The Half Elf, Volume 1
Rathron threw out his hands and shouted at the top of his voice, calling upon an arcane power that only he truly knew. Bolts of energy shot out from his slender body striking the bodies of many of the trolls standing around, who fell on the floor screaming in agony.
Talos and Red noticed the trolls holding them were distracted, and managed to struggle free. Talos struck out with a high kick, striking the troll who was holding Red in the head, causing him to stagger backwards. He grabbed the dagger from the dazed troll and struck the right arm of the troll who had been holding him, forcing him to drop his great axe and double over. He tossed the knife to Red, who then turned around and jumped over the troll who had been holding her, using his own shoulders as a step. She took a fake swing