Chapter Eleven

When Makaleki materialized on the battlefield he didn’t notice the City of Wonder in flames. He didn’t notice the giant dragon prostrate and dying on the enormous stone wall. He didn’t notice the endless barrage of mortars crashing down on the city and its citizens. He didn’t even notice the two hundred knights on horseback thundering toward him. The only thing he paid attention to was the fact that he was on fire and he did what he always did when in flames – took off running. He stopped after a few seconds, forcing his mind to accept that he wasn’t on fire. Unfortunately, this time he was on fire, having ran through a puddle of burning oil.

When he realized that he was in fact, on fire, he did what most people of sound mind and burning body do in that situation – He ran as fast as he could, trying in vain to outrun the flames. This only resulted in the flames spreading faster and burning up his robe. Luckily for him, he wore nothing beneath the robe and once it was consumed, there was nothing else to burn except the small hairs covering his arms and legs. When those were burnt to small, crispy curls, the flames went out. Makaleki stopped running and once he realized that he hadn’t burnt up, he felt lucky and grateful even though he was naked except for his boots. He briefly noticed that there was a war going on around him, but it barely concerned him and why should it? He had helped the Itinerant through dozens of battles and they had never lost. Battered and bruised, sure, but never defeated – Due in some small part, he maintained, to his own contribution. It was time she paid him some respect.

He marched up to her and yanked on her ridiculous leather cape. She whirled around and kicked him in his naked groin with her just as ridiculous leather boots. He fell to the ground and writhed around in pain.

“I’m a master technician now!” he protested. He looked up at her from his fetal position and noticed a cloud blotting out the sun. Somewhere, in the back of his brain, his mind shouted and screamed to pay more attention to the cloud, but he kept yelling at the Itinerant instead. “You can’t just summon me like a cheap whore. There are protocols!”

Before she could respond, Makaleki realized the cloud was a large volley of arrows. It was so close to them, his brain could not form words to warn the Itinerant, whose back was to the fast approaching volley. Instead he mumbled a scream, “Arerrrawas!!!” and pointed behind her.

She turned around and acknowledged the arrows with a sigh. She focused on the oncoming knights, just thirty meters away and waved to them, as if motioning for them to come closer. Two dozen soldiers who were unfortunate enough to be in the front line were yanked off their horses and flew toward her at high speed. She made another motion and the doomed knights formed a human, plate armor wearing, dome of protection above and around her and Makaleki. To say they were uncomfortable being crammed together was an understatement as there really wasn’t enough room for their bodies and their armor and their weapons. They screamed and moaned in pain. They screamed louder when the volley of arrows slammed into them.

Makaleki got to his feet, still oblivious to anything but his pride. “I deserve respect!” he yelled.

“Ya’ll need to look around!” the Itinerant yelled, much louder than Makaleki. Her voice was so loud and commanding that he unconsciously took a step back. “It’s all going to shit and I can’t stop it!”

A large rock, likely launched from a catapult, burst through the human shield and hit the dirt between them, kicking up dust and debris. She waved one hand nonchalantly and the dust cleared. With her other hand, she made a pulling down motion and the human shield compressed so tight that all the organic material was liquified, squishing every knight inside their armor and creating a solid, metal sheet. A mist of blood permeated everything, coating Makaleki’s naked body, but nothing stuck to the Itinerant.

“All I can do is slow it down and maybe save our lives. Now quit whining and do your job.”

She made a pushing motion and the knight shield broke apart into a thousand bloody shards. She looked at the remaining knights. They had slowed their charge considerably and who could blame them? Some stopped completely, turned around and hightailed it in the opposite direction. She flicked her wrist and the metal shards flew into the ones who weren’t so bright, slicing and cutting them down.

Makaleki looked around. First, he saw the mortars. They shot up fast, rising high in the sky before reaching their peak. For a moment, the mortars seemed to slow down and almost stop. But that was only a false hope. They fell fast back toward the ground, black and burning, and slammed into the City of Wonder where they exploded. Ancient monuments, buildings, and parks were vaporized. Stone, dirt, and citizens were blown into the sky from the impact, powerless to get out of the way. Second, he noticed the city in ruins. The most wondrous city of all, the city that had brought them back from the brink of the dark ways many years ago, was being extinguished. Lastly, he saw the great Antediluvian, prostrate along one of the great walls, obviously shot down from on high. Sprawled out like nothing more than roadkill before the city he was sworn to protect.

Rage, anger, and training took over and Makaleki invoked his lava spell. Amidst all the chaos he found the right words to mentally visit the volcanos of the southern oceans, bind a few tons of lava, bring it back and hurl it at the remaining knights. In response to the different temperature and humidity of the present location, the lava balls screamed and crackled in protest on their way to the oncoming army. The unnatural sounds, louder than even the sounds of battle, slowed the knights and they tried to turn and retreat, but it did them no good. Touching the first unfortunate soul was enough to set the balls into explosions of molten death, consuming everything within one hundred meters.

Makaleki was knocked back from the shockwave, but got up confidently. A quick survey put the proper fear back into him. The Itinerant was casting an ungodly amount of spells into the unending carpet of warriors advancing towards them and she was barely making a dent. Every gesture of her arms sent hundreds of men to their deaths, but the dead were quickly replaced with more fodder. There would be no stopping them he realized.

He looked back at the great dragon, Antediluvian, crashed on the wall dead or dying. The enormous beast had taken out a large section of the giant wall where it crashed. The dragon had fifteen hundred centuries of knowledge stored in its massive brain and shared it freely with anyone. Rage and anger turned to despair and Makaleki fought the urge to teleport back to his hot tub, fear overcoming duty. But he saw Kindra running to Antediluvian and Knight Pitt cutting down fighters in her way. He was blazing a trail for her, but he might as well have been swatting waves in the ocean, for more fighters swelled around them. Rictavious was taking up the rear, beating the absurd drum. The drum was helping, however, as it was sending out shock waves with every beat, stunning or slowing the oncoming horde. Rictavious seemed to be even more terrified than Makaleki – he was beating the drum frantically, spinning around in circles, lost and scared.

The sight of Rictavious floundering boosted Makaleki’s ego enough that he found his courage. He cast some small lava balls behind Rictavious and the others, careful not to get ones so big that they would harm his friends. It worked. Between the drum and the fireballs, the horde was stopped, albeit temporarily. Makaleki used the spell again, but this time, when he went back for more lava, the volcanoes were no longer there. Instead, some giant well of blue-white light was before him, surrounded by a metallic structure. He had no time to think and since the well of white-blue light seemed to be fire of some unknown type, he summoned it back to the battlefield and hurled, unbeknownst to him, one of the docking thrusters from Galactic Beer Ship #117 toward the enemy’s advancing ranks.

When it entered his world, it moved as you would expect a rocket engine to do, barreling straight into the enemy soldiers, hitting them so fast they were instantly vaporized. After a few moments though, with nothing to direct its path, the engine careened off the path, which was a good thing. If it had continued straight, it would have obliterated Rictavious, Pitt, Kindra, and probably the dragon. Instead it blasted right into the heart of the massive army and began spinning around upon itself, its exhaust vaporizing everyone in its path. This didn’t last long though, as the superheated earth it heated up beneath it caused it to explode, killing thousands soldiers.

Makaleki was amazed and smiled broadly at his good fortune. He was about to go back for another one of whatever the hell that was, when a mounted knight galloped past and swung his mace down hard upon Makaleki’s head. The blow crushed the side of his face, ripping away most of his jaw and Makaleki fell dead into the mud.

 

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