The sound of armored boots echoed across the stone. The sound foreign and alien to those who did not live the life of a soldier. The three men walking down the great hall were soldiers, and they had been summoned by the King. Usually when one was called before the king there would be a large audience, but today there was only the King, a few advisors, a couple nobles, and the King's Bodyguard.
All were standing around a large table behind the king's throne, looking at a map. The King was easily distinguishable from the others. His facial hair was nearly trimmed, and his hair fell to a spot just above his shoulder. His clothing was very fine, and obviously well made, which matched the simple yet elegant band of solid gold seat on his head; but if one stripped the crown and clothing from him, one could easily see the bearing of a strong and confident leader. The very air about him inspired the best in men, which is what made him a fine king.
The three men stopped just at the edges of the group and waited. The King was speaking and gesturing at the map when he noticed the newcomers. He beckoned them forward with a wave of his hand.
"Your Highness," the man in the middle said, giving a small bow.
"Archeon, I have a task for you." He gestured at the map and continued, "The Queen wishes to visit her sister in Alberdeon. Pick thirty of your best men and escort her there and back. You will depart at sunrise." His order given, the King turned back to the map, dismissing the three.
The man gave another bow, turned on his heel, and left the hall.
Archeon was strapping his equipment to his saddle when the Queen and her entourage of handmaidens appeared outside the keep. The Queen was radiant and close to giving birth. She had long blond hair, carefully braided, brown eyes, and soft features of a women in the midst of her prime. Her hands were clutched over her swollen belly as she walked towards the King's champion. Usually wearing fine gowns and dresses, she had chosen riding attire, but still regal in appearance; there was no mistaking her for anything other than royalty.
"M'Lady," Archeon bowed.
The Queen, was only a few years older than the Champion, but one could see the years on him. He had dark hair, cut very short in the military style, a nose misshapen from one too many breaks, and a cut over his left eye where an arrow had struck. He wouldn't be called good-looking by any standards, but he wasn't ugly, just plain features. His body was long and hard, made so from countless hours spent training every day, whether it be archery, horses, or weapon combat. He had never known defeat by combat and was considered the best fighter in the six kingdoms of Albion.
"I am glad my husband has chosen you," the Queen admitted. "While I have no fear of trouble, your presence alone would dissuade any would be attackers." Archeon was well known throughout the land, his great bastard sword being one of his trademarks.
"I will keep you safe, even offer my life as forfeit for yours."
"Let's hope it doesn't come to that." She gave a faint smile and climbed in her carriage.
After assisting the two hand-maidens, that would accompany her, into the carriage, Archeon climbed onto his horse and signaled to his men behind him. He went to the front while the men formed a column with the Queen in the middle. He led them away from the keep, past the noble estates, and through the commoner villages and markets before they were free of the city. In a short amount of time the column was on the Emperor's Highway and entering the Darkmare forest. The highway wound its way across each of Kingdoms and was well kept. Alberdeon was fifteen leagues away, normally a four day trip, but only two with the highway. The distance was entirely covered by the Kingdom, but bandits and thieves were known to camp along the highway, so Archeon had his men on alert. He doubted anyone would be foolish to attack a mounted and armored column, but with a large enough group even the foolish could become confident. He knew each of his men was worth three, but even they could be destroyed be a well trained and large enough force of men.
It was well past midday before anything of event happened. They had just settled along a small stream for a brief break when screams tore across the tranquil air. Archeon's blade appeared in his hand instantly, without even thinking about it. He was in the middle of attaching the feedbag to his horse when he heard the noise. He dropped the bag and reins to the ground and rushed towards the carriage. Already his men had formed a defensive perimeter around it. When no threat materialized he opened the door to the carriage to check on his charges. The Queen was calm and trying to soothe the two young women.
He saw that the three were safe and made up his mind on his next course of action immediately. "M'Lady, I am going to leave five of my men with you, the rest of us are going to find the source of the cries."
She nodded and spoke to her women. Archeon closed the door and picked five of his soldiers. "Move the carriage and our horses into the trees for cover, conceal our tracks as best you can. The rest of you, go light and move out."
Going light meant stripping off any heavy armor, and all equipment save a bow and arrows if you had them, and whatever weapon you felt most comfortable with. Archeon walked to his mount and retrieved his second blade, a bastard sword, which he swung across his back. He heard another cry and set off in the direction he thought it was coming. He moved at a fast trot, fast enough, but without making a ton of noise in the process.
Archeon was a capable commander and fighter, but one thing he hated was going into a battle without information, it was like being blind. His sword was just another extension of his arm, but wit could easily best brawn if used correctly. The screams grew louder and more in number the closer they got. He felt a solid rock in his gut as he guessed what was happening. He knew there was a small fishing village in the direction they were heading. That fishing village bordered the large Axian river that cut across the northern section of the land. The river also led out to sea, and raider were sometimes known to land along the coast and raid villages, raping and pillaging as they went. Most of the raids were clustered along the borders of the southern kingdoms, and very rarely sighted this far north. This meant one of two things, either it was two or less vessels, or it was part of a larger invasion force. A typical raiding boat carried about thirty men, so they could be potentially be between twenty and seventy men before them. Those weren't ideal odds, but they couldn't wait for reinforcements. Raiding parties were hit and runs, in most cases if they didn't spot them before they landed, they would just get away. Standing orders were to kill everyone involved.
When Archeon heard the sounds of things being thrown about and a foreign tongue, he lifted a fist, which signaled his men to form up around him. When the men clustered about him, all of them looking out and not in, he started to speak in a hushed voice. "I want six archers providing cover, pick off any of their archers and high priority targets. The rest of us will do a simple charge if we can take them. If their numbers are too great break off and head for the Queen." Sometimes brutal force was the simplest and best option instead of a delicate strategy.
Finished giving out orders, Archeon shifted his blade to his right hand and moved forward to the treeline. The village was before them and most of it was in flames, with a good number of still bodies on the ground. Lightly armored figures ran about, grabbing loot, killing males, or committing rape. He felt a surge of anger, but quickly clamped it down and assessed the situation. He counted roughly a little over two score men, meaning two boats. Which also meant the other men were guarding the boats somewhere nearby, no more than a league away. They would have to hit fast without leaving survivors, locate the boats and burn them. He looked about for their commander, but didn't see one.
He pointed to his men the path they could take to reach the village without being seen, then the slaughter would begin. He crouched and started moving. It only took him a minute to reach the first building, he looked inside and saw two men hovering over a squirming girl. He stepped inside with another of his men and crept silently up to one of the men. He clamped one of his hands around his mouth and stabbed upward with his blade, in-between the man's ribcage to pierce the heart. He felt the life leave the body as he lowered it to the ground, his companion had done the same to the other marauder. He looked behind him and saw the rest of his men fanning out and dispatching the raiders quietly without making noise. He went outside and slew another running off with a chicken before he heard the all to familiar sound of a man dying in pain. Immediately he let out a battle cry, echoed by his men, and charged the nearest group of soldiers. A group of five whirled, dropped their loot and advanced on him and the two by him. Unlike him, they weren't wearing armor of any kind, just simple cloth, made to help against blade blows, but not enough to deflect. The two in the front crumpled to the ground with arrows protruding from their throats. The other three hesitated briefly and Archeon was upon them. He cut the first down with a downward stroke before the man could even bring his blade to bear. He jerked his blade free before the muscles around the wound could clamp onto the blade. He ducked a swing from the right and smashed into the raider with his shoulder, lifting the man off his feet and sending him to the ground. A quick stab and he too was dead, the other was dispatched without fanfare by his men.
He saw a trio of his men facing down four raiders, but before he could move another step, a stream of flame licked out at his men. Despite being twenty feet away, he could feel the heat and had to cover his eyes. When the fire died down he felt the hair on his arm stiffen and fall away. The space where his men where was a giant patch of scorched earth. Things just went from bad to worse. Only one thing could cause that, and that just made things a whole lot worse than they were. A giant barking noise filled the air and he knew what he was dealing with: a Pokémon.
Pokémon were magic creatures, summoned by sorcerers to do their bidding. Such magic was strictly forbidding in the six kingdoms, but other lands were known to use them. Depending on the sorcerer and his power, multiple of these deadly creatures could be summoned. This would be the first such creature he had seen in well over a year, the last one had been a terrifying creature known as a Tyranitar. That creature easy stood over any man, and was the size of three. No blade or arrow could harm it, and well over fifty men lost their lives before they managed to slay the beast.
Luckily for him, Archeon recognized the type of beast before them. It was what was called an Arcanine. The Pokémon was a dog-like creature, only the size of a large horse that two people could ride comfortably. It was orange with black horizontal stripes, with cream colored fur on its belly and head. It was also a Fire type Pokémon, meaning that it absolutely hated water with a passion. Since they were next to a river, Archeon knew they could use that to their advantage, but unlike the Tyranitar, this Pokémon could be killed with bladed weapons.
Archeon stuck his blade point first into the ground and withdrew his bastard sword, a long blade that required two hands to use and only the strongest could actually wield. He lifted the blade and charged the Pokémon, that has just appeared from around a corner. The Pokémon saw him and growled, showing canines as long as his arm. The Pokémon lunged at him, teeth bared. Two arrows thudded into the Pokémon's chest as Archeon ducked enough the massive body. He brought his sword up and slashed at a hind leg. He felt the blade cut through, but before he could even move, the leg lashed and kicked him back, knocking the air from him and laying him out on back. The boiled leather cuirass he wore was shredded by the blow, and the claws of the Pokémon left a bloodied trail across his chest. He ignored the pain and scrambled to his feet.
The Arcanine, thinking him dead, had already pounced on one of the archers. It bit down on the man's leg, and savagely shook him like a rat. He could hear the man's neck snap. The Pokémon threw the lifeless body away and roared again as four arrows struck at it. Archeon saw a well nearby and ran towards it, another of his men already there drawing water. The man filled a bucket, ran towards the Pokémon and threw all the water on the Pokémon. The Arcanine yelped in pain and turned to face the new attacker, but by that time Archeon has his own bucket full of water. He threw it at the Pokémon's face and grabbed his blade. He slide under the Pokémon and stabbed upward at the Pokémon's exposed throat. Blood gushed out and covered Archeon instantly as he cut through the Pokémon's windpipe. The Pokémon whimpered pitifully and fell to the ground scraping at the earth with its claws. Archeon stared at it without pity and beheaded the creature where it lie. As the head rolled off he breathed a sigh of relief and wiped some of the blood from his eyes. Already the battle was over and his men were walking about providing aid to the surviving villagers and stacking the corpses.
