The Chronicles of Valana Volume 2: Elaria's Bane

by AB

Chapter 14

Bring Down the Serpent's Bastion

A few days ago.

"Why are they not attacking?" Ivandor Tereil murmured under his breath. "I do not like this. Are they not supposed to attack?" He said louder.

"They will…I do not know what they are waiting for but they will attack eventually." Another soldier answered him. "Do not be so eager to die."

One of the other veterans chuckled at the confused look on Ivandor's face. "You have trained for this and you think you are going to be invulnerable if you follow your training?"

Ivandor nodded, the veteran laughed loud. "No, boy. The only thing your training may ensure is you don't die in the first five seconds of the battle. After that it is up to you, your wit and the men to your right and left. Guard their lives and they may guard yours." Ivandor felt himself almost thrown off the wall when the veteran slapped his shoulder.

"You'll do fine kid, just keep your eyes open and your wit about you. Do not try and be a hero, stay with the other men in the line even if you think that stepping one foot ahead of the rest will earn you a kill. Do not. Your odds of dying increase tenfold if you do."

Ivandor nodded gazing ahead on the Orkhavoc's encampment. "How big are they really? The Orkhavocs?"

"They can reach three meters tall when they are fully adult but are usually between two and three meters. Their tusks can reach two feet long."

Ivandor swallowed hard imagining an Orkhavoc warrior charging him.

"Ah don't worry kid. You'll be dead before they start eating your flesh." One of the veterans told him. Ivandor's head snapped at the soldier's direction. His mouth opening and closing rapidly.

The Two veteran soldiers burst laughing. "Don't worry kid they don't like human flesh. We're just messing with you. Orkhavocs are many things but man-eaters they are not."

"Why have we been told by our kings they are?" Ivandor asked honestly.

The veteran's face darkened. "Because they keep the public afraid and…malleable towards offensive actions against the Orkhavocs."

Their conversation continued until their patrol on the wall ended for the day.

The next day was a repeat of the previous one. Eight hours of nervous patrolling the wall. Watching for any Orkhavoc movement or change.

The third they were half way through their patrol when Lieutenant Berign approached them, riding a horse, the wall big enough for a cavalry to be able to charge enemies on its parapets, his face obviously worried.

"You, all of you have to leave the Serpent's Bastion." He told Ivandor and the other veterans near him.

Ivandor froze in his tracks looking at the older man and mentor thunderstruck.

"Why?" Ivandor asked.

"Oghelle's army approaches…it is led by the Dark General Elaria's Bane. Their army is full of creatures of Darkness. I…you have to leave. Now!"

"They'll know, sir." One of the veterans replied.

"No, I have been giving orders to the men for a day now throughout the wall. Some, few will remain on the Bastion to give a sense it is manned, the rest of you are to regroup in Hordivar…or what's left of it."

The two veteran soldiers saluted their superior officer, grabbed Ivandor by his shoulder and left. Ivandor was unwilling to leave his mentor to his apparent fate.

Now, Belerin.

"Will we see Norion again?" Uer asked.

Feldon kneeled down to the boy's face level. After a moment's hesitation he caressed Uer's shoulder and cheek smiling at the boy.

"I am sure you two will see each other again, sooner or later."

Uer nodded and headed to the elven ship that was going to take them to Elisko in the north of the Kingdom.

Bava and Vashka boarded the ship with him. Feldon stood there until the ship was gone in the dusk beyond the horizon.

"You will see my son sooner or later..." He thought as he mounted his horse, heading to Udala.

The Dark General opened her hand letting Norion's lifeless body fall on the arid sand and orange rock below.

She looked at Aer'andil, a wide smile on her decaying lips.

A smile that faded quickly when Aer'andil did not only not break down into tears and uncoherent mumble over the death of Norion. No Aer'andil did not do that or burst into yesterday's magic fire the little Boy-King laughed.

A gregarious laugh straight from his belly full of mirth.

"You laugh? Your love is dead. I will sooner or later…" She was cut off.

"Dead? Do not be ridiculous. Norion is quite alive I assure you." Aer'andil grinned. "Did you really think I was going to let one of the three people in this or any other world I love more than life itself come to Elaria or any place where I know Darkness sits on the throne?" Aer'andil sniggered. "Do not be absurd."

"He left Gel'anr with you. I slit his throat little Elf-King. He is lying dead at my feet." She sneered at him.

Aer'andil's grin widened. "He did, did he?"

"Lovikor saw him, Uer, you and the others interacted with him." The Dark General responded firmly.

"No. I acted and the others saw what I wanted them to see. Norion never left Gel'anr." Aer'andil shrugged. A sly look in his eyes.

The sureness slowly left her visage. "You lie! I saw Norion and Uer suck and fuck. I made sure Lovikor saw it as well, leading him to the conclusion I wanted." She spat.

"You and the others saw what I wanted you to see. Did you actually "see" Norion before he "appeared" by your side a few days ago?" Aer'andil's sly smile widened.

