Snakes and Ladders-23
I push myself up to my feet and it takes a dozen staggering steps before I’m picking up speed and the soreness is going away from my muscles warming up. Dammit I’m just getting started I think and I know already that I’m going to be sore when this is over.
I snag a blaster from one of the fallen elves it’s bigger than the one that I had but I think I can use it. It’s this sort of a ceramic wheel lock looking weapon with a rectangular barrel instead of a round one and there’s a large red crystal set into the tech-magic circuits where a clip would get put in with a gun from home and it’s about six inches shorted than a pistol gripped style shotgun.
I go with that, I know shotguns pretty well.
It’s a firefight as soon as I get in there with people and I’m shooting back. The cavern is actually pretty big and has several levels carved into it and stairs and ramps it actually reminds me of a mine back home but the ones that takes a cave and turns it into a sort of useful central chamber kind of place.
There is things here too, like they have been using this for storage of some kind for this war that’s going on and there’s rubble all around mostly I think that I made with my blast and there’s lots of bodies here too.
We’re taking cover as the orcs are above us trying to use the heights as a sort of shooting gallery and farther down inside the mountain there’s a rush of goblins and hobgoblins coming to close into hand to hand.
The knights and soldiers in the front form a vanguard and they meet the rush with a clash of body and bones and steel. Me I’m shooting at the orcs and trying to make my way to the landings they’re on.
My weapon has a very shot gun like kick but it fire a ball of concentrated flame that’s almost like solid energy about the size of a pool ball into the person that I’m shooting at.
I’m really trying not to think about how when it hit’s it spreads through the insides of the orcs and the cook…a lot…from the insides.
Unfortunately it runs out after close to thirty shots.
I rush this group of five orcs closest to me and I pull my sword off my back and take three shots to my armor before I’m dropping the edge of my blade through a shoulder severing an arm.
They pull weapons and still are trying to shoot me too.
One arm makes a dandy living shield and I shove him at them and that throws two of them off balance. I don’t go for those guys I use my blade on the two others that thought I’d go for the two that were expecting me to go after the two I knocked off balance and run one through then pull the blade out and golf swing the other one with my blade to its crotch.
I kick him off of my sword and cut down the one struggling with the body I narrowly twist my body out of the way of the last orc as he swings down on me with an axe.
You’d think that he’d be slower using an axe but not apparently when they know what they’re doing.
He’s really fast and he’s really good at using the flat edge of it and the handle of the thing as well and I’m getting into a really deep and drawn out fight with this thing. It’s way more used to this style of fighting than I am and even though I’ve been in some pretty heavy training and stuff I’ve used some heavy majik today and I’m using a pretty big sword and I’m in full armor.
I’ve never sweated this much home loading my truck down in Atlanta in the middle of summer.
No time to think about it either as he’s really trying to make another kill and a permanent end to me.
No effing way I like being alive now, I like being the real me and I’m deeply and madly in love with Shaya. And it’s more than enough to fight for.
These things are not like fighting back home where it’s people being stupid and fighting people no this is a real fight against real monsters that are actually bent on the destruction of all that is right and good in this world.
There’s this little voice that is saying that if the Sylvan’s lose this war and everything goes to darkness here that somehow and someway they will make their way to Earth. It’s like when you’re driving in the rain and things are sort of okay but you hit this section of road that’s not really covered with water but there’s all the oils that are on the road there from traffic and the tar and…you know that I’m in shit feeling that sinks into you just before your tires and the weight of the truck or sometimes the lack of in a cross wind hits.
It’s like that I just know…I just know it won’t be over here.
I have family home, there are people that I love home still and I can’t let that happen.
And those feelings are the ones I use to get my second wind and make me strong enough to really get into a knock down drag out fight with this orc. I use every dirty trick I ever picked up here or when I was bouncing and I think I surprised it...him.
“Yek dunno fight laik a grrl.”
It’s able to speak sylvan.
Oh…well sorry buddy, in my heart this is the me that I’ve always been.”
“Actually I do!”
I’m locked up with him again blade to axe and I haul off and I headbutt him. There’s a crunchy crack as I break his nose and he staggers back blinded from the tears that seem most species get when that happens and he’d still be expecting me to swing so instead I grab the haft of his axe and shove the spike on the back of his axe in through his eye.
He drops and I really don’t have a minute until there’s more but then as I’m blocking Illisia…The Loremistress is there with me rapier in one hand and her firebolt blaster in the other.
She’s so small and lithe she slips right into the fight and jabs her blaster in and puts a hole into one of the orcs and then follows up with this really fancy sword work. I don’t know all the moves but think of the whole three musketeers movies and add it the reflexes of Jet Lee and you’re somehow got the idea right?
Hack, slash, punch and kick and elbows of mine mixing with her and her thrusts and shots and swerves and spins and more than once she’s the distracting factor for my big blade.
It’s a messed up thing when you’re in a battle and you sort of fall into a rhythm
But I guess that’s what fighting styles are right rhythms of how to fight and respond to situations right?
