Seigfeld’s Story #1
Seigfeld stumbled over another jagged rock in the darkened cavern beneath the gloomy mountain range. His iron sword clamored upon the ground, echoing down the narrow passage. The warrior grunted as he fell into his buckler that lined his left forearm. His open palm slapped harshly against the slimy stone in attempt to steady himself. But, it was the wooden shield that truly provided the support needed to stay upon his feet. He froze waiting, listening, leaning against the wall as a child would against its mother’s leg.
The smell of decay lined his nostrils. He could hear heavy breaths resounding throughout the cavern. At least, it sounded like breath. It could very well have been the musty air billowing from the depths of the Netherworld. The savants had said that these mountains paths led to the frozen wasteland of the deceased. The air was chilled! Seigfeld was getting ahead of himself. The sound matched the rise and fall of his own chest as he sweltered in fear. With shaking fingers, he found his sword and moved forward.
He had taken but two steps when a voice joined him in the dark. It sounded like wood popping and crackling on fire, “What’s you doing here, Anshedar? Human blood does not belong here…”
Seigfeld stood at defense, knowing the voice must be ancient to know the bloodline of the Anshedar. The race of men referred to themselves as Northmen in the current age. The Anshedar were their ancestors from the east. “I seek the Ash Tree to bring life to my sister.”
“You know her name?”
“The Likhyi know many things, as Marheena hears all things.”
Seigfeld gripped his sword expectantly. This creature was a demon from the Netherworld and minion to the Frozen Goddess of Nightmares. Such beasts were not found in the Kingdoms of Men!
“Will you show me to the Ash Tree?”
“Alas, I cannot with Anshedar blood in your veins! Bend knee and give your life to Marheena. Only then will I show you!”
“The only thing I will give to Marheena is my blade, demon!”
The demon hissed and leaped towards Seigfred. Venom dripped from its razor teeth. The Likhyi’s black skin camouflaged its body against the pitch of the cavern. An enlarged claw raked towards Seigfred, who quickly blocked the attack with his buckler. The Gaetanain warrior arced his sword downward and then spun on his back heel for a second strike. The Likhyi dodged both deadly blows, but the second nearly cut his skin
The beast from the Netherworld reeled back, and wielded sorcery from the ancient past. Ice breath bellowed from its gaping mouth, firing frost daggers at Seigfred. The first caught the man by surprise, piercing through his left shoulder. His defending arm fell limp against his side. He cried out in pain, twisting his body awkwardly to avoid the daggers that followed.
Pulling on his inner strength, Seigfred felt his body weaken further, as he strode towards the demon with his own attack. Slashing his sword in a fury, the iron blade erupted into fire, lighting the unlit cavern. Seigfred kicked the demon into the wall, and sliced upon the black belly of the beast. Guts flooded the floor and the creature screeched in anguish. Seigfred silenced the demon for eternity, finalizing the battle by decapitating the head with the flamed weapon. The skin seared and burned as the Likhyi fell to the ground lifeless.
Seigfred fell to a knee next to the body to take breath. If the cavern was going to be full of these monsters, he would quickly find himself too exhausted to battle. He pulled the ice dagger from his shoulder with a grunt, pulling himself to his feet.
The journey for the Ash Tree had just begun, and poor Anneinda had little time.
Seigfeld’s Story #2
[We continue with Seigfeld for our second presentation of fan flash fiction. Remember this is presented in hopes of presenting a piece of the world, the lore and legend, and a taste for how encounters may play out during actual game play in VOID.]
Seigfeld’s face tightened as he gripped his injured shoulder with a scowl on his face. The wound was not bleeding as heavily as it had yesterday, but it was definitely still bleeding. It was no matter. The warrior’s blade had done far more damage to the Likhyi than the monster had done to him. He turned his head slightly in the pale light to take notice of the demon bodies that lined the path behind him. The beasts were thick in these caves, nearly too thick. He would kill them all to save his little sister.
“Anneinda…” Seigfeld whispered her name, nearly frightening himself half to death at the sound of his own voice. He stopped at the bend in the path. He did not need to draw attention to himself. These walls might as well be the horns of battle, carrying sound for miles – for eternity.
