For a few brief moments everything around me stopped mattering, as I reached into the large steel weapons hold and pulled out a dusty leather case. Shaking slightly as I unbuckled the clasp, there was a chance this wouldn’t work but if it did I might just die happy.
“Wow”. A small whisper found its way past my lips. It was possibly the most beautiful Aldraead I had ever laid eyes on, not that I’d seen many in real life, but out of the diagrams and legends I had never seen one like this. Even Excalibur, the most famous of its kind, did not begin to match its beauty. The steel shimmered with a scarlet tint, only describable as a mixture of pure fire and blood. The handle a truly captivating obsidian black. Somewhere between an axe and a sword there was no question it was a magnificently unique item. Although very different to the one I grew up admiring.
Running my fingers against the perfect edge of the steel I remembered holding my fathers as a child, I always said I would grow up to create one, but things never really went that way. His was a thin weapon of perfect white that seemed to sparkle as if it had its own light source ever twinkling inside, a solid gold handle inscribed with our family name. He of course kept it well away from our grasp as children and without his permission the sword never left its mount on his office wall. He had reason enough to protect it, as the known last member of our race to ever produce one even till this day there was a considerable price placed on that sword and subsequently his head and mine to obtain it.
Its rarity was the dangerous thing about the Aldraead, to make one takes tremendous skill and a magic that many of my race can’t begin to tap into. A magic that was formed in the decades where there was total peace and harmony between the elves and faerie. Many elves considered the faerie influence on the weapon to brutish and many faerie considered the weapon too temperamental, although mainly out of a bitter grudge they still held against the elves and fear of what they took to produce. To make an Aldraead successfully the weapon needed to be bonded with its creator, according to my father it’s the reason an Aldraead will only move for its master or their kin and when it has no master left it becomes free to bond to whomever it may choose. A weapon with its own sense of mind will always be feared by my people.
Although little is known about them it is more than clear that they decide who their new wielder should become, even the humans know of Excalibur, the sword stuck in stone, which refused to move for any and all masters until one worthy enough should by chance arrive.
If this one was still loyal to its wielder I would not be able to take it from its case, trying may even cause the sword to attack, but somehow it just felt the right thing to do, none of the other weapons in the case would be fit for such a battle and for a man of my size I didn’t see a dagger being of much use. Slowly I reach out curling my fingers softly around the hilt as the pilot watches anxiously. Slowly I pull my elbow back and to my great relief the sword slides gently from its box. Perfectly weighted, the perfect size for me an inch or two thick and around a meter in height. His name, Sangern, I don’t know how I knew this but I just did. I thought of Morgan’s face seeing me holding such an item and suddenly he voice rang out through my head.
My heart soars even higher hearing her voice and I quickly fill her in on the situation whilst throwing the weapons over to all other members of our party, handing a bow and small throwing mace across to Layla to encourage her to keep as big of a distance as possible between herself and the creature. I gave the command to move forward.
“Mike what on earth, is that…. No.” Her voice faltered as she cast her eyes on Sangern.
I decided not to answer her as we rushed through the forest towards our target, I would need all the breath I had to carry out my plan now. If someone could distract the creature up close then the others might just have a chance to deal it some serious damage from afar. Only I could do that now, after all I was by far the most life worn in our party, I’d had my time. What did it matter as long as Morgan was safe, but Layla couldn’t know yet, she’d try to stop me.
She looked like she was about to ask again as we stopped momentarily to let the shaking Theo catch up, but she was swiftly interrupted by a raucous cry from above, the Horde were on the move, somehow it seemed a fight had started within their ranks, monster turned on monster as we briefly watched a sky battle.
There was no more time to stop and stare as the victorious creature began descending towards us.
“Keep Moving!” I call talking one massive swing towards the beast with my new weapon. Gliding through bone (or whatever these beasts seemed to have) as if it were still just air the unexpecting beasts face came clean from its squished body. More began to approach the smell of blood drawing them in. I needed to reach the Gollum and as quick as possible. I took it as my queue to run after the others as the monstrosities descended to rip apart their dying comrade.
Just as I caught a glimpse of Layla’s flaming red hair flashing in front of me I spotted the edge of the tree line. Hearing me running towards her Layla sharply turned towards me bow drawn poised to kill any enemy. I smiled feeling oddly proud of her spirit despite the fact she could have killed me with the accidental slip of a finger.
“Everyone take positions around it! As far away from each other as possible! Theo, I need you as high as you can get, out of its reach but with enough air force to knock it to pieces.” He nodded, swiftly forming an air cushion and soaring up towards the battlement walls that had previously been the golem’s home. Layla nodded at me and took my hand for a moment, squeezing it lightly before letting go and running off to the left behind the tree line. I hoped somewhere deep inside she understood that it was goodbye.
I wondered if that was the last time I would ever touch her again. Closing my hand tightly and taking a deep breath I walk out of the trees.
It’s towering, more than I could have ever imagined but my fate seems sealed. Gripping Sangern tightly I break into a powerful run, all my fear and determination to end this fight fled my body in a gigantic roar as I launched myself full on at the lower body of the golem.
Seconds could be hours for all I am aware, there is no plan, no strategy, just endless swings at the beast. Taking away large chunks of stone, as much as I can before it crushes me. I’ll keep it distracted for the others. With one last mighty swing I knock back a large boulder easily the size of myself, then everything happened, the triumphant smile wiped straight off my face as I finally hear what is going on around me. Layla’s piercing scream as a gigantic stone arm cascades towards me, swatting me off like a fly sending more rock cascading down on top of me. The arm swings back around for another hit to it’s attacker. Desperately trying to roll myself out of the way a searing pain shoots up my arm which will not move. Broken, shattered more likely. The arm draws closer and as my last second draws I feel the calm embrace of death encroaching. There is a sudden flash of red, everything seems to be happening at once, Layla is suddenly by my side and holding off the golem’s hand with a wall of fire.
No, why was she here, didn’t she understand she had to take it out while it was distracted. I had to die for this, she couldn’t die now, I wouldn’t let her. Without that wall of fire we could both be crushed in seconds by the giant fist, a fist gently growing more hardened and difficult to destroy.
I drop Sangern and with my working arm gently press my palm to her face.
“Go” I say as softly as I can. “They need you.”
I feel her tears run down my palm as she looks straight back into my eyes. “and I need you Mike.”
She lowered her face to mine and as our lips brushed she let the wall of fire fall.