Chapter 19

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Blood Demands Blood

Standing at the entrance to the underground city, Gathon scouted across the road leading up to him. The echo of marching soldiers came from the forest border, and as anticipated, Stormhold soldiers came marching out into the clearing with their commanders at the front. With the banner of Stormhold swaying back and forth, the time had come. The units were divided into cavalry, footmen, pikemen, and rangers. They lined up into battle formations at the opposite end of the terrain from the vanghouls.

Coming up next to Gathon, a vanghoul warrior clad in heavy armor addressed him with doubt. “Overlord, there are hundreds of them, and our soldiers are scattered. There is still no word from Warlord Nekada.”

“We have hundreds as well, line them up with all the gear at our disposal.”

“But, Lord Gathon, most of them are too weak to fight in this war.”

In a swift motion, the Overlord swung his hammer and smashed it into the head of the warrior next to him in pure rage. Turning towards the vanghouls standing behind him, he yelled out with a deep and terrifying voice. “Ready them all for battle! Anyone who dares question me will follow the same fate as this coward!” The hammer was dripping with blood and brain matter from the obliterated skull and served as a message to anyone who would oppose him.

Stepping out from the forest next to the army of men, Arthouras and Malisha walked up to the king. With his approval, the former overlord walked out into the road leading up to Gathon.

Seeing him stand there with his ferocious stare of blind hate, Arthouras shouted as he pounded his right arm against his chest. “Gathon! You have one chance to stand down, or we will remove you by force. Listen to me my brethren, the humans will not engage us if you leave the Overlord’s side. Think about your people, your families. Do not let this betrayer rule your lives any longer. As your former Overlord, Elder of the Forsaken Vanguard, I implore you to heed my call!”

Squinting up at the vanghoul warriors, Marcus was curious to see how they would react. Although should this escalate out of control, his right hand was wrapped around the hilt of his blade.

Looking back at his warriors, Gathon saw the doubt and struggle to decide in their eyes. Growling at them as he began walking back into the mountain, Bloodfist spat next to their feet before vanishing into the shadows of the cave. It did not take long before the clan leaders stepped forward and approached Arthouras at the middle. Throwing down their weapons at his feet, they pounded their chest once in a similar fashion as he had done earlier. It represented honor and trust. The short, yet meaningful speech, had turned the tide of the vanghouls allegiance. Riding up with a unit of knights beside him, King Marcus halted next to the leaders, awaiting Arthouras to explain the situation to the rest.

As the discussion was going on, Declan glanced over at Fowler who sat on a horse on his left side. Holding the reins in his hands, he asked the admiral with a curious tone of voice. “Where is the General?”

“Galeran is securing our flank in case these monsters have other plans for how this meeting should go. I don’t understand why the king would risk this. We have them cornered. A swift attack is enough to wipe every one of them out of existence.”

“They don’t seem that different from us, aside from their appearance obviously. If we can come to an arrangement with them that allows us to leave this island without any more men lost, I think that’s a great solution.”

Shaking his head in disagreement, Fowler began scouting around the hills for anything out of the ordinary. Most of the Stormhold soldiers remained concealed from the vanghouls. A sudden light sound of something flying through the air came from behind them. Declan turned his head in the direction immediately and saw a rain of arrows being fired from the forest towards the vanghoul warriors by the entrance to the mountain. The sky was littered with countless projectiles falling at the enemy army.

 Once the warriors got a glimpse of what was coming their way, they raised their shields as they shouted for everyone to take cover. Without a moment of hesitation, the vanghouls charged downhill towards the Stormhold army with their weapons drawn. The Chiefs roared out as the knights immediately covered the king with their own lives on the line. Complete chaos and panic ensued as Marcus was rushed out of there while the knights engaged the vanghoul leaders. Trying to stop what was happening, Arthouras shouted for his people to stand down, but as the knights attacked him, he was forced to retaliate. Horses were pushed aside as the Chiefs fought back, pulling the men down from their mounts.

Arriving back at his army, the king gazed back at the immediate battle as General Galeran rode up next to him. Nearly shouting, Marcus questioned him about what had just happened.

“The vanghouls attacked us from behind, Your Majesty. We had to defend ourselves,” Nathan replied.

The King was furious and suspicious at the same time, but as things had already escalated, he ordered the general to lead them to victory.

“At once, Your Majesty!”

Pulling his blade from its sheath, he pointed it to the sky as he yelled out for the army to engage. The pikemen rushed into battle first and formed a shield wall to hold off the enemy charge. With their bows readied, the archers let loose volleys from their safe distance behind the footmen. Cries, clash of weapons and chaos echoed from all over the valley as the battle began.

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