“Your feet cause enough ruckus the way it is, Highborn. Be wise to keep your flap shut,” a voice gruffly whispered beyond the half-arced turn in the tunnel. A stifled cough followed the harsh tone.
Seigfeld paused, hearing the strangely familiar accent. Most humans were known as Highborn, but the label was as common as calling them Anshedar. This creature that spoke to him was no demon, though. Of that, Seigfeld was certain.
“Worry not, human. I will not eat you. My body is fading.”
The warrior inched forward suddenly realizing what lay before him. Around the bend was a fallen Svet. The barbaric centaur from the Hyaendi Hills was known for its cannibalistic nature. The human half of the beast leaned against the stone wall, weakly slumped over the rest of the body that resembled that of a horse. Even in the dim light, Seigfeld could make out a gash down the centaur’s back, swollen and infected. The beast had been poisoned and was dying.
“Why…why are you here?” Seigfeld muttered. Words had never been his strong suit.
The centaur grunted. Conversation obviously was not the centaur’s forte either.
Seigfred took another step forward, cautious as to whether or not this was a ruse. The Svet held his long bow loosely in his left hand. His quiver of arrows was on his back. The beast would not have the strength to draw an arrow if he tried.
“I…I could heal you,” Seigfred stuttered. He could not believe what he was suggesting. He had killed hundreds of Svet in battle in the North, probably brothers and sisters of the very centaur that lay before him. By healing the beast, Seigfred would be enfeebled and vulnerable. There would be nothing afterwards to stop the Svet from overpowering him…or eating him.
“Why would you do that, Highborn?” The Svet’s eyes widened in wonder. His mouth gaped open, the top and bottom of his gums were lined with sharpened teeth. The creature was beyond savage.
The warrior took another step closer, “The path to the Ash Tree is dangerous. I cannot succeed alone, and … I cannot otherwise fathom why our paths have crossed in these tunnels so far from home.”
The Svet took no time in weighing the offer, “I am called Farthr.”
Seigfeld felt the sacred magic run course through his veins as he moved to place his hands upon the Svet’s torso. He would provide introduction after the deed was done, if he survived supper.
Seigfeld’s Story #3
[Seigfeld makes the decision to give life to a sworn enemy of the Anshedar. Now, the warrior travels down the dark path with Farthr, the Svet. Will the centaur prove to be his saving grace or the bringer of his death?]
Seigfeld grunted, sliding off the back of the centaur’s back. The horse hair stunk like rotten manure and brew. The bald-headed man coughed and wheezed, wondering if he should thank the gods he was alive or be regretful that he was not dead. The stench was agonizing. Seigfeld could not imagine living in a society overridden with these filthy beasts.
“What is your problem, Highborn?” Farthr grunted.
“…Nothing…” Seigfeld managed in a hoarse voice. It took a lot of energy to cure the poison that had afflicted the horseman, and he was still feeling the effects. The world was hazy as though he had consumed some of the poison himself during the healing process. Of course, that was not the case. It had simply drained his senses.
Farthr grunted again.
“How long have I been out?”
“A few hours.”
“I suppose I should be grateful that you did not eat me.”
The Svet turned to stare at the human. It was noticed that he squeezed the band upon his longbow before responding, “The day is not yet done.”
Seigfeld traipsed behind Farthr for another hour, keeping an eye on the scar upon the back of the centaur that he had mended. He hoped that the Farthr respected the gesture enough to not turn on the warrior. However, that would suggest that the Svet had honor in their blood. They did not.
Seigfeld peddled backwards away from the battle cry of Farthr as he fired an arrow into the darkness ahead of them. A screech of pain resounded and then quickened footsteps raced towards the two of them. Farthr bellowed again and fired another arrow. A thump sounded as something connected with the ground in a heap. More footsteps followed.
The sound of gnashing and growling resounded. Seigfeld could not see anything in the darkness.