And honestly…I can sort of feel this sensation through the link with Shaya and there’s this sort of calm settling in with me as this is going on. No one likes to fight but to fight and to fight well and with skill for a good and noble cause like saving so many lives is a beautiful thing in its own right.
It feels oddly uplifting thinking of instead of homes burning and the violence I’m facing being turned on the innocents…becoming scenes of peaceful living because of what we are doing right now.
It’s the feeling I think that soldiers get to feel sometimes when they know in their hearts what they’re doing makes a difference.
And I do know it is.
I’ve seen gnawed on bones of people here since we’ve started fighting on the inside of this place.
And some of those bones were small sets of bones…I’m not going to question why someone would do something like this. Not with humanity’s record with itself. But all at the same time…children? Children? They’ve never really had the chance to do things wrong…not wrong enough to deserve such things happen to them.
I’m a parent and even when I old had one leg…
You mess with my kids and it would NEVER end well for whoever did that. I’ve always been a sucker for kids…I’ve always had a houseful and pets too. I have a lot of love to give and now…
Now I’m going to do what I always do with my love…
I’m going to defend people with it.
It’s over before I even know it’s over and there’s yells and sounds of the enemy being in retreat on the level below us and Illisia is even panting and taking a few moments to catch her breath before taking out a vial and passing it to me and one for herself.
“Are you wounded?”
“Hurting and bruised all over I think but nothing major.”
“Good.” She downs her vial and she seems to shimmer? But not shimmer?
“Yes, it supplies you with all the water you need in the span of a full average day.”
“Huh…cool, this’d be good for people suffering under blood loss.”
“Yes and for combat where hydration’s an issue too.”
I drink mine; I’m still… yes still getting used to the whole idea of magic and potions and all of that stuff. It’s the best water that I’ve ever tasted and this feeling of the good chill like that first dip in summer water washes over me.
“Wow, good stuff so will I have to pee a lot with this?”
“No not really much at all for most of the day really, the magic in it helps you recycle water in your cells.”
As smart and on the ball as she is she has that look the Shaya gets on her face when I use a human expression that makes no sense to them.
I can’t help it, even here in a place like this I giggle.
She shakes her head and calls to the others giving orders for them to split into teams and to check the tunnels and side rooms. Kyte joins us with some of her people and some of the rangers and other knights. Illisia looks at the stairs leading to the next terraced level of this cavern.
“There’s a passage up there and there were better troops her than down below. I’d say that’s our best bet to move on and find out just what’s been going on here and just who might be involved in this treason.”
I take a breath and look at the others and they nod doing sort of the same things too no one’s badly hurt so far but our gear’s far from bright and shiny anymore and potions and such aside…there’s that tired ugh…as we start getting to our feet and moving.
This is different and I think she might be right as there was just sort of a graded ramp up here to this point and now there’s stairs carved from stone but with railings and some actual design to them. It looks old, like Greek ruins kind of old and stuff the tier itself is shaped or carve like a balcony and this has a really good view of the cavern below.
“They had time to make all of this?”
Kyte’s looking around carefully. “No….these are older ruins from the first war with the Forsaken see that pillar there.”
I nod and it’s oddly shaped. “Yeah, it’s a mushroom?”
“Mooring post, odds are this was where they built airships at the tiers would be like scaffolding.”
“Uh-huh…okay I can see that just no water so.”
She looks at me oddly.
I shrug. “Water docks only on Earth, we don’t have airships.”
“Ooooh, Well I’m from Skywood and we don’t have land that isn’t in the air so airships is something that I’ve grown up around.”
“I so want to see this place, There’s no land on the surface?”
“There’s land in the sky and there’s land under the ocean but no Skywood’s surface is entirely covered by water.”
“Like I said I so want to see it.”
“Well perhaps Shaya could take you to The Isle of Dragons.”
“Isle of Dragon’s”
“It’s a large skyland that is also a huge fortress and home to The Dragon riders.”
“Would I be allowed?”
“You’re he bonded they wouldn’t have a choice. I’d love to see it myself.”
“Why can’t you?”
“Because only the riders and the High King knows where the island is at.”
“Oh….okay enough said.”
We make it through the corridor that came off this tier and we come to another large room not a cave that has several sets of passages and stairs going all over at least nine ways out of here. The Rangers are looking around and the Loremistress gestures. “We’ll split up into groups of three and start checking things out keep your coms on okay.”
Oh yeah I keep forgetting we have those…I mean there’s blasters and swords but it still just isn’t what I thought of with everything.
I have a ranger slide up to Kyte and myself and he nods at us talking point as we take the first set of stairs closest to us and they head down into the darkness.
I can feel my eyes sort of adjusting through the link and I’m gripping my blade pretty hard and trying not to freak out and have a Blair witch moment.
Kyte’s breathing hard too as nervous and freaked out as I am I think.
Then my feet go from steps to thumping into soft sand.
This is definitely a cave and I see boxes and barrels of things but I can hear shuffling in deeper and there’s the smell of goblin in the air and blood.
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