(Continued from the last Chapter)
As Lightning slept, high above the Unicornicopian surface and just past one of the Planet's moons, sat Titan's ship, Lying in wait on the its dark side. As the battle station seemingly drifted in the shadows of the moon, Titan sat calmly on the throne of bones that was made out for him.
There was something off about that unicorn that the copy he made from his dark magic faced earlier. Something that he couldn't quite place that made him uneasy. “That was no ordinary magic...” Titan thought as he stared out into the endless void from the bridge. “That force that the unicorn used... That was something brought back from a long and forgotten age. The time when Darkness and Evil was at its peak.”
The sorcerer couldn't believe that what was in essence a lesser clone of his own body would be destroyed by someone so weak as the unicorn. And even as he replayed the thoughts out in his mind, there was something that always seemed to keep him from making a connection. “Why?”
One of the entrances opened up from behind Titan as the sound of hooves trotted across the blood red metal floor. Titan cast a glance to his right as Relicourse walked from behind Titan and turned to face him before bowing low. “Yes? What is it?” Titan snapped, watching as Relicourse rose from his bow.
“My lord, I have just came to report that the Hedgeslayer Gnolls have just arrived.” The centaur replied. “Their leader, Thuroroq has requested an audience with you.”
Titan nodded before waving his hand off in Relicourse's direction. “All right, let the Gnoll speak.” He said, watching Relicourse nod.
“Bring the view screen up.” Relicourse commanded, watching several of the mutated Kobolds began working on the panels down below them. After a few moments, a black screen appeared in the middle of one of the windows before it revealed the deck of a ship on board in less than half a second. Instead of seeing metallic computer panels and glass screens from the main deck, Titan could see that the deck of the ship was more like a forest clearing. Several columns covered in tree bark disappeared from the top of the screen as several branches darted this way and that; a dull green glow could be seen emitting from the rocks that lined the walls and a tall oaken throne, smaller than the one Titan currently sat in, stood proudly in the middle of the deck.
The natural feel of the deck wasn't the thing that surprised Titan. It was the Gnolls themselves that surprised him. They were like tall hyena-like humanoids, standing close to his shoulder and had varying coat colors of dark murky brown to gray. They all had on suits of metallic armor that looked like it was made from wood that covered up most of their bodies save for what he could see, and they all had maniacal but respectful grins on their faces. Their leader, a dark brown coated Gnoll wearing a bloody black set of armor with a robe made of pelts bowed low as his servants did so.
“My Lord Titan, It has been a while since my people have served your dark cause. We are honored to be able to serve you again.” The leader of the Gnolls said as he remained low.
“Your tongue is as sly as your loyalty is fierce, Son of the Cunning Deceiver.” Titan commented, waving his hand to let the Gnolls to stand. “Though I hope for your sake that you keep your end of the bargain that he and I struck.”
Thuroroq nodded. “Of course Lord. We are not without our honor, and you have honored us with conquest after conquest.” The Gnoll smiled devilishly. “I humbly and most sincerely apologize for being late to your call as we met up with a small group of Unicornicopian ships that attempted to stop us. They are being scavenged for parts by our ships even as we speak.” He said, bowing low again.
“There is no need to apologize.” Titan replied, waving a hand at Thuroroq. “You are the first ones to arrive as always. And you are the first ones to begin my invasion of Unicornicopia itself.”
The Gnoll smiled. “I humbly thank you milord, you have given us a task with which we have more than the power to accomplish.” He then turned as a Gnoll in dark green robes appeared from the ground beside him. After whispering something in his ear Thuroroq's ears perked up as a very toothy grin graced his lips. “It is ready then?” He asked, casting a glance at the Gnoll but never turning his attention away from Titan.
The robed Gnoll nodded, giving Thuroroq a glowing green basketball sized seed. The sight of the seed caught Titan's attention, which Thuroroq noticed. “Milord, allow me to present to you the first of our many gifts. The Vein Harvester.”
“What is it?” Titan asked, watching the seed closely.
“This, my lord is something that we've perfected in our time separated from your grace.” Thuroroq replied. “Simply put, The Vein Harvester is meant to destroy and devour all of our enemies crops thus rendering the enemy's standing force unable to mobilize. With it's abilities we will crush those Unicornicopian fools, and exterminate the vermin that stand in your way. If using it is to be your will that is.”
Titan nodded, his dark mind mulling over the idea. He then looked back up and nodded. “Go ahead and prove yourself to me Gnoll. If your gift is as worthy of what you claim, then Unicornicopia should be crushed within a day.” He then smiled though it couldn't be seen from underneath his hood. “Though I am going to send my general Callenfir to oversee the operation. I do not tolerate failure, as I am sure your father had warned you. Fail and I will see to it that you burn in your throne of wood and stones.”
