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Posted:|| February 28, 2022 Views: 159|
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
Chapter 24 of the book The Chronicals Of Bethica: The Rise
Gangus makes a bold move
"The Chronicles of Bethica"
Gangus makes a bold move that put Commander Celio and the Volarian Guards face to face with three powerful enemies
Chapter Sixteen (part 1)
Clash of the Enemy
Gangus, though a wise man, relied heavily on his spirituality and could sense adversity forthcoming. Brehira called it a warning from the gods. Whatever it was, Gangus knew he had witnessed its manifestation in the form of numerous encounters with strange creatures of the Goblinoid races, such as Goblins, Hob Goblins, and Bugbears. Those funny named races, Brehira had said, cost her husband many sleepless nights.
To put Gangus's mind at ease, Dinary ordered a small group of Volarian Guards to scout out the far western part of the land. But days later, a report came stating the scouts had vanished and the Orcs were planning an invasion into Volarian territory. That potentially bold move by the Orcs made Gangus extremely nervous. Did the Orcs know a secret entrance? Impossible, Gangus reasoned, they by now would have used it. Nonetheless, he ordered Dinary to double the guards in every area.
Tired of constantly being in defense mode, Gangus planned a bold move of his own: The full force of the Volarian Guards, under Celio, would invade the Orcs' stronghold and crush them.
That time came, and under a moonless spread of darkness, Celio vigorously led his men. They crept through the blackness, and then crawled on their bellies like shadows gliding over rough waters. Within hours, they had inched their way toward enemy campfires.
Gangus learned that years prior, the Nordoxz and Orcs had fought a bloody battle; the Orcs were badly defeated, but under the threat of annihilation, the Orcs agreed to be their allies. More than that, they'd be a powerful flesh wall between the Nordoxz and outsiders. The Orcs would fight and deplete the enemies--win or lose, giving the Nordoxz the advantage of facing a weakened foe.
One fact Celio quickly discovered--the Nordoxz were nowhere near Orc territory, but located miles from a vast, thick and menacing forest--a forest of which Celio did not wish to tackle. Crushing the Orcs was their mission, and whatever came next, they would handle, Gangus had said.
Taking naps in shifts, the men waited patiently. They watched the barrel-shaped Orcs as they sat around the fire drinking from large jugs. What seemed most astonishing were the cages hidden in the shadows of the camp. With only flashes of firelight to distinguish what appeared as humanoids with feline-like features, Celio and his men seemed taken aback.
Unconcerned, Celio turned away when something caught his eye that made him squint to get a better look. He gasped when he saw what was in a separate cage near the feline creatures. "Good goddess, they're human," he whispered, glaring at the cage. Those were the Volarian scouts who had been sent out to scan the western territory weeks ago but never returned.
The men, enraged, pulled their swords, but Celio's raised hand stopped them. He decided one of them would sneak around to the back and unlock the scouts' cage. Celio knew the scouts would fight but wasn't too sure of the feline creatures. Perhaps, they'd just run away as those starving humanoids had done on Gorr Island, he thought. Celio felt as long as those felines stayed out of the way, he could care less what happened to them.
The men waited patiently for the Orcs to bed down for the night. Whatever they were drinking from those jugs had the huge creatures sleeping like newborns in a cradle. Celio could swear their snoring was heard for miles.
A guard, tall and dark-complexioned like Olatunji, who could blend well with the night, crept unnoticed within the camp as the slumbering Orcs drooled and continued blowing noises out of the smelly holes in their faces.
One of the scouts spotted him, and the soldier put his finger up to his lips for him not to make a sound. He inched closer to the cage crawling on his belly. A feline woke and lifted its head from an old sack used as a pillow; its eyes widened when the soldier unlocked the scouts' cage door.
One by one, the scouts eased out of the cage, but a few that were last in the line froze when an Orc, facing them, stirred. The creature snorted loudly, scratched its enormous butt, and without opening an eye, turned away from them and fell deeper into slumber. The scouts blew out a breath their fear hadn't allowed them to know they'd held. They tip-toed out of the cage and joined the others who led the soldier to where the Orcs kept additional weapons.
Some scouts grabbed up the few bows and arrows; others were disappointed in their having to use the inferior iron blades. The ebony guard signaled Celio an "all is well" sign. A few felines made gestures for the guard to let them out. But the guard shook his head.
"We can help you," a feline loudly whispered.
The guard shook his head again and focused on the weapons.
"Please, let us out," the feline begged.
"Quiet, you fool. "You'll just be in the way. We won't leave you behind. I promise," he lied.
"But we can fight," the feline said.
"No," the guard said. "And besides, there are no more weapons."
By then, all of the feline creatures were standing upright on their paws; when the guard attempted to ease past their cage, they shot out two-inch claws and drew back their lips displaying long needle-pointed fangs.
"Will these do?" the feline asked, its fangs and claws gleaming.
The soldier's eyes flashed wide, and a slow grin etched across his face. He nodded, walked quietly to the side of the cage--peeked around, then extended his arm and unhooked the lock.
