Chapter 4: Lost and Found
We had the warehouse where Valdrel was being kept in our sight. We made a plan, readied our weapons, and crept forward. There were seven of us in total: me, Benny (our mage), Sandy (our archer), Jason and Jake (twin spearmen), Eric (our berserker), and Matt (our swordsman). These were of course not their real names, but these were the names they answered to. I myself wielded a sword and my dagger together. We were truly a deadly team. Unfortunately, that team was soon to be broken apart.
I remember when we first formed, after the fall of Rikrel. I rallied the best and the brightest to our cause, and formed a guard from the very best to protect Valdrel in the new world. This is, of course, the world from which we were trying to extract him. Since then, we have done very little, save train and watch Valdrel. Now was our time for action.
Eric ran forward, but Matt grabbed his arm and scolded him silently for his haste. Sandy took a vantage point on a nearby roof, guarded from below by the twins. Benny and I proceeded up the middle, and I motioned for Matt and Eric to follow. I instructed them to go through the front door while I scaled the wall and looked around. It was a single, large room, crawling with guards. Valdrel was in the middle, chained to a rotating stone slab. Speaking to him was Ginnar, the treacherous brother. I signaled for Sandy and the twins to follow me via a rope (stretched from one point to the other and climbed) before instructing Benny to cloud the senses of the guards so they wouldn’t notice.
All of us inside, we attacked. Sandy targeted Ginnar, who was protected by wards of some kind, and so barely noticed. Benny shot a blast of fire into a clump of guards and they all fell, burning. The twins protected Sandy, who continually shot, while Matt protected Benny. Eric and I ran in and attacked. Eric distracted Ginnar while I freed Valdrel. All in all, it was going well. Then, everything began to go wrong.
A gate opened up from the realm of the gods and serpents poured in. A trapdoor opened from underground and even more guards streamed in. I looked up in dismay, nearly dropping Valdrel. Matt grabbed my arm and pulled me gently towards the door. I turned, nodded and followed. Everyone had grouped together on the ground floor, as the top had collapsed from the magic explosions.
“Is everyone all right?” I asked worriedly. They all responded affirmatively. Benny and Sandy fired at the incoming hordes (guarded by the twins) while the other two helped me with Valdrel.
“Come on!” I yelled, not wanting to lose anyone. Sandy retreated, followed by Benny, and finally the twins.
Benny set up a barrier that would hold the snakes for a couple hours, but the human guards would still follow through. We ran, ending up in an alley that was only three blocks away from our safe house. Unfortunately, we heard the crash and yells of our foes behind us. They were close.
The twins and Sandy offered to stay behind and slow them, but I refused. We would make it together. And then we were surrounded.
On one side were at least a few hundred enemy soldiers, and on the other about fifteen. Here, we had to split up. Sandy and the twins once again offered to stay behind. This time I relented, knowing how important it could turn out to be; we needed someone to slow the larger group. Benny set up some wards and a few traps, meant to help the doomed trio survive longer and to kill off as many as possible. The three stood, turned to Valdrel, saluted, and took their place at a choke.
Jason and Jake stood at the ready, Sandy behind them, higher and hidden. A few mounted enemies charged in, either being speared to death or shot off their mount. Next came the enemy berserkers. There were twenty in all, and all had become suitably frenzied as to pose a challenge. Sandy picked them off, one by one, all but three of them. The twins managed to confuse these last few and cause them to hurt themselves in rage. They then quickly finished off the last one, and readied themselves again.
Now, you may be wondering why the enemies did not simply shoot the twins to death. The answer is simple—wards. Benny had done his job well) though would need much recuperation before he was able to do anything) and the arrows were deflected.
The next wave was fodder—infantry units meant to tire the twins out. This is where the traps came into play. About a hundred infantry ran towards the twins; about ten made it, and the twins killed them relatively quickly, though Jake did hurt his hand. The same tactic was tried again, with much the same result. So far, so good. Unfortunately, there were no more traps.
Remaining were about fifty enemies, including some mages, archers, assassins, Ginnar, and his guards. It was these last few that finally felled the twins. They walked forward, unhindered by arrows, and practically walked through the twins, so exhausted were they. Why did they not lead the attack, you might ask? The traps would have killed them outright, or Sandy would have slaughtered them. Only once they were both out of the way could Ginnar walk in and murder the twins with ease.
What, though, happened to Sandy? Why did she not slaughter Ginnar and his men? What prevented her from doing so?
She had been captured by Assassins while the Infantry had advanced. She was not killed, however, and would later have a role to play.
Two of seven had died, one captured, yet one more would still have to die.
Meanwhile, Matt, Eric, Benny and I were taking Valdrel to the safe house with the hour and a half bought by the unfortunate trio, paid for in blood. It was a relatively easy journey, hindered only by a few men whom we easily dispatched with little injury on our side. We reached the safe house, still carrying Valdrel. We were home; we were safe. Unfortunately the same could not be said of Sammy or Jake or Jason. We thought them all dead, but would mourn them later. For now we had to make sure Valdrel didn’t run again.
“Valdrel! Valdrel, wake up. Wake up, already!”
Valdrel awoke, feeling groggy and confused. “What…what time is it?”
I looked at him closely before answering. “It’s time for you to listen to me and stop acting like a child. Two brave men and an equally brave woman died to save you tonight. Would you like to know why? It’s because like a bloody child, you ran away! Just because you were unwilling to believe something you knew was true. What do you have to say for yourself?”
Valdrel didn’t answer, so stunned was he by my explosion of righteous anger. He looked rather like the child I had described him as moments before. He was close to tears, but I would not relent.
“When will you shape up and become the man I once knew? You were wise, understanding, noble, and a true warrior. Now? I can barely look at you.” With that, I turned and left my friend to his misery. I would be back, I knew, when I was in control of myself again—then, Valdrel would understand.