The Gnoll gulped nervously but nodded all the same. “Of course milord. We will not fail.” Thuroroq finally said, giving another bow to Titan.
“Then begone from my sight. I have much to think about and do not wish to hear anything until your success.” Titan replied, watching Thuroroq give another quick bow before the screen cut to black. Titan watched as Relicourse turned to go and glared at him. “Is there something that you do not like about my course of action centaur?” Titan snapped.
“No milord. I would have done the same thing myself if I were in your mighty position.” Relicourse replied, watching Titan nod.
“Well then, see that Callenfir is notified that he is to meet up with the Hedgeslayer Gnolls on the Unicornicopian surface. I expect no mistakes, is that clear Relicourse?” Titan asked.
Relicourse nodded. “Of course milord.” He gave a quick bow to Titan. “It is your will, and your will be done.” He said, watching as Titan waved him away. The centaur left quickly, leaving Titan back to thinking about that strange unicorn.
“Now the stage is set Celesto... What will you do?” He thought, continuing to view the interstellar void from his throne in silence.
Sometime later, close to dawn on the Unicornicopian surface, a group of smaller vessels in the shapes of dagger-like leaves from the Gnoll fleet were flying through the cloud cover that was beginning to roll in from the west. They were headed towards a smaller settlement than the Rainbow Capital, a town known as Redwood Valley.
“It doesn't look like much.” Callenfir commented, looking over a heads-up display map that was on the lead craft's central monitor. At least a hundred Gnolls all sat underneath him in black metal armor, readying themselves for the coming battle.
“General Callenfir, I assure you that the Vein Harvester will do it's job as promised.” One of Thuroroq's lieutenants, a dark brown coated burly Gnoll replied.
Callenfir shook his head before turning to the Gnoll. “That's not what I meant.” The dragonkin snapped. “Of course your Vein Harvester thing is going to do it's job. What I don't get is why we're attacking this backwards town here and not going for the capital.” He snapped.
“It is simple strategy that Lord Titan has embraced when he admitted us into his armies.” The Gnoll replied. “An opposing force cannot hope to defend themselves on an empty stomach. And without a source of food, the enemy will be slaughtered or surrender.” Callenfir nodded, but his scowl was still visible.
“I just hope that it doesn't finish the fight before it starts...” The Dragonkin grumbled.
“General, we're now approaching the settlement.” Another Gnoll reported, catching Callenfir's attention.
“Take us down outside the village, and remain near the ships until I give the order.” Callenfir barked as the ship began to descend. He could see the small sprawling hamlet from the cockpit as they broke from cloud cover, the city itself was dark but surrounded by fields as a huge redwood forest took up most of the surrounding area.
After a few minutes, Callenfir could hear the ground touch the, “legs,” of the ship and got out of his seat and made his way to the back. After a few moments, he climbed out and stepped back as a rank earthy scent met his nostrils which almost blocked out anything else. “What in the name of darkness is that?” The Dragonkin asked.
“Pardon my rudeness General, but that would be the nature of this world that you are currently smelling.” The Gnoll Lieutenant replied. Callenfir turned sharply, about to take the Lieutenant's head off only to find the Vein Harvester clutched in his claws.
“You got lucky this time Gnoll.” Callenfir said quickly, walking off as the Lieutenant began to follow.
At Callenfir's first glance, he appeared to have only Gnolls in his ranks. But after a quick head count, he could see that he only had a small battalion of Gnolls(at least three-hundred and fifty of them) while he had at least two thousand Kobolds at his disposal. “Great... Just what I need to lead into battle, cowards and backstabbers.” Callenfir thought angrily before the soldiers behind him lined up in formation. “All right meatsacks, listen up. Our goal is simple, get this-” He turned to the glowing green seed with disgust, “-Vein Harvester into the fields of our lords enemies. After it get's to working, we don't stop until every last part of their food supply is effectively destroyed. Is that clear?” He snapped, watching as they all gave loud roars of approval. “All right, we approach from the south. If there's any resistance, kill'em.” He commanded, walking past the columns of soldiers before drawing his sword. “Just let me find a Unicornicopian soldier, I want him to see death before it claims him.” The Dragonkin thought nastily.
Down at the town below, several families were just now beginning to wake up as their work days had begun again. They knew that Redwood Valley was one of the most important towns in Unicornicopia, and they wanted to keep the importance alive. As the groups of farmers that ranged from unicorns and Orcs and some Goblins all got ready to start their day, one of them saw something. A glowing red mass that approached their town.
“Never seen somethin' like that before?”
“Is it dangerous?”
Before any of them could react, a loud screeching roar pierced the night which chilled them to the very core. From out of the forests that surrounded them, a huge column of what only could be described as death descended from the trees, guided by what appeared to be a winged demon and a glowing green orb.