Archeon headed for his second, the man who had tossed the first bucket of water. "Did we kill the sorcerer?"
He pointed at a body studded with arrows. "That was the only Pokémon he managed to summon before he died. We lost a total of six men with three wounded. Forty-five confirmed dead on their end. We are ready to find the boats when you give the word."
Archeon shook his head. "Not with these losses, give out aid, and burn the bodies. Send out two scouts to locate the the boats and see what else is out there. Tell them not to be seen or engage as well. The rest of us will gather the wounded and head back to the castle."
The man saluted and limped off to see to the orders carried out. Archeon went to the well, drew some water, and cleaned his blade before taking a drink himself. He sheathed the massive weapon and glanced about. His men were hard at work obeying his commands, and already a few of the surviving villagers were already starting to pick themselves and help gather their dead and put out any fires that the Arcanine caused. The Champion started to walk towards the one the was issuing order to the other commoners. The man gave a small bow when he neared.
"Thank you for saving us, M'Lord," he mumbled.
"I am not a Lord, merely a soldier," Archeon grumbled in reply. "You are fortunate we were passing by when we heard the noise and came to investigate."
The man patted a passing young woman on the shoulder. "Fate more likely, but regardless, some of us will still go on living."
Archeon squinted up at the sun and said, "You have any paper?"
The man nodded. "Of course." He waved a boy of about seven over and said something into his ear. As the young lad ran off, the man scratched idly at his balding head, now mostly grey. "If you pardon me, why do you need a paper?"
"I'm going to write a note to the quartermaster of the army. Head to the castle and he will provide supplies for you to relocate your village."
The man waved his hands in protest. "That will not be necessary, we would prefer our home to be here. This is the only place some of us have ever known."
Archeon frowned. "If that is what you desire," he acquiesced. "But I will give you the note anyway incase you change your mind."
After writing the note and allowing the elder to get back to work, Archeon used his helmet as truncheon and took a long swig of water. Every man knew that battle was tiring work, and that even with proper training only the best men could fight at their best for no more than fifteen minutes before they would start to feel the strain. Anything after half an hour and they would collapse without rest. So in a prolonged engagement men were rotated out or they simply fought on until they collapsed from exhaustion.
This battle was brief, lasting only about six minutes, but Archeon knew that his men would need at least a drink of water before moving out again. Replacing his helmet, the Champion strolled over to the head of the Arcanine. The head was a massive thing, about the size of his chest, and even in death the thing looked imposing. He decided to take it as a trophy. Slaying a Pokémon was no easy feat, and those that did were often awarded for their valor. Archeon simply preferred the gift of living another day. As for the body, it would have to be buried instead of being burned. Being a Fire type Pokémon it was immune to flames.
Archeon secured a bag and placed his prize inside, before retrieving his other blade. He cleaned this one as well and sheathed it at his waist. After rounding up all his men he led the way back the where the Queen was hidden. They walked cautiously back, making sure to not blunder into another group of raiders that they had missed. They discovered that all was well and the men guarding the Queen had heard no noises after the fighting had died down. Archeon tied his prize to his horse before he went to have a word with the Queen.
She wasn't in the carriage, but instead sitting on a stump staring off in thought. He approached and knelt before her and waited for her to acknowledge him before speaking. "I'm afraid we are going to have to cut this trip short, M'Lady," he started. "I have lost almost a third of the men and we aren't even at the halfway point. We are going to have to return to the castle, where I can have my wounded treated and report what happened," he finished.
The Queen clasped her hands over her full belly and looked up at him. "I surmised as much." She smiled wanely. "This was supposed to be relaxing, but alas there has been a little too much excitement for my tastes."
He bowed again. "I am sorry, but it can't be helped. Once we get back I will obtain fresh mounts and men and we'll set out once more on the morrow."
She gave a slight nod to indicate she agreed and outstretched a hand to him. He gently assisted her to her feet and escorted her back to her wagon. By this time the men he had sent out had just got back. They were slightly winded but fine otherwise. He snapped his fingers to get their attention. "Situation?" he barked.
The men saluted and the senior among them spoke up. "We followed the trail back to where the boats should have been, but they were not there. By all appearance the boats came and dropped the men off before leaving. But here is the really weird thing, it looks like three groups were dropped off, all equal in number to the group we encountered if we read the signs right."
Archeon frowned and mulled over this new information. No matter what, all the scenarios he could think of, none of them were reassuring. "Direction?" he said at last.
The man shrugged his shoulder. "Each group went in a different direction, but the other two were headed in a northwesterly direction."
"Map," Archeon commanded a soldier next to him. The man went running off and returned a short time later with a map of the kingdom. Archeon unscrolled the map and laid it on the first, using some nearby stones to hold it in place. Using he finger he located their position on the map, in the northwest past of the kingdom near the river and only five leagues from the sea, a distance slightly further inland than raiders usually went, but not too far to arouse suspicion of something else. He saw the small village they had just battled at nestled along the river. He turned to the scout leader. "Where did you find the landing place?"
"There," he replied, pointing the spot out.
It was only four leagues from the village and the southernmost position the raiders would have traveled if they were heading northwest. "You sure the other two were going northwest?" he questioned.
The scout nodded gravely. "Without a doubt."
"The only place north of the village are a few settlements and the rest is forest. Even raiders know where to strike. Why would the go there?" He stared at the map waiting for the answer to appear in his mind. He traced their path from the castle to the present location and he heard an intake of breath behind him. He turned his head and saw that it had been his second-in-command. "What is it?"
He pointed at the map and said, "if you follow our path to Alberdeon, the fastest and safest route." He traced his finger up and it crossed paths with both raiding parties had they continued along the paths they were sighted in."
Archeon felt that sinking feeling, one that had never failed him. He quickly rolled the map back up and started snapping orders as fast as he could think them. "Set out screens of four men in front and behind us, with two on each flank. Have them a five hundred paces ahead. Unhook the four horses from the carriage and put the Queen and her maidens on three of them. Conceal the carriage as best you are able, but everything not needed immediately leave. Tents, spare clothing, everything stays unless it is absolutely needed."
As the men ran off to complete his tasks he went over to his own mount. He quickly removed everything he had attached save two throwing axes and a small shield. Everything else he brought over to where the men were stacking the equipment they would leave behind. He placed the sack containing the Arcanine head on the top and stepped back. Everything was off the main path and couldn't be seen from the road, but he didn't want to take any chances.
"Cut some branches and conceal everything right quick," he ordered two soldier that had just walked up.
He felt a tap on his shoulder and turned to see the Queen, with two men flanking her. "What is going on?" she asked politely, but in that regal voice.
"I believe your life is in danger. That is all I can tell you for now other than that we will be heading back to the castle as fast as we are able." The Queen frowned and moved to speak again, but Archeon cut off her as politely as he was able. "I'm sorry, M'Lady, but that is all I can offer right now. Please, get ready as we will be leaving in a short minute."
She really wanted to fight him on this point, but she knew that in the field, he overruled her on everything if warfare was involved. She let out a frustrated sigh and trailed after the soldier who would lead her to her mount. Archeon shook his head from side to side, thankful that she didn't fight him on this. He strode over to his mount and swung into the saddle. He grasped the reins and guided the horse to the front of the group.
He nodded at the men and said three words. "We ride fast."
He aimed his horse towards the road back to the castle and started forward at a brisk trot. It wasn't a headlong gallop, but it was fairly close to it. The were traveling at just a fast enough a pace for the distance to close under their horses' hooves, but slow enough for the scouts to do their jobs reasonable well. After traveling for two hours they had to slow their speed because nightfall was approaching and the horses were starting to tire. Since they had brought no spare mounts they couldn't afford to lose an animal, that would compound their problem and guarantee they wouldn't reach the castle until the next day; and that was the last thing Archeon wanted right now.
Something else was bothering him. Things were too quite. This near the castle, the heart of the kingdom, they should have seen some people, despite it being close to nightfall. They hadn't even see any patrols, and that alone was unusual. That sinking feeling he had earlier had now twisted his guts in knots. They had slowed the pace to a canter for the next ten minutes so he nudged his horse to his second, Trundle. Trundle was an experienced man, in his late thirties, but a many of many battles. He had been recruited by the king from the southern hill tribes, a group known for fierce infighting. Trundle had killed his first man at seven, and hadn't stopped since then. A strong fighter, but also a wise man who many looked up to for wisdom. Trundle's helmet was tethered by a thong to his saddle just in reach. Trundle had thick brown hair cropped, no facial hair, and stern features that had on more than one occasion frightened a young child. He wasn't a large man, but he was all muscle, with thick cords of it running up his arms and down his legs. His arms, covered with hair, held many patches of white, from the multitude of scars that he had acquired over the years.
"What do you think?" Archeon asked without elaborating, the man would figure out the rest.
He spat to the side before answering. "You are no fool. Something is amiss, and whatever it is can only mean bad news for us." He was also a man of few words. That would be all that Archeon would get of him today. Archeon nudged his horse forward and signaled to pick the pace up. If they continued to ride at this pace they would reach the castle just after nightfall, which was about two hours from now.
When another hour passed Archeon was really starting to worry, even his men were starting to become nervous. Every single one of them could sense that something had gone terribly wrong, but they couldn't put their finger on it. Archeon did notice three things that concerned him. The first being that they still hadn't seen any people, and being this close to the castle was that was acceptable, they should have been challenged by a patrol at the very least. Something else that was bugging him was that he was starting to see groups of carrion in the air. Those creatures had a knack for finding death and feasting on the results. But what really bothered him was that he saw a red glow in the sky to the west, where the castle was. He couldn't tell if it was fire or just the affects from the sun setting.