He pressed his hand forward and slung a bolt of fire into the tunnel to light the way. As the bolt shimmered down the tunnel, Likhyi lined either side menacingly. The warrior manipulated the bolt, folding and twisting the flame to strike the demon spawn on either side. Soon, the fire lost momentum and shimmered from existence. Some burned. Some screamed.
There were too many Likhyi to count. Maybe the Ash Tree was close.
“We will survive this, Highborn, but not without bleeding.”
Seigfeld stood forward, raising his sword hand and buckler at the ready. He was still unsteady and not at full strength, but he was determined to save his sister. “As long as their blood flows more freely than ours. Stand with me!”
The centaur held true to its kind placing another arrow at the ready. The Svet would stand steadfast against the odds, brave and reckless. Come death or glory, the battle had begun.
Seigfeld’s Story #4
[Seigfeld and Farthr have tread deep within the darkness of the tunnel beneath the crags, heading towards the Ash Tree - so they hope. Demons lurk at every bend as they draw nearer to the doorstep of the Netherworld. The human and centaur stand boldly against the terrorizing Likhyi, but will soon find that greater nightmares guard this path.]
Seigfeld smacked the closest Likhyi with his shield, and stabbed the second with his iron sword. The blade pierced its flesh, slicing through smoothly. Black blood fell. Seigfeld ignored the gushing stench of death that poured from the gash. His attention was on the third Likhyi with the razor fangs that plunged towards him. He was vulnerable with his sword and shield spread wide from the dual attack.
“Farthr!” he cried.
The centaur wasted no time loosening the arrow from his mighty long bow. The bladed shaft tore through the black demon’s skull, taking the creature off of its feet.
Seigfeld spun and thrusted his sword into the back of the first Likhyi, who he suddenly realized had a feminine body. The female still stood in shock from the force of the buckler that had slammed into her face. Seigfelds sword cut through muscle in her back and extended between the demon’s breasts. Her scream nearly made him weep.
Seigfeld reminded himself that she was not living.
Farthr raised himself off the ground on his hindquarters, firing his bow again at the hoard that swarmed towards them. The numbers of the hellspawn were diminishing, but so was the strength of the two warriors.
“We cannot hold this position!” Seigfeld shouted over the clashing of his weapon.
“Fleeing in the dark is … ” Farthr roared, stopping mid-sentence. A dagger plunged into is foreleg, thrown from a demon beyond the range of Seigfeld’s sword. The Svet wasted no time in returning his own projectile. His aim held true, an arrow piercing the chest of the Likhyi.
A roar that resembled the rumble of thunder matched the centaur’s tone. The ground shook, the walls tremored.
Out of the shadows stepped a beast that stood twice as tall as Seigfeld with a blotched, bluish-white body. It was cramped in the tunnel, its head pressing against the ceiling. The massive, crescent-shaped axe that the monster held between its thumb and three fingers would barely have room to be wielded.
“Bukavac,” Seigfeld gasped, knowing only its kind through supposed legends meant to be stories to scare children. “We must flee the way we have come!”
Farthr jerked the dagger from his body, stained with his blood, and snarled. “Highborn, it is said that the Hyaendi Hills were once painted with the towering trees of the Dyndaer before the Svet cut them down.”
Seigfeld paused in confusion. “I don’t see – “
“They were taller than this cur!” The centaur insisted.
The human warrior took another look at the menacing face of the Bukavac, and took another step backwards. “Farthr, correct me if I am wrong, but I imagine your people weren’t cutting down trees with daggers and arrowheads.”
The Svet snarled with the look of a madman and charged. Seigfeld found he had no choice but to follow.
Seigfeld’s Story #5
[Seigfeld and Farthr are exhausted from the ongoing battle in the underground tunnels. As they believe that the hoard of demons are nearly through, a monstrous beast steps out of the shadows. The Bukavac, a bluish-grey demon, knows no mercy.]
The Bukavac had thrown down its crescent-shaped axe, knowing it had no use in the cramped space. It roared and pounded its massive arms on the ground, hunched over like an over-sized monkey. Farthr slammed his body into the demon, sliding the demon back only a few inches. The Svet stabbed wildly with the dagger in a futile attempt to cause some damage. It was obvious that the small blade was not the centaur’s weapon of choice.