The farmers cried out in terror as the column advanced, at an almost monstrous pace, and didn't stop until they were all at the square. More and more civilians came out to see what was wrong, only to look on with horror as smoke plumes rose from the fields. Some tried to rush over to the fields, but were stopped at the warnings of the danger. All they could do now is wait for the soldiers from the Grand Ruler's army to come.
At the center of the destruction was not Callenfir, no it was the Vein Harvester who had taken on a monstrous human-like appearance with a pair of vines for arms and legs, both of which were covered in dark brown bark. The central seed was now covered in the same bark, and at the top of the head there appeared to be a demonic looking crown that was made from branches sitting on the top of the beast's head. The Vein Harvester flailed and swung it's arms wildly, cutting down swaths of the crops that were in the fields as they began to become blackened and filled with decay.
“So... This is it?” Callenfir snapped. “This is your big Vein Harvester?”
“Patience General. We still haven't tested it on non-plant matter.” The Gnoll Lieutenant replied.
Just as Callenfir was about to say something else, a loud trumpet began to blare out from the heavens as several hundred unicorns in white armor could be seen flying over head. As the column of his troops began to leave the first field, another group of Goblins, Orcs, and Elves were standing in the middle of the road that led into the next field. “Well then... Perfect timing.” Callenfir commented mentally before grinning.
“I hope you are prepared for Tartarus Dragonkin.” An orc in a very regal looking suit of white armor with golden trim snapped before drawing a battle-ax. “You can take your abomination there with you as you send your cries back to your master Titan.”
“Heh we'll see about that.” Callenfir scoffed. “Vein Harvester, let's see you do your thing.” He ordered.
The next few seconds were some of the most intimidating of even the Dragonkin's life. The armored orc charged, letting out a mighty roar as the Vein Harvester did nothing but step forward. After the commander got a few steps, a sharpened wooden spike erupted from the ground underneath the commander, impaling him. But even as the commander struggled against the pain, his body then began to wither away just like the crops that Vein Harvester previously destroyed before it was finally reduced to nothing. The wooden spike then disappeared back underground, which caused the body to drop and be reduced to dust.
“Oooh... Very nice.” Callenfir commented, giving a demented cackle towards the enemy soldiers. “All units, CHARGE!” The Dragonkin ordered before leaping at the intimidated Unicornicopians.
What was left of the Unicornicopian military at Redwood Valley was reduced to several soldiers scattered across the ruins of the city, fighting for their lives. Titan's forces suffered minimal losses, the Vein Harvester saw to that as none of them could get close without meeting a branch or a poisonous bush halfway into their charge, and had spent the early morning rounding up the villagers of the community.
The Vein Harvester, under heavy guard as instructed by Callenfir, was busily finishing off the crops from the farms around the main portion of the city as the main fighting force for the Hedgeslayer Gnolls were busily fortifying the area.
“Are you quite pleased with the results General?” The Gnoll lieutenant asked, watching the Dragonkin turn to his direction.
“Actually yeah.” Callenfir replied. “This went a lot smoother than I could have hoped. Now what's the status on the fortification of this backwards place here?”
“We've almost finished with the inner defensive wall General. There are patrols that are scouting the area for more resistance, but half of the battalion is still within the walls ready to defend our position should there be a need for it.” The lieutenant answered. “Then there is the Vein Harvester itself, which can wipe out the enemy when we call it to battle, but it's recharging its powers at the moment and will be in fighting form momentarily.”
Callenfir nodded, before heading to a small communications array that was being loaded off of the ship he arrived in. “Set that down, I need to make my report to Lord Titan.” He barked at the struggling Kobolds. They did as they were bidden, stepping back as the Dragonkin pulled an all black crystal from his armor and placed it into the flying saucer-esque device. The machine roared to life for a few moments before a hologram of Relicourse appeared above the device.
“Callenfir, your report isn't due for another ten minutes.” The centaur said. “You can't have taken your target already.”
The Dragonkin smiled. “Oh well that's where that Vein Harvester came in handy. It cut through their numbers like butter.”
“I see. Well then I-
I would like to report this to Lord Titan himself.” Callenfir snapped, cutting Relicourse off. “It's my victory, and I would like to let him know personally. Though I couldn't have done it without the Gnoll tech we received.” He said, watching Relicourse nod.
“Of course Callenfir.” Relicourse replied, his hologram disappearing as the Dragonkin bowed low.
“I have heard that you met with success in your first encounter with the Unicornicopian scum Dragonkin. You have done well.” Titan's voice said coldly as his hologram appeared before them.
“There wasn't too much resistance milord, only about a full battalion met us here and they didn't look like they were properly trained.” Callenfir replied. “Heh, I could've possibly taken them on without the Vein Harvester. But that's hearsay, I'm just here to report that we have a beachhead on the Planet's surface.” The Dragonkin watched as Titan's eyes narrowed, appearing to think hard about something. “Is there something the matter milord?” Callenfir asked.