As night neared it quickly became that it was in fact fire after the sun had set beyond the horizon. Archeon ordered them to pick the pace up. They were about a third of a league away from the castle when the first sounds of noise drifted towards them. He recognized the sounds of a war camp, having been around them his whole life. He signaled to his men to keep quiet and dismount. Until they knew what was going on there was no point blundering into anything. Using the heavily wooded terrain to his advantage, Archeon left half his force with the Queen, while the rest followed him in on foot. Sure enough he was right, a massive camp was directly in their path and it spread as far the eye could see. He knew they weren't part of his army, but he couldn't ascertain more than that without revealing himself, and that was a sure-fire way to get killed.
Using hand motions, he indicated that he wanted to circle around the camp and try and reach the castle. The camp size was pretty standard and would hold approximately ten thousand men not counting the camp followers and everything else required to keep an army in the field. The camp for the most part was deserted of soldiers, with just enough to keep up a screen of guards, but most of those stuck near the camp so sneaking around them was easy. In ten minutes they had cleared the camp and were almost to the castle.
When they finally caught sight of the towering stone spires ringing the castle he nearly chocked. The castle was completely under-siege by a large force of men, easily more than double than the last camp could accommodate. The castle wasn't yet breached from what he could tell, but the entire castle wall was dotted with fires. He heard a large cracking sound and saw a giant fiery missile launched into the night sky, quickly followed by two dozen more like it. They smashed into the castle, doing little more than pocket the wall with small craters. But some sailed over and landed inside, while two managed to cause a tower to collapse. From his viewpoint he could see that the enemy force was trying to scale the walls with ropes and ladders, while a ram battered the large gates. Now that he had ample light from the various fires, he could see that the attacking force was made up of two different groups. One part was dressed like the raiders they had fought earlier, easily distinguishable by their padded cloth and leather armor. The other group he recognized, because they were a close ally of the kingdom. The wore the more expensive but better chainmail and armored suits. Their standard was a prancing deer before a tree on a green background. Archeon had been wondering how such a large force entered the kingdom unnoticed, but now it made a little more sense. The people that attacked them, the Oragal, were staunch allies and they had been fighting side-by-side for almost forty years. Their existed such a large trust between the two nations that only a small number of men guarded that border. If one knew how, they could quickly overcome the garrisons and rush the castle within the space of a few hours, which they had clearly done. As for the other people, he could only determine that they weren't a part of the six kingdoms and must have come from outside the land.
What was most troubling though was that while the defenders seemed to be giving as much as they were getting, but Archeon knew that only a small force of five thousand men would be at the castle, only a mere third of what was usually there. The kingdom had an army that numbered about fifty thousand, split into five groups. Two such groups were stationed at the castle, one was off-duty, and the other two were posted along the garrisons around the kingdom. Today, two of the army groups were off in the far northern part of the kingdom engaging in combat exercises, and they weren't due back for at least two weeks. The other group and a half were at the small castles and forts. So it made a very opportune time to attack.
"What is the plan?" one of the men addressed him.
"There is nothing we can do here." He hated to admit it, but it was true. There was no way for them to enter the castle from the outside without being spotted. Plus, his small group of men were nothing compared to those massed outside. The safety of the Queen also had to be considered, and with the King in the castle she had to kept safe if it were to fall. He made a decision to head for the two northern groups and alert the immediately. From there they could hopefully lift the siege of the castle before It felt. "We head for the north and rally our men there. Head back to the rest and we'll leave the area before we get spotted."
He took one last look at the place that had been his before turning and leaving. Thanks to the siege that was now behind them, that was where all the focus was and Archeon managed to make it back to the Queen without being detected. He quickly outlined his plan to the rest of the men before heading to speak with the Queen. After filling her in he waited to hear her thoughts.
"I agree," she said at last. "It seems like the best chance at freeing my husband. How long will it take us to reach them?"
He shrugged and gave a noncommittal answer. "There is no telling truth be told. It will take us at least two weeks to even get that far north without using the roads, and perhaps the same amount of time before we even find them."
She paled at his answer. "That could be almost two months before we are even back here in force, he could be dead by then."
He grimaced. "I'm well aware, but that is our best bet. I see no other options."
She nodded, her eyes downcast, resigned knowing that he spoke the truth. "Fine."
"Good. Now, we must leave this area before we get spotted by some unsavory people. We are lucky we haven't been spotted by now, most of their focus is on the castle. But when the initial attacks die down they will start turning their attention outwards, and we had best be heading north by the time that happens. Our horses are tired, and so are the men. I know of hidden cave just a league away and it is well hidden. We should be safe there for the night."
Before she could object he turned on his heel and stalked away, issuing order to his men as he went. They had a plan, they just needed to see it through while keeping the Queen alive the whole while. Keeping her safe would be a difficult task and their top priority until they located the two army groups in the north. They would probably have to disguise her somehow if the enemy patrols became too intense. Naturally the enemy would seek to kill them since they were now at war, but a manhunt for the Queen was the last thing they needed. He would about that tomorrow, first they had to make it through the night alive. He was just praying they didn't run into any enemy patrols before they could hide out for the night.
Staying away from the roads, it took a little longer than it should have to reach the cave, but they managed to reach it without incident. The cave was actually inside a small hill that was completely wooded, like most of the area was. The entrance was a well hidden behind a large outcropping of stone and vegetation which had overgrown the entrance. It was so well concealed that one would either have to stumble upon it by sheer fortune, or know it was there beforehand. He called a halt to their small party and motioned for two men to join him. He indicated that he wanted to scout the cave before entering it. He dismounted from his horse and drew his blade. The blade hissed as it cleared the sheath, but otherwise he made no noise as he as his men crept up to the entrance. It wasn't pitch dark yet, so everyone could still see in the night, but he knew that entering the cave would be the most dangerous part as their eyes would have to adjust to the light of the cave. If anyone happened to be waiting just inside the entrance then he would be dead before he knew it. He cautiously poked his head in and waited until he could see. The cave ground was bare and devoid of anything that signaled human traffic recently. Satisfied he grunted and sheathed the blade.
Just as his blade slide cleanly in he felt a movement of air behind and to the right of him. His blade had only cleared a quarter of the sheath when he heard a voice in his ear.
"Pull that blade and I will split you from ear to ear before you have a chance to say your own name." As if to punctuate the point he felt the edge of a blade scrape his throat. "Anymore out there," the voice asked again.
"Just the two with me," he answered in a steady voice.
"Is that so? Mark, Quintus, go check."
Archeon felt a jolt of recognition when he heard the names. "Milo, is that you?" he said to the man with the blade.
"Who are you?" the voice asked, now freshly suspicious.
"Damnit, it's Archeon. What are you doing out here?" Archeon commanded, brushing the blade away now that he knew he was in good hands. Milo was captian of the King's guard, the personal soldiers of the King.
"I'll be damned. We thought you dead."
Archeon knew the man couldn't see his features, but he frowned anyway. "Who's we?"
Milo chuckled. "Just the King and almost two hundred of the Guard."
"How did you escape the castle? Some hidden passage?"
"Nope, just good old fashion luck. The King wanted to go on a small hunting trip for a day or two while the Queen was gone. We were fortunate that we happened to be out of the way of the invading force at the time. When we figured out what happened we decided to hold up here for the time being." He stopped for a second and looked at Archeon quizzically. "Speaking of which, where is the Queen?"
"She and the rest of my men are outside waiting for the all-clear signal."
"Wave them in before an enemy patrol passes by. Have one of your men give the signal and I'll deal with them when they come in. You will report to the King in the meantime." He waved one of the guards over. "He will escort you there as he deep in the cave system."
The cave entrance broke off into three different paths and the soldier took him down the left one. Most of the cave tunnels remain dark, but occasionally a torch was jammed into a wall crevice to provide some light to see. It only took them a few minutes to reach their destination, but Archeon was surprised by how deep they went. He knew the cave system was a complex one, but he had clearly underestimated the scope of them. He idly wondered how the King knew of this place.
He found the king laying on a bedroll surrounded by a score of his guard, everyone one of them had their weapons close to hand. The King was reading a book, but he set it down when Archeon entered the room. He lifted an eyebrow and smiled. "I didn't expect to see you so soon. I must confess, I hope it's good tidings you bring. I can't handle that much more bad news at this point in time."
Archeon bent his knee and lowered his head. "Everything is well, Your Highness. We have suffered only a few casualties and we were indeed fortunate to make it here in one piece. Your Queen should be coming along in a moment."
"Excellent." The King smiled broadly. "While you are here, fill me in on what happened to you."
After relating the day's adventure to the King, the King absorbed the news silently for a few moments. His champion took the moment to sip at a hot broth someone had left by his side. "I had the same thoughts of you," he said at last. Archeon finished off the last off the broth and waited for the King to continue. "We'll set off at first light tomorrow and head north." He looked at the men around him. "Get some sleep while you can. I have a feeling that the next few months are going to be hard ones." As he finished speaking the Queen was admitted to the room. "Leave us," he commanded.
Archeon gave another bow and walked away. He checked on his men and retired for the night.
The next morning the two-hundred plus armed men left the cave and set off for the north. As they went in search of the army, the King rallied more men to his cause until their numbers had swelled to five hundred. Because they were so many in number the trek took longer than expected, nearly a total of three and a half weeks. Instead of finding good news, they instead found bad news. Along the way there they had fought numerous skirmishes with a small amount of casualties, and that was too be expected. The enemy roamed freely across most of the land, save a few well defended spots, but they were a little surprised to find this many north. They quickly found the reason why when they stumbled across the remains of a large battlefield. It was in a large clearing and bodies littered the field for a good stretch of distance. Banners, arrows, armor and weapons lay everywhere in sight. A rough estimate put the number of dead in the region of around eight thousand. Upon closer inspection they realized that most of the bodies were from the invaders, with only a few of there own thrown randomly about. The reason for this became obvious when they discovered a mass grave almost a league away from the battle. The marking of a red dragon over a golden banner said that it was their own dead from the battle. Without knowing the depth, they figured it held about three thousand dead, maybe more.
Their army had clearly won a large battle, but they were now gone from the area, and it would take even more time they didn't have to find them. Even though they army had left, an army of twenty thousand souls left behind a large trail, they just had to follow it. The next battle they came across was the remains of a small camp. The battle must have took part in the middle of night because the camp tents were still in place and there were marks of where some patches had burnt to the ground. Signs around the edges of the camp indicated that a force of mounted men had attacked at night and completely routed the men. There hadn't been a chase afterward, they had simple hit the camp and left. It was an effective hit and run tactic. The good news was that the battle had taken place no more than two days ago, so they had closed the gap between the two groups.