In response, the Bukavac peddled its foot against the hardened surface, and rammed its head forward into Farthr. The bludgeoning blow knocked the centaur back significantly further. It was obvious who had the greater strength.
Seigfeld could do little else but stare in amazement the centaur stumbled backwards. The centaur was a head taller than the human and weighed over six times his weight. That blow alone would have imprinted the Highborn’s body into the rocky wall, killing him instantaneously.
The Bukavac roared again. The echoing sound was deafening.
“Farthr,” Seifeld muttered, his voice trembled as he held onto the wall. His stomach was uneasy. He felt unbalanced.
The Svet stamped his hooves, steadying himself, “What, Highborn?”
Seigfeld gestured to the Bukavac that transformed before their eyes. The demon dropped to the ground on all fours, its hands flattening to the ground. The spine jutted upwards and curved as two additional legs sprung from its midsection. Bluish blood oozed as the new legs formed. The blotched skin iced over like an impenetrable armor. Gnarled horns erupted from above its brow, curved and sharpened. The Bukavac was stronger and faster. The demon prepared to charge.
“I don’t think we are going to cut him down.”
Farthr grunted, “Not gonna outrun him either.”
In unison, the human and centaur turned their head to assess their ability to flee.
“Ghaaaarr…” the Svet cried.
Standing directly behind them was a creature that neither had ever seen before. It stood as tall as Seigfeld, covered in red and gray feathers with the torso of a man and the lower body of a bird. The thin legs and taloned feet gave the impression that the creature was frail, but it was possible that the feathers hid the upper strength of this “birdman”. Its nose was flat, and its chin was jutted forward giving it a beak-like appearance. Bright red plumes stood erect from the base of its head as it pushed pass the gawking face of Seigfeld and Farthr.
“Neither of you should be here,” the creature crooned in singsong voice, stepping forward to face the Bukavac. “The Ash Tree is mine to protect.”
The Bukavac charged.
A strange fog filled the cavern as the creature spoke and waved its arms. Stone and sky magics weaved in the haze to tear rocks the size of boulders from the walls. The massive chunks of earth were thrown at the beast. The ice armor splintered and shattered with every step. The Bukavac grunted and staggered, but continued to press forward at full force. Seigfeld and Farthr could do nothing but stand like a man seeing a naked woman for the first time.
In moments, the Bukavac had closed the gap, its horns at the ready to run through the feathered man. In the last moment, a stone wall burst through the ground, separating the demon from the three. The monster crashed into the wall and fell flat. Unconscious.
As if shaken from sleep, the centaur rushed forward with his dagger and plunged it into the Bukavac’s skull.
Seigfeld was the first to find words, “Wha – Who are you?”
“My people are the Arkono. You could never pronounce my name in your own language,” the creature cooed, “but you can call me Razorleaf.”
Seigfeld’s Story #6
[The Arkono named Razorleaf had made quick work of the Bukavac to the astonishment of Seigfeld and Farthr. The mention that the strange "bird-man" protected the Ash Tree needed further definition before they could carry onward. It was yet to be determined if this talented wielder of stone and sky was friend or foe. Then again, as much had still not been determined of the cannibalistic centaur.]
The Svet let the dagger’s blade rest in the brain of the Bukavac and stood back to his full height. His muscled frame and lengthy body easily towered over the Highborn and Arkono. His beady eyes penetrated the dim light, laying rest on the odd-looking, feathered man that had unarguably saved them. “Razorleaf, is it? What are you doing in these caverns?”
“Where else should he be?” Seigfeld asked, suddenly wondering if Razorleaf were really a male or female, or even if his kind distinguished between the two.
“Where he belongs. In the jungles to the south of the desert!” The centaur’s voice was loud, uncontrolled. Farthr’s tone was misplaced and could only suggest that there was an unknown history between the Svet and Arkono.
Razorleaf shuffled his feathers, “I already told you that I must protect the Ash Tree.”
“From what?” Seigfeld said.