“Yes...” Titan said, rising from his throne in the hologram. “Continue to hold and fortify your position, and bring the Vein Harvester in once it has fully received a charge.”
“Begging your mercy, but this doesn't seem to make any sense. Why do you want me to pull them back no-
Because imbecile, you will be horribly out numbered once Celesto get's wind of this. Unless you want to lose the advantage we already have?” Titan snapped, watching as Callenfir shook his head. “Good, then do as I command. I will send you extra assistance to hold that position until the time is ready for my next move.”
Callenfir nodded. “It will be done as you command milord.” He said, bowing low.
Titan then sat back down on his throne, disappearing from the hologram before Callenfir rose. The Gnoll lieutenant stepped forward only to stop as the Dragonkin rose his hand to stop him. “Pull everyone back inside, and get everyone working on the defenses. They complain, kill'em.” He commanded.
“Of course General.” The Gnoll lieutenant replied before scampering off. Just as soon as the Gnoll was gone, Callenfir gave a confident smirk. “All right you Unicornicopian dogs, let's see what you've got.”
The Rainbow Capital had not heard of Titan's move against Redwood Valley early the next morning. None of them had figured that the sorcerer would be bold enough to wage a direct attack on the planet so close after being chased off-world by the wielder of the Uniforce. But they were proven wrong.
As the Unicornicopian sun began to break out from the horizon as the city was still wrapped in a somewhat peaceful slumber, a hand full of survivors -both soldiers and civilians- staggered into the city, their faces appearing visibly shaken and some were carrying wounded.
Lightning had only just heard about the attack after he had gotten up a few hours later. “Titan's already made landfall onto Unicornicopia?” He thought, rushing to the field hospital that was made out for the survivors of the attack in the main square of the Middle District. He stopped, as the crowd of injured and near-dead were all being treated by some of the best that the Rainbow Capital had to offer. In the near middle of the square he could see that Buddy Rose and the rest of his squad mates were all around the front, the dark green unicorn was trembling in pure anger. Lightning approached cautiously as the others saw his approach.
“Titan's forces attacked Redwood Valley. Buddy's taking it personal because he was born and raised there.” Drawn Out replied quietly as Lightning approached. “He wants to head in there himself and take out all of the Gnoll soldiers that are supposedly in the area. The survivors from the attack said that their powers had something to do with it being so easily captured.”
“You would be pissed too if the place where you grew up was now over run with blood thirsty slaves to Titan's war machine.” Buddy Rose said coldly, causing Lightning to jump.
“Whoa... That's a little harsh don't you think?” Lightning asked.
“You don't seem to get it do you?” Buddy snapped, rounding on Lightning. “Those Gnolls are nothing but a bunch of bloodthirsty savages who will kill anything that they themselves can't rule over. And if there is anything that's more powerful than them, they will kill for that thing until they get stronger themselves. Gnolls show no loyalty to anyone except themselves, and are complete and utter scum.” Buddy paused, releasing his clenched fists before clenching them again. “I'm just waiting for his highness to give the word and I'll take back my home himself.”
“Buddy's family have been sworn to exterminate every last Gnoll who's pledged their allegiance to Titan.” Drawn Out explained. “It's really scary when you think about it, as when they hold a grudge they won't let go of it until they pass on to the next world.”
“And I thought I was the crazy one.” Ottavo commented before cringing as Buddy rounded on him. “I'm just saying that if a full battalion of Gnolls and Kobolds could do this-” He motioned a hand towards several groups of injured Unicornicopians; including a soldier who was bleeding out profusely from his lower chest, a pale pink unicorn with her right wing missing and most of her left arm and leg torn off, “-Then there's no way one guy's going to be able to take on a bunch of Gnolls alone.”
“As much as I loathe to admit it, but the firecracker has a point.” Moonbeam said, watching Buddy's anger continue to visibly rise. Ottavo made a face behind her back which promptly caused her to smack the unicorn in the back of the head before she continued, “Even if you were somehow able to cut through the now legion-sized army that sits at Redwood Valley now, they still have that Super Weapon of theirs plus they have at least two enemy Generals on the front lines. You wouldn't make it.”
Buddy growled in frustration and began to say something in protest but felt Lightning's hand on his shoulder. The unicorn turned, seeing Lightning's gentle smile and calmed down a little before unclenching his fists again.
“I may not know exactly what you're going through Buddy, but don't worry about it. I'd back you up on that Suicide mission any day.” Lightning said encouragingly.
“Thanks Lightning.” Buddy replied.
“So where's Krysta?” Drawn Out asked, looking around for the fairy.
“She said that she'd stay behind.” Lightning replied. “Something about something telling her that something dangerous was going to happen.” He said before turning back to Buddy. “Anyways, who all's here?”
The dark green unicorn scanned the crowd, cringing at the sight of his neighbors and friends all in intense pain. “Some of the local community are here, but no-one from my family's here. I just hope that they got out okay...”
