Chapter 15.1

It is done. All the traps I’ve set have sprung. All but one. It is the last stage before I depart this body and will no longer be able to hold this pen. For the book, this book, must stay where it is. Thus, I cannot tell the final chapter of this tale, at least not in an ordinary way. However, I can make a prophecy. Read on, and I will tell you exactly how this tale will end.

My protagonists are at my doorstep, with the intention to put an end to my enduring life. But I need time to write down this final chapter of prophecy. I knew in advance that I’d need it, and so I have built the necessary delays to them into my grand scheme. Will it buy me enough time? I know it will. I am the master of my own fate, and though these fingers will be lifeless by the end of this day, my quest for ascension will succeed.

***

avarron likenes it to a dance. His motions are fluid and intuitive rather than calculated. Surrounding him are the hordes of unliving, but they don’t dance. They are stiff and clumsy and slow. Once he finally managed to place his trust in the enchanted armour, defence had ceased to be an issue. His sword only has to pierce the black hearts of the unliving while his shield has become a makeshift mace, crushing the fragile bodies.

The endless onslaught of unliving has become a farce. He could fall asleep in the middle of the host and they still would be unable to hurt him. As he wades through them, a voice in the back of his mind tells him Donash knows it. This entire attack, as massive as it is, is a simple feint. But knowing that helps him little. No matter how many of the unliving fall, there are always more. It’s like trying to swim upstream a strong river; tiring and futile.

His hope lies in Nariain. If the others succeed in getting her to the castle, she can defeat the necromancer. He has no doubt that she’d be victorious, as long as she doesn’t get trapped like he is. All he can do is to thin the ranks and draw in an ever-increasing portion of Donash’s army. But he can’t do that forever. “Hurry up,” he utters through a gasp as he took a moment to catch his breath.

In that moment of silence, he hears the sound of marching feet. Over the hordes of unliving in front of him, he can see a cohort of guardsmen, wielding long pikes and broad shields. For the shortest moment, he holds hope that relief is coming. But these men, wearing a rusted, yet decorated armour, are as lifeless as the rest. And judging by their attire, they had once been the king’s guard of Terrálh.

Even more concerning than the prospect of facing elite soldiers are the pikes. Avarron has deducted that his armour projected an aura that rendered any unliving helpless. Donash obviously has come to the same conclusion and devised the pikes as a way to circumvent his protection, he imagines, though he´s not eager to test the theory.

He starts to wade through the regular unliving towards the nearest alley. In formation, the pikes are far more troublesome than on their own and he could deny them that advantage in the narrow space. Well before he reaches it, an arrow flies out from the ranks of unliving and strikes his shoulder. His mind comes up with a thousand curses for letting his defence down, but all that comes out of his mouth is a savage roar of pain as he reaches for the struck shoulder and clenches his fist around the crest he wields there. Instinct tells him the arrow is poisoned as a burning sensation wells up in his throat and bursts out of his mouth, as if he is vomiting fire. The burning rises up to his eyes and blinds him with pain. He lets out another savage roar and the pain fades away as quickly as it appeared, making way for a bone-shivering fever. His heart is pounding and his throat burnt, yet he feels an odd sensation of strength.

He opens his eyes again to a swath of destruction. A wide area in front of him lies open, with nothing but ashes and the smouldering remains of the unliving. His eyes are briefly drawn to the palm of his hand, where the crest’s symbol has been seared into his glove before his attention returned to the scene in front of him. Slowly he starts to wonder if he had not only felt like he was spewing fire.

> Chapter 15.2

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