They caught up to the army the next night. It had once contained twenty thousand men, but that number was now about fifteen thousand thanks to the two previous battles. A war council was held the next morning and Archeon was in attendance. The meeting took place in the command tent because it was the only place big enough to hold everyone. A large table had been set up in the middle and a few chairs were placed around the walls of the tent. The table itself was covered with maps and troop markers. In attendance were the King, his Queen, four generals, and triple that number of aides. The topic at hand was the invasion and what to do about it.
"We can rally the men on leave here in the northern town on Loren," one of the generals was saying. "It is well supplied with armor and weapons and easily defensible, plus it being in controlled land right now is a plus."
The King ran a hand through his hair. "How long will it take us to recall the men and reform their units?"
The logistics officer spoke up next. "The order was already sent out for the men to head to the north and we would provide a rally point. In all I would say it takes two three to get everyone assembled then another two weeks to get them formed up and properly equipped."
"What about the general call to arms?"
It is going fine, new conscripts are showing up at controlled sites throughout the kingdom. I would hazard a guess to say that we can field another army or even two, but it would take at least two months before those men would be even ready to fight a battle without being routed."
The King shook his head and pointed at a spot on the map. "That is too long on both accounts. From what the reports are suggesting, the castle would be able to hold for no more than two months if were are lucky, and it could really fall at any moment. This is one thing we can not allow no matter what," he said gravely. "Losing the seat of my power is not an option." He pointed at the row of fortifications along the east and southern borders. "Hhat of the men there?"
"From all accounts they are laying siege to the smaller forts and castles, but leaving the bigger ones alone. They are leaving just enough men behind to harass if they try to leave their positions."
"We need those fighting back, not holed up, and we need to lift the siege from the castle. Any thoughts?" he asked those around the table.
Archeon stepped forward and pointed at the their present location. "What I propose we do is split our force into two groups." He pointed out two different locations on the map, which were towns held by the enemy. "We know they are forming two armies there, but they are going to need time before they are ready to move out. What we do is send two thousand men on horse and use them to harass the enemy at those two locations, just small hit and runs to buy us time. Meanwhile, the rest of the force marches on the castle and lifts the siege. They have about fifteen thousand encamped around it, but their defenses are faced towards the front, not the rear. Of we move quickly enough we can crush them before they can get reinforcements. Once we take back the castle we will have more than enough men to squash any other siege army unless the Count commits more of his forces."
The Count was in command of the forces arrayed against them. He was the son of the Kingdom that had broken the treaty and attacked. He was also in charge of the outlanders who had come, and brought their Pokémon with them. He himself was a sorcerer, only recently revealed, and it was rumored that he could summon a powerful Normal Pokémon called Porygon. How he come to obtain such power in a land that banned such magic, no one knew, but he was a force to be reckoned with.
The King nodded his head and stroked the beginnings of a small beard. "I do believe you are right. If the reports are right, then the count has forty thousand of his troops here, and half that in outlanders. If he is allowed to bring that full force to bear we will lose, out goal must be to keep his force attention divided."
"What do you have in mind?" someone asked.
A wicked smile flirted across the King's face. "We will worry about that later. For now, I agree with Archeon's assessment and plan. That is our plan, see it done." As the men started to shuffle out the King spoke again. "Archeon, stay a moment if you would please." Archeon sat down in a chair and waited for the King to continue. "The Count is a powerful sorcerer, how do you suggest we kill him?"
Archeon frowned and crossed his legs. "I guess the same way we have killed the others. Eliminate their Pokémon and finish them off afterward."
The King shrugged. "Normally I would agree, but from what I've heard he possess the ability to summon more than one Pokémon, and powerful Pokémon at that. Six different Pokémon have been sighted around him, and the Pokémon that worries me the most is the Porygon. With it being a Normal type it means it is only weak to other Pokémon, which we don't use. This means we will have to kill it with conventional weapons, and it is one of the more powerful Pokémon known. Just killing this Pokémon will be a difficult challenge, nevermind getting close enough to him."
Archeon stared off into space as he contemplated the problem. After a moment he sighed and leaned back in his chair. "I'm just a plain soldier, this sort of stuff is not what I'm best at in truth. Put me both in front of a man with a weapon and I will deal with him."
The King chuckled. "That will be all then. Assign the men to the mounted patrol and get the rest ready to move out. We leave at noon."
Archeon banged his fist to his heart in a salute, bowed at the waist, and left, leaving the King to his thoughts. Archeon went to his own command tent and quickly issued orders to have two of legions assigned the task of being the raiding part sent south. Those two thousand men would have a rougher time than the main army because they would be spending most of their time hiding and ambushing, while being on the run the entire time. One of the legions was a veteran one, while the other was fairly seasoned. He knew the experience would be vital to them accomplishing the task set before them.
As for the main army, he wrote up the order to move out and handed them to an aide standing nearby. When the aide ran off to spread the orders to pack camp and strike out, Archeon walked over to his armor stand and started to pull the items off. Since he had a couple of hours before they would be matching to battle, he set about meticulously cleaning and oiling the different components. He trusted these items to keep him alive, meaning he wanted them in the best shape possible.
When the time came for everyone to start marching he buckled the armor on, with some assistance of course, and walked to where the King would be. Despite being one of the overall people in charge of the army, his spot was by the King as his personal protector. Depending on the how the battle went, he would either remain by his side cutting through any would be assassins or at the front of the vanguard leading the charge. Personally he preferred to be at the front, but duty was more important than personal pride or preference.
The King walked up in his splendid, brightly polished armor with the golden dragon emblazoned on his chestpiece and crimson cape trailing down from his shoulder. There was no mistaking him for anything other than royalty, which made him a target of course. The King's place was nearly at the head of the force, but with a buffer of about two thousand soldiers before him, just in case of a surprise attack. They had a screen of scouts at two-thirds and one-third of a league before them, to watch for attack. In the event of an attack the infantry would form up into ranks in the front while the cavalry would split to cover the flanks of the advancing host.
In the coming battle for the castle, Archeon was reasonably sure the King would be at the back of the army, commanding instead of leading the charge himself. He hoped the honor went to him. Being at the front was dangerous, but also where all the excitement was. He had been given the head of a charge twice, one of them giving him the scar on his face. It was a stark reminder that he was only a man and that his life could be taken at any moment. It was a lesson he learned and applied well.
Archeon kept his wits about him, but mostly he just settled down and concentrated on riding to their destination. It would take them about a week and a half to get to the castle so he had plenty of time to think. They were about a week into the march when the first reports of action started to reach his ears.
It was a sweltering day and not a cloud in the sky when one of the scouts came charging up to him on a horse. The man was in a hurried state, but otherwise okay. It was the horse having problems. Two arrows stuck out from its right flank and blood was foaming at the horse's mouth from the wound and hard ride. A new horse was brought up for the scout and the wounded one led away as he started to give his report.
"Our first screen missed a large force of about two thousand stealthy hidden in a valley nearby. The advance force was ambushed by them as the crossed through. Half are infantry and the other half are archers. The battle was joined when I left, but we are outnumbered by four to one down there."
The King had just approached and heard the last of the report from the scout. "Archeon, take four thousand men and crush the pocket of invaders. I will take the rest of the men and continue forward, we can ill allow any delay or them to get ahead of us. Wipe them out and rejoin us when you can."
Four legions were assigned to him and he quickly sent them in a forced march to the battlefield. He would have preferred horses because they could move and hit fast, but because they were still in the wooded part of the kingdom, which most of it was as only parts of the south and east would allow large groups of horses to move about. He wasn't too worried though. If the enemy were in the valley that he thought they were in, they had made a grave mistake. The valley had two entrance, one his men had gone though, and another far to the back. The first entrance was thick with trees and other vegetation, making it ideally for an ambush, but the problem was that the tree were too thick for archers to pick targets. The would have to fight just past it, where a small field of wild flowers grew. The enemy probably hid in the flowers, which were waist high, then popped up to attack. The second entrance was where Archeon planned to crush them. The path out of the valley led across a small creek, small enough not to ford, but large enough that the water went knee high, meaning a slow waddle for men in armor. Just off to the side of this creek was a small hill overlooking it. He couldn't use archers there, but he could easily send a force up there to wait for the enemy, then as they tried to flee across the creek they would be cut down. To this effect, he split a fourth of his force off and set them off to get to that spot.
He deliberately slowed his main force to give the other men enough time to circle around. By doing this he would be costing more lives from the five hundred cut off, but he would fulfill his orders by leaving no survivors and limit his own casualties from the reinforcements. It would suck for those already fighting, but war involved tough choices. He could live with this one.
A couple of minutes later when they came into sight of the battle he could only catch glimpses through the trees as the clearing was flooded with men. It looked as if half his men had already fallen and the other half were fighting in small pockets as the battle raged. No more arrows were flying for the fear of hitting their own men. He drew his sword and pointed it forward.
'For the King!" he cried, breaking into a run as he charged the enemy. He men echoed the cry as they followed his steps. The enemy whirled to face him and the two sides were locked in combat before they even reached the clearing. His men hit like a hammer against the first rank of the enemy. Most of his men preferred to use blade and buckler, but he liked his sword in both hands best. The first enemy he met was from Orag, and wore a coat of mail and metal helm with a nose piece, standard ware for the average soldier. The man's face bore a look of pure confidence as he brought his brought his blade arm down in an over-hand strike. Archeon brought his own blade up and parried the blow to the side, using the man's own momentum to bring the swinging sword to the earth. A simple backhand and the man fell to the ground clutching at his throat as the blood gushed forward. Archeon didn't pay the man another second of attention as he shifted all his attention to men after him, and the next after that.
He was a master fighter and he soon left about seven men dying in his wake as he cut a bloody swath to the center. The enemy, once confident by the small force they had been fighting, quickly found themselves outnumbered. Soon a couple splinted from the back and ran, and within a few minutes that couple had swelled to scores and the men started to flee. The routed force fled overland quickly as they were able, with Archeon's men hounding their heels. Half the survivors had just managed to cross the creek when a tide of the fresh troops Archeon had sent around joined the foray. Those on the opposite side found themselves trapped between the creek and reinforcements and threw themselves forward with reckless abandoned, but they were ruthlessly cut down. The hammer Archeon had set to his anvil worked to perfection and the creek became the origin of a one-sided slaughter.