“I'm sure that they did Buddy.” Lightning replied, catching the Grand Ruler head to a closed off area from out of the corner of his eye before beginning to look in that direction. “It looks like the Grand Ruler's already going to handle it though...” Lightning said, watching as the Grand Ruler appeared to be in a five-way conversation with several Unicornicopian soldiers at once. He stopped only once, looking down on the goblin before telling him something, watching him bow to the Grand Ruler before running off. The Grand Ruler then turned to Lightning and his group before striding over to where they were standing.
“Hello Lightning, how's your practicing coming along?” The Grand Ruler asked, watching as Lightning and his friends bowed.
“I know it's not much your highness, but I've been able to move that rock for at least a few more minutes now.” Lightning replied. “Krysta watched me herself.”
“I see... Well that's good to hear Lightning. You keep up with your practicing and you'll be there in no time.” The Grand Ruler said before beginning to stride off. He was stopped however at the sound of Buddy Rose clearing his throat. “Yes Mr. Rose? What is it?” He asked.
“Well your highness... I was wondering, is there any chance that you could let me in on the retake of Redwood Valley?” Buddy Rose asked. One of the Grand Ruler's eyebrows rose as he gave the Unicorn a curious glare.
“And what makes you think that I wouldn't?” He asked, watching the mixed reactions of Lightning and his friends range from confusion to shock and awe. “You see, I've had scouts report to me about how the situation is in Redwood Valley, their structure is crude but the defenses will hold long enough for Titan and his forces to arrive. However that's not the problem.”
“What's the problem your highness?” Lightning asked, not liking the sound of the Grand Ruler's change in tone.
“The problem is that there's a weapon of Gnoll construction that devastated the soldiers garrisoned there.” The Grand Ruler answered. “It's apparently capable of draining the magical energy from those that are struck by it's roots, thus killing them on the spot if one is unlucky enough. However, from what I can understand the weapon is not without flaws, as at the moment it is in it's infantile stages.”
“Pardon me for being rude your highness, but are you asking the five of us to eliminate this weapon of theirs?” Drawn Out asked, watching the Grand Ruler nod.
“Yes Drawn Out, but you won't be going in alone. Battalion Commanders!” He shouted, turned to the now at attention Unicornicopian Soldiers that stood behind them. “I have an idea, but you need to work with my extra squad.
“We will do as you command!” They all replied, as the Grand Ruler revealed a map of the area; a huge farming community surrounded by a massive redwood forest on all sides.
“Now, we need to crush their position as quickly as possible but we also need to time this right so here's what I need you to do...”
After the Grand Ruler explained their tasks for the coming battle; one of the commanders, an elf with red hair and pale skin, approached Lightning as he was being fitted for a suit of his own plate-mail. “I see that you are readying yourself for battle.” The elf said, watching as Lightning cast him a glance.
“Yes commander, is there something you need?” Lightning asked.
“Actually, I know that you aren't exactly the best with magic abilities. I've come to offer you some back up.” The Elf replied, watching Lightning smile a little, relief washing over his face.
“Well I don't know you too well,” Lightning said as the last piece of his armor, the bottom leg guard, was fit into place, “But you have my attention. What do you want me to do?” He asked as the elf laughed a little.
“Simple my friend, I just need some of your mane and I'll be all set.” He said, pulling out a small knife. Lightning took a nervous step back, but watched as the elf smiled again and lowered the knife. “It's okay Lightning, if I were to hurt you I would have done it already.” He said.
“Well then why do you need some of my mane commander-
Star'len. My name is Star'len.” The elf commander replied. “And I need it to make an illusion that will make me look like you.” He explained, watching relief return back to the unicorn's face before confusion reappeared on top of it.
“Why do you need to do that?” Lightning asked.
“Because from what I understand, your gonna need all the help you can get. And I'm here to help.” Commander Star'len answered, watching Lightning nod again.
“Here, but don't take too much.” Lightning said, tossing the end of his mane over his shoulder before Commander Star'len lifted it. The elf then took the knife and cut only the smallest end from it before grinning. “You get what you need?” Lightning asked, watching the elf nod.
“Oh yeah, that's exactly what I need. Thanks Lightning, and be careful out there.” Commander Star'len replied before walking off, leaving Lightning confused again.
“What a strange elf...” Lightning thought. “But hopefully his illusion works. I need my armor to be summoned without too much interruption. I'm not too good with it right now...” He thought before heading off as well.
From the eastern most point of the forest surrounding the city of Redwood Valley, Lightning and his friends were keeping themselves hidden as best as they could as the target would be approaching soon.
The Grand Ruler's plan was simple: While the main force went to take on the garrison that was stationed at the city of Redwood Valley, a smaller force went with the Grand Ruler's special squad to take out the weapon that Titan was responsible for. From where they were sitting in the brush, Lightning could see that Buddy was ready to pounce like an animal. Lightning however wasn't feeling the same way.