The Arkono did not hesitate, “From any that would take its substance back to the land of the living. Its life force must remain where it lies, as is the unspoken word of Lesh. Now, if you will excuse me, you should head back to your homelands.”
Seigfeld bit his tongue. He did not know what or who Lesh was, but he did know that he needed the root of the Ash Tree to save his sister, Anneinda. This Arkono would attempt to stop him, and likely would succeed.
“No,” the centaur whispered, barely heard.
Seigfeld tried to sound unwavering, “I must go forward.” His voice quivered.
Razorleaf shrugged, paying little heed to the Anshedar, “Do as you wish, Highborn.”
“No!” Farthr wailed raising his long bow towards Razorleaf. An arrow was released before Seigfeld could speak. The Svet were known for their rash behavior.
The Arkono barely winced, raising his forearm in front of himself. A stone shield, larger than his torso, formed from nothing. The arrow connected with the hard surface and snapped in half. The projectile harmlessly fell to the ground. In a movement as smooth as a summer’s breeze, Razorleaf countered the attack. He leaped towards the centaur, the stone shield melted into a stone sword in his fist as he landed soundlessly upon the path. In a smooth arc, the sword broke through Farthr’s bow.
The emotional response was more frightening than anything the Bukavac could have created within Seigfeld. Farthr’s face was coated in rage. His mouth gaped with sharpened teeth as he roared in defiance, but the horseman had no time to react to the quick Arkono.
Razorleaf stabbed the sword into the ground in front of Farthr. The weapon multiplied around the centaur in a perfect oval, and the stone weapons extended from floor to ceiling, creating perfect stone bars around the brute cannibal. Farthr was trapped within a cage made of solid rock.
The centaur’s tone was thunder. He slammed his body against the cylinders that entrapped him. But, with no room for momentum, he was imprisoned. His strength was useless against the constructs.
“The Svet never change,” Razorleaf muttered, starting down the path.
Seigfeld stood in astonishment in front of Farthr. The human had feared the centaur with each passing step through this cavern. Even now, the beast’s eyes were permeated with loathing and caused Seigfeld to wonder at his fortune.
Yet, the Anshedar was at a crossroad. He could release Farthr and continue to walk in the shadow of eminent death, or he could follow Razorleaf, who may deliver him an equal fate when finding out his intentions to steal a piece of the Ash Tree. Either scenario hinted at his failure to save poor Anneinda. Either choice was the wrong choice.
Seigfeld followed Razorleaf.
The echoes of Farthr’s vehement clamor would soon reduce to insuppressible weeping.
Seigfeld’s Story #7
[Farthr has been left behind. Seigfeld continues forward with Razorleaf unsure of his decision and how it may affect him in the future. He tries to push the thoughts aside, focusing on saving Anneinda.]
Seigfeld walked behind the bird-man for sometime in silence, staring at the feathers that outlined the body where there should have been skin. Razorleaf walked with ease. His taloned feet were effective in this environment, pulling him through the dark tunnels with little difficulty. However, Seigfeld imagined that the creature struggled in wetter environments without having webbed feet. In fact, he doubted Razorleaf had the ability to swim at all.
“I have heard of the Arkono,” The warrior admitted, “But, I never would have thought…”
“That were akin to the avians?” His voice was soft like a bird’s whistle.
Seigfeld nodded, “Well, yeah.”
The Arkono whistled a tune between his teeth, nearly resembling the music of instruments. After a couple more minutes, Razorleaf said, “Our people are far to the south, past the desert. My flock has little need to travel North except when it is necessary.”
“You mean the Ash Tree.”
Razorleaf continued, “The Ash Tree is life, and Lesh demands we protect it. We cannot argue with the will of Lesh.”
The Arkono paused for a moment, “Nature. God, as you might call it.”
Seigfeld tried to identify which of the gods he was talking about. Perhaps, Lesh was just another name for one of the gods of the Anshedar. It could be Wolos or Gero. He could not be for certain.
“Why are you in these caverns, Highborn?”
Seigfeld hesitated in his response. He had hoped that question would be avoided for some time.
“Trying to save my sister.”
“The Likhyi take her? Those demons are relentless.”
