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HomeFantasy StoriesLowenna part 25 (chapter 30)
Lowenna part 25 (chapter 30)

Lowenna part 25 (chapter 30)

Zarkar is ready for the party and Lowenna is nolonger with them. Can the others save the children?


Kia had a bad feeling about this. Rique was covering the closest steep path to the cage and Ryna had climbed down the cliff face and was untying himself from the rope. Kia looked around again, "there should be more guards, some type of defence," he whispered to himself, "Zarkar should know we are close." Kia looked along the ridgeline, there wasn’t much to see, just some boulders and trees. 

He pulled back on his bowstring, testing its strength as he had done many times. He had taken all of Ryna’s arrows but still only had ten left. He thought he should have gathered more, but most of the ones he and Ryna had used had been damaged or destroyed. "If there are only ten raiders left I have enough," he thought, but he knew Krin had probably been lying about how many raiders were left. Fortunately, Rique had five more shots, and Marchel and Grilk were at the other end of the canyon readying to attack. 

As soon as the distraction started, Kia was going to kill as many raiders as quickly as possible saving only two arrows in case Ryna got in trouble. He stabbed the two arrows into the ground, to keep them separate. His young son was so important right now and Kia wanted him covered at all costs. 

He breathed in slowly, held it for a moment before he allowed the breath to slowly leave his body, as his heartbeat calmed. He was nervous but he had to be strong, keeping his wits about him was the most important thing. He couldn’t afford to miss a single shot. He was ready for this and he was determined he would not let anything happen to his children.

Grilk grunted at Marchel, letting him know he was ready. This plan would cause maximum confusion, but may cost more than Grilk wanted. He spat on his axe, and looked at it, he hadn’t used it in a long time and he regretted that. 

He also regretted he hadn’t looked after the old blade. It was slightly rusty and he could no longer see his reflection in it. When it had been new and in constant use he had kept it shiny, polishing it every sun. Even when he had first come to Penbirth, it had taken a long time to break that habit, but eventually after a few seasons he had stopped polishing it every sun, and slowly over time the gaps between polishes had got longer until they had stopped altogether. It had taken a stranger, a Lowenna, to unexpectedly turn up, to get Grilk to take up his axe again, and he was never going to put it down again. The only way he was going to be stopped now was if someone killed him. 

Grilk nodded to himself, he owed Wenna everything and he wasn’t going to let her down, no matter what the cost. He spat on his axe again and rubbed it with his rag, preparing himself to charge into battle one more time.

Marchel was ready himself. He was just waiting for one of the sentries to walk past the fire. The guard who was sitting at the fire looked asleep, and Marchel was hoping to take both of them out in one shot. He had his gauntlet charged, pointed at the fire, the lightning would make the fire explode that would signal Grilk and Kia. Another few steps that is all he needed, one more step. Marchel flexed his fingers and an orb of energy flew into the fire.

The noise was deafening the fire exploded out, engulfing the sleeping and passing guard, both screamed as the fire burned out their lives. Marchel fired another magic bolt hitting the other sentry in the chest. Marchel started to laugh as he ran into the camp, looking for Zarkar, but suddenly the large canvas shelter, closest to his position, collapsed and ten heavily armoured raiders burst into view. Marchel ducked and weaved as a bolt of magic shot over his head.

Grilk roared and most of the raiders turned to face the orc. Suddenly his warg launched itself into the group, killing one of the raiders instantly and wounding two more. Its snapping jaws and slashing claws, causing maximum damage. Grilk looked at the control collar in his hand. If his warg survived, it was unlikely to be re-captured. He threw the collar into the crowd of raiders before charging in with another roar, and he embedded his axe into the first raider he got close to. This did make him feel a little better before he turned his attention to the rest of the group.

Kia had taken out the guard by the cage and a sentry only leaving just Edgar alive and close to the cage. Kia saw movement on the ridgeline. A short fat man had stepped out from behind the boulders, thrusting his hand into the air. Kia looked away quickly, as a blinding flash filled the canyon. “Rique! Ryna!” Kia shouted as the flash faded back to a level Kia could see in. 

There were now six men on the ridge line, five of them readying bows, the other with his hands in the air pointing at a large glowing ball, which was lighting the whole canyon. Kia threw a glance at his daughter. She was rubbing her eyes trying to refocus. He returned his gaze to men on the ridge and let his arrow fly.

Kia was quick, and the archers only noticed him as their first man fell, Kia fired his second arrow, and reloaded, but as the third arrow left Kia’s bow, as an arrow hit him in the chest, he took a step back before reloading his bow again. He let his fourth arrow fly hitting another archer, but another arrow hit him and Kia fell to his knees. Kia could no longer stand. His breath and strength were failing him. He had to focus, he tried to load his bow but the arrow fell to the ground, he looked at the last archer who was reloading his bow again. Kia couldn’t move, he watched him draw back his bow and fall the arrow only just missing Kia's head. 

He turned his head to see Rique reloading her cross bolt. The fat man looked terrified before Rique shot him as well, before turning and running towards her father. “Cover your brother!” Kia shouted before falling onto the dusty ground. “I’m proud of you both” he managed to say before he closed his eyes.

Rique was heading to her father but knew, by the way, he had fallen, he was unlikely to survive. She wanted to hug him just one more time. She needed to say goodbye. She was almost there when she then noticed two raiders closing on her brother. He hadn't seen them. Rique looked over to where her father had fallen one more time, before turning back and starting to run down the steep track firing an arrow at the first raider. 

The arrow hit the raider straight in the face. He screamed in pain as he fell to the ground, trying to remove the arrow from his eye socket. Rique tried to reload her weapon, but the track was too steep. She fell, crashing down the steep track till she reached the bottom, letting out a short scream in pain as she stopped. Her leg was hurt, possibly broken. "Stupid!" She thought as the uninjured raider was now closing on her. 

Her cross bolt was out of reach. Rique drew her sword as the raider started to laugh, he was twice her size and she was struggling to stand. Her leg was firing pulses of pain making her grit her teeth. She couldn't put any weight on it. Suddenly the raider stopped laughing took one step forward and then fell. Rique saw Ryna, standing behind where the raider had been, his sword coated in blood.

Ryna nodded at his sister, and showed her the keys, which Edgar had surrendered, “Wait here, I’ll get the others then we get out of here.”

Rique grimaced, “Where’s Edgar?” She asked, Ryna, trying not to show how much pain she was in.

Ryna pointed to the cliff face, Edgar was sitting there, blood running down his forehead, holding his arm, which Ryna had stabbed. “He resisted,” Ryna said with a smile, before running off to the cage to free the others.

Lowenna was riding as hard as she could, and she was leading all the horses, which were still all tied together, hoping they could be used for a quick escape. She knew she was close, the flash that had woke her had faded to a low glow, but it was easy to see up ahead which meant her friends would be visible and vulnerable. She still hurt and trying to ride wasn’t easy, but she wasn’t going to stop. She had promised Kia she would look after Rique and Ryna, even though she had no magic to speak of, she wasn’t going to abandon them now.

Grilk grabbed Marchel and placed him over his shoulder. The fight had gone well until Zarkar had joined, several of the raiders were dead, but Marchel had been hit by a bolt of black magic, and had been thrown into the cliff face and knocked out. The warg was still fighting, but Grilk knew it was only a matter of time. It had been struck by sword and magic, and it was now probably only fighting on adrenaline. 

Fortunately, Zarkar had seemed distracted. He had kept staring up at the top of the canyon, where the flash had come from. Grilk had been lucky, facing away from the flash but almost everyone else had been caught out or had turned to see what the light was. No one had been ready for the flash, except Zarkar. He hadn’t come out of his shelter till the light had faded to a safe level. 

At first he hadn’t done anything just kept his distance and watched, but when Marchel had recovered enough to see him Zarkar had blasted him with his magic, before screaming and cursing out loud in anger, while looking at the cliff. 

Grilk had not waited. He didn’t like magic. Especially shadow magic. So he had grabbed Marchel’s body and ran. That was the plan if they got into trouble, leave the warg and get back to the others. He didn’t like the plan, nor did he like running. Orcs were made for marching short distances, not fast retreats. Hell he had only ever retreated once before and that was from a volcano eruption, but this was supposed to be a distraction, not a fight to the death. 

Grilk hoped Ryna had freed the others and everyone was safe. As he turned and headed along the edge of the canyon, he heard a loud yelp and then the warg was silent, that was the end of his faithful ride. He would have to ride a stupid horse now. Grilk knew he was too big and heavy for horses, and he would have to run all the way back to camp. Grilk hated running almost as much as retreating. Running, retreating, horse riding and magic they were the only things Grilk didn’t like, and green vegetables he didn’t really like them either. 

There was a raider running towards Grilk, a large sword in his hands. Grilk did not have time for this. He threw his axe, hitting the raider in the chest, and the old orc watched him fall off the edge, without making a sound. Grilk grabbed the sword, which the raider had dropped, his faithful axe was now at the bottom of the canyon. He was going to miss that old axe, it had killed a lot of enemies and monsters. But it was gone now, and he had to keep moving, as he could hear voices behind him.

Eryn was helping Rique up the steep path, Ryna and Finn were walking behind Edgar, and the other three children were following. The youngest couldn’t stop crying, but no other raiders had approached them.

Finn had Edgar’s blade, and was so angry with him, he was pressing it into his back. Back before the raid he thought Edgar had been his friend, but now Finn knew better. When the raid had started, Finn had been with his mother, and when he had been taken, his mother had been stabbed and left for dead. He had pleaded Edgar to help her, but he had only laughed, saying Finn was an idiot, useless stable boy, who only reminded him of what he had lost. Edgar and the other raiders had laughed cruelly at Finn, and it was the one sound he would never forget.

Rique was dreading what was coming next. She had told everyone they had a fast walk ahead of them, or a run if they were in trouble. Rique knew her leg was not up to either but was more worried about Ryna at the moment. She had not told him about their father yet, "Where is dad?" he suddenly asked as if he could read his sister's mind.

Rique raised her cross bolt covering Edgar, “He was hurt we have to go, Grilk and Marchel will meet us.” Ryna looked at Rique a look of confusion on his face, which slowly became a look of horror.

He turned and ran towards where his dad had been standing, not caring about anything else. Tears started rolling down Rique's face. She wanted to run and be with her father too, but she could hardly walk let alone run. Edgar looked at her. “Don’t!” She blurted out, her cross bolt shaking but still pointing at him. 

Rique heard her brother start to wail. She tried to force the tears back but couldn’t and closed her eye's tears flowing freely down her cheeks.

Suddenly Edgar spun into Finn, knocking him off his feet. Then he started to run away from the group. Rique tried to focus her cross bolt on him, but a pink flash stopped him in his tracks. Lowenna stood there her hand outstretched with pale pink flames dancing on her fingers “Get on the horses everyone.” She shouted taking control of the situation, “And who are you?” she asked Edgar, who said nothing, and did not move.

“He’s the gate guard who betrayed the settlement," Rique said while wiping away the tears. "Marchel said we should try to take him back so they will not blame you for the trouble.”

A small smile flickered across Lowenna's face, but she knew something was very wrong, “Where is everyone else Rique, where’s your brother…”

Suddenly she heard Grilk roar, then, she could see him riding a horse towards them. He held the unconscious Marchel under one arm, and Ryna was following on another horse. “Run!” Grilk shouted at the group, urgency in his voice.

“Rique get everyone to the horses, and bind the prisoner’s arms hurry,” Lowenna said, hoping to get everyone away and safe.

Eryn and Finn grabbed a horse each and placed one of the smaller children on it before mounting themselves. Rique wrapped some cord around Edgar’s wrists and pointed her cross bolt at him, “Up,” she said. He glared at her briefly before complying. “Good boy,” Rique sarcastically added, before she climbed up behind him, pressing the cross bolt into his back. “Try anything and I will kill you.”

Edgar turned his head and smiled, “Like you have the nerve, little girl.” He stated cruelly.

“I have just watched my father die because of what you did. So if you don’t think I will do it,” Rique whispered, as she jarred the cross bolt into his back and the arrow drew a little blood, “you will be dead wrong.”

Lowenna grabbed the last of the kidnapped children and placed it on the horse with Ryna, but Grilk placed Marchel over the horse and dismounted “Take horse you and Marchel, get away.”

“What about you?” Lowenna asked, not believing what Grilk had just said.

“Me no like horses, me cover escape.”

“Grilk!” Lowenna said, trying to sound angry, “Get on a horse and go, they will be after us.”

“Yes Wenna,” Grilk said and did what he was told. Lowenna felt that she had just told Grilk off, like a mother scolding her child, but she didn’t care, she wanted everyone to go. She mounted the horse with the unconscious Marchel and rode after the others.

Zarkar was furious. All his prisoners, including his sacrifice, had escaped, and all his archers and magic-wielding mercenaries were now dead. He just couldn’t believe that a lawman, and an orc, had outclassed them and using a warg, that had been unexpected. 

From what Price had said an archer and some children had freed the prisoners, and killed his men on the ridgeline. Zarkar had personally killed the warg and possibly the lawman too, but only the archer had fallen by the trap he had set, and not before taking out almost all of his own men first. 

A young girl had shot the last one. She had tried to kill Price too, but he had blocked the arrow then fell and pretended to be dead. Price had been quite proud of the fact he had survived and told Zarkar everything he had seen before pretending to be dead, and Zarkar had rewarded this information by decapitating him with a swish of his cape.

Now his last five remaining followers were chasing after the group but, he knew there was little chance they would survive and where was Dumar, was he dead too? Zarkar had started with nearly fifty men. Ten not, counting himself, had magic of one type or another. There had been three who had been blessed by the same Lord he followed. Yet they had all died or were missing. This quest had been a disaster and whom would his lord blame. Zarkar looked over at his shelter, the entrance was open and his strong box was on his table. He had to get them to his master. 

He breathed heavily, as long as his master got what he wanted it would be fine, but there was one thing he needed to do first. He walked over to the strong box and allowed the entrance of his shelter to close behind him.
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Copyright © © 2015 by Robert Stevens All Rights Reserved

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