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“The world of Narul grows dark,” uttered a voice. “Evil fills the land which was once filled with joy and peace. Goblins and bear-men now march upon the nations of good; fear fills the hearts of all. Pain and sorrow spread like a plague throughout the lands. War is upon us.”
“Aye. Smentos—servants of the Dark Force—are now killing at will, viciously murdering the innocent citizens of the towns and cities under their rule. The world grows dark,” agreed another voice.
“Any moment now, they could come and kill us, for I fear that it is evident that we are working against the Dark Force,” said the first voice. Then, lighting a candle, the owner of the voice strode into the light. His name was Duor, a tall, young sont who excelled at combat—one of the greatest warriors of his day.
The room was a small inn room, furnished with a simple bed and a table with several chairs. The blue light from the moon shone through a window near the table. Standing at the window was a youthful female sont with beautiful brown hair reaching down past her shoulders. She stared out the window, watching star-filled skies above.
“Ethenil, run,” ordered Duor, suddenly.
The door crashed down, and a skeletal figure, a Smento, appeared in the doorway. It stood tall—at least seven feet—with its shoulders hunched. It wore a blood-red cloak, tattered and worn. Its body had no flesh; it was only a skeleton, a living, terrible creature that could not be killed. The Smento strode into the room with slow, ominous steps.
“You spies cannot fool the Dark Force!” The Smento drew his black blade while uttering a magical spell. A bolt of fire shot out from the skeleton’s hand, but before it struck Ethenil, Duor uttered the counter-spell, reflecting the fire back at the Smento. It dodged the flames moments before they engulfed the doorway with fire.
“Run, Ethenil!” cried Duor again, and she dared not wait for him to repeat his order a fourth time. She threw open the shutters behind her and dashed out the window.
“Duor, flee from there!” she cried as she ran. Watching through the window, Ethenil saw him draw his sword and charge at the Smento. He disappeared into the room.
Duor lunged at the Smento, stabbing his blade at the creature’s skeletal face. The Smento swung its sword at Duor’s neck, but he ducked his head and countered with a stab to the chest. The skeleton sidestepped the blow.
Duor took a few steps back, staring at the Smento with his sword ready.
“Don’t panic,” he muttered to himself.
In any battle, panicking kills, especially against the formidable Smentos. The voice of his instructor rang in his mind.
First, take a few stabs and see how your opponent reacts. Learn from his defense.
The Smento had moved his body rather than parrying with a sword. Duor knew that if he could get his opponent in close quarters, he could win the battle.
When you want your opponent to retreat, make sudden movements. Catch him off guard.
Duor pounced, swinging viciously at the skeleton. His opponent took four steps back, but not once did he parry a blow. Duor drove him into a narrow hallway. This was his opportunity.
Take advantage of your opponent’s weaknesses. Never give him a second chance.
The Smento swung its blade at Duor’s head, and he ducked out of the way. Now was his chance. As the Smento turned for another blow, Duor drove his blade at his opponent’s side. It slid through the skeletal ribcage as the Smento plunged to the ground. As his opponent crumpled to the floor, Duor sprinted out of the building and spotted Ethenil on the street.
“Duor, there’s another Smento behind us!” Ethenil screamed. A skeleton sprinted down the street behind them.
“We must find some way to elude him, or we’ll be dead before the sun rises,” said Duor between breaths.
“Here!” Ethenil exclaimed, turning abruptly into a large, seemingly abandoned storehouse. Duor could hardly see a thing. Only the moonlight shining through a few windows revealed the stacks of crates filling the room. Duor sprinted ahead, and he heard Ethenil’s footsteps behind him. The wood flooring beneath their feet creaked and groaned as they strained the dilapidated wood almost as old as the ancient city in which it lay.
“Climb up this ladder,” Ethenil said, and Duor followed her to the upper level of the storehouse. Similar to the floor below, this room had stacks of crates scattered about.
Duor had no choice but to run down this narrow pathway. As they fled the Smento, which they now heard climbing up the ladder, Duor thought he heard a thump behind him, but he had no time to look back. He kept running.
Ethenil tripped on a stray coil of rope, falling to the ground. As she scrambled up, she noticed a paper on the floor in front of her. Straining to read it in the dark, she could make out the words, “Wizards’ magic bow. . .” She immediately understood what all these crates were filled with: the magical objects which only wizards possess called magic bows. These objects could give any average person superior magical abilities the instant they touched it. She could not resist. As she stood, she smashed open a crate with her bare hands and snatched up two magical bows.
Just then, a bony hand grabbed her shoulder, and the Smento hissed as it brought its black blade to her throat. “Don’t try to essscape, or I’ll cut your throat. Now, call thisss Duor, and tell him that you have ssslain me. Underssstood?” hissed the Smento in a snakelike voice.
She nodded, but before the Smento could say another word, Ethenil uttered a spell that hurled the skeleton against the wall behind her. She sprinted away, knowing that her opponent would soon recover.
After running across what seemed like a mile-long warehouse, Ethenil caught up with Duor and explained to him her discoveries as they continued to run.
“I discovered where the Dark Force’s magical powers come from: it uses an overwhelmingly large supply of wizards’ magical bows to weave elaborate spells, giving it superior strength and power over all other beings.”
“Well, Ethenil, we must destroy this storehouse,” said Duor.
“Follow me.” And they traveled deeper into the storehouse until Ethenil saw a window which looked out upon the rest of the city.
“You first,” said Duor. Throwing open the window, Ethenil leapt out of the building and, as she was falling, uttered, “Ayen!” The magical spell lifted her up and allowed her to float in mid air, then gently eased her to the ground. Behind her, Duor did likewise, and when they were on the ground, he shouted out another spell.
“Amorat Efen Abiag!” he cried, and a hot blue fire magically lit the warehouse.
And so Ethenil walked away, her brown hair blowing in her face as she glanced back once more to see that Duor followed close behind. The Smentos would be looking for them, but they would get away in time. Ethenil jogged through the city gate and walked off into the darkness.