Seigfeld remained quiet hoping the Arkono would believe his own excuse.
They treaded onward. The Ash Tree was close.
Seigfeld’s Story #8
[Seigfeld and Razorleaf approach the Ash Tree.]
Screams of lamentations echoed as Seigfeld step into the hollow cavern. The over-sized Ash Tree sat in a pool of dark water, springing upward full of leaves, and fruits, and flowers. Its base was wide and the expanse of its branches was wider still. The roots spiraled in and out of the circulating waters like a serpent prepared to strike out at its enemy. Lining the outer edge of the pool, the metaphorical door to the Netherworld, were the Likhyi. Seigfeld did not have time to count their numbers before they were charging.
“For Anneinda,” Seigfeld mumbled.
Razorleaf made his own battle cry for Lesh and family.
The Arkono sprung forward on its talons, the hands moving quickly to use stone and air to create a dust storm in front of him to slow the charging demons that ran towards the two of them. Seigfeld was thankful as he made his own advancement. He would have never been able to successfully defend against the masses of demonic creatures. The odds just were not in their favor.
The first Likhyi swung a blade wildly missing Seigfeld. The Anshedar twisted, stabbing is sword through the gut of the demon. Black blood spewed. His mark struck truer than he could have hoped and the demon immediately collapsed. A second demon was able to quickly grab Seigfeld’s leg crawling through the dust. Its razor teeth sunk into the man’s bare calf. Seigfeld screamed in agony as the bite tore through flesh to bone. He nearly collapsed.
Razorleaf wielded two stone swords that he had cast into his hands. The Likhyi swarmed upon him like insects upon decaying flesh. The Arkono did not hesitate. He released one sword, and used air to hold it in place as it transformed into a large shield that floated around his body. A second sword was then formed in his hand. The Arkono moved through the cavern with two swords striking true, and a shield blocking the attacks from the demons, randomly knocking a demon back when opportunity presented itself.
Seigfeld struggled to get the Likhyi off of him when a second secured his sword arm and locked onto his wrist. As his blood flowed freely into the demon’s mouth, he dropped his blade. Without his weapon, he was nearly helpless. “Razorleaf! Razorleaf!”
The Arkono ignored his pleas for help, using both swords and the shield in unison to attack the many dark-skinned demons that charged him. The Arkono was weakening himself, using so much energy to defend against the demons. For the time being, the bird-man was still alive and it was better than having the leeches hanging off of his body.
An arrow buried through the Likhyi’s skull that had his leg. A second arrow struck the back of the Likhyi on his arm before he could respond.
Seigfeld gasped, glancing towards the opening from which they had come. There stood Farthr, who had finally found the strength to escape through his stone prison. The cannibal’s face was laced with the fury of an entire race of centaurs. He raised another arrow upon a strange looking bow, possibly picked up from the Likhyi corpse at his feet. He pointed it towards the Highborn and released.
The arrowhead tore through Seigfeld’s shoulder, taking him off of his feet. He hit the ground with a grunt, knowing his death was upon him.
The centaur turned, and fired three more arrows towards the Arkono.
Farthr was going to kill them all, demon or otherwise.
Seigfeld had to stop him…but first he had to find the strength to stand. It was futile.
Seigfeld’s Story #9
[Seigfeld has collapsed with an arrow through his body, fired from the mighty hand of Farthr. Farthr is now forcing his way through the demons in attempts to kill Razorleaf. The battle has just become a free for all, and it is questionable if anyone will survive.]
Crimson blood painted the ground beneath Seigfeld as he struggled to return to his feet. He lifted his head up, hearing the sounds of battle and the clang of iron on stone. He could barely bend his arm to push himself up, let alone stand completely. The warrior crashed back to the ground in a heap.
Darkness was enveloping him. He was going to die! Although his senses were about him, he had no physical strength left in his body. If he was going to survive this battle, there was only one choice. It was something that he had been trained never to do, unless it was absolutely necessary. The effects on his sanity would be daunting.
