Chapter 23: Not Even Divine Intervention...
Copyright© 2011 by Celtic Bard
The Darwyth Pride rumbled towards Mount Gyru, slowly climbing the easy slopes of the lower elevations on the western face. They could see a massive encampment just below them boiling with men and horses and elph-tor, all slowly streaming up the northern face of the mountain and curving westward to meet him and his companion's Pride. The cloudy sky over head was roiling in the gloomy dusk of the Netherland winter and even though night was not far behind, the sky was strangely luminous. Where the light came from, Jonar could not guess, even were he in a frame of mind to try. As it was, the Gnathar youth's mind was scattered with the vision of a blonde haired, blue-eyed beauty who brought tears to his eyes and made his heart sing with the need for retribution and an ice-encrusted axe of simple beauty all its own that seemed to call out to his very soul with a voice that promised all the justice his heart and this world could take. Though his mind was in chaos, a maelstrom of emotions, Jonar knew that this had to be Vindicor-Kimber reaching out from its icy tomb, enticing him to climb higher, faster, to reach his destiny. Jonar was still not happy, deep down in the quieter depths of his being, about having Gods meddle in his life but if that was what it took for him to avenge himself on Lord Dzar and his minions for their murder of his wife, then so be it.
"Yes, so be it, my friend," Gnusyl agreed in a steely tone, somehow following the chaotic stream of thoughts and emotions flickering through his friend's mind. "And the Darwyth Pride will see to it they all water the stone of this mountain with their blood. Many a Gnath will see their names passed on with glory for this deed and the Pride of Darwyth shall rise with you."
Jonar pulled his mind together and realized what his friend said with more than a little consternation and concern for the gallantly loyal creatures around him thundering on towards the wave upon wave of Dei-Xhan and Gnathar warriors rushing to meet them in a desperate attempt to keep him from claiming the Holy Axe of Sol. It was a race to the northwestern slope of the mountain and unbeknownst to the two young companions and their escorts, the Dei-Xhan and their minions were not the only ones present on the mountain.
The sourceless light noticed earlier by Jonar began coalescing into more discernable forms ... humanoid forms floating on the Netherland night air and surrounding the peak on all sides. As their light rose to illuminate the entire mountain, the true scope of the scene was revealed. Mount Gyru looked like a giant ant hill which had been kicked over. The seething ranks of Dei-Xhan and Gnathar swarming up to meet the thundering wave of the Darwyth Pride, Jonar's gleaming, mail armored form on its crest. They were nearly half way to the summit when the first elph-tor mounted sorcerors were trampled by the Gnaths, the screams of Gnath agony ringing out as the Dei-Xhan tried to slow their advance with spells before being crushed and rent asunder by the great clawed feet of the Darwyth. More and more spells were hurled toward the Gnaths and the lone rider incredulously swatting spells back upon their caster with his great gleaming axe, but the hovering Illuminants stretched forth their collective hand, countering many of those spells and drawing the attention of the minions of Lord Dzar.
With the sorcerors and magicians battling each other and adding the colorful detonations of conflicting magic to the eerie light illuminating the peak, the Gnaths redoubled their efforts, huffing and grunting in the thin, foul air even as the warriors attempting to stop them began slowing them down. Jonar was once more forced to begin slicing his way through Gnathar and Dei-Xhan, and the occasional elph-tor even reached him before being disemboweled or decapitated by Gnusyl. The young warrior was panting with his efforts to breathe and steeling himself for the final push through the lines of those arrayed against him when there suddenly was a detonation large enough to stagger Gnusyl and almost send him flying from his perch atop his companion. Looking up the mountain, he saw the source of that explosion in all of his dreadful glory.
His pale skin, deep, dark eyes of blackest obsidian, and a flowing mane of hair the color and texture of ravens' wings, the God of Sorcery surveyed the carnage before him with a frown, black robes writhing about his towering form in a stiff wind which suddenly arose from the north. "This will go no further, lordling," Dread Zondro-Xhan declared in his booming voice. His appearance sent the Dei-Xhan to their knees and their Gnathar fleeing in terror. The Gnaths took that opportunity to run onward, stomping many of the fleeing or kneeling into the rock of the mountain. Seeing this, the Dark God frowned and glared down at the still advancing Jonar. "And you crude beasts will cease trampling my faithful servants. Long have I contemplated moving against you for your enmity towards my Chosen and their beasts. Events have finally come to pass to allow me this free hand."
Raising a hand tipped with black ivory nails, Zondro-Xhan pointed at Jonar and Gnusyl, a lance of black force darting towards them. "With this ends the quest of Sol to reclaim Kimber's Vengeance," the Dark God said with satisfaction. Jonar flinched, his heart shriveling with despair as he sent a prayer of regret to his wife's spirit; I failed you, my love. I am sorry. Closing his eyes and readying for the pain of his death to come, Jonar was shocked when he heard Gnusyl's triumphant roar of challenge and felt the surging muscles beneath him as his friend carried them towards the Dark God. "What is this treachery? What God protects you, whelp?" demanded the now enraged God towering over the charging Gnath and his companion.
Jonar was wondering what happened when Gnusyl whispered in his mind, the Dark One's magic hit us and flashed bright blue and gold, but nothing else happened, even as another massive figure appeared on the slopes of Mt. Gyru. "You have learned nothing since this chain was forged millennia ago, Brother," the white robed, golden haired God, who suddenly towered over them even as the Dread God, said sadly, his voice resonant and thrumming in the mountain air. "You act without seeing and you see without understanding. Yours is a mind brilliant beyond measure, and yet you have wasted it for eons beyond counting with your cruelty and treachery and malice towards all," Sol rebuked his brother sternly.
"So, it is you who have protected this whelp and his beasts? I should have known it would come to this, Brother," Zondro-Xhan replied scathingly, his dark eyes glittering with malevolence as he looked upon Sol.
Jonar, ignored and ignoring the divine appearances, urged his companion onward. The sloping peak was an arduous climb even for the clawed feet of a Gnath and they had far up the peak to go to reach their destination. The Dei-Xhan, seeing their God struggling against the will of his brother Sol, rose in a wave and resumed their own struggles upward, trying to overwhelm the wave of Gnaths to reach the figure perched atop the largest of their mortal enemies. Jonar was soon shivering in the chill winter air, his arms shaking from the repeated blows he sent towards the Dei-Xhan or elph-tor that reached them and his armor and clothes were soon soaked through with ichor. Blinking his eyes to clear the blood from them, he turned his sight upwards. In the flash from the sorcerous battles and the sparks and detonations coming from the contention of the divine brothers behind him, he thought he saw something reflect from the flank of the mountain.
The pair was quickly approaching the area they were told to look for the Axe of Sol and Jonar was suddenly aware of another presence that beat upon his mind. He began looking around for the appearance of another God when that presence made itself known.