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Man vs. Magic- Chapter 1
“Call back the troops! Retreat!”
That one command sent the warriors of the shadows into frenzy as they dove for cover and darted back through the crumbling buildings of the once-gorgeous human capital city.
Huge explosions and clouds of fire flashed through the black night sky as bombs burst upon ground and structure. Blood was spattered all over the ground, complete with bodies strewn about and the shrapnel from bombs and cars after being completely blown apart. Towering skyscrapers were on fire, their supports weakened and just about ready to tumble to the ground in defeat. A human airplane equipped with a rapid-fire shotgun was caught on the port wing by a massive flaming boulder. It spiraled out of the sky, engines sputtering and flaming, and crashed to the ground with an earsplitting boom.
Stealth bomber planes thundered over the scene, dropping their guided bombs on the throngs of soldiers below. Sirens blared and gunshots echoed off of the remaining buildings. Screams emanated from the city square, where one loud blast caused an office building with weak supports to come crashing down to the street. Thunderously, all of the bricks, stone, marble sculptures, office supplies and other debris cascaded down from the demolished high-rise building and obliterated all of the soldiers, cars, and shop stands below it.
One young warrior, clad in black and shimmering teal armor, ducked under a toppling telephone post, sheathing her sword and drawing a small pistol. Soldiers on her side rarely used human weapons such as guns and pistols, but all infantry were equipped with one or two guns and a box of extra bullets in their sacks. They usually carried swords, knives, and bows, the sacred weapons of their kind.
The female soldier followed a crew of her fellow troopers through the
wreckage. The human army fought against the shadowy warriors with guns, while the black-and-teal blurs attacked swiftly with swords, shields, and flowing streams of light that took the human’s lives instantaneously. Other shadow warriors fought the humans directly, leaping on their backs and stabbing them with fangs, claws, daggers and spikes, or jabbing them in a certain pressure point to put them to sleep. The female soldier felt a pang of relief that these ferocious creatures were on her side.
But now her side was losing. The girl couldn’t help but watch as four
shadow soldiers were gunned down, and another speared by a bayonet. Bombs burst on the ground, blowing her army to bits, and airplanes with tracking missiles destroyed their high-rise outposts and flying soldiers.
One shadow warrior on a flaming skeletal mount, called a Nightmare, was blowing a signal from an instrument made out of a ram’s horn. He blew it in three short bursts of sound, then a long drawn out one. Removing the horn from his mouth, he shouted, “Retreat!” again before riding off on his Nightmare. Now the shadow warriors were listening. They dashed away from their human opponents, leaving some dead, some horribly maimed.
Before the girl could call her troop together, a band of human soldiers clad in green stormed the group. Opening fire, they shot down two of the girl’s soldiers, and shot another in the leg. Furious, the female warrior let out a shriek of rage and attacked the band of humans with extra energy. No one kills her troops.
The group of humans was a small one, with six or seven people all together, but all armed with machine guns. They began to fire again, but the girl and her remaining soldiers put up their shields with the flick of their wrists. The female warrior leaped and brought her sword down upon the humans, slicing one through the waist and stabbing one straight through the gut. Blood was splattering everywhere and the two humans collapsed on the ground, squirming in agony until the eternal stillness took hold of them. Three of the girl’s teammates growled as they bounded over and took the lives of all but one of the stupid human attackers.
The remaining human drew out a long sword, very uncommon for one of
his race. The man swung the sword at the girl, very clumsily. She could see that he had very little or no practice and not much training, because she deflected the blow easily. Their swords clanged loudly with a metallic ring as they connected. The female shadow soldier lifted her lightweight weapon and brought it down upon the man’s left shoulder, where it sliced the arm clean through with but a
small spurt of blood. The man stared blankly at the stump as the arm sailed to the bloody pavement. Bleeding, maimed and angry, the human looked back at the girl with pure fury in his eyes.
As quick as his clumsy human limbs could carry him, he stumbled towards the girl and stabbed down with his sword. The force of the stab was powerful enough to knock the sword out of the girl’s hands, where it clattered to the ground, and he sliced a deep cut down her thigh, splitting the fabric and staining the teal stripe red. The girl backed up in apparent fear, only to pull out a dagger and charge the man again. The man swiped at the girl’s head, but she ducked and tore at his leg. This time, the girl didn’t care to show mercy, and dove her
dagger deep into the man’s knee. Blood tricked from the gash in a flood of sticky red substance.
The man, now horribly maimed, somehow found the strength to prop himself up on one stump of an arm and croaked some foul curses. “D*** it, girl,” he gargled, spitting out blood. “You *****!” Then she slid her dagger across his throat and he collapsed back on the ground, writhing in his own blood for a moment before being stilled for eternity.