When the last of the enemy had fallen, his men set about walking through the bodies and dispatching any survivors, and there were always survivors. One would think with all the death on a battlefield that when a battle ended it would be silence. That was as far from the truth as could be. Sure men died, but it was a general rule of thumb that for every one that died, two or three lived with their wounds. Those still with wounds were either screaming and crying for help, calling for loved ones, or praying. When his men started to kill the survivors, the wailing increased to a crescendo that threatened to burst his eardrums, but one by one those cries were cut off as the people behind the noise died. Archeon had lost about three hundred dead and eight hundred wounded. Not too bad a number, but it would be at least another hour before his men could clear the battleground.
The once clear stream now flowed red with the blood of many men, and the air stank of death and blood. Archeon never had grown used to the smell and was fighting back the urge to puke like a green soldier. When he conquered the nausea at last, he organized a burial detail and got the rest of the men ready to move out. Now that he was down to three thousand men, he ordered that a thousand remain behind to bury their dead and to assist the wounded who couldn't walk without help. Because they were running short on time, he ordered them to dig a grave for the dead and bury the armor and all. They would retrieve any usable weapons and regroup with the main force. As for the enemy, the scavengers could feasts on them. Because they had to leave no survivors, the enemy had fought fiercely at the end when they realized no quarter would be given. That dragged the battle onto to a time of about half an hour. It was already midday and it would take his tired host most of the day to catch up to the main body.
The walk to catch up bothered Archeon more than it should have. During the battle, he had suffered two wounds. One was a glancing blow to his left arm, that had caused a numbness he still felt, and was concerned might be broken; and the other he had suffered a cut along his ribs on the right side. While not deep, it was painful and the walking only served to make it more uncomfortable. Once he got back to the army he would have the surgeons look him over after they saw to his men.
Two hours of marching and they finally caught sigh of the rear guard. Archeon immediately made a report to the King and went to find a medic to treat his injuries. He spent the rest of the day in a wagon for the wounded resting his wounds. His arm had been dislocated at the elbow and was put back in place, but a couple of his ribs were broken and they would take longer to heal. The ribs would bother him during the upcoming battle, but he would not allow a minor injury to keep him from the fight.
Archeon, the King, some scouts, and a general or two looked at the siege from their vantage point. The initial report they got two weeks early was wrong. There wasn't fifteen thousand men seizing the castle, but a strong thirty thousand. Only the excellent defenses of the castle prevented the men from falling within, but even they could hold for so long. The enemy had penetrated the outer wall and were working on entering the keep, the last holdout for the defenders. Once that fell the castle would fully be in their control. The reason for the extra men became obvious when they spotted the Count himself walking about the camp. They hadn't expected him to oversee the siege personally, but that couldn't be helped, they would have to attack even with him there.
Most of the outer city was a smoldering ruin, and the once proud castle walls were either heaps of crumbled or melted slag. The Count had clearly used his Pokémon to his advantage. Those walls were meant for human attackers, not Fire, Fighting, and Ground Pokémon.
"How many Pokémon do you estimate are there?" a voice asked, jolting Archeon from his thoughts.
"I would guess somewhere between five hundred and a thousand."
"That is a lot of Pokémon."
"Pokémon bleed like the rest of us," the King said. "Long as we manage to put those brutes down before they do too much damage, we should be fine." He pointed at their defenses and continued. "They haven't yet formed any defenses facing us. They must not think we are nearby, but when that force Archeon beat doesn't report soon they will know some of us are here. We must hit them before that happens."
"What is the plan?" Archeon asked.
"Simple, we attack at first light."
That was the answer he was dreading. The King was a pretty straight forward man in terms of his thinking and how he approached a problem: a direct confrontation with brute force. Despite being outnumbered almost three to one, and having to face Pokémon, Archeon did have to admit this was probably the only plan they could do. If they waited for reinforcements, there was a good chance to castle could fall, then there was no way their small force would be able to budge that large force, even with most of the defenses destroyed. However, if they managed to surprise the Count, they could overwhelm his army before they could fight effectively back, and pin them between themselves and those at the keep walls. Caught in a vice grip, they would quickly be cut to ribbons. Furthermore, killing the Count would go a long way towards ending the war. However, that was easier said than done. On top of being a powerful sorcerer, the Count had obtained his title in earlier wars for his battle prowess and tactical skills. He was a feared and respected opponent, not an evil man. Archeon would have loved the chance to get to the know the older man, but one of their lives would soon end.
"Let's get back to camp," the King said a few moments later. The men crept back and melted into the trees as they made way for their camp, only a short five minutes away. They would get a few hours of sleep and set out the next morning before the sun had risen in the air. Hopefully they would catch most of the enemy asleep or at the very least still in their beds.
As the army finished putting the last touches on their formations and double checked their equipment, Archeon was busily studying the map that the scouts had drawn up of the enemy positions. The castle stood in the center of a great plain, with not a tree or bush in sight for half a league. Four roads stretched out from the center in each direction, leading to various parts of the kingdom. Now that the castle was under siege, the earth had been torn up to dig trenches and build earthen ramparts to shield the attackers from the missiles thrown by the defenders. The rampart started about thirty yards beyond the castle and encircled the entire perimeter. The systems of trenches were dug behind that, one directly behind the ramparts, and the other leading from the camps to the front, so they could travel in safety. They didn't have enough troops to destroy the entire siege circle, so the King had decided on a much simpler path. They would attack the main camp before them, hitting as fast as possible and moving past to spread into the trenches. Once they got into the trenches and started to hit the flanks of the enemy, their numbers wouldn't mean much and the defenses would be for naught. The only problem with the plan was that it relied on the element of surprise and not getting bogged down at any one point, if they did, they would be swarmed and killed.
As he had hoped, he was given the honor of leading the charge on the camp. The King would follow up while two other smaller attacks would immediately head for the trenches. The men charged with leading the spearhead were already assembled and just waiting for him and the call to move out. Archeon nodded to a few of his senior officers and waited for the call to be given. Since this would be a stealth attack it meant that the call would be a hand signal passed through the whole army, and that required time and coordination. When he saw the order a few minutes after arriving to the front he drew his sword an started walking, the rest of his men doing likewise. The skirmishers had already been through this area and cleared the few enemy pickets posted guard. When they approached within a hundred yards he slow increased his pace to that of a trot. When the distance was cut in half he again picked up his pace and slowly increased until he was flat out running towards the enemy position.
When they were about twenty five yards away he could see enemy troopers start to climb from their tents and search about for the loud noise that was his army running towards them. When a few caught sight of them in the dark they immediately started to cry out and run for the nearest weapons. Those cries only managed to last for about fifteen seconds before Archeon's men were upon them. They hit like a scythe amongst wheat, cutting down anything in their path. The forwards elements slew any moving man before them and simply moved on. Those behind them entered the tents and killed the rest who were either sleeping or trying to snap on armor and weapons. By now the camp was in full panic, and men were sleepily climbing from their tents to only get cut down. Archeon had just cut down an enemy officer when he saw a light go up into the sky and blow, illuminating the entire area. It wasn't quite fully light, but the effects were startling. The entire camp was a mass of bawling men, half in armor and the half in bed clothes and pieces of armor. From the distance front he heard a large roar and saw about two score large flying creatures take to the sky. He swore silently to himself. The Pokémon had now entered the fight.
One of the Pokémon, it had to be a Charizard, if the glowing tip of fire at the end of it's tail was any indication, roared past him with a rider on it's back. The Pokémon master roared and pointed a blade at a group of Archeon's men. The Charizard opened it's mouth to reveal a ball of swirling flame. The Pokémon shot the fireball at his men and started to climb into the air. He tried to shout out, but the sound died in his voice as the explosion from the attacked ripped through the air. The force was strong enough to throw Archeon off his feet and knock him to the ground. When he struggled to his feet a moment later, the place where the fireball had hit was a large patched of scorched earth, with a small indentation in the ground.
Archeon really hated fighting Pokémon, especially those Fire types. A noise behind him caused his to turn around and lift his blade, and his was lucky he had done because a large yellow creature of fur and whiskers had launched itself at him. Fortunately, the rat-like creature impaled itself on his blade. The weight of the creature forward his blade down. He placed a boot against the creature and pulled. The blade came free with a sickening wrench and Archeon looked for his next target. As he marched back into the foray he spotted more and more Pokémon and men entering the fight as the enemy became aware of what was happening.
He was locked in a battle with three of them when he heard the beating of wings and a large thud as some creature settled down nearby. A large roar and a burst of flame punctuated the Pokémon's arrival a moment later. Intent to deal with the Pokémon as quickly as possible, he turned to his three would be killers and attacked. The first one he charged and feinted an attack to his left. The man brought his blade across to meet his own, but midway through the attack Archeon spun on his heel and switched blade hands. His blow caught the man underneath his knee and cut through the exposed armor there. He felt the blade cut cleanly through the limb as he danced to meet the second attacker. This one was no novice and sent a flurry of deadly strikes at each him. He was good, but Archeon was a world class sword master, this man was merely good. He carefully parried each blow, then, seeing an opening he closed the distance until the were face to face and buried his blade into the man's heart. The man grunted as blood started to trickle from his mouth. Archeon twisted and pulled sharply down. The man was dead before he hit the ground. As Archeon turned to face his third attacker, he felt something strike him in the back. The force of the blow was so strong that he stumbled and fell onto the third attacker, who was so startled he didn't even deliver a killing blow. Archeon smashed his armored fist into the man's helmetless head. He felt and heard a sickening crunch as he broke the man's nose. The person started to scream pitifully, but he ended that with an elbow to the windpipe, crushing it. Archeon climbed to his feet, leaving the man to die, as he turned to see what had hit him from behind.
