the palm. "NA'THU!" He shouted the name of the waza, and forced his ki into a six-foot diameter beam of yellow energy, with fluctuating threads of green energy coiling around it.
The beam enveloped Elsa, as she lay stunned, on her face in the sand. The last thing anyone heard from her was her soft death-cry, and the last thing Rakeesh saw of her was a disintegrating, tormented face through the yellow light. When the glow of the destructive ki and the sand it tossed into the air faded, nothing remained of Elsa. In fact, all that marked where she had been was a crater six feet wide and eight feet deep, collapsing fast as sand from around the hole poured into the crater to fill it. Elsa's remains weren't fit to be collected with tweezers, and the wind carried away what few ashes did remain.
Rakeesh charged again. He reared up and pushed forward on his hinds; Tulgehar lithely moving around. Rakeesh dropped back on all fours and attacked high with 'soulforge'. The vampire dodged, drew his knife, and kicked Rakeesh in the leonine belly again, this time at such an angle as to send him flying through the air in an arc before hitting the ground, and again tumbling into the arena wall.
"Hey Y'ell" Yarimarg said in as close to a happy tone as he could muster, "I won the bet."
"What do you mean?"
"He killed Elsa, and there are still guards alive."
"But that's because the stupid paladin interfered!"
"That's irrelevant. You lose one turn!" Yarimarg laughed- a quite frightening sound. "Hey, that paladin might be trouble for Tulgehar, especially if he has 'holy strength'. Maybe we should offer to help?"
"Hey Tulg!" Y'ell Caminth shouted from above, as Tulgehar finished batting Rakeesh around again. "Need our help with the old paladin there?"
"Nah!" He shouted back, "It'll barely be challenge enough for just one of us!"
"GLORIANNA, THE CHOSEN WORLD" introduction/summary page