“Hey Lightning... You nervous?” Ottavo whispered behind him.
“Yeah... I just haven't really fought this kind of battle before. It's nerve-wracking.” Lightning replied as butterflies got into his stomach.
“Well I feel the same way.” Ottavo replied before glancing over at Buddy nervously. “And I bet Buddy does too.” He said.
“Yeah, but you guys have had more training than what I've got. What if I get caught by that thing's roots or something?” Lightning whispered.
“Don't worry, we've got your back.” Drawn Out replied.
The sounds of battle could be heard moments later as they all waited with their extra help. Quietly, they listened and waited until they could hear the sounds of rumbling footsteps approaching their position. Each step sounded like wood striking the earth, along with a gentle padding of something that Lightning hadn't heard before, and it blocked out all of the other sounds that Lightning had heard even as he jumped forward with his friends.
The owner of the footsteps was massive, over seven feet tall by Lightning's count with a huge layer of wooden bark covering it's massive body. It's arms were about the size of some of the biggest branches of the trees in the forest that they were currently standing in, and it's legs were about the size of those trees. There was an extra limb that looked like a wooden scorpion's stinger, which dripped a liquid from the end of the barbed tail that decayed the forest floor below. Surrounding the great beast's feet were at least thirty to forty Kobolds and a handful of what Lightning could only assume were Gnolls in black armor.
“Oh great just what we need, more enemy...” The voice of the Dragonkin Callenfir met Lightning's ears as the ringing stopped. Lightning met the Dragonkin's gaze, and blinked only for a second before tensing up as the Dragonkin charged. “I'm going to make you pay for what you did to us back at that crummy temple of yours meat sack!” He heard Callenfir roar as both sides clashed.
Lightning immediately leapt at the Dragonkin, evading the initial swing of his sword before smashing his face with a punch of his own. The Dragonkin staggered backwards for a moment before leaping at Lightning with the intent to kill, taking him to the ground and raking his claws across Lightning's face. The unicorn held up his hands to defend himself, but found it useless as the Dragonkin was met with a blast of white light. He looked up, seeing Moonbeam wearing her armor and wielding what he assumed was a beam of sunlight like a whip in her hands. “Thanks Moonbeam.” He said, watching her nod before leaping to his hooves to reengage in the fight. From out of the corner in her eye she saw a second yellow unicorn begin to chase after Callenfir and did a double-take, but put the thought out of her mind as the second unicorn disappeared.
Drawn Out was crossing swords with several Kobolds at once, watching out of the corner of his eye as some of the Gnolls appeared to be just observing the fight. “Something's not right here...” He thought, his sword breaking the guards of two Kobolds before running through them without a second thought. “They're up to something...” Drawn Out thought, blocking another attack from a Kobold before taking it's head on the back swing of his sword.
Several explosions rocked the area as Ottavo summoned fireworks to his side with his magic. His horn lit up with magic, causing them to fly at several Kobolds like ballistic missiles. Their ranks fell even before they got to the unicorn, who leapt into the air before eliminating the others that charged at him. “Weren't there more than just a handful?” He thought, looking at the Gnolls that were standing around the giant beast looking like they were waiting for something.
The only one who didn't notice, and was causing the most damage to the Kobold ranks, was Buddy, who was swinging his flail around like a demon and smashing in skulls faster and wilder than anyone could react. As the bodies finished piling up, he stopped and glared at the Gnolls who now had his attention. “Your next.” He snapped, charging at them angrily.
“Buddy wait!” Drawn Out snapped, tackling Buddy Rose from the air before he could get close. As both unicorns were sent to the ground, the missing Gnolls leapt out from underneath the earth with the creature's roots in an attempt to surprise them. “You would've been their next victim if you did that.” Drawn Out said, helping Buddy up.
“How did you know that we were coming up from underneath?” One of the Gnolls growled.
“Gnolls don't like to attack unless they have a tactical advantage.” Drawn Out explained. There was only a handful of you, so you wouldn't strike until the scale was majorly skewed into your favor.” Drawn Out explained. “The injuries that some of the survivors had from your attack looked like they weren't made from your big beastie there, so I figured that it isn't complete yet. Otherwise you wouldn't have had any survivors.”
“It doesn't matter... We're still going to kill you all.” The Gnoll snarled, raising a very jagged blade at both Buddy and Drawn out before charging with the other Gnolls. Their weapon let out an ear-splitting roar before lashing its tail forward, striking the ground as the unicorns rolled out of the way. They then both leapt to their hooves, ready to charge as several explosions and shards of ice knocked the beast back.
“We'll hold the big guy off!” Ottavo shouted, flying overhead with Moonbeam.