Her face painted with doubt, now. "I…I saw him sucking Uer…"

"You didn't though, did you? You saw Uer, you heard Uer moan and Uragoth's illusions did the rest filling in the gaps of Norion. Don't feel bad, Uer and everyone else believed Norion was actually there when he was not. Norion is very much in Gel'anr asleep. You see for this to work I needed his personality to actually "inhabit" the illusion. Only Minaroth, Belevod, Terastil, Uragoth my mother and Feldon knew of this."

"You lie! Lovikor told me of how your mother convinced you to take him with you. How did you convince him not to come and follow this plan of yours?" She demanded.

"Oh that was easy." Aer'andil's face shadowed, no longer smiling. "I didn't ask him. I cast the spell with the aid of those I mentioned before and hoped he would not ruin everything in anger. I suppose he will be angry at me and it may not turn out good between us but I have done what I must to defeat the Darkness and its Generals. I'd do it all over again if I had to."

Aer'andil could tell she did not believe him, still. "Look at your feet General of Darkness, cursed being."

She looked at her feet to Norion's figure. To her great dismay she saw Norion flicker before vanishing completely in a cloud of ash and miasma.

She roared in anger before laughing.

"You? You and your elves committed to black magic and dark Spiritum to create miasma to fool me? You know what this means, child?" Her face twisted by a malicious leer.

"Yes, I'll die. I know and my tutors know as well but for all my mother's and Feldon's protests in the end of the day I am the High-King and my orders are final when I give them. I know what awaits me, but it won't be for quite a few…thousands of years. Quite some time for me to defeat and slay your Master, fiend." Aer'andil sneered.

"Defeating my Master will not save your life, boy." She replied stubbornly.

"Indeed, but it will mean the end of your Master. I gladly sacrifice my life if it means his end." Aer'andil took a deep breath closing his eyes for a moment before breathing out, his eyes wide open. "Enough talk, I think. Time to do battle and commit to bloody death." He grabbed his bow, bringing it to his fore from his shoulder.

"My pets." Elaria's Bane spoke in a voice from beyond the grave. "Attack without mercy." The army behind her, an army of creatures of Darkness and corrupted men from Oghelle's ranks charged the armies of the Alliance.

"Elves! Defend the High-King. Bring ruin unto the soldiers of Darkness!" Minaroth cried out unsheathing her sword, waving it above her head. In one unified motion the soldiers of Gel'anr, Dol'Adur, Qazameria, Dol Anro and Gel'Glidorn, unsheathed their weapons, taking up positions and stances learned throughout thousands of years of constant training.

"Thel evil Anasol-Thalin!" Belevod screamed and charged the Darkness army. Minaroth charged in after him changing into her bear form followed by the Elven Kings and the Elven armies. The human armies had a different task. Remaining behind to provide support and a continuous rain of flame arrows and magic spells.

The Elves had run a few meters towards Aer'andil when the Darkness army fell on them.

Minaroth killed a Vag'agorn, ripping at its throat and head with her claws and powerful bear-teeth. Looking up she saw Aer'andil standing there, facing the Dark General. They were walking in circles around a common center. The creatures of Darkness and corrupted men avoided them forming an invisible circle around them.

A few thousand to the North Norion woke from his enchanted slumber. It took him a second to realise where he was, remember what was going on. Took him a few more minutes to regain control of his body and feet after almost a month of sleeping, stand up from the makeshift bed Aer'andil had ordered made and placed in the cave which had been the Farseer's before and still dazed and disorientated started walking towards the exit.

"Norion!" Tha'ala, walking by the cave's entrance saw him staggering and caught him from falling over, passing a hand under his armpits. "Norion, what happened?"

"I…Aer'andil…I've not died before, even in an illusion." There were tears falling down his cheeks.

Tha'ala summoned a guard who helped her carry him in the infirmary. Another guard was sent to find the Queen-mother.

"So it is done, then? The battle of this war has begun?" Felwyn asked entering the white marbled chamber of the infirmary.

Norion nodded. "Did you know?" He asked, Tha'ala did not speak with her mouth but her eyes screamed the same question.

"Yes." She sat in one of the wooden chairs. "It is a difficult thing to be King. Aer'andil did what he had to, to draw out the Darkness at the head of Oghelle, to ensure that the Orkhavocs did not get slaughtered to extinction."

"I know…I…I know he wanted to…for me to be with him in Elaria. I know why he did what he did…I just can't forgive him, not yet." Felwyn nodded caressing Norion's cheek.

His mother entered the room, looking worried. Felwyn explained to her what had occurred and why it was required, or at least some of it and left the room with Tha'ala leaving mother and son alone.

Aer'andil stopped circling around an imaginary circle, on his opposite the Dark General stopped walking as well. Around them a bloody, vicious massacre was unfolding in its full glory. Belevod was moving in lightning-fast speed, his hands a blur of motion as he slashed and cut at a battalion of enemy soldiers. One by one the corrupted by the Darkness men fell down bleeding to death. A magic user unleashed a thunder spell to his direction. Belevod grabbed another man using him as a human-shield and unleashed a magic spell of his own. The magic user fell dead with smoke rising from him as he was enflamed.

Minaroth was tearing through the enemy ranks seemingly invisible to hits and spells. Aer'andil knew that she was being protected by others within the army of her island Kingdom, casting magic wards and speaker runes at her.

"I think…yes it is time to end you." Aer'andil aimed an arrow at her and let loose. She deflected it jeering at him.

"Did you reall…" She cut herself short seeing Aer'andil had charged after the arrow was fired, the bow in his hand transforming into a thin, curved, gleaming silver short-sword with all kinds of runes on the blade.

He pierced her torso where her heart should be.

"No, I didn't think an arrow would kill you. Just one more thing before you die. You think you manipulated Lovikor into seeing Uer and the Norion-shade having "fun" whereas I was manipulating you out of the shadows."

She laughed. "You did that, and I manipulated The Vaghish into the Darkness for my Lord and Master, did you know there's a second army of Darkness heading for Oghelle as we speak? They may already be besieging the city and The Vaghish will aid them all in the name of freedom and killing the rich merchants." Glee obvious in her decrepit face.

"I know." Aer'andil answered her.

"You cannot kill me with…"

Aer'andil sniggered. "With mortal weapons? Yes, I am aware. You cannot kill me either. Try." She looked at him with what could only be described as disbelief.

"I can and I will."

"No, you cannot. Your Master does not want me dead. Try."

She raised the shadow-blade wielding hand above her head, lowering it, her aim his head.

He was smiling. Minaroth roared in agony changing course running towards them.

Her blade stopped a few inches short of his head. Her hand shaking with effort, trying, struggling to lower the blade and split the Elf-boy's head in two. In vain.

"Your Master does not want me dead but I want all of you dead and buried. Begone." Aer'andil twisted the blade in her torso. "Water-sword." He said aloud, clearly and with intent.

The smug sneer left her lips. "How…" the question unfinished as she turned to ash releasing a shock wave. The dark pearl shattered.

"I learned." Aer'andil turned his attention forward, where the Serpent's Bastion stood, tall and imposing.

"Time to bring it down. Time to shake and change things for Elaria, the Human and Orkhavoc Kingdoms." He charged ahead slashing and killing creatures of Darkness until he stood almost right under the foreboding granite and limestone walls. In front of him the Gatehouse and portcullis barring the entrance.

"Liquid Fire." He said in yesterday's magic turning into a figure of liquid, molten, dripping fire.

Beneath him the ground began to sizzle and simmer. The temperature rising to such heights it made the very sand melt near his feet.

"Wall of Fire." The command was followed by a wall of fire emanating from his sides, rapidly expanding to his left and right until it was lost to the horizon's end.

Aer'andil kneeled, his hands touching the wall of fire on either side. "Melt the soil." Within seconds the sand and soil all across, beneath and in close proximity to the Wall of Fire started to melt and become liquid fire.

A minute or two later Aer'andil rose to his feet pointing a hand at the soaring walls of the Bastion. "Forward."

The Wall of Fire "moved" forward encroaching and then engulfing the walls as the sand under it melted.

It was not instantly obvious what Aer'andil had in mind as pure granite would not burn down like wood would.

Minaroth changed back in her Elven form saw awestruck as the very ground beneath the Walls liquefied. Now the Walls' very massive weight worked against them as they began to crumble in an unstoppable chain reaction. With a thundering roar the Serpent's Bastion came crushing down all across its width releasing forth a cloud of scorching hot sand, debris and ash. It came pummeling forth killing all in its path. Now it became apparent to the Elven, human and Orkhavoc armies as to why Aer'andil had set the camp and actual field of battle so far from the Bastion and its daunting walls as their armies were well outside its radius of destruction and what did come near them was only as hot as a mid-summer's sand-storm rather than pyroclastic-wave-hot.

When the dust and ash settled Aer'andil turned facing the armies still engrossed in gory battle.

"Army of yesterday's magic." He commanded seemingly at no one and nothing, his hand pointing at the battlefield.

Ghostly, silvery beings materialized out of thin air in various shapes and sizes each a mixture of various animals and beings alive or extinct. A host of tens of thousands.

"Kill the Darkness." He ordered them. Above them a fierce-looking cloud-front dark and ominous came from the east.

The magical army charged at the army of Darkness. They did not even bother attacking the creatures and corrupted men, just passing through them the Darkness soldiers dropped dead.

Not half an hour later the battle was over, the various Kings around Aer'andil. Minaroth and Belevod to his left and right.

"The war is over?" Udelon's King inquired.

"No. There's a second army of Darkness heading for Oghelle. Gather your armies, tend to your wounded then we leave for Oghelle, all of us together." The Kings of Men, Elves and Glogak nodded heading to their armies. Behind them the remains of the Serpent's Bastion smoked as the soil cooled slowly.

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