Focusing on his wounds with all the energy he had left in his being, Seigfeld pulsated positive light on his skin. Reddish yellow light dimmed over his body as his skin began to mend itself. The bite on his leg healed, the bite on his leg was reforged with skin, and the arrow was pushed from his flesh as the pierced flesh scabbed over, As his physical body grew in strength, his mental awareness lessened significantly. The world became blurry and his hearing was deafened. It was no matter. This was for Anneinda.
Seigfeld pulled himself to his feet, iron sword in hand. His held his shield close to his body and moved forward towards the battle. He was in a daze, and could barely think straight. The Anshedar had no more tricks up his sleeve, but he had to continue with his quest. He would not be stopped.
Farthr kicked a Likhyi with his front legs, reared up and stomped the demon to mush. Black guts splattered across the dirt flooring beneath the heavy hooves of the centaur. Arrow after arrow was flung from the centaur’s bow, aimed for the Arkono. The bladed shafts barely missed the agile birdman. Unfortunate for the Svet, Razorleaf had become aware of his presence. A battle ensued within a battle.
Arkono and Svet circled one another, cutting the demons down that entered their path. The Arkono still had his stone shield circuling his body, but had released one of the stone swords from existence. The other still was gripped in his right hand. No doubt, the strain of maintaining the magic for too long was weakening his own senses. Farthr, on the other hand, appeared full of vigor as he pushed through the demons.
Farthr shot an arrow that was quickly blocked by the stone shield. The Arkono slammed his sword into the ground, sending a spiked stone into the centaur’s hindleg nearly fifteen feet away. The centaur roared in pain an fury at Razorleaf’s magic. The birdman used his attack to push the stone sword through a Likhyi’s chest that charged him. The Svet charged and as Razorleaf tried to defend with his shield, the centaur burst through the stone shield and slammed into the frail body of his enemy. The Arkono was flung backwards, his stone sword ripped from his grasp, as he fell back into the pool surrounding the Ash Tree.
“No!” Razorleaf screamed, grasping at the air. He fluttered and panicked in the abysmal waters surrounding the tree, sinking deep into the water. His mind was weak from the excessive magic use and he had no ability to swim. As he fell under the surface, Farthr raised bow in victory, crushing the skull of a demon with his fist in a fluid movement.
Before he could celebrate, Seigfeld caught him unready and leaped onto his back. The Anshedar could barely think, but had was practiced in the art of physical battle. The man slammed his iron downward through the shoulder and neck muscles into the centaur’s heart.
Farthr did not fall as expected. He twisted his head and locked eyes with the stunned Highborn.
“Wha – “
Seigfeld hung tight to the centaur as it rolled over on the ground, crushing Seigfeld’s body. The two spun over and over across the uneven ground. Likhyi leaped at the two of them, gnashing and clawing at their finite bodies. The battle cries of man and beast echoed in the cavern surrounding the Ash Tree. The echoes would sound for eternity.
Seigfeld’s Story #10
[Razorleaf has plummeted into the depths of the pool surrounding the Ash Tree, seemingly no longer a threat. Farthr and Seigfeld continue to fight, wrestling across the ground while being assaulted by the deadly Likhyi. Their doom is impending.]
“You will kill us both!” Seigfeld screamed.
The centaur only roared, slamming his body upon the man again. The sheer weight of the Svet’s body crushed the Anshedar. He could feel his bones popping from socket, snapping in two. He cried in agony. He was fearful to let go!
A blade from a Likhyi cut Seigfeld’s arm. A few inches higher and it would have been his throat. An arrow struck Farthr in the hide, and the barbarian barely noticed. The beast was full of rage. There was no reasoning with him.
“Farthr! Stop this!”
Seigfeld was answered by gnashing teeth. The centaur twisted his upper body trying to grip the Highborn, but he could not get a grip. The man realized that he was infuriating the Svet even more by clinging to his back, but he had no choice. He held onto the sword that he had plunged into Farthr’s neck cavity. Blood gushed.
Why was the Svet not dead?
Another arrow pierced Seigfeld through the back. He gasped! The tip pierced his lung. He turned to see Likhyi archers lining the pool, firing rapidly at him and the centaur.
