by Mercy Johnson
It was a fiercely fought battle lasting many days.
The evil army had chosen an inopportune moment, when Va’aldorha was in great mourning for her fallen ruler, the venerable RulVyan Ronan, to invade the Stone Castle. They came in the cover of darkness, but not without inside co-conspirators.
Some within the Castle had turned rogue and betrayed the Oath of Fellowship which they swore to uphold. These unlikely foes were led and inspired by none other than the Hand of the Emperor himself, the devious RulTarlMorok, who had often secretly met and consorted with the enemies on how best they might overthrow the Vro’jen Dynasty and bring down the empire that had persisted for many centuries.
Although the infernal nobleman was himself betrayed and murdered by those he connived within the days before the final attack, the plan was already well set in bricks, and there would be much blood till every single Vro’jen was slain and the empire crumbled.
Wave after wave of enemy forces pummeled the high walls of the Castle relentlessly, attacking with vindictive brutality and viciousness – there were crawling beasts that climbed high walls, and cruel burrowing creatures that tunneled their way through from underground, and riders upon winged beasts attacking from the dark-mooned skies, spewing flaming darts at the Vro’jens beneath.
There were balls of inferno and torrents of arrows, roars of brute creatures and horrible screams of men staring death in the face. Some fell to wildfires that incinerated more than half the city, many more were cut down by swords and arrows, or were simply mauled by beasts.
And as the battle raged on and victory tilted to the side of the invaders, a Lightening Bird from the Stone Castle suddenly took off at great speed, heading towards the eastern borderlines, away from the fury and the carnage. On its feathered back rode a little girl; the Vro’jen princess, who must flee to avoid falling into the enemy’s hands, for she was the final hope of her people. Dangling from her neck was a blue-eyed gem of great significance.
But swift and graceful as the bird might have been, its escape did not go unnoticed, and a horde of flying fiends was soon hotly in pursuit. The creatures had fiery eyes and long, deadly looking fangs, claws, and scaly, armored coat.
They hissed and roared intermittently, almost knocking the Lightning Bird out of the sky more than once, as all the creatures shot through the cloudy sky in deft maneuvers. But the girl astride the bird was no whimsy prey and armed with a magical brazen sword, she proved herself quite a worthy match unto her despicable adversaries.
Prompting the bird to back flap and fly evasively now and then, she was able to strike down a few of the monstrous creatures that assailed her. She screamed and lurched at them bravely, cutting them through with the edge of her blade and sending them to their death at the cavernous plains of the valley beneath.
Then a volley of arrows from the ground caught the wing of the bird, causing it to spiral violently out of control, before finally plunging to the bottom of the forest with a shrieking cry.
The princess tumbled far in the dirt, cut her limbs in thorns and branches of the trees, and knocked her head against a rock. But she picked herself up without delay and, girding up her shredded garment, dashed into the midst of the trees. There were many frightening and beastly noises around her, but the girl willed herself to be strong and stay the course. Her weapon was no longer in hand, of course, lost in the moment that her bird lost control and fell from the sky.
She ran quickly, panting breathlessly as the feeling of gloom and foreboding presence grew in the dark forest. Then suddenly the ground gave way, burst open and split violently, hurling a huge mass of rocks, earth, and shattered trees dangerously into the atmosphere.
The princess was thrust backward at a precarious angle. She screamed helplessly as the pieces from the ground rose high and shot towards her like dangerous projectiles. But she was caught up just in time by the mortally wounded bird. It rose vicariously into the air, flapped for only a moment, fought to gain height but eventually succumbed to its wounds and crashed into the dirt again.
Kneeling before the dying creature in resignation, the princess sobbed and stroked its bright-red and yellow plumage with her head bent in despair. Just then, she became aware of a foul presence in the dark forest. Straightening up uncertainly, she discovered that she was surrounded by a pack of wolf-like friends, with dark, bristled coat, red eyes and saber-like fangs.
The young princess caught her breath and shifted backward as the animals approached her with a menacing grin, heads lowered. She knew that they were blind, but had enhanced senses of hearing. If she tried to run, they would no doubt catch up with her and tear to shreds.
As the princess stood there, contemplating her next course of action, she came under an intense force that gripped her and caused her to levitate, rising slowly into the air like a light-weight feather lifted by a tender breeze.
She was perplexed and fear-stricken, wondering what was amidst until a thin sheet of the transparent yet impregnable field began to form around her in mid-air.
Instinctively, the princess clutched the jewel around her neck and gently released the pendant. A moment of inner concentration transforms the color of her eyes from warm amber to blood red, and the sky above began to boil with darkened clouds.
Then suddenly, the princess hurled the crystal into the atmosphere with a loud cry. The gem caught a lightening thread, which ignited a large spark that momentarily lit the forest area with a blue flash just as the field closed around her completely.
Now, besides the deathly glow in the eyes of the wolfish beasts surrounding her transparent dome prison, there were two other peculiar sets of eyes gleaming in the mist and wild haunting laughter that chilled the blood of the captive Princess of the Vro’jen Empire.
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