When Celio and his men met the guard at the rear of the camp, he told Celio the felines wanted to fight. Celio welcomed the humanoids with a nod and a smile. As the Orcs' snored loudly, the guards, scouts, and felines bent low as Celio whispered a plan.
With the ploy well understood, Celio replaced the iron swords with steel ones from the Volarian weapons chest. The feline creatures were to return to their cage and pretend to be locked in. Celio, the guards, and scouts who now added to the numbers of the guards, prepared to take their position. They plotted to kill as many Orcs as they could while they slept then make the remaining Orcs chase them throughout the camp. During the organized chaos, the more than twenty felines would emerge in a full surprise attack and aid the Volarian Guards.
Celio and his men crept upon the sleeping creatures and quietly slit their throats. One tough old Orc seemed to defy death and fought its attacker; blood streamed from its throat as it swung an ax at the Volarian Guard--slashing his arm and chest before falling dead at the guard's feet.
The noise woke an Orc who jumped from its bedding with an ax and shouted in its native tongue. The loud cry woke the others who scrambled to their feet--their eyes wide and peering around for their weapons. The Orcs, with axes in hand, towered over the Volarian Guards. But instead of fighting--true to plan, the guards bolted, and the chase was on. Around the camp and off through the woods, the men ran as the barrel-belly Orcs awkwardly stomped behind.
The guards laughed as they toyed with the Orcs who were huffing and sweating profusely. Well into the plan, the guards continued taunting the Orcs--making the creatures chase them around trees, tumble over rocks--forcing the Orcs to swipe at them, then watching the creatures land face down on the ground spitting dirt.
Back at the camp, Celio stood over five Orcs he had cut down with his divine blade, but a sixth one ran into a nearby cave shouting. Celio reckoned the creature was summoning more of its comrades. When the Orc ran out, Celio slashed it to death. He entered the cave ready to face the Orcs, but instead, Celio froze--his mouth agape.
Outside a wooded area, the frustrated Orcs finally cornered the men who were out of breath. The Orcs moved in to strike them dead when suddenly, the felines leaped upon the Orcs, tearing into them; the guards blocked the Orcs' escape and slashed them to pieces. The bloodbath was over in minutes.
As the guards and the felines stood rejoicing over the spread of Orc bodies upon the ground, Celio stumbled into camp--cut and bleeding, his sword faintly glowing and dripping with a dark substance.
"Commander, what happened!" a guard shouted.
"It's...it's in the cave," Celio said, gasping for breath.
A few of the men ran into the cave and stood wide-eyed. It was a huge, dark creature unknown to Volarians--a Minotaur lying eight feet in length, dark gray and muscular. It had the head of a bull and the body of a man. The severed head had rolled several feet from its body. "Great goddess, what is that thing, Commander?" a guard blurted.
Celio, too exhausted to answer, was carried back to the center of the Orc camp where his wounds were treated and bandaged.
Startled, a guard noticed movement; an Orc thought to be dead, jumped up and bolted towards the woods. "Look there!" the guard yelled pointing.
"After him!" shouted Morkus, the Second Commander.
Two guards took off in its direction, when a fellow guard yelled, "I've got him!" The men skidded to a halt as the guard aimed his bow at the Orc who had, by then, covered much ground.
"No! Raco," Celio ordered, "see where he goes. Leave markings so we can pick up your trail."
"Yes, Commander." Raco ran off into the forest where the darkness swallowed him up.
Celio felt the weight of the battle; he was still exhausted. His men encircled him breathing hard with sweat rolling off of them like beads. The felines, who fought gallantly, were hardly out of breath and complained the fight was over too soon.
Streams of blood covered the campground. Heads and other body parts of Orcs lay in the midst of it. Having no time to embrace one another before the fight, the scouts grabbed and hugged Celio and each Volarian Guard. Celio thanked the felines who introduced themselves as Nekani.
They were feline humanoids with green, yellow, and gray eyes. They were a highly civilized race that had been third in the great exodus from another world to Bethica generations ago. The Nekanis were superb warriors who did not fear death; they courted it like one would a lover. They wrote joyful songs and poems about the afterlife. They were known as creatures who strived for a good death, which meant to fall in combat.
The spokesman for the Nekani was Tantar, a tall, muscular humanoid with solid tan fur and green eyes. Tantar thanked Celio and his men for rescuing him and his clan members and told Celio he would always remember the Volarians had been kind. "If ever the Nekani can do anything for you or your clan in the future," Tantar had said, "please grant us the honor."
"I will deliver your message to my Lord," Celio assured him.
Tantar and Celio embraced then the Nekanis went on their way. Soon after, Celio gathered the spoils of the Orcs, which included, pouches of gold and other metal coins, jewelry of fine stones--taken from the dead bodies, water, meal, herbs, spices, and a strange leaf, dark blue with thick red veins spread throughout.
He would take the exotic plant back to Olatunji for him to examine and see if it was fit for food or medicinal uses. With the spoils packed, all headed for the forest to follow Raco and the fleeing Orc.