The centaur bucked, three more arrows tearing through his own flesh.
The realization of the situation was evident to Seigfeld. There was no way to survive. He would either be eaten by the Likhyi or by Farthr.
“So be it!” he whispered with what voice he had.
With all his strength, Seigfeld pulled on the sword, causing the Svet to stumble sideways. The centaur grimaced in pain, but was not prepared for the flame that the Highborn released through the blade. Fire erupted from the centaur’s midsection.
The sound that escaped between the sharpened teeth was the sound of death itself. Farthr leaped towards the pool in haste, plunging himself and Seigfeld to its depths. The fire extinguished.
They sunk deep into the black void of the pool of water, the roots of the Ash Tree mapping their descent. The human and centaur sunk towards death. Towards the Netherworld.
Seigfeld’s Story #11
[Seigfeld, Farthr and Razorleaf have sunk through the murky, abyssmal waters of the Ash Tree towards the Netherworld.]
Seigfeld grunted, his face freezing against solid ground. He was not sure how long he had been unconscious, but his body felt like it had been buried in snow for hours. It got cold in the North, especially near Lonmere, but never this cold.
He turned over on his back. The warrior’s eyes fluttered open.
Above him was a pool of water, suspended in the air with massive roots stretching like columns down to the world around him. The roots were deep beneath the – ice – that covered the wasteland around him. Seigfeld shook his head in amazement at the giant sheet of ice that stretched as far as the eye could see in every direction. It erupted into glacier-like ills and mountains across the terrain. He was in the Netherworld!
Seigfeld tried to spring to his feet, remembering that he had been in battle with Farthr.
“Arrgghh,” he cried, collapsing back to the ice. His body was broken and bleeding. He had not strength to stand.
Spinning his head around, he looked for the centaur. He was ready for the beast to assail upon him and finish what he had started up above. The Svet was nowhere to be found.
In fact, the body of the Arkono, Razorleaf, was nowhere to be found either.
He was alone in the wasteland…he had to move forward, and find a way…to save…Anneinda.
Seigfeld lost consciousness again.
Seigfeld’s Story #12
[Seigfeld stands alone in the frozen Netherworld. He soon finds out that it happens to be no place for the living.]
The bald-headed warrior laid there for what felt like days, maybe weeks. The pool of water above him rippled and bubbled far out of reach. It was the only way he knew to get home, and it was beyond his grasp.
In time, strength was restored to his mind and his body, and the lone warrior found himself stumbling to his feet. He had no weapon and his armor was nearly useless, but he pushed himself forward. One step after another, he traipsed aimlessly through the dim, frozen wasteland.
After what felt like hours, Seigfeld saw an image form ahead of him. It was a makeshift shadow of a human on the horizon. He moved towards it, knowing full well that it was likely a demon and nothing of help. There was no choice. He needed food. He needed shelter. He needed a weapon.
Seigfeld did not say anything as he neared the thin creature. It was human, or had been at one time. With its back turned to him, he could see the curvature of a woman and long strands of black hair. Hair like the feathered leaves of the Dyndaer pressed against a darkened sky. Hair that was familiar.
He touched the shoulder, fearing the face that turned to look at him in the eye, “Anneinda,” he gasped.
His little sister stared back at him. The same blue eyes. The same red lips. Flesh painted with the color of death.
“What are you doing here, Seigfeld?” Her voice was without emotion.
“Why are you here?!”
Anneinda looked into her brother’s eyes, “I am dead, dear brother. You did not come back for me.”
Tears flooded the warrior’s eyes, “I was too late!”
His sister looked at him blankly accepting the fate that had been given to her.
Seigfeld covered his mouth, fearing to make a promise that he could not make. Knowing the inevitable, he spoke the words anyway, “I will bring you back to the land of the living. You will live again!”
“I cannot. I must find my way to the Beyond to live in peace.”
“I will find a way! I cannot have failed.”
“You have, dear brother. Accept it. I already have.”
He heaved with grief as Anneinda stood calmly before him.
“Come with me, so I may find the Beyond and escape this frozen wasteland.”