Chapter Twenty-One: The Beast Within
The dark hole that occupied the space where the giant wooden doors once stood still beckoned the four men who now stood at it's entrance. Each realizing there were no more trials to be had, no more easy battles. This next doorway led to just one thing... Viper.
And as the men stood, mustering every last ounce of courage, a cold draft whispered over them, carrying with it the stench of death. Even Rhett, who to this point had shown considerable valor and strength, seemed to falter and hesitate.
continued to stare at the gaping shroud of darkness for what seemed an eternity. And as he stood his thoughts drifted towards his friends fighting outside the castle, and the battle ensuing. When suddenly he realized it was his own voice he heard speaking, "We cannot wait any longer, we must
if are friends are to have any chance at all!" The others slowly nodded in agreement, one by one, their hearts winning the battle over their heads.
tightened the grip on his shield, and as he looked at the polished, tempered steel he saw his reflection. And in that reflection he saw a man without fear, but it was not the fear of the battle to come. It was a different fear altogether the reflection lacked. It was the fear of his past, who he was and what he did, that the reflection in the shield was without. Tie Guy
was suddenly aware of the burden that had been lifted from his mind and soul. And with his new found freedom, he found himself suddenly looking forward to dispatching his one time master, Viper
. With Shield in one hand, and his sword raised in the other, Tie Guy
charged into the dark unknown with a loud cry.
were suddenly caught off-guard as their friend plunged headlong through the doorway.
"What the...?", Havoc
was quick to reply, but was cut short by Rhett
who was already halfway through the doorway, "well, don't just stand there!". And with that, Leon
looked at each other, took a deep breath, and darted after their comrades.
As they crossed the threshold, Leon
were greeted by complete and utter darkness. It was the kind of darkness that taxes the mind, all one can do is try to keep you wits about you.
whispered, he didn't know why he whispered, but in the darkness, it was all he could do, "Rhett
? Tie Guy
? Where are you?", He didn't have to wait long to find out.
Almost immediately after Leon's
whisper, a voice shouted in defiance from the darkness, "Viper
! You will surely suffer for all the Forummers who died in battle today!", it was Tie Guy
, "Show Yourself! You don't think you can hide from me
, do you? I know everything about you, remember?"
was heard next, panic in his voice, "Tie Guy
, what in God's name are you doing?! Have you lost your wits?!"
"Leave him be. He knows what he's doing", it was Rhett
this time, "Please know what you're doing, Tie
" he added under his breath.
But before Rhett
could finish his thought, Tie Guy's
words seemed to get results, "Fools, you think I hide from you?!", a loud voice boomed, seeming to emanate from the very walls of the dark room, "I will not be bothered to deal with the likes of you. You are not worthy of my time. And as for you, Tie Guy
, you have done well to bring me the leaders of GeeBee
, everything went as I had planned. Now I will crush GeeBee
and the traitor in one foul swoop!". Suddenly the room became filled with the sound of Viper's
dark, maniacal laughter.
Seemingly fueled by the laughter, torches, which until now had remained unseen, become engulfed in an otherworldly flame casting an evil light on the warriors, who now shielded their eyes from the bombardment of light. Viper
spoke again, "Now you will meet your fate at the hand of my newest acolyte! I call him, Lord Fergie
No sooner had Viper
words been spoken, a giant grate across the large room began to slowly open. The sound of chains and metal grinding was all that was heard as the grate gradually lifted higher and higher. Each clickety-clack
of the chain caused the men's hearts to skip a beat as sweat ran down the men's foreheads and into their eyes, causing their eyes to burn and sting reminding the men they were, at the moment, still alive. Each man working feverishly to wipe the sweat away and to quash their trembling, but with every clickety-clack
of the chains, their wills became broken further. Slowly the grate rose, and slowly the fear became ever greater. Every second the clickety-clack
seemed to get louder and louder in the men's minds. till it nearly deafened their thoughts.
Suddenly with a bang that jolted the men's nerves, the grate finished opening, and whatever evil lurked behind the gate was now free to rain death upon the warriors. The silence was intolerable, as the men strained to hear the beast and it's approach.
When suddenly the ground shook violently in conjunction with a loud thud escaping from the direction of the grate, before the men could even ponder it's cause, it happened again...and again
. It continued, getting faster, louder and closer as it did.
shouted over the thundering footsteps, "This can't be good!"
struggled, like the rest, to keep his balance on the now constantly shaking floor he yelled to Tie Guy
, "What is it?!"
The answer could already be seen on Tie Guy's
frightened face as he hollered a response, "I don't know! Whatever it is, you can bet it's not going to like us very much!"
started to yell something but it was lost in a deafening roar originating from the now very
close beast. Suddenly the footsteps stopped and the beast's breathing could be heard emanating from the darkness beyond the gate. The men huddled close and faced the danger together.
It's head was visible first, and it was big! It was long and covered in red scales and topped with two great horns that stretched backwards behind it's head. It's two large eyes burned red with hatred. Suddenly the beast bared it's razor sharp teeth as it opened it's mouth and once again made it's presence known with another ear-piercing roar. The beast began to fully enter the large room and as it did, it's immense size became apparent to the four warriors.
It was all Rhett
could do to keep from stuttering as he spoke these simple words, "It's a dragon!"
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The dragon began surveying the room with hungry eyes as Havoc
whispered to the others, "Maybe if we remain really
still and not make a sound, it won't notice us?" Just then, the dragon's gaze settled directly on the four men, "or not!"
What happened next was truly a legendary battle. The dragon again opened his mouth but this time it was not a mighty roar that came forth. Instead, it was a fiery mass of boiling flame and it was streaking towards the warriors at a high rate of speed.
raised his shield and the ball of flame collided into the mystical armor and exploded all around the warriors with a brilliant light show and immense heat. The dragon followed up the first attack with a great charge towards the men, roaring as it beared down on the four men.
shouted to be heard above the dragon, "Split up and we’ll try to confuse it!
The men darted in different directions, successfully confusing the beast, if only for a second, as it stopped in it's tracks. The first target the dragon noticed was Leon
stumbling as he made his mad dash from the group. The dragon turned all his attention to Leon
who was now aware of his new found predicament. Realizing he didn't have enough time to get up before the dragon was upon him, he rolled on his back, reached behind him, grabbed an arrow and quickly drew his bow and released. The dragon was a mere ten feet away as the arrow struck the beast in the front leg. The beast's scales were to thick to pierce but it did cause a slight gash as it glanced off the beast causing the dragon to rear up and roar in pain. Using the moment wisely, Leon
scurried behind one of the two pillars toward the center of the room.
knew he had to get the beast's attention to give Leon
more time to recover, thinking quickly he grabbed a stone that had worked loose from the wall sometime during the dragon's approach, and promptly hurled the stone at the dragon, hitting the beast square in the rib cage. The dragon quickly turned its attention to where the stone had come from, quickly placing Havoc
in its sights and snapping its jaws and snorting menacingly. Havoc
knew his weapons would be useless against the dragon, so as the dragon approached he made ready for his only available option. Just as the dragon drew back it's claws to swipe at the lonely warrior, Havoc
disappeared from sight. Confusing the dragon once again, but also managing to anger it all the more, as evident from the extremely loud roar the beast let out as it turned his head to find another target.
All the while, Rhett
had been maneuvering himself around the room trying to get a clear shot on the dragon without endangering his friends. The task was daunting to say the least, between the changing of directions and the beast's tail and wings getting in the way. Rhett
called to Tie Guy
, get its attention, I need a clear shot!" Rhett
knew what he asked of his friend, but knew his blessed stick maybe the only thing that stops the beast.
swallowed his fear and began yelling at the dragon, waiving his shield and sword in the air, trying to get its attention. The dragon, being very angry and needing a new target, needed little coaxing and began to charge towards Tie Guy
who, by this time, realized he may not have thought this all the way through. "Uh, okay....now what!", He called to Rhett
"Just hold on, I've almost got it", Rhett
yelled back as he trained his stick on the beast and yelled the mystic word to activate the stick, "Yoink
The dragon faltered a bit, but seemed unhurt by the magical weapon, and continued it's charge on Tie Guy
who raised his shield and prepared for the worst. The dragon swiped at Tie Guy
bringing his claws to bare on the magic shield. Knocking both the shield and Tie Guy
into the nearby wall, rendering Tie Guy
unconscious, and sprawled on the stone floor.
The beast then quickly turned his attention to Rhett
, who was still in shock after seeing his weapon do nothing and his friend being mauled as a result. The dragon swung his tail at Rhett
, who was not expecting this turn of events, and hit him squarely in the chest hurling Rhett
across the room and across the floor. Though in pain, Rhett
was still conscious and attempting to get up. The beast turned, saw the weakened warrior and charged to finish Rhett
had regained his composure and quickly worked to save his friends. Once again, he reached into the quiver selected an arrow and drew his bow back with all his might. This time, Leon
took more time to aim, and released the arrow. Suddenly, the dragon stopped dead in his tracks, glanced back and with a quick flick of its tail deflected the arrow, redirecting it, to Leon's
horror, straight towards Rhett
who had no idea what was happening, and was still holding his head from the blow just moments earlier.
Just as the arrow was about to strike Rhett
, a great shout was heard, "NOOOOOooooo!" Just then, the arrow stopped dead in the air. The tip disappeared, seemingly lodged in thin air. A slight grunt of pain was heard and the arrow fell to the ground. Suddenly, Havoc
became visible on the ground at Rhett's
feet, the arrow lodged deep in his chest.
The dragon had once again, turned his attention to a new target, Leon
, who again ducked behind the pillar. Unfortunately, for him, pillar or no pillar, the dragon was set on killing its new target. The dragon swung madly at Leon
, but only managed to strike the pillar, which gave to the immense strength of the giant beast. Stone began to rain down from the ceiling that the pillar, just a short while ago, was supporting. In the confusion, Leon
managed to flee the flailing dragon and falling stone, and made his way to Rhett
and the severely injured Havoc
. To Leon's
relief, Tie Guy
was also rejoining the group, limping slowly, but alive nonetheless.
As the group was rejoined, the dragon began to shake the dust and rubble from it's body across the room, and slowly turn to face its adversaries.
spoke first, "It's no use, not even my blessed stick can harm it!" Leon
nodded in solemn agreement.
wasn't so quick to give up, "Didn't you see what happened when the dragon destroyed the pillar? There's only one more pillar left, if we take the last pillar out then we can bury that beast under tons of stone forever!"
was first to point out the folly in the plan, "But we'll
be buried as well!"
The dragon approached, slowly this time, not to underestimate its foes again. Hatred burning in its eyes, it was no longer playing around with its prey, it was out for blood.
Suddenly a weak voice was heard, it was Havoc
, "Go!...Go the way... from whence the great beast came... I will stall...the dragon"
"But, you'll be killed!", exclaimed Tie Guy
spat his reply through the blood on his lips, "JUST GO!! There's.. no time... Rhett
", answered Rhett
the sorrow becoming unbearable.
"Make sure you take out that pillar, don't you hesitate, whatever you do. I’m already as good as dead. You know that, right?”, Rhett
nodded his answer, and Havoc
continued quickly, “Remember? I was never supposed to be here, you were the three chosen. You have to survive to go on and destroy Viper
managed to get out between gasps for air, "Now help me up" The others helped Havoc
to his feet, and then Havoc
turned to Rhett
one last time, handing Rhett
his blade, "and Rhett
, give my sword to my wife and tell her I love her dearly!"
With that, Havoc
summoned up all his remaining strength and, unarmed, charged at the oncoming beast with a great battle cry. The dragon was taken back and did not know what to make of this new development. Meanwhile, the other three men quickly made their way to the great hall where the dragon had come from. After making it there, Rhett
turned around, fighting back the tears, he raised his stick and aimed at the remaining pillar, and took one last moment to look at his friend, who at that moment was struck down by the dragon, who then had his way with the body. Rhett
attempted to find solace in the fact that Havoc
would already be dead when he buried him in stone and rock.
And as the dragon turned his attention to the other three men, the beasts jaws still dripped red with the blood of their fallen comrade, Rhett
, without impunity, and for the first time, with pure contempt. Quietly, yet with the authority of a god, spoke the word of damnation on the beast, shattering the pillar of stone and causing tons of rubble, rock and dust to rain down on the beast. One large rock fell squarely on the dragon's head, as it tried to escape the falling stone, squashing it like a melon, as the rest of stone and rock came down burying the beast from view forever.
As the dust settled, the men reflected on what had just happened. There was no time to mourn, but each man swore they would avenge their friend’s death. Though the price was severe, that had won the battle. And now, more than ever, they knew they must defeat Viper or their comrade's death would be in vain.