Thank you guys so much for your comments! I did not expect many people to read my story because of its length so I appreciate each of you taking the time to read it. C:
I not only wish to commend the story, but the excellent proper usage of the different CC forums. Linking here from the MOCs Forum where you have lots of story is precisely what we like to see.
You set an excellent example for the LCC community generally. Thank you, sir.
~Formendacil - Moderator
P.S. What has
he got himself into!?
Thank you for the kind words. I'm just doing my best to be a good member here at CC.
Now I present to you all the rousing conclusion to my GC2 entry! And it has more linked images than before.
Both comments and criticism are always welcome!
Written for GC2/Part Two
Arlis Wolfstar trudged up the mountainside, legs burning with the effort. He wiped his forearm across his sweaty brow and collapsed to a grassy patch to rest. He sat there and looked to the east where the forest rolled out before him like a carpet. Fangwood Monastery resided there within the forest, silent as a tomb. A man could not tell from this distance but the monastery had been abandoned for centuries. A statue of a god-hero long lost to time cast the whole of the place in shadow. The statue stood tall and proud, moss and lichen surprisingly absent from its surface. The smuggler could not remember when he had last laid eyes on such a scene.Image 1Image 2
Arlis rose from the ground. His knees clicked and popped upon his ascent, a reminder of his age. He mopped his brow once more and began climbing up the mountain again. Though the landscape to the east was nothing short of majestic, his mind dwelled elsewhere. He knew the Guardian awaited him.
After an hour of steadily ascending the mountain, it leveled out into a plateau. Grass became more abundant and the smuggler could see stony arches in the distance. He noticed his heart beating faster.
“Time to see what I’m made of,” he murmured. He was a fair swordsman, but a far better liar and thief. Before he had fled from Garheim he had been trained in the ways of war, but he preferred to forego the blade if possible. As he approached the first arch, he saw a shield emblazoned with the image of a roaring bear – the sigil of Duke Wirklich Nervig. He knew he was in the right place. He entered through the archway, looked ahead.
He saw it.
A shining sword of gold lay upon an ornate slab.Image 3
“Karlamac’s sword,” Arlis whispered. He looked about nervously. The Guardian was nowhere in sight. Where could he be?
he thought. He stepped carefully forward, unsure of what to expect. As he approached the largest and final arch the wind gusted violently. He grabbed one of the stones lining the path as a black storm came, whipping through the sword’s resting place. The blackness took shape, swirling around itself like a whirlpool. Slowly the distorted image took on a manlike form. The gale ripped at Arlis’s face, threatening to fling him from the mountain. The savage storm ceased. The smuggler lurched to his feet, wiped the dirt and grit from his eyes. When his eyes cleared, his heart dropped.
The Guardian stood before the sword of Karlamac, ready to protect it until the end. It wore armor of black, standing nearly as tall as two men. Beneath its obsidian helmet was but a skull. Red orbs gleamed in its deep eye sockets. It brandished a blade of utter darkness.Image 4
“You seek the Eli’kar, the Holy Blade of Karlamac?” it rasped. Its voice sounded as though it came from a grave.
“I do,” Arlis said boldly, though terror coursed through his body. A strong eastern wind sent the smuggler’s cape billowing.
“Only he who defeats me can hope to wield the sword,” the Guardian said, each word cutting Arlis as sharply as the wind. “You must defeat me in single combat.” The towering beast made a horizontal motion with his sword and a number of weapons appeared in front of the smuggler. They floated before him. “Choose,” the Guardian hissed.
Arlis’s eyes darted over each of the weapons, his mind still racing to comprehend all that was happening. A long sword, rapier, battle axe, greatsword, war hammer. He grabbed the long sword, tested its weight, and nodded in satisfaction.Image 5Image 6
“Very well.” The remaining weapons disappeared. The Guardian hoisted up a great shield bearing a charging bore. Its eyes burned furiously inside the empty skull. “Let us begin,” it said. It lumbered forward and swung its blade of onyx through the air. It arced down, smashed into Arlis’s sword as the smuggler parried. Arlis reeled back, arm tingling from the impact. The Guardian swung once more, seeking to cleave the smuggler’s head from his body. Arlis ducked the attack and jabbed his sword forward. Its point dug into the unarmored joint in the Guardian’s knee.