“G’ala, yawé eyna mét!” shouted the girl after retrieving her sword. Come, we must go! Waving her hand she summoned her remaining soldiers and they raced over debris and fallen buildings and poles, back to where their general on his firey steed was accumulating the survivors.
Once the battalion had organized themselves as fast as they were able to, the general shouted a word in the language of the Code and the military force set off in retreat. The girl ran alongside her surviving fellow warriors, away from the dancing red flames, the blazing, destroyed buildings, and the scores of men they had just killed.
This war had better end soon, thought the girl. So many had died for their people, but the humans had endless reinforcements. As soon as one human soldier was struck down, two more took its place. The whole of Human Europe was crumbling to bits, with a lot of help by the destructive bombs laid out for opposing forces to stumble in to.
As they ran, the girl’s remaining forces were caught by surprise by a small troop of young human wannabe soldiers. They were disposed of straightaway. The girl looked back with deep sadness in her eyes at all the destruction she had caused, and all of the lives lost because of her. She shook her head to clear her thoughts. There was no time for assessment of acts; this was war, people die.
Far from the city, the shadow warriors’ troops entered a deep forest via a narrow, winding path that only let five soldiers, or two cavalrymen, through at one time. Between the trees, the girl could still see the red light on the horizon. Her heart wished it was just the dawn sun bringing warmth and happiness to the new day, but it was naught to hope for, as her mind told her that it was the glaring light
of the human’s anger, after their city had been destroyed. But that was what must happen in order to drive the humans back to the Damaged Continent.
The shadow warriors exited the trail and stalked through the shady forest in search of a clearing to camp in. Their dark armor blended in well with the dark trees, and there was no moonlight to light their path. A few soldiers had torches, others with floating balls of magic light, but otherwise the only light was that of the stars.
Finally, the battalion came upon a large clearing, sheltered by the towering boughs of some scattered conifers. Setting up tents and campfires, they took up a huge amount of space. There must have been at least three hundred of them, the girl decided as she gazed about the various races that now gathered here to fight for the land.
Once she had set up her own tent, the girl settled down upon a log she had rolled to the entrance, took out a handkerchief and a goatskin bag of water, and began to wash her blade. The blood, once sticky and wet, had congealed on the blade, giving it a sparkly, fierce red gleam. She scrubbed hard at the blood, staining her lacy, self-embroidered kerchief a deep ruby.
After she had finished wiping off the blood, she held the sword up to the torchlight to admire its sharpness and intricate design. In the army training camp, she had picked up a few of the silversmith’s skills and was able to make her own sword. The smith, known simply as Smithy, had shown her how to mold the blade and hammer it to a sturdy point, and then added a certain element to it that gave it its deadly sharpness- diamond edging. They cut through huge diamond crystals with a powerful laser and welded them transcendently to the previously flat blade
edges of the sword. For a finishing touch, a large aquamarine was inlaid upon the gorgeously carved pommel, along with some other small gemstones and diamonds. The hilt was made of titanium steel and silver, with intricate designs and two silver dragons snaking their way up the leather-wrapped grip. The sword was lightweight, comfortable to hold and sliced cleanly, but it was an amazing weapon that had claimed the lives of many.
The girl consumed some of the army ‘grub’ for dinner, which was simply
tasteless berry paste and bean curds, and then crawled into her tent to sheathe her sword. Setting her ornate battle helm next to her flattened bamboo sleeping mat, she scrambled back outside to remove her other armor.
As she watched, the girl could see her fellow warriors mourning their fallen acquaintances. They slowly roamed the campground, muttering prayers to their gods that they should keep their friends’ spirits safe. A healing tent had been propped up between two boulders, and blue light streamed from between the cloths as the healers worked their magic on the wounded. Those who were wounded immortally were wrapping their injuries with bandages, or removing the bandages that were already stained with blood.
The girl gathered some of her own bandages and wrapped them around her thigh, which was still oozing although it had partially scabbed over. Moving her leg felt tight and stretched, so she poured some more water on it.
With a sigh of relief she pulled of her chest plate, the last of her armor. The heavy thing had constricted her breathing and squashed her breasts in an uncomfortable way. Her cotton t-shirt and sports bra were much more welcomed onto her shoulders as she stretched into a back-stretching yoga move she tried after every battle to loosen the muscles around her scapulae.
At last, she climbed back into her tent and curled up on the bamboo mat, staring blankly at the green fabric of the tent. With a wave of her hand and a whispered word, the top of the square-shaped tent became transparent. The girl sighed as she stared out at the stars, deep into endless space, past the world of man and magic and into the forbidden, and also curiously terrifying, realm of time and space.
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