The text below is based on Guild Wars lore but is purely fan-fiction. Click here for Chapter 11.
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Chapter 12 – A Desperate Battle
Dark red blood splattered into Kanaxai’s face as he ripped his right axe free from the crest of a naga. The crazed serpent dropped its knife and pressed both his hands into the severely bleeding gash as hard as he could, trying to hold back the gush of blood that the fleshy, pulsating wreck that his heart once was thrusted at every beat.
When he realized it had no use, he locked his glassy gaze on his murderer, and Kanaxai could swear that it was gratitude that appeared on the dying muzzle. The naga agonizingly hissed a few more times as it died.
But Kanaxai was already on his way to the next target. All around him men and naga were locked in a deadly battle: dying screams, angry growling, furious battle cries and the sound of steel biting steel were mixed into a cacophony that spread throughout the shore and the surrounding hills.
The controlled serpents fought without discipline: they hacked, slashed, stabbed, bit and even spat just to disorient their foes. Kanaxai saw that two of his men already fell to their frenzied flurry and unpredictability: one was stabbed in the back of the skull and the other was missing his throat; both lay still in a growing pool of blood that the hot sand avidly soaked in.
A twisted blade swung towards Kanaxai’s head, its spiraling curves letting out a horrid whistle as they cut through the air. Kanaxai instinctively bent his head back and evaded with his torso: the gut-tearing sword missed only by a half of an inch, but the naga was carried forward by the momentum and with stretched arm he nearly toppled over. Kanaxai took his chance to land an opportunistic blow: with a lightning fast change of grip his left axe slashed upwards, and a moment later its blade cut off the naga’s sword-holding hand. The naga hissed in pain, grabbing the bloody, scaly stump at the end of his arm, but Kanaxai gave him no chance to recover from the shock and use his body as a weapon against him. His right axe chopped into the naga’s nape, severing the spine from the skull. The naga lifelessly fell forward with a buckled head.
He was finally in the clear now – even if just for a brief amount of time – and could look around to assess the battlefield: while he was fighting with his last opponent, another of his warriors was slain, and a couple others were wounded and bleeding from several cuts. Naga bodies littered the shore yet fresh reinforcements just kept coming from behind a hill, slithering down the slope with the single-minded purpose of butchering them.
Damnation! How many more brainwashed naga does this blasted Corruptor have? Kanaxai thought as he readied himself for the next two challengers. Charging forward, he glanced at one of his warriors, a smith in time of peace, whose double swords just cut off the head of his foe with a scissor-like strike. But he had to concentrate on his path as the two naga were also rushing towards him, wildly jigging their pointed sticks in the air. One of them threw the sharp rod at him, but he ducked and strafed to the left, evading the javelin and getting out of the other naga’s reach at the same time. Seven feet away from his assailants, Kanaxai lunged forward. The naga that still had his lance jabbed in the air but Kanaxai was quicker and cut off the tip with a swift chop, also wresting the lance from the naga’s hands. Still in midair, he slammed the left axe into the skull of the other, who died instantly, falling back with the axe still stuck deep in his head. Kanaxai had to let it go or otherwise he would’ve tripped over. The moment he touched down with only one axe in hand, he felt razor-sharp claws tearing into the flesh of his shoulders; the other naga pounced on him and pushed him to the ground.
The wounds on his shoulders seared as the blood flowed from them in long streaks, but now that he was lying in the sand the female naga released her grip with one hand and tried to push it into Kanaxai’s throat with the intent of ripping it out, strangling him to death, or both. Kanaxai was able to grab the scaly wrist just in time and held it back. The naga let go off the other shoulder and similarly tried to punch her foe in the neck, but was stopped again.
However, she had one more weapon she hadn’t used yet: she arched her long neck back to ram her fanged maw into the man’s face with full force. The female naga struck, but Kanaxai managed to cross the naga’s own arms with a sudden jerk and hold them between his face and the enclosing jaw. He glanced to the right where his axe lay in the sand just a foot from him, but if he had reached out for it, he could no longer keep the rabid serpent at bay. Though he had one more risky idea.
Gritting his teeth and trying to push the bloodthirsty head back, he kicked at the soft torso of the naga, only to enrage her even more. She wrapped her tail around Kanaxai’s legs and began squeezing them.
The pain and the pressure increased with each moment and he felt his strength slipping away, letting the snapping teeth get closer and closer. He knew that the moment one of his shins broke, he would fail and the naga would bite on his face. Kanaxai closed his eyes and accepted his fate.
Instead of feeling the bones in his legs shatter, he felt the pressure decreasing. At the same time, warm liquid the smell and taste of iron poured into his face. He blinked his eyes open and saw a steel-like tongue sticking out of the naga’s mouth. The “tongue” pulled back and disappeared behind the skull and Kanaxai threw the corpse off.
A calloused hand reached for his own and a moment later Kanaxai stood on his feet again. His savior was the smith, panting and bloodied as well, but determined to see this through.