To his surprise he saw that it was the Charizard from early. By this time the sun had risen enough that he had a good look at the creature before him. It was orange with a cream belly, had a long tail that was flame tipped, wicked looking claws, two small horns on it's head, and a protruding snout filled with teeth as long as his fingers. The Pokémon stood about eight feet high and was a fierce looking Pokémon. The Pokémon's master lay at it's feet unmoving, with about three arrows protruding from the corpse. About a score of his men surrounded the Pokémon, branding spears at the enraged Pokémon. The Pokémon snapped with its jaws at the two of the spears. It latched onto the shafts and tossed it's head to the side. The weapons flew out of the hands of the two soldiers, leaving them exposed. The Pokémon wasted no time and slashed at both humans, knocking them both to the ground and killing one as it claws hooked into one the men's skulls. Two men darted in from behind and jabbed at the Pokémon's two hind legs, but the Pokémon was too quick and lashed out with its tail, sweeping the feet out from one of them, and burning the other. Four of the soldiers decided to be brave, and threw their weapons at the Fire type. Archeon saw his opening and rushed in. The Pokémon sent a stream of fire at the four who attacked it, clearing the air of the weapons and killing the four instantly. Their sacrifice didn't go to waste though as Archeon swatted the tail of Pokémon away as it came to harass him. The blade bit cleanly through the skin, nearly severing the tail. The Pokémon tried to whirl on him, but Archeon had obtained purchase on the back of the Pokémon. Using the Pokémon's massive wings as leverage, he climbed higher and grabbed the two horns on the head. Using one hand to hold tightly, he used his other to lodge the blade on the mouth of the Pokémon. His intent was to stab upward with his blade and pierce the brain, but the Pokémon other ideas. It snapped down and shattered his blade like it was nothing, then, before he could react, it reached a clawed hand up to him, grabbed him, and tossed him bodily through the air. A couple of his soldiers managed to catch him before he hit the ground, so he wasn't hurt too much, just a few new bruises. Because the Pokémon had to take care of him, it had exposed itself to attack and his men had ruthlessly exploited it. Three of them managed to lodge spears on the body of the Pokémon, drawing fresh roars. When the Pokémon tried to charge those that had just hurt it, two more men hacked at the back of its legs. With another roar, this one of pain, the Pokémon fell to the earth. That was all his men needed to finish it off. Before it could regain its feet they swarmed over it and stabbed and hacked until it lay unmoving, and by then it was a bloody lump of meat, not easily recognizable. Acheson took a moment it catch his breath, draw his other sword, and entered the fight once more.
Both armies were now fully engaged, and the sound of metal on metal and Pokémon cries filled the air. Archeon's force was slowly pushing forward, but already the enemy were starting to field more reinforcements. Casualties were mounting on his side, and the field was full of unmoving bodies, both Pokémon and human alike. The sun had already risen, so the carnage was easy to see. Far as they eye could see, fifty thousand men and Pokémon were hacking at each other, even as fresh missiles and bodies started to charge from the castle, hitting the invaders between two force, albeit one smaller than the other. Archeon saw a lone figure on horseback rally a bunch of men and point forward, towards his army. The man was clearly an officer, and therefore a target.
Since he didn't have a ranged weapon, he would have to settle this the old way. "On me!" he cried to a squad of nearby soldiers. A group of about fifty formed on him and they charged the enemy right back. Archeon grabbed a shield and smashed into the opposing line of enemy shields. The collision knocked some of the wind out of him, but he recovered almost instantly and lashed out forward with his blade in a stabbing motion. He heard a cry and felt the blade sink into flesh. He withdrew the blade and advanced in his next target. The man's face was concealed by his helm, but his equipment was finely made, so Archeon knew that this guy was either rich, or an excellent fighter. He decided to get a test for the man before he fully engaged him. He advanced forward and threw a blow at the man. His blade connected with his foe's shield and bounced off, he barely bought his own weapon up in time to deflect a blow that would have severed his head.
Archeon ducked another blow and kicked out. He foot connected with the man's knee, eliciting a cry from him. He bounced back to dodge a return blow, then advanced forward his blade stabbing and cutting. He batted away a few counterstrikes before twisting, cutting off his opponent's sword hand, before burying his blade in the torso. He heard a death grunt and switched his focus, looking for more targets. Suddenly, a jet of water shot from his right and bounced to four faces of his soldiers, each time leaving a bubble the size of the man's head, enveloping it. The four men, their heads trapped in bubbles of water, thrashed about and tried to claw at the water around their faces, but to no avail. They fell dead to the earth almost a minute later. Only a Water type Pokémon could cause that to happen.
He looked about and spotted the Count. It had to be him, for his armor was a deep hue of forest green and very well made, easily satisfying any king in its splendor. Three fighting Pokémon fought around him, each delivering a series of kick and punches that dented armor and were delivered with a dancer's grace. They were a Hitmonlee, a Hitmonchan, and Hitmontop. Standing on the Count's right side was a cat-like blue creature with fins framing its face and a tail. It was a Vaporeon, the Water type drowning men. On his other side was a Porygon, and it really looked like nothing he had seen before, outside of small oddly deformed duck. It was pink and blue, with a bill, and two almost wing shaped limbs. The Pokémon didn't walk or fly either, it hovered. Currently, it eyes were glowing a magenta as it used some Psychic abilities in conjunction with the Vaporeon.
He had to kill the man, before he used more of Pokémon to decimate his forces. He withdrew a horn attached to his weapon belt and blew. The sound echoed across the battlefield, drawing his own men to his side. Multiple of the same horns were passed through the army and given to the officers. A single blow meant that the Count had been located and for troops to rally around him. Two horns meant that he had been slain, and three meant to retreat. About two hundred men formed up around Archeon, but the Count had summoned his own guard, about fifty soldiers, who also happened to summon Pokémon. For the third time in the morning, the two groups met in a charge. The guards were well trained, but only a few blades could match Archeon in combat. They required more concentration for him to dispatch, but they still fell, same as the others. After cutting through three soldiers he was almost to the Count when the Hitmonlee darted forward to block his path.
Quicker than any man he had fought before, the Pokémon aimed two kicks at his, then spinning and trying to sweep his feet out from under him. He barely managed to deflect the first two blows with his blade, but the third he was just too slow to counter. He hit the ground hard, easily bruising him. He felt a large weight land on his chest and looked through his visor to see the Pokémon had jumped on his chest, easily adding another dent to the battered armor. The Pokémon lifted a long leg and was about to smash it in the head when the Pokémon was suddenly flung from his chest, as if a giant hand had plucked the Pokémon and thrown it away. Archeon inhaled sharply as he regained the ability to breathe once more. He looked around, but didn't see anything and anyone that could have caused the Pokémon to get hurled away like that. The battle raged on all around him, and it appeared as if nobody had even taken notice of what had just happened. Lying just a couple of yards lay the Hitmonlee, one of its legs bent at an awkward angle. The Pokémon had fainted, therefore still alive. Under normal circumstance he would have eliminated the Pokémon, but he had to take care of the Count first.
He rose to a knee and stuck his blade, point first, into the wet earth, made so by the blood and sweat of the Pokémon and humans. Using his blade, he rose unsteadily to his feet, swaying slight. Through the loud din of battle, he heard a small thud hit his helmet. He lifted his fingers up, to where the sound originated, and his fingers came away with moisture on them. As he started to walk forward, a loud crack rocked the very air around him. The noise so abrupt that he nearly fell backwards. What was peculiar was that he recognized the sound as thunder, but there had been no sign of a storm for the past few days, and the day started off brightly sunny.
Slowly more thunder started. He looked up to see a wave of dark clouds rolling in from the north. The very sight was disturbing to witness. Those dark clouds stretched across the sky like an unstoppable tide. Racing across the dark clouds were bolts of lightening. Archon wasn't a man of superstition, but the massive storm meant nothing but bad news. To make matters worse, it moved across the blue sky like some sort of fast moving liquid. In less than a minute the entire was overtaken by the dark clouds, giving it the appearance of just after dark. Fighting in the dark was a dangerous affair, because the lack of light could cause friendly unit to attack each other, and with no fires that could very well happen. It wasn't pitch black, but Archeon had trouble telling which troops belong to who more than twenty feet away. Just as he was about to enter the foray the rain started, and it came down in sheets. That twenty feet quickly shrunk to half that. He lifted his visor so he could see better and looked about for his foe.
Something else caught his eye. Far away, in the clouds to the north he saw an image racing across the sky. It looked like some mutated lion-dog, with a hump on its back. The thing moved with each bolt of lightening, revealing its large dark shape in the clouds. Whatever it was that was in the cloud was easily a few minutes away, more than enough time to deal with the Count then fight the new threat. Due to the heavy rain, he had to slog forward at the pace of the snail, dodging bodies and weapons, all the way trying not to get stuck in the mud, made so by the many men now fighting and dying on the field.
If Archeon failed to reach the Count soon, he might never, because both sides would have to withdraw if the weather didn't let up. The Count was engaged in combat with some of Archeon's soldiers. The man's green armor looked dull in the low light, but the man's blade cut a burning path through anything that stood in its path. The Count twisted his blade and disarmed one man while lashing out and kicking another in the head. As he completed the attack he dropped to the ground and rolled, coming up behind a third attack. That man died before he had a chance to react. The Count rose and glanced about, looking for another enemy to fight. He eyes met Archeon's and he stalked forward.
Archeon lifted his own blade in a salute then began to move forward carefully, making sure to keep an eye on both his opponent and hit footing. The two were no more than ten feet away when a roar loud enough to burst ear drums echoed across the battlefield. It sounded directly overhead. Almost every eye looked upward at that moment. A large bolt of lightening shot from the sky and struck directly between the two, producing such heat that Archeon felt the moisture evaporate in the air around him. As the steam drifted away, a man with a Pokémon stood in the spot where the bolt had struck. The Pokémon had a lion like body, with two large canines protruding from its closed mouth. Hair the shape of wind gusts over water flowed across its back, while a jagged blue tail sprouted from its rear. It was yellow with bolts of black dotting its skin. The Pokémon was a Raikou, a legendary Pokémon, one revered as a God outside the kingdoms. Far as he could see, every outlander bent a knee when they spied the Pokémon. The natives simply looked on.
The man standing next to the Pokémon was what drew Archeon's attention. He wore dark blue and black robes that fitted him almost snugly and seemed to be some sort of armor. A cowl was draped over his face, hiding his features. In one hand he held a long sword, that was perhaps that finest looking weapon Archeon had ever seen. The blade seemed to dazzle despite the absence of light and the hilt was magnificently made of some white material Archeon had never seen before.