“What?” Arlis asked, eyes wide. The Guardian did not flinch and it did not bleed. Arlis never saw the butt of the Guardian’s sword. It smashed into his head, knocking him aside as though he were a child. He rolled to a stop on his side, struggled to his feet just in time to dodge a killing blow. The Guardian’s black sword skittered down the stone wall, throwing dust and shattered rock in its wake. Arlis struck forward once more, sword grinding against the black armor. The two fought relentlessly, trading blow for blow. The Guardian drove shield’s rim into Arlis’s mouth, sending a gout of blood to splatter the ground. The smuggler regained his bearings quickly and lashed out, bashing his steel against the creature’s helmet. The Guardian answered the blow with another ragged overhead strike. The smuggler caught the blade’s edge on his cross-guard. The Guardian bore down with all of its hideous force.Image 8Image 9
“Give up and accept death,” it rasped. Its breath blasted forth, colder than Garheim’s most frigid wind.
“Sorry,” Arlis grated through clenched teeth. “You’ll find I am quite stubborn.” He spun from beneath the Guardian’s sword. The creature gouged at Arlis, missed, gouged again. His second fierce jab struck the arch, embedding the obsidian blade deep into a crack. The smuggler saw his chance. He jumped forward, allowing his body to spin in the air to build momentum, and slashed with all of his strength. He came to a crouch behind the Guardian, sword still outstretched.Image 10Image 11
There was a great clatter as the Guardian fell to the broken path. His head rolled to Arlis’s side. The red orbs inside the skull gleamed briefly and then faded. And with that the Guardian disappeared as though he had never been there at all.
“I guess my swordsmanship wasn’t as bad as I thought,” he gasped, rising from his crouched position. He grimaced as he stood erect. The Guardian had left his mark. Blood ran from Arlis’s mouth, and the side of his head pulsed with shooting agony. But looking ahead at the sword upon the slab, he could scarcely feel the pain.
He limped to the slab. The sword glimmered in the fading light of day. Arlis stood, mouth slightly agape. This was truly a sword of kings. Eli’kar, the Guardian had called it. The smuggler reached out slowly, as though the mystical blade might take on a life of its own. Then he grabbed the hilt.Image 12
He smiled, hoisted the blade high above his head. The prize was won, the Guardian defeated. Before he could celebrate, a familiar voice boomed out over the mountain, reverberating all around him.
“We never thought you would actually succeed in defeating the Guardian,” the ancient orc wizard said, his voice everywhere and nowhere.
“Well played!” Rook added. “I wagered on you mortal. Thanks for not disappointing.”
“It proved an entertaining bout,” a glum Volken stated. It sounded as though he had gambled on the Guardian reigning victorious.
“I’m so glad that you all were able to take such pleasure in my near-death experience,” Arlis said, still admiring Eli’kar. “But thanks to you fine fellows I’ll be able to pocket a tidy sum for this sword. I do have to say I hate to give it up though. The sword that crushed Volken has to be at least marginally blessed.”
“You push your luck with pithy comments,” Volken said. His voice was full of menace, but Arlis knew by now that the orc would bring him to heel.
“Enough, Volken,” the orc said. “Arlis Wolfstar, our meeting was not one of coincidence. Our paths shall cross again…and sooner than you think.”
And with that there was silence, save for a light wind rustling through the grass. Arlis looked at the sword and then out to the monastery and forest. The towering statue still stood its grim vigil over everything it surveyed, indifferent to the struggle for the sword. He began his slow, arduous journey down the mountain and did his best to not let the wizard’s ominous prediction disturb him. He felt a draft around his foot and noticed a hole in his boot. He frowned.
It would be a long trip north.