by Quinn P.
They stood at the edge of a dark clearing as the stars twinkled above them. The moon shone through the waving trees, casting long shadows that groped like gnarled arms trying to ensnare anything that moved. Hatheldain wore a tunic the hue of forest leaves in shadow, and a hauberk of shining maille [chain mail]. On his left arm he bore a green shield emblazoned with an argent [silver] unicorn.
His enemy carried a sable shield that bore no device; it consumed the light around it with a dark thirst. The figure itself was clad in dark armor, and its black, unearthly eyes burnt in hatred. Their gaze was met with Hatheldain’s keen, piercing eyes. All was silent except for the wind sighing through the trees.
With contempt in its gaze, the lich [undead] lord stepped towards Hatheldain, raising his shield and hefting up a mighty black mace. The dark weapon streaked down towards its foe, and a bright blade flashed into the night, intercepting the mace with a crack. Though deadly and powerful, the mace could not withstand the keenness and ancient power of Calensil Nar, Sword of Light. With a deafening blast and a flash of green fire, the mace flew apart into a hundred fragments, its spirit defeated.
The lich recoiled, glaring at Hatheldain with loathing. With a hissing sound of steel, he drew his mighty sword, the source of his power and malice. It was a foot longer than any longsword of man, but he wielded it with ease. Its guard was wrought of a black metal in the likeness of a terrible, malformed skull, its ruby eyes glaring in the light of the moon, destruction in their gaze. For the second time, the lich lord approached Hatheldain, holding its huge sword aloft.
Hatheldain struck at his enemy, but his attack was contemptuously knocked aside. The lich lord counter struck, his blade smashing into Hatheldain’s shield, splintering it and wrenching the arm. The lich struck at its foe many times, each being evaded, some scarring the ground with rotting gashes. Hatheldain was becoming weary, so in a desperate attempt to get to his foe, he jumped into one of the lich’s blows, blocking the strike with Calensil Nar. The swords clashed edge against edge. Hatheldain and the lich screamed in pain as their powerful blades chipped, harming their masters who were so strongly linked with them.
The lich recoiled, and Hatheldain fell to his knees, half stunned in pain. With a terrible bone chilling voice, the lich spoke. “Weak fool. You thought that you could defeat me? I am lord of the dead, slayer of men and elves in the elder days. How dare you challenge me now? You are pathetic, and I stand over the site of an ancient battle. This is where I am strongest!”
The lich lord thrust his sword into the earth, and the ground began to boil around his feet. “No!” gasped Hatheldain, and he leapt towards his foe. The earth erupted, and grim skeletons burst out of the ground. They struck Hatheldain, throwing him back with the sound of swords striking maille.
Hatheldain strove against the skeletons with anger and desperation. Scores of them poured from the earth, but none could withstand the wrath of Hatheldain. With every sword stroke, a skeleton would disintegrate into dust. He launched himself through his foes, and wrapped a strike over the shield of the surprised lich, Calensil Nar’s blade sinking into the lich’s armored shoulder.
With a scream, the lich summoned a wall of force that threw back Hatheldain. With a sickening crunch, Hatheldain’s sword arm struck a rock. Pain shot up his arm, nearly blinding him. The lich ripped his shield off his wounded arm, and pointed his sword at the human who dared inflict such pain to him. With a snarl he said “Your swordplay is no match against my sorcery, young warrior. I shall now take your body to replace the one you damaged!” He thrust his hand towards his foe. Hatheldain felt his throat constrict and his spirit slowly being crushed by the iron grip of the lich’s mind. But he had achieved what he needed: the lich no longer was holding its shield. Hatheldain raised his hand, and a torrent of green fire shot out and engulfed the screaming lich.
‘I have learned some “sorcery” since last time we met’ whispered Hatheldain as he limped towards the prone corpse. “Your arrogance was your undoing. Now be banished to the void where you belong!” Hatheldain struck off the head of one of the deadliest liches who ever walked the earth.
The air filled with a dreadful unearthly scream that didn’t come from a mouth, but rather it seemed as if the air itself was making the noise, ringing in hatred and anguish. Hatheldain clamped his hands over his ears and gasped in pain as he moved his broken arm. The screaming slowly subsided, and Hatheldain stumbled and fell to his knees. The sky pressed down on him, and he could barely stay conscious. Then he felt its presence; the lich’s spirit had not been vanquished, and it hovered over him like a dark cloud, building up strength to smite him, then take his body for its own.
Exerting himself to the limit, Hatheldain stood up and limped over to the lich’s sword. He thrust Calensil Nar upon the ancient blade with all the force he could muster using his left arm. With its master weakened, the fell blade could not withstand Hatheldain’s attack, and with a blinding flash it shattered. Hatheldain felt a great strain run through Calensil Nar. Its blade shivered with uncontainable force, and with a snap, Hatheldain’s left arm broke, and Calensil Nar fell to the ground. Then all was dark.