This mysterious man placed a hand on the Pokémon's head and gave it a pat, as if he was saying thank you. The Pokémon nuzzled the hand then leapt upward, flashing skyward as a bolt of lightening dropped down to meet it. When Archeon returned his eyes to the stranger, trying to see if he was friend or foe, he saw that man had summoned two more Pokémon by his side. The first Pokémon was a green gecko-like Pokémon with a fern-like tail and a bladed grass stalk on each arm. The other Pokémon was also a humanoid Pokémon, but this one was yellow and brown. A long yellow mustache trailed from its upper lip and it held a spoon in each three-fingered hand. This Pokémon was one that Archeon had only heard tales of. It was an Alakazam, a powerful Psychic Pokémon that many said was one of the strongest Pokémon known to man, perhaps even stronger than a Porygon. Like a Porygon, Alakazam was a rare breed of Pokémon and one that was even harder to capture. Like the Sceptile next to it, Alakazam possessed high speed, and that was coupled with the ability to teleport anywhere the Pokémon wanted. Its ability to teleport with its power made the Pokémon so strong that one could never catch an Alakazam in the wild, they had to find the lowest evolution Abra and try and capture that Pokémon.
Archeon really hoped that the newcomers were on his side, otherwise the battle just became that much more difficult. Suddenly the spell over the battle was broken and the fighting started again. Four of the Count's guard moved to block his path and he lost sight of the newcomer.
Myrddin flexed his hand forward and commanded his Sceptile to attack the Vaporeon. He and Alakazam would focus all their attention on the Porygon, a deadly foe if there ever was one. Alakazam would have a decent chance to defeat the Pokémon, but despite Porygon being a lower evolution it would be a tough fight. Before Myrddin fully committed to an all out attack he needed to gauge the skill of the Count and his charge. "Alakazam, start things off with your Psybeam attack."
Alakazam crossed his two spoons and fired a multicolored beam of Psychic energy at Porygon. Porygon's eye glowed green in response right before it fired twin beams at the Psybeam. It's attack went right through the Psybeam, disrupting the attack and going right past.
Myrddin had expected this and had a move ready. "Teleport."
In less time than it takes to blink, Alakazam was gone from it's original spot. The attack he suspected to be Signal Beam hit the spot his Pokémon had vacated. Signal Beam was a Bug type move, and Bug was super effective against Psychic Pokémon, which was why it had rendered his Psybeam useless. Luckily it was the only Bug move that a Porygon could learn, which meant he could work around it. "Disable," he ordered next. Disable was move that prevented the opposing Pokémon from using the last attack for the duration of the battle. Disable would give a slight edge to his Pokémon.
Without knowing what moves the Pokemon would use against him, he decided to play a little defensive first, then launch an assault against the Porygon. "'Alakazam, use your Light Screen move."
Alakazam would erect an invisible barrier around itself that would shield it from damage from special attacks. The damage would be halved for five minutes of combat, then it would fade away. Light Screen could only be shattered by a move called Brick Break, a Fighting typed move that Porygon couldn't learn. So he was in the clear damage wise for five minutes, and since the Porygon was a mostly special attack damage dealer, it was one of the best possible move choices. As Alakazam closed his eyes and started to chant in the Pokemon language, the Porygon was ordered to attack again.
Three orbs appeared in front of the Porygon's face. One was fire, the other a ball of ice, and the third was a bolt of lightening. The three orbs began to spin in a circle until they were just a blue of mixed colors. Porygon fired this attack at Alakazam. The Psychic Pokemon was still chanting the Light Screen move, but finished just before the attack struck. The Tri Attack hit a barrier, just before damaging, showing a wall of energy around Alakazam. Alakazam grunted from the damage, but didn't show any real marks of injury. Myrddin was thankful the Tri Attack didn't cause a status aliment, because then he would be in trouble.
"Future Sight next!" he ordered. Future Sight was a move that allowed his Pokemon to see a few minutes in the future. What this would do was allow his Alakazam to see a move the Porygon would make, then counter it. Only Alakazam would know the move, so it would be up to the Pokemon to make the right call. If countered right, it could do a decent amount of damage to the opposing Pokemon. It would also give him some to think about his next move.
Alakazam closed his eyes and concentrated on the future, his mind wandering to the unknown. The Count barked another attack to his Pokemon. A small dark orb began to grow over its head. The black orb swirled like shadows and small pulses of purple energy ran through it. Myrddin groaned inwardly as he saw the attack, immediately knowing what it was. He had forgot that Porygon learned that move. The move was Shadow Ball, a type that was effective against Psychic types. He had forgot that most Pokemon could learn the attack. The Dark attack grew until it was the size of a head, then Porygon launched it out Alakazam. The Light Screen barely slowed it down as it hit Alakazam. The attack hit Alakazam and passed through before fading away, not leaving any visible marks, but doing a ton of damage nonetheless.
Alakazam had just taken two attacks without dishing out any of his own, it was time to change that. "Use Psychic on some weapons around you and follow that up with Recover." He didn't expect the Psychic to do much damage against Porygon, because it would block a good deal of them, but it would buy him time for Alakazam to recover some of his missing health.
"Alakazam!" the Pokémon said, pointing both spoons at Porygon. All around the Alakazam, items slowly started to levitate, until a collection of twenty or so items had formed. Another word from the Psychic type and the missiles were sent flying towards the Porygon. The enemy Pokémon focused on the weapons almost immediately and countered the move with one of its own. A sharp gust grabbed at Myrddin cloak as the wind started to pick up. The temperature immediately dropped, so much so that he could see his breath. The wind didn't seem to affect the whole battlefield, just this small part. He watched as ice formed on the weapons speeding towards Porygon, slowing them down and causing Alakazam to use more energy to direct them. Then, as Alakazam started to use the move recover, Porygon's entire body lit up with energy. The Pokémon coalesced the energy into a beam and fired it at the Psychic fueled weapons. The Charge Beam managed to clear most of the weapons from the sky, but more than a few got through, doing some damage to the Normal type Pokémon.
This Pokémon had been trained well, there was no doubt, but Alakazam could beat this Pokémon, but he had to take one or two more baby steps before he was able to fully unleash his offensive capabilities. "Let's go with a Toxic move next." An enemy soldier had tried to sneak up on him from behind, but he heard the man and easily defeated him in a few blade movements. He was hoping they would let him and the Count wage their Pokémon battle in peace.
Toxic was a move that if it came into contact with the opposing Pokémon it would badly poison them, slowly doing more and more damage as time went on, until it eventually overwhelmed the Pokémon, killing them. Porygon could cure itself of the Poison, but it would waste some good energy doing so, and Alakazam would barely expend any. Alakazam took both spoons and planted them in the earth and spoke softly. Around the spoons a thick ooze started to form. This ooze had the consistency of tar, and was a deep purple hue, almost black. The poison began to glide across the earth towards Porygon, deftly avoiding the heaving mass of men and Pokémon.
Even from this distance, Mryddin could see the surprise on the Count's face. That expressions quickly faded away behind a mask as he barked a series of new orders. The first move was a Substitute, basically where the Pokémon created a clone of itself to absorb damage, and in this case, prevent the poison from working. The next attack came as a surprise when a jolt of lightening arced down from the sky to strike Alakazam. He had used Substitute to neutralize the Poison, while using the weather from Raikou to deliver a strong attack.
It was good strategy, one he did admire even though it hurt his Pokémon. "Time to start fighting," he started, "hit it with a Drain Punch attack." Drain Punch wasn't a weak attack, but Alakazam had a very low attack, meaning the attack wouldn't do very much, but the attack happened to be super effective against Normal types, and it would also heal Alakazam, so it was a good move all things considered. Alakazam curled his right hand into a fist and teleported to the Porygon's side instantly. The Normal Pokémon appeared startled, flinching back from the Alakazam, but still taking the full force of the attack. Porygon recoiled from the attack, but recovered almost instantly and fired a beam of bright energy at Alakazam. The Psychic dodged the attack by teleporting back to its original spot.
He had the upper hand so far, but that could change in the smallest of windows, he had to be weary; he couldn't afford to underestimate either Porygon or its master. Before he could call out another attack, the Porygon used teleport also, appearing right behind Alakazam. In the space it takes to draw a single breath, the Porygon fired a bright bolt of electricity directly at the back of Alakazam. The attack lifted Alakazam off his feet and flung him face first into the ground, his body twitching from the currents running through it. Myrddin gritted his teeth at the sight. The Count managed to pull a move he wasn't suspecting and deal a high damage attack at Alakazam. The move it had used was Zap Cannon, a slow moving but powerful attack. Because of the Teleport, Alakazam didn't have time to dodge and had been hit, and to more matters worse, anything that was hit by Zap Cannon instantly became paralyzed until were healed. Alakazam had high special defense, but even so, Myrddin could see the burns marks on his Pokémon's back, the black standing out on the brown.
Myrddin sorely wished Alakazam had a move that would cure the paralysis, but he didn't, and that put him in a tight spot. "Go with a Thunderbolt attack!" Instead of using the Thunderbolt attack like Myrddin had commanded, the Alakazam took both spoons and struck them against one another, sending out a knee high wave of electricity. The wave rippled across the battlefield straight towards the Porygon, who was suddenly surrounds by a dozen and one copies of itself. The Pokémon had used the move Double Team, which made brief copies of itself. The Shockwave was wide enough that it could hit all the copies, but just before it reached the line of Porygon, one of the copies moved in front of one and blocked the damage. Myrddin understood at once that the Future Sight had happened. Alakazam had seen the Double Team, and knew that the Thunderbolt attack had a small chance of hitting the right target, less than seven percent. So Alakazam had used an area of effect move, practically guaranteeing it would strike the right one. Now that he knew which was the real Porygon, he could directly attack it. "Strike fast with a Tri-Attack."
The Tri Attack was aimed correctly and the substitute was forced to take the damage, shattering it from the combined damage from the Shockwave and Tri Attack. As the substitute faded from sight the Porygon responded with an Icebeam attack. The cyan colored beam of energy that was the Icebeam crackled through the air, freezing the rain in its path, and hit Alakazam. Alakazam shrugged the attack off immediately, but the Porygon had unleashed another attack while the Icebeam was traveling. Myrddin saw jagged spikes of dark energy heading right towards Alakazam, and he couldn't allow his Alakazam to take kind of damage.
Instantly a bubble of energy enveloped the Psychic Pokemoon. The Dark Pulse hit the Protect shield and instantly shattered, dealing no damage. The Porygon wasn't done however, already it was preparing another attack, but the rain was coming down in droves and he couldn't tell what it was doing. He decided to go for a shot in the dark and strike back. "Use Psychic."
Instead of using its powers, Alakazam simply stood still, and he realized that the paralysis from the Zap Cannon was working, freezing his Pokémon in place for a short period of time. He swore silently at his misfortune, but knew he was helpless for the time being. When no attack materialized from the direction of Porygon, he guessed the Pokémon had either healed, or used some sort of stat boosting move. He could handle that. It was time to hit back again, and he had the perfect move. "Alakazam, go with a Façade attack." Façade did more damage if the user Pokémon had a status aliment, and since Alakazam did, the damage would be a decent amount.
As the Alakazam started the attack, Myrddin took a moment to glance over at his Sceptile. The Sceptile was still engaged in a fierce battle with the Vaporean, and a Drapion had joined in, which explained how Porygon had used Dark Pulse, a move it couldn't learn until it evolved, the Porygon had mimicked a Dark Pulse. Sceptile was dashing all over the place, trying to dodge attacks by both Pokémon and dishing some out in return. The problem was that all the blood and water made foot placement critical, and that was hampering her speed, one of her stronger points. The Water aided the Vaporean, who was using it to move faster and deal greater damage with its attacks. The Drapion was simply standing still and firing attacks at Sceptile. The scorpion-like Pokémon was a Dark and Poison type, which could heavily damage the Sceptile. He would have to deal with that problem after the Porygon was dealt with.
When he turned back to the battle between Porygon and Alakazam, he saw a thick yellow web substance had been sprayed all over Alakazam, slowly sending shocks through its body. The move was called Electroweb, and it lowered speed. Since Alakazam was already slowed from the paralysis, he wasn't too worried, but when the web stuck to something it could take a moment or two to move again. He would have to clear the web from Alakazam's body. "Use Psycho Cut on the web then Grass Knot."
Alakazam gave a nod in Myrddin's direction and looked at his feet, at the sticky web. It swiped down with a hand and a pink blade of Psychic energy cut through the air, severing the strands. Freed, Alakazam lifted an open to Porygon, then shut the hand in a fist. Just as his hand closed, a large vine shot up from the earth and grabbed and Porygon. The vine wrapped around Porygon and squeezed, dealing damage. Porygon cried out in pain, a weird sound that he couldn't really describe, and fired a strong Shadow Ball at Alakazam. "Shadow Ball right back." Ghost attacks happened to be super effective against other Ghost types, so the two Shadow Balls would neutralize one another.
The two attacks collided mid-air between the two Pokémon and simply vanished, leaving no mark behind. Myrddin could tell his Pokémon was tiring from the effort of the battle, and that he would have to end it soon. To do that, he needed three more moves to hopeful win the battle, then he could confront the Count and put him down. That would all depend on the Porygon though. "It's nearing the end," he told his Pokémon. "Only a few moves left, I want you to use a Psych Up."
Psych Up was a move that copied any boosts or reductions of the other Pokémon. In this case, Porygon had increased attack and special attack. The attack came from Porygon's download ability, which mean that whichever defensive stat was lower for the enemy Pokémon, the user would gain an offensive boost. So, if the Pokémon had a high special defense, but low defense, Porygon would gain a boost in attack. Alakazam happened to have a pretty low base defense, which was why many Alakazam's learned the moves Barrier and Reflect, to increase their defense and reduce damage respectively. The special attack boost had come for the Charge Beam, which was a secondary affect of the move. This was the stat that Myrddin really wanted, for it was crucial in his plan.
As Alakazam closed his eyes and focused on matching his energy output to that of Porygon, Myrddin looked over at the opposing Pokémon. He saw that it was unmoving like a statue, then it hit him. Alakazam knew an ability called Synchronize. Synchronize was an ability that Psychic types were known to possess. What it did was that if the Pokémon who had the ability was afflicted by a status, then the other Pokémon would also get that status. Since the Zap Cannon had caused Alakazam to be paralyzed, the Porygon was also paralyzed, which was it couldn't move. This was a most advantageous moment since it allowed Alakazam free time to get the Psych Up completed
When the Psych Up was done, he ordered his next move. "Give me a Lock-On." Lock-on was where the Pokémon would home in on the enemy Pokémon for a short amount of time, guaranteeing the next attack to hit. It was often best used with attacks that missed more than other, like Zap Cannon, Stone Edge, and Thunder. The only problem with the attack was that it opened the Pokémon using the attack to a free blow. So it had to be used wisely and only in certain situations. Myrddin really hoped this attack worked, otherwise it would be back to the drawing board, and he wasn't sure he had the time to execute another plan.
Porygon saw the Alakazam close its eyes and go in a trance, and the Pokémon struck almost immediately. With speed that belayed the paralysis, the Pokémon charged directly at Alakazam and straight up slammed into the Psychic type, sending them both hurtling into the ground. Porygon recovered first and backed away from the slowly rising Alakazam. The Alakazam was clearly on its last strings of energy, it was wobbly and had an unfocused look in its eyes. Myrddin found himself hoping that he had enough energy left to complete his last attack, otherwise he would be in heaps of trouble.
"One last attack," he encouraged. "Focus Blast."
Focus Blast was his ace in the hole, and he was playing it. Focus Blast was pretty much the only attack of its kind. It was a Fighting type move that was powered by special attack, and it happened to be one of the strongest attacks available, right up there with moves like Hydro Pump and Thunder. The only problem with Focus Blast was that it was prone to missing, missing almost a quarter of the time because it was such a hard attack to land. That was why Myrddin had used to Lock-On, to ensure his attack hit. This attack should knock out the Porygon, and win him the battle.
Alakazam turned his gaze to the tired Pokémon and crossed his spoons in front of him, forming an x. The gray metal of the spoons slowly started to change colors until they were a bright magenta in color. When he had focused enough power, Alakazam was ready to unleash the attack, but before he could a loud bugle sound filled the air. The sound came from the Count, who had a bugle to his lips. Slowly the same sound could be heard across the entire battlefield. In the space it took for those sounds to be heard, the field around the castle went from a large body of men fighting, to an open retreat. Myrddin gaped at the sight. One second everyone was fighting, and the next moment half were pulling back. It wasn't a route, for the men retreating were forming up defense walls and retreating; the Count was withdrawing from the battlefield, his Pokémon already recalled. Drained of his energy, for it took a good deal to summon Pokémon and battle them, he recalled both of his and took a moment to catch a breather.
Fighting was still happening, but it was moving slowly away from him until he could barely hear it over the cries of men and Pokémon alike. The sound was almost deafening, but he could stand it for a few moments longer. He placed his head in his hands and took a few large breaths and focused on lowering his heart rate. When he finally lifted his head a few minutes later he was surrounded by a group of armed men. All of them were wearing armor and had blood on them, some of it theirs and others. Among the men was the one he had rescued early, identified by his unique armor and the imprint of a Hitmonlee's foot in the chest piece.
The visor was lifted to show a young but weathered face. "Come with me," the grim man said, placing a hand on his weapon's hilt as a none too subtle threat.
Despite himself, Myrddin couldn't help but chuckle at the man. If he only knew.
Now that he was closer to the magician and his hood was off, he got a good look at him. He had to be in his mid forties, but there was a youthfulness about him that he couldn't describe. There was also an air of power about him. Not like the one the king had of respect and fear, but more like the air around him felt like it was vibrating with energy, as if the air paid him due accord. Archeon was take aback by the laughter coming from the man, like what he said was amusing.
"The King demands it," he pressed, adding an edge to his voice.
The magician waved a hand at him and the laughter subsided, somewhat. "Of course, of course, just let me get up."
He had been squatting before, so now he stood up. Archeon got a full appreciation for his height, as the man had to be at least six four. Even though the robes covered much of his body, he could tell he was in a warrior's shape; not an ounce of fat to be seen. When he stood up, Archeon took the lead while the rest of his men formed around the sorcerer. The small group had to pick their way carefully through the battlefield while medics rushed throughout, providing care to the injured and marking the dead. It had been a costly battle and bodies spread across the plain far as he could see. Despite the rain, which had just started to let up, death and decay hung heavy in the air.
It took them a few minutes, but eventually they had crossed the battleground until they came to the castle. The gates were now flung open and people were rushing back and forth carrying wounded men and supplies. Archeon threaded his way through the crowd until he came to the courtyard where the King was holding an emergency council with his generals and then leaders of the castle's defense in his absence. Everyone was standing around talking loudly, but the noise died down immediately when Archeon brought his charge forward. The King's glorious armor was now showed heavy sign of battle, with more than a few cuts and scrapes marring it appearance. He had chosen to remove his helmet, and his dark hair was plastered to his scalp from the sweat caused by the fighting.
The King looked over the magician from head to toe, taking in every detail, from his blond hair to his military robes. The King stroked his chin and said, "You clearly aren't from around here."
The man smiled and gave a slight bow. "Indeed, your Highness. My name is Myrddin Emrys Ambrosia. I am a magician from across the seas to the east."
The King idly drummed his finger against his weapon belt. "You are a long way from home, especially considering magic is banned in this land."
"That is true, but I fear you have more pressing matters like a war on your hands than dealing with a little law breaker like me."
The King smiled at that. "You speak the truth, but that brings me to my next question: what were you doing fighting the Count?"
Myrddin spread his arms and said, "I have no quarrel with your Count. He just happens to stand between me and my goal. Plus, he has brought some of my people's enemy across the seas to wage war against your land. It would bring me great please to throw them back into the sea." A wolfish grin spread across his features.
"What is this goal you speak of?"
Myrddin became grave. "It is a prophecy passed down through my people that a great king will unite the six kingdoms and bring peace to the land."
The King lifted an eyebrow in surprise. "That is interesting to say the least. I am supposed to be that King?"
"Not all." He pointed at the King wife standing next to him. "It is your child."