Celio and his men traveled for several days, following Raco's markings which only Volarians understood. They had advanced deep inside the western territory where things were beginning to look a bit strange: There were fist-sized rocks, painted red, lining a path. A huge humanoid head draped in a ceremonial dressing was nailed to a tree. Celio stopped when he spotted a stagnant pool of water with plants like the strange one he had taken from the Orc camp; hundreds of them floated upon the yellow stench.
Stagnant water meant disease. This plant can't be of any good use, Celio thought, pulling the plant from the pouch and rolling it between his forefinger and thumb. Then he quickly tossed it aside and wiped his hand hard on the side of his garment as he thought it could be poisonous. Celio started to leave it there, but couldn't resist knowing what it was. He tore a piece of his garment, bent and covered the plant with the cloth--picked it up and placed it back in his pouch.
Celio didn't like the sound of that urgent cry. "Dear goddess, what is it now?" he muttered. He ran up ahead as fast as he could. When he got there, his men were surrounding something and looking down. He pushed between them and stiffened when his eyes fell upon Raco's body lying face down with an arrow in his neck.
The anger in Celio's face tightened his jaw. "Bloody hell, Raco. I shouldn't have let you go alone." Celio knelt beside Raco's body. He lowered his head and exhaled hard. Then he lifted his eyes and saw a piece of cloth hanging from the side of Raco's mouth. Celio grabbed the end of it and pulled it through the purple lips. It was folded and wet with Raco's saliva and blood. Celio unfolded the fabric, and his eyes widened. He looked at Raco and smiled.
"What is it, Commander?" Morkii asked.
"A soldier to the bitter end," Celio said still smiling. Celio stood--turning the piece of cloth upside-down, sideways, and straight-up again, trying to make out the child-like scribblings on Raco's poorly crafted map.
"Here, wash the blood off," Markii said handing him a waterskin.
"No. Raco gave his blood to get this map to us. I don't want water to touch it."
"What does it say?" Prefus asked.
Celio turned it sideways and squinted. "It shows the layout of the Orcs and two other army camps."
"Does it say how many there are?" Prefus blurted. "Their strength...their weakness, their weapons?"
Celio squinted again--trying to make out Raco's scribblings. "Thousands of Orcs..."
"Did you say thousands?"
"Unless there's an echo," Celio said still staring at the stained map. "And here's something else," Celio said. "These all look like that strange creature I beheaded back there in the Orc cave." He glared at the childish drawing of Minotaurs. "And what the hades are these big creatures with spotted skin?"
"Spotted skin, sir?" Prefus blurted. "I think they be the Nordoxz, sir. At least that's how the Red Beards described them."
"Look there...those drawings. They look to be many different kinds of weapons. Some I've never even seen before," one of the guards said, as if impressed.
"No matter," Prefus said smirking, "we'll cut them all into iron scraps."
"And what in the name of the gods are those six-legged beasts?" another guard asked.
They all gathered and peeked over Celio's shoulder to get a glimpse.
"What's that symbol there?" Lympus asked.
"I don't know," Celio said frowning. "I guess when we see it, we'll know we're in enemy territory." Celio sighed. "Poor Raco, I hate leaving him here."
"But Commander," Markii urged, "why not take him back with us?"
"We can't take him with us, you fool," Prefus blurted. "The journey back is long. He'll be a sack of worms by the time we get there."
"Yeah, he'll stink up the camp," Typhus said.
"Don't you bloody speak that way about Raco. He gave his life for this information," Lympus snapped.
"I didn't mean anything by it. I...I just..."
"All right, everyone calm yourselves," Celio ordered. "We're in a dark place right now with probably more dark days ahead. We're all restless, hungry...tired. But...we are still Volarian soldiers and must show respect to one another."
"I'm sorry, Commander," Typhus said. "I didn't mean it the way it sounded."
"I'm sure you didn't." Celio touched his shoulder. "Now, let's give Raco a proper burial."
"Celio ordered Raco buried deep so no scavengers could dig him up. He and his men knelt by the grave and prayed. With dawn quickly approaching, Celio ordered his men to gather their gear and head for home.
Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay
Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree here rah) His wife
Dinary (Deh nah ry) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife
Olatunji (O Lah Tune Gee) Nigerian Soldier
Gangus's Staff Command Tierphenjinochun (Teer fen gin o tion)
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master
The Drake (like it's spelled) The menacing dragon
Raziel (Ray-zeal) God of gods
Dahlia (Doll-lee'ah) Goddess of Domaria--a kingdom ruled by women
Gailzur (Gale-zore) God of War
Nelchael (Nell-key-ol) God of the Underworld
Zakzakiel (Zak zah keel) God of Peace
Volarians (Vo lar rians) (Humans) 'Gangus's tribe'
Engamars (In ga mars) (Humanoids) aka, Red Beards 'Hate Aenwyns and Qu'Venars'
Aenwyns (An winds) (Humanoids) 'Adore Qu'Venars, hate Engamars'
Qu'Venars (Q' Vin nahs) (Humanoids) 'Adore Aenwyns can't tolerate the stubborn Engamars'
Faerie (Far ree) (Another world) Origin of the Aenwyns
When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.
Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.
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