“You take care of those guys first!” Moonbeam added, throwing another shard of ice at the giant creature.
Meanwhile Lightning and Callenfir were both trading blows with one another, each of them not giving an inch. The Dragonkin had forgotten his sword even as they fought, it's blade speared into the ground several yards back from where they were fighting out in the open.
“Your okay for a rookie,” Callenfir snapped, catching a punch that Lightning threw at him, “But you'll never be able to beat me. Not at this level kid.” He added, throwing Lightning off-balance before slashing him with his claws. He then planted a kick on the unicorn which sent him back for a bit before grinning maliciously.
“I dunno why you're so happy for.” Lightning snapped, charging at the Dragonkin and readying another punch. Callenfir made to block it, only to be taken by a slight surprise as Lightning instead went low and swept him by the legs. The Dragonkin attempted to slash Lightning with the claws on his feet, only to have them meet air as he got up before glaring at Lightning. “Especially when you're losing this fight.” Lightning added, watching Callenfir growl angrily.
“What the hell are you talking about?” He snapped, watching as Lightning pointed in the direction of the weapon that the Gnolls had given his master. “You're supposed to be a diversion?” He snarled though he really appeared to be confused.
“Well, I figured that you wanted to have a little revenge so I gave it to you.” Lightning said confidently. “But, that little squad that you had guarding that weapon of yours is probably all gone by now so... Yeah. I guess that I would say that I'm a diversion.” He said before charging up his horn. Several small rocks began to levitate as they were enveloped within his glow before pelting the dragonkin as he realized what was going on.
“Hmm... Clever, but that's not smart enough to beat me!” He snapped, charging at Lightning through the rocks. He stopped however as the unicorn then evaded his initial attack, and growled angrily. “You're not the one who I owe...” Callenfir growled, turning angrily at the unicorn. “You're a fake!” He snapped. The dragonkin leapt at the unicorn, only to get thrown back by a blast of green energy as Lightning disappeared to reveal an elf in white plate-mail.
“That I am.” The elf replied, concentrating as a spear appeared from the ground. “I'm sorry sir, but I'm afraid that your invasion plans have been put on hold for today.” He said, watching the Dragonkin smirk.
“Well then in that case... DIE!” He roared, letting loose a stream of flames at the elf angrily.
“You're gonna have to do better than that!” The elf taunted, charging at the Dragonkin.
“Oh don't worry, I will.” Callenfir retorted.
Back in the forest, Lightning's friends were already having a tough time dealing with the beast that the Gnolls had brought with them. The armor-like shell was giving them trouble as it was hard to break, and the Gnoll soldiers weren't making things easier either.
“Damn pieces of hell-spawn!” Buddy snapped, swinging his flail at the Gnoll only to have it miss completely. “They're just too fast!” He shouted, getting knocked back by a dark blur. The Gnoll stepped over him, grinning at what appeared to be his first kill until-
“BUDDY WATCH OUT!” A loud cry was heard, as Lightning buried his left hoof into the Gnoll's skull, dropping its owner like a stone. Lightning was currently wearing his armor, and was looking like he could take on the world as he extended his hand. Buddy took Lightning's extended hand and stood up before wiping his face.
“Glad you showed up Lightning. So, you think you can handle this thing?” He asked, watching Lightning nod.
“Yeah, but we need to clear the field some.” Lightning replied. “You think that you can do it?” He asked, watching Buddy nod.
“Yeah, just watch.” Buddy replied, his horn flaring up with a green energy.
Just then, a breeze began to form as Buddy's eyes went all white. His hands became engulfed in green magic as slowly but surely a ring of water began to form around him. The wind then began to pick up, getting stronger and stronger as the Gnolls stopped fighting with the unicorns for a moment to watch the now growing spectacle. Their weapon did the same thing, watching as the ring of water and wind eventually turned into a swirling vortex that surrounded Buddy, who was glowing in a green aura.
The Gnolls, who became intimidated by the sight, stepped backwards as the vortex got consecutively larger as the seconds passed. Then, without warning, Buddy's hands thrust forward as a cyclone of water surged out from in front of him, washing everything away that didn't get out of the way in time, or was the Gnoll's weapon.
“Well that made things a little bit easier.” Ottavo commented, flying down closer to Buddy and Lightning with Moonbeam, and Drawn Out. “But all you've done is soaked it's armor. You didn't exactly kill it.”
“I've got this.” Moonbeam snapped, stepping forward and readying a spell. The Gnoll's weapon let out a gurgling roar as the stinger approached her, but it was stopped halfway by a combined shielding spell from everyone except Lightning. “Thanks you guys.” She said, her horn igniting with magic as a basketball-sized ball of snow began to form in her hands. After a few moments of waiting, Moonbeam threw the ball, evading the stinger with a roll as the barrier fell, and watched as the snowball made impact.
