Curse Thy Broken ShieldMature

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          The following writing may contain mature subject matter that some readers may find unsettling: graphic violence, gore, drugs, sexuality, vulgarity, nudity and other mature themes.

          This writing is fiction. Names, characters, settings and events are either used fictitiously or are products of the writers' imaginations. Any resemblance to real events, settings or people, dead or alive, is coincidental unless stated otherwise.

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            "I knight you Sir An'arath by the Mountains and the Heavens - that you may serve this land as protector of Crown Prince Julnareh. You are the vassal of my son, and the vessel of our deliverance."

                           -- Queen Naireene, as Regent of Agassiz Kingdom

 

            A potato flew through the sky, towards the women and men of An'arath's legion. They stood, brushing ruined strawberry crops off them. Stray leaves fell upon juice-covered armour. It seemed as if there was blood before the first sword had struck.

            More potatoes came, thrown from afar by the rebels. An'arath scowled as one fell upon his cone-shaped helmet and split upon the spikes. Surely a player among them thought of that. Let's hope there's only one - the one I know!

            "You'll be nothing but swine fodder when we're done with you!"

            I know that voice, Camlo thought. Prince Klyneh. This confirms Virginia's intelligence. Hopefully my men do not slay her. Camlo made An'arath hold his crossbow firmly in front of him, and began to look down its shaft, aiming. I must win.

            Prince Klyneh, back on his horse, had unstrapped his flail. It was a spiked mace ball on a chain, called a morning star. It was not the most conventional weapon. Kali focused upon it, not on the charging men around her, and drove her inspiration and willpower into it. The ball went around and around, as Klyneh swung it. And, finally, it let loose a blast of energy, swinging towards the strawberry field.

            Sir An'arath and the two men on his left side, all aiming their crossbows at Prince Klyneh, were hit. And as they were pushed back,  their crossbows fired as their metal shields cracked and the center man's chest severed open. And the shimmering projectile - as small as the mace ball - had left a crater four feet in diameter. Mud was splattered upon Sir An'arath and the other soldier as they ran back. The custom magic of a player! Or did NPCs get magic? The legendary Spheres of the Agassiz Kings?!

            An'arath's barbed bolt ricocheted off the Prince's shield, leaving a scar on the paint. And the other two pierced the head of his horse, one through the mouth and one through the eye. The dark stallion whinnied, blood trickling down the side of its faze and out its mouth. And then it began to spasm, and jerked backwards, sending Prince Klyneh flying backwards off its back.

            "Damn! Demondung!" An'arath grimaced, as Prince Klyneh fell out of range and was pulled away by soldiers. And then he turned around him, We're losing. We're losing the battle, but not the war! We will win this yet.

           And the broken chain of dueling soldiers, still meeting on the north side of the valley, encroached upon the ogres. The ogres were far more disturbed by the mysterious shockwave that had overturned and toppled everything in their part of the valley. And finally, An'arath understood why he was losing - and that his enemies were losing as well.

            Prince Klyneh lay unconscious on the ground, pulled through the mud away from his horse. His dark blue cape was muddied at the back. One of the soldiers emerged from the melee of battle that protected the rebel prince from the ogres and the royal army.

            The soldier sheathed his sword and looked down at Prince Klyneh, and then up at another worried-looking soldier. NPC. He gave a command, "Tactician's orders, I am to take the Prince's equipment as my own. To die for him. Help me pull him behind that fallen barn, for shelter. I'll undress. You undress him. Got it, soldier?"

            "Yes, lieutenant."

            And they began their work.

            Meanwhile, An'arath was seething at the Prince's disappearance from battle. I want a promotion! Hell, I want the princess on my arm again! Better yet, in my bed...

            Sir An'arath's squire handed him a vial, "Take this, m'lord."

            Smart! This NPC has a clearer head than I do. An outlet for my anger. Magic. An'arath took the vial, and pocketed it. Standing back from the fray of battle, he strapped the crossbow to his back as he was nearly out of ammo. And he unsheathed his serrated shortsword, brandishing it in one hand. And with the other, he took the vial out and doused the sword with the clear liquid inside it. Diethyl ether.

            "M'lord?" The squire sought thanks, as he handed his master a new shield.

            "Begone, squire. I have men to slay."

The End

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