“Anything for you, Captain.” He looked down at the axe he had picked up a moment ago and handed them over to its owner. “You are going to need this… Now, we’ve still got some work to do.” With that, Cyrus rushed ahead and ran a sword through another naga who was engaged in fight with one of his war brothers.
Kanaxai caught his breath while looking around the battlefield. Three more of his soldiers fell and the naga were pushing hard from all directions, forcing them back into the sea. It was a trap and we walked right into it. This damned Corruptor is smarter than I thought.
An hour ago they had found the tracks of a group of naga heading south along the shore. The tracks had implied the group was large, but they never thought it would be so numerous.
The realization dawned on Kanaxai only now. Most of them marched in single file, each naga moving behind another… so that is how they hid their actual numbers. The deception had worked well and they unsuspectingly followed the trail all the way down here, where a smaller unit had attacked from the sea, making them believe it was the group they had been harrying. Minutes later the horde had ambushed them from behind the hill and all hell had broken loose.
He quickly rushed to his other axe and freed it from the naga’s skull.
“Captain!” The voice of one of his warriors came from behind: a young man with a bow in hand standing on a larger rock thirty strides away. “More naga are headed down the hill! We will be overwhe–“ He couldn’t finish his sentence. The boy looked down at his abdomen with wide eyes to see the twisting, transparent tip and a two-foot-long part of an ethereal spear sticking out of it. The spearhead and the pole weren’t bloody at all, but his blood gushed like a red waterfall from the wound onto the previously white cliff. His eyes rolled back into his skull as he fell off the cliff with a silent sigh.
The burning rage in Kanaxai surged into every fiber of his body. Ferociously whirling his axes he rushed forward, looking for the one who killed the young warrior.
Kanaxai snapped his head at the source of the ear-bleeding hiss and found it to be young warrior’s murderer: the Corruptor himself. Standing taller and more muscular than most naga, the creature was more frightening in the flesh than had been in the injured hunter’s description. He was wildly throwing ethereal spears at Kanaxai’s men, but they missed or the warriors evaded with ease. Kanaxai saw that the Corruptor’s arms were quaking at each throw, and the pace at which he was throwing them continuously slowed down. He’s losing his power!
He realized that it was now or never. With a single stroke of his axes he can kill the weakened monster, free the naga and stop their onslaught. He charged forward with all his might, trying to find a safe way through the naga defenders. To his surprise some of the naga slowed down as well; they were disoriented and blindly staring into the distance. He can barely control them now! Now at the foot of the small hill, only about fifty feet separated him from the Corruptor.
However, the nightmarish snake also spotted him. It pulled back its right arm and dark energies began roiling into his clenched fist: he was charging an attack.
Kanaxai had no intent of stopping; he just rushed forward while trying to calculate the place where the javelin would hit.
Then, the spear was thrown.
He easily evaded it, and it would’ve simply struck the ground near his feet, but upon impact the magical missile exploded. Kanaxai felt the world spinning as he was thrown aback, helplessly flying towards the base of the hill. When he crashed into the sand, everything went dark around him. His head was about to split in two from the pain, but he still heard the sounds of battle from nearby. Seconds passed as he was trying to get back up from the painful stun when hands reached below his arms and began dragging him towards the shore. He forced his eyes open, still seeing a few sparkles.
Looking around, Kanaxai saw that Cyrus saved his life again and brought him to the very edge of the shore. All his surviving men were there, amazedly watching the absurd scene: naga fighting naga.
The brainwashed ones could still be distinguished from the free due to their undisciplined, mindless fighting style. On top of that, unfortunately they still vastly outnumbered their freed brethren.
Kanaxai stood up and looked back at the top of the hill: the Corruptor was broken, only his convulsing arms holding him back from stretching out on the ground. Despite being half-dead his awesome power was still enough to maintain control over the majority of the naga.
“What should we do now, Captain?” Cyrus asked, still dumbfounded by the sight.
“If we want to survive this, we’ll all have to stand together.” With that he let out a sharp whistle, to which some of the sane naga turned around. Kanaxai gesticulated with his hands to join them and miraculously, they agreed and began passing the message in their own language. Several seconds later the survivors started into a slow retreat, backing towards Kanaxai’s team and the sea.
“We have to help them. Reinforce their lines and slowly fall back with them. Here we will make our last stand.”
“Is there any chance we are going to survive this?” A young warrior asked, fear making his voice quake.
“Pray to Keelaiah that we will.” Kanaxai also started into a prayer as he was running to the help of their unexpected allies. He could hear his men doing the same, and an instant later a powerful sensation filled his being, urging him to press on and fight.
Hold out a little longer, brave men of the sea. Help is on the way. Until then, my strength and cunning will empower you.
Now that’s a cliffhanger! Don’t worry, for once the next chapter will be published early, on next Wednesday, while the usual Saturday update is still going to happen, bringing Chapter 14 along! Indeed, next week there will be not one, but two new chapters.