The effect was immediate, as the beast let out another gurgling roar before the snow immediately turned into ice which coated the creature and shattered its bark-like armor. Lightning stepped forward, his bow in hand as the beast staggered backwards, before drawing the bow-string back as the arrow formed. Lightning's horn was ablaze with magic as he held the creature in his sights, before he loosed the arrow, watching as it turned into a stream of fire once again and engulfed the creature, even as it tried to defend itself with it's roots.
As the stream of Golden flames erupted from the forest near them, Callenfir was flung back by the elf's spear. He glared angrily, staggering to his feet before opening an all black portal behind him. “You may have won this round... But we'll be back. And we will not lose again.” He growled, stepping backwards into the portal.
The elf smiled, turning to the now gaping hole in the forest and saw Lightning lower the bow that he had in his hands. The Gnollish weapon was no more, and the soldiers were running by him to get back to their ship. “Great Job, wielder of the Uniforce.” He thought before turning to the sight of fleeing ships from the main square of Redwood Valley.
A few hours later, Lightning was standing in the middle of the unfinished base that Titan's forces attempted to build. Underneath all of the blood colored steel that was used to form the walls of the fortification, the town didn't appear to be too terribly bad. The Town Hall sat off in front of him, were healers from several squads were treating the injured civilians that
were inside as that was considered to be the prisoner camp of the facility. The rubble of several destroyed buildings was scattered in the fighting, and the only thing that Titan's soldiers left behind was a box full of weapons that were either broken or misplaced somehow.
Buddy had been relieved to find out that his family, a group of unicorns that were in different shades of green in color, was safe and sound hiding in an underground complex that had been apparently been built back before the town was even constructed. Though they had to fight to get to the complex, they were almost not any worse for wear.
“It seems that you have successfully drove off those invaders.” Lightning turned and bowed at the sight of Grand Ruler Celesto “It also seems that you've gotten stronger Lightning. Though I wouldn't say that you're quite there yet.”
“Excuse me your highness? But what does that mean?” Lightning asked.
“It means that you still have a while yet to go.” He said, before patting Lightning on the shoulder. “Though, with today's battle I should hope that you should be able to complete your assignment in less than a few days.” Grand Ruler Celesto replied before glancing at his surroundings. “Well in any case I expect you to get rested up, this battle's only just beginning.”
Lightning nodded before turning to go. He stopped however, something still on his mind. “Your highness, why-
Why did I want you to levitate that stone until you could do it for an hour?” Grand Ruler Celesto finished his question for him, turning to face Lightning. “It's quite simple really, to build your strength for your use of the Uniforce. It takes you a while to get into your armor right?” He asked, watching Lightning nod.
“It didn't take as long as it did the last time I changed into it.” Lightning replied, watching the Grand Ruler nod.
“Yes because not only did you know how to bring it out now, you are stronger than when you first used it. You keep practicing with that task, and eventually you'll be able to armor up with the rest of your squad. I believe that Captain Star'len noticed this and entered the fight as you if only to keep the enemy distracted while you change?” Lightning nodded as Grand Ruler Celesto smiled. “Well then, I'm glad that his plan was a success. I'll need to congratulate him. Anyways, keep up with your practice and I will see you when you are ready to move on.” He said, watching Lightning run off. “You'll be stronger sooner than you think. Just be patient my student.” He thought before walking off.
Callenfir staggered backwards as black lightning surged through his body, the dark magic tortured every part of his being. Titan's red eyes narrowed as everyone watched with grimaces. The Dragonkin cried out in pain, writhing violently as the stream continued for a couple of moments before ceasing entirely.
“I hope that you have learned your lesson Dragonkin.” Titan said coldly, glaring at Callenfir as he coughed up a bit of blood. “Not only did you cost me the Vein Harvester, but you lost our foothold on Unicornicopia. I hope that we do not have a repeat of this catastrophe again.” He said coldly, watching the Dragonkin drag his body away to a corner.
“Milord, I am partially to blame.” Relicourse said, walking in front of Titan and bowing low. “If my transport had gotten there in time I-
It wouldn't have made any difference.” Titan snapped, cutting the centaur off. “They had Callenfir's forces outnumbered four to one at least. There would have been no need to reinforce if I had known that Celesto was going to send that size of a force to attack us. Though the strategy he used to destroy the Vein Harvester was careless...” Titan paused, narrowing his eyes as he sat down on the throne.
“Is there something troubling you milord?” Coristia said quietly, receiving a wave of the hand from Titan.
“It is nothing of your concern Lich.” Titan replied, glaring out into space as he did so. “Though it does give me another idea.” Titan's smirk was invisible, as everyone else on the bridge shared a nervous glance. “And it is something that you won't be able to defend against Celesto. Your precious Unicornicopia will fall and your head will be mine!” He thought wickedly, continuing to glare at the blackness in front of him.
-end of chapter 3-