Beginning of the end Chapter 7
Moving along across blocks jumping to the next, we reached another archway, ‘you ready’ I asked Varak he gave me a thumb-up, looking around, we both knew nothing would happen before we stepped through. I made the first move, passing under the archway nothing happened, Varak followed I glance up to see if something else came crashing down on our heads still nothing.
‘Move on to the next one,’ he said, getting ready to jump to the next path I halted the motion it went dark in the distance hiding the path again just after I heard something approach, a clanking noise, servos whining together it sounded familiar.
The noise got louder and materializing out of the shadows came two giant metallic warriors standing well over ten feet tall; they looked like one’s father used for training, these big ugly fighting machines are for close-quarter combat one had an ax which stood before Varak the other had a long sword with nasty spikes coming out at the end of the blade, none of us moved we became still as a statue not knowing what to do, the silence grew until I felt a small vibration through the floor.
‘What else could be coming’ I thought, looking down towards the noise a trap door slowly opened between us and up out of the hole came several swords hanging off a pedestal.
‘Isn’t that’s father sword Daraka’ without hesitation, Varak picked the sword up and swung the sword in front of himself. Varak could only admire the weapon for a few seconds.
The metal warrior with the ax charged forward, Varak jumped back, giving him distance from his opponent the other one just stood there staring waiting. I decided to help Varak from the mechanical beast relentless attack trying to bisect him. I almost got a shot off until the second moved to block my way, I reacted to the new threat jumping back from an attack it never came.
Surprisingly, it didn’t advance it stood there blocking my way still as a statue. I fought the urge to release the bolt I was building, instead; I diffused it.
‘What are you doing Devin this thing will rip me apart’ Varak yelled he moved out of the way of another devastating strike.
‘This one here won’t let me, but for some strange reason it hasn’t attacked’ I yelled back across. The metal warrior attacking Varak swung down the ax striking the ground hard when it tried to pull the weapon out it became lodged for the moment.
Varak didn’t hesitate he moved away in my direction thankful for the breather ‘why don’t you pick up a sword and help’ he was level with me now, a loud wrenching noise from behind and it released the ax from the floor.
Several strides later the metal beast was on him, with us being so close to the other hulking creature when Varak ducked the beheading move, a great clang reverberated causing ringing in my ears.
I looked back up. The tower block holding the large sword was now attached to his fellow through the ax. They both struggled to remove the giant weapon Varak look ready to attack,
I place a hand on his shoulder stalling the movement ‘drop your sword’ the end of the ax was slipping out another inch. Varak glared at me ‘drop your sword, my opponent hasn’t moved and is not attacking it could be because you hold a weapon which is why that thing wants to kill you’ I pointed at the machine which had almost removed his ax.
Feeling the tension in Varak's shoulder, he looked like he would protest ‘you are the brains, I hope your right about this’ Varak said, looking right at me the ax swung free, the metal monster checked a couple of swings then charged.
Releasing his sword, it clanged on the floor, time slowed the automaton went for another strike as Daraka settled on the ground and without warning the metal monster and ax froze in place the point of the blade was directly towards Varak eye and the exit point would have left his head smashed on the floor.
Varak let his breath out slowly with an expression of relief while we backed away, the path had reappeared and we prepared to move on ‘how did you know he wouldn’t slice me in half’ Varak said,
I looked at the pathway above us checking the route preparing to jump ‘after seeing what happened between my counterpart and yours, I took a lucky guess’ I jumped.
‘What!’ yelled Varak ‘you had a hunch and gambled my head thanks a lot brother’ another archway appeared at the beginning of a tunnel system the maze of piping looked like the final leg of the journey with the silver doors just beyond an exit.
‘It was an educated guess I had a sixty percent chance it would work,’ I shrugged
‘Only sixty percent, that makes me feel a lot better’ he exclaimed suddenly he quietens down seeing I was concentrating and made no further ‘what’s the problem’ he said clearly he hadn’t looked being so involved with the argument.
‘The tunnel system overlaps in twists and turns am trying to follow a route and memorize it so we can get out of here’ I said, I’d committed the route to memory and with one more pass. I became satisfied that we could get there with little difficulty, I step beyond the archway into the tunnel entrance, treading carefully.
‘This should be easy’ Varak said before I could reply a loud noise came from behind us, appearing over my brother’s shoulder a wall of crackling energy moved around the tunnel opening trapping us from going back.
I ran this time augmenting my muscles for speed to escape. Varak caught on at the same time following closely. I led the way through a series of tunnels, keeping my mind focused on the memorized route. The sound of lightning followed by a bright light searching for us, at every turn, we had to slow down the lightning gained, bolts of energy striking the tunnel scarring it black.
‘It’s not letting up shall we push harder or fight’ Varak asked, breathing heavily now, we had stopped for a few seconds, the longer we used or physical energy to run the more our powers would deteriorate.
‘Get going I’ll see if I can hold it off we have run miles and just around that bend, there should be an entrance up ahead,’ I said through labored breathing
‘You can’t face this alone, you’ll get vaporized’ Varak with a stern demeanor, he looked ready to face the enemy
‘No brother you already used up a lot of your Dengen facing the metal warrior, now if you care to leave and get to the end, I won’t have to worry about you’ I smiled easily while concentrating from within I generated a shield on my arm which cover the width of the tunnel. Suddenly the bolts flew around the corner and dissipated on the shield.
It held against the beating the lightning stayed still not advancing. Out of nowhere from over my shoulder two energy bolts from brother struck the storm, I looked back inquiring.
‘Your shield seems to hold I thought I might have a stab at that thing’ trying to find out what my brother was talking about I looked further into the ethereal energy there a body, an element we could take action against, it wasn’t pure energy ‘so you see it’ my brother yelling over the noise.
The entity started getting closer, I nodded with understanding ‘we have to get close I will protect us Varak you make sure you put that thing down hard’ I said, reinforcing the shield protecting us.
Walking forward, pushing against the intensifying storm, the lightning struck out at the edges of my shield trying to find a weak area, behind me a buildup of swirling energy was forming I could feel Varak Dengen gathering, in a moment it would unleash ‘you ready I don’t think I can get this around you’ Varak was straining to keep it all together.
I knew what I had to do ‘just fire I’ll think of something’ another strike on my shield harder than before this will be tight, behind me Varak unleashed a huge amount of energy, in the same instant I dropped to the ground sealing myself from the lightning storm and my brothers' energy wave, I felt the tunnel shake even behind my shield both forces colliding, shaking me to the bone. At one moment, there was a blinding light and the next total darkness.
After the pinpricks of light removed from my sight, I stood up slowly my knees shaking; I looked down towards the burned mess on the floor the charred flesh of our assailant began to smell bad, bits flaking off moving down the tunnel.
A groan from behind me indicating my brother had survived, he lay there on the floor, I checked on Varak he still breathed. ‘You have little burn marks on your shoulder’ I said the scar didn’t look deep, but taking several jolts of electric on your body sure would short circuit some nerves, Varak just groaned again with my help I managed to get him in a sitting position
‘I think I’ll live, is that it or are we going to die in this place grandma built to punish us’ he said wincing with the pain. I pick him up, arm over the shoulder both limp out of the tunnel not hearing anything but a whisper of wind, finally reaching the doors at the end of the path we stepped through.
‘Well-done boys it looks like you made it through’ grandma was smiling above Varak and me the feeling of pain and exhaustion replaced by confusion. We were in the room we started in and laying on two medical tables.
‘We didn’t go through any of that was it all an illusion’ I said I’ve read about masters using Chikara to create illusions to confuse or detain an enemy never dreamed it could be this vivid.
‘Well, I am pleased that you both did well for your test and at a young age some good points and bad points, but you both can cancel out each other weakness and turn them into strengths’ someone had to ask a stupid question.
Varak was the first ‘what weakness, we came through that no problem’ a sigh came from grandma
‘to label a few, Devin you're too cautious and hesitate when you should act you have far more power than you expect, so just be confident,’ looking at Varak now ‘as for you Varak you are a different story, you have a rash mind you react without considering, you picked up your father sword not worrying about the consequences and overexert yourself leaving nothing in reserve slow down and take a breather.’ A chuckle came from the corner of the room it was father ‘and yes you remind me of your father always overdoing it,’ grandma steely gaze laid on him ‘I wonder how many times my daughter had to heal you from exhaustion including that scar you have adorned on your face,’ grandma said
‘This scar I think it’s a great addition to my beautiful looks I mean I was handsome before, this just put the cherry on the cake,’ he joked making us all chuckle.
Back in the lounge room sipping some tisane and fresh juice. I and Varak were both thirsty after the test, grandma sat on a beautifully crafted, high-backed chair, mother and father had chosen the love seat while I sat on the floor next to the table with a chess set on playing against Varak who perched on a small stool, I had him on the ropes; I was three moves away from winning the game.
Even though we passed, I still had one question on my mind I wanted answered ‘grandma why did we go through the test aren’t we a little young most people take this test when they at least reach seventeen?’ I gave grandma my most steely gaze but as ever nothing fazed her behind those winter gray eyes.
She stood up and asked me to follow leaving parents and Varak behind ‘why do you train Devin what do you look to do. my eyes and ears may be old but I still see everywhere. my sources tell me you enjoy reading, learning old texts you are unlike your brother who uses his gift to show off in whatever sport it is nowadays’ we walked on through the great hall where people would congregate and danced at the annual ball, moving steadily across to a large set of double doors that lead out into a conservatory she stood there waiting silently for my answer.
‘I know I love reading, it’s a passion I have’ looking at her trying to read her mind ‘I have read about great and terrible things, one of those was the Grismons’ around the eyes, they tighten just a little ‘also Nelus where they last fought even father and mother was there. According to the documents I found’ I ponder what would I like to do. I saw the reaction from grandma as I spoke deducing, something more wasn’t being said. There was only one conclusion ‘if I had to choose a path it would be to protect my family and friends from greater enemies’
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About the author.
Albert is an ex-royal air force photographer. He is passionate about novel writing and creative arts, his work can be seen on Amazon and Opensea. Albert enjoys gaming with his son and records them to replay on YouTube.