KUL YEOUNG V.S. CASMARIA
Meshif yawned wearily as he kept watch over his post. It had been a good raid today, with spoils enough for everyone. The caravan hadn’t stood a chance against their well armed band. The mercenaries hired to protect the caravan had been outnumbered three to one and died quickly, picked off by a hail of arrows before the charge. When the last warrior fell, the caravan master had surrendered everything. The Kul had accepted the fools surrender, then cut his throat after they surrendered. The survivors were killed, except for the women, who would be kept as chattel or traded for more horses. He had helped collect the women, and it had been his carelessness that had got him stuck with this miserable post. One mere slip of a girl had managed to conceal a knife and nearly ended the Kul’s life. Fortunately for him, the Kul had been quicker than his assailant and only received a minor wound. Quick thinking had saved Meshif’s life, no sooner had the girl struck than he clubbed her over the head with his shield, knocking her senseless. Kul Yeoung had been merciful and spared his life, but Meshif had been forced to take whatever scraps was left of the spoils and assume guard duty for the month.
He yawned again, cursing his luck when a crack of thunder nearly made him run in fear. It had sounded close, but there were no clouds in the moonlight night. A dull roar, growing steadily louder made him cock his head in confusion. Too late he realized what it was and was subsequently crushed under a dozen hooves as the horses stampeded over him and through the encampment.
At that moment Kul Yeoung had just finished his meal when he heard the same crack and low rumbling. Immediately the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. Something was definitely wrong. His intuition had never led him astray before, so he swiftly strapped on his Tulwar and a quiver of arrows. Stringing his bow he stepped out of his tent, only to throw himself to one side as a screaming horse thundered through the space he had once occupied.
His torso burning where he had been cut earlier, Yeoung could feel fresh blood oozing through the bandages. Rolling quickly to his feet he nocked an arrow and searched for his target. Around him his encampment was in chaos. Somehow the horses had been cut loose from their pen and were trampling his men. They had been in full revelry and completely unprepared for the assault. Yeoung cursed silently to himself and swore vengeance on whomever had done this. Then, as soon as it had happened, it was over. Relaxing slightly, Yeoung surveyed the damage. The moans of the wounded and confused shouts began as the intoxicated raiders began searching for their weapons. The bonfire had been trampled and scattered, in the flickering light he could make out several prone shapes, a few of the closest he knew would not rise again. Slowly he began stalking the perimeter of his encampment, listening and waiting.
Yeoung did not have long to wait. A roaring ball of flame appeared in the middle of the encampment, setting several men ablaze. Screaming human torches ran wildly through the camp as the flames consumed their flesh. Yeoung watched angrily as one by one they collapsed into twitching heaps of charred flesh. A glimmer caught his eye, instinctively he raised his bow and fired a shot. His arrow streaked like a hawk and hit his target, a young woman, directly in the heart. Or would have, instead, the arrow seemed to hit an impenetrable barrier and shattered.
Now the rest of his men noticed the specter stalking towards them. His men, now regaining their senses, fell back on finely honed instincts. Those that had recovered enough and taken up weapons charged with a war-cry on their lips. Others dove for cover to buy time to find a weapon. One fell to his knees, pleading to the gods for his life.
The woman’s eyes flickered with a hellish light and purplish flames seemed to ripple across her slender form. As the first of his warriors closed on the apparition, it-she raised her hand and uttered a single incomprehensible word. It sounded almost like a curse. Four glowing spikes shot from her fingertips and embedded themselves in the raiders chest. He fell backwards without a sound, dead. Four smoking holes where the glowing missiles had struck him. Yeoung swore again, louder this time and began shouting out orders to his closest men. Sorcerers were a dangerous lot. But their power, no matter how great was not unlimited. He knew that if he could survive long enough, they could overcome this terrible figure.
“Fall Back! Make the witch come to you! Take up bows!” He bellowed as he dodged through the wreckage of his camp.
As soon as he spoke, the woman’s eyes turned on him and blazed with anger. She raised bother her hands and began weaving them in an intricate pattern, a moment later a bolt of lightening arced straight for him!
Yeoung dove behind an overturned cart, the bolt destroying the ground where had stood only moments before. Glancing over the edge of his impromptu cover, he nocked another arrow. He watched intently as another one of his men charged the insidious Sorcerous. The man swung his curved sword in a low arc, attempting to cut the slender woman’s legs from under her. His sword connected and bounced as if it had hit an impenetrable barrier. Which, in effect, it had.
Casmaria made a negligent gesture and muttered a word of power. The raiders sword exploded in his hand and he fell over dead, riddled with fragments of his own sword. She turned her attention back to her objective, the man who had slaughtered her companions.
Yeoung popped up and fired two rapid shots, each striking the sorceress high in the chest. Both shots would have been fatal, if not for her damnable magics! A detached part of his mind noted that although her magic protected her, the woman did flinch involuntarily whenever struck. If he could find a way to use that to his advantage…
Yeoung looked up as he heard a battle cry echoing all around his camp. Six men charged from different directions, each hoping that the sorceress would be distracted by one of the others. An instant before they would have cut her down, she vanished. Only to appear a dozen yards away behind one of his archers. Yeoung tried to call out a warning, but it was too late, the witch placed her hand on the back of the archer’s head and spoke a word. Yeoung saw the surprise in the raiders eyes a split second before his head exploded in a flash of gore.
“Behind you!” He called out for the benefit of his remaining men. Immediately they turned as one and spied the sorceress. No sooner had they taken a step than she vanished again.
“Keep moving. Stay back to back! Don’t let her get behind you!” He called out.
“Sound advice.” Breathed an icy feminine voice in his ear. Yeoung swore and spun, swinging his bow in a short arc, it connected with the woman with enough force to knock her back, shattering his bow in the process. Now, that he could see her up close, he recognized the woman for who she was. Somehow she had escaped her bonds and the slave pen. ‘If I survive this,’ Yeoung thought angrily, ‘I will flay the guards flesh from their bones for their failure.’
“You… Come to finish what you started?” He could now feel his pants were soaked with blood down the side.
Casmaria responded by unleashing a rolling ball of flame, before vanishing again. Yeoung drew his sword and darted through his encampment, between two ruined tents, the sphere hot on his heels. If followed him doggedly as if it had a mind of his own. He dodged and leaped, twisted and turned, but to no avail, the sphere stayed on his tail, and was gaining.
He realized that she must be watching him somehow. Glancing up he spied her glowing form immediately, direction the ball of fire with smooth deliberate gestures. ‘So she thinks she will chase me like a rodent, does she?’ Yeoung thought angrily to himself. Diving forward he scooped up a handful of rocks with his free hand. Without slowing, he came to his feet and changed his direction, darting directly towards his tormentor. As soon as he was within several feet of her he hurled the rocks and dodged out of the fiery ball’s path, narrowly avoiding getting scorched. Luck was not with him this time though, and he lost his footing, stumbling over a corpse and landing heavily on the ground. Immediately the ball of fire wheeled about and bore down on Yeoung.
The rocks struck the glowing woman and bounced, but as they did something else happened. The glowing barrier flickered and vanished. Casmaria had only a moment to realize what happened before another rock, this one expertly slung by one of Yeoung’s men, struck her from behind, breaking her concentration, extinguishing the ball of flame and sending her plummeting to the ground. The young woman landed badly but managed to roll onto her hands and knees. Immediately she focused on Yeoung, murder in her eyes and she raised her hand for a spell to end the Kul’s life.
Yeoung was beginning to feel light headed from blood loss, his side was on fire and he could hardly draw breath from the pain. It felt as if he had torn open his wound. He tried to stand, only to have his legs betray him. He stared his death defiantly in the eyes and held his sword before him, knowing he could not avoid what was about to come.
A sharp crack ended the woman’s spell and she collapsed to the ground. One of Kul’s raiders rose up behind the unconscious sorceress, his face a mask of blood.
The bloody youth raised his club again, to be sure that the Sorceress would not rise again. An iron firm grip interrupted him in mid swing.
“No. She will not die so easily.” Yeoung stated flatly, a cold look in his eyes. “She owes me for the lives of my men and many horses.” His face lit with a cruel smile. “Cut out her tongue, she can still be of use to me, as a concubine.”
Casmaria woke hours later, bloody and bruised, her mouth on fire. Her heart ached with loss and tears sprung unwillingly to her eyes as she realized what had been done to her and what awaited her. But the Kul had made one fatal mistake, he had left her alive…
By: Jason Haley