Fantasy & Sci-Fi

The Last Warrior Chapter 12

By Jaken Steele

SignThe night was black, without a moon. The air, thick and still. The encampment of 300+ men was set on a lonely, desolate hill overlooking the Waste Lands. The features of the men were twisted and grotesquely distorted in the flickering light of torches and camp fires. A lone figure stood atop the hill looking down upon the army. The darkness of the night and the half light of the fires made the figure seem even more evil and solitary than he was. As he looked down upon his men, Rylan Kinslayer knew that getting to the tower and finding the power gem was an important task. It was now all or nothing. Rylan came down off the top of the hill slowly. He carefully made his way through the camp, looking among his men, attempting to decide which of them would accompany him and his brother Zyan into the Waste Lands and to the tower. As he walked his men looked at him with anticipation and hope, each of them wanting to be chosen to be by their leader's side during this most glorious, yet deadly, mission. After close to two hours, Rylan had narrowed his choices to ten of his best men. After talking to Zyan, his brother, Rylan felt even more confident about the choices he'd made.

Kahn and Kane Koran were perhaps the two greatest warriors in the Zahn army. They, along with their brother Khall, made up a unit that fought with skill, speed and precision. Khall, unlike his warrior brothers, was mage born. He'd been apprenticed at eight and had just about reached full potential at fourteen when his master could find no more to teach that the boy didn't already know. The three shared a bond that seemed to let each know where the others were and when they were in trouble. They were good…for humans.

The only one Rylan had ever seen more bloodthirsty for battle than they was the half orcan warrior Terrax Bloodhart. The bastard son of a human mother and an orcan father, Terrax hated anything good or even remotely beautiful. Terrax believed the world should be as ugly as he and swore to make it so.

Arron Foehammer was a human cleric who swore loyalty to but two things; the Zahn army and his god, Mephisto. He was chosen not for his fighting skills, which were adequate enough to keep him alive, but for the superb natural healing ability which he possessed.

Thieves were also going to be needed to get into and out of the tower and to get past the many pitfalls and traps that Rylan was sure the tower possessed. Rylan knew of two in his army who's skills qualified them for the job and since he couldn't decide which to take he chose both.

Raylan Duchat and Solan Solan were two of the sneakiest, nastiest and most cunning of drow thieves that Rylan had ever encountered. They demanded admittance into the horde and proved their worthiness by stealing every coin purse, including Rylan himself, in under an hour. They had known each other since childhood and where one was found the other was always by his side. They could get into and out of any situation and had an uncanny ability to sense if they were walking into a trap. They would prove valuable on this mission, Rylan knew.

The half elves Garan and Kyuss Balon were two brothers whose warrior skills were matched only by the intense hatred each had for the other. Competition between them was common for they could not stand that one should be better than the other. They were as different as two brothers could be. Garan was a cold and silent individual who preferred solitude while Kyuss was bold, loud and often obnoxious. When drinking and dice games were happening, Kyuss could usually be found in the middle of it all. Kyuss thought Garan to be soft and gutless while Garan thought his brother to be rude, aggressive and foolish. Yet in battle one would not fall while the other still stood.

Last, but most assuredly not least, was the individual known only as Sentinal. It was unknown from where Sentinal hailed. Also unknown were the voice, race and facial features of this most strange and vicious individual for he wore a black, leather mask covering the whole head and he had never spoken a word in the five years he'd been with them. He usually wrote down anything he had to say and even that wasn't a whole lot. He'd beaten ten of the horde's best warriors to gain acceptance into the army, yet strangely enough he let them all live. When asked why, his reply was that death would've been merciful and by sparing their lives they now had to live forever with the fact that he'd beaten them all single-handedly. Stranger yet was that he wore no armor, carried only a wooden staff and had emerged from that ten to one confrontation not only victorious, but totally unharmed. He was twisted and merciless and seemed to take a strange delight in torturing his opponents before killing them. He would stop at nothing to reach his objective.

Now that his elite team was chosen, the only thing to do was cross the Waste Lands and find the tower. Rylan decided to start at the first sign of daybreak. He began to bed down for the night and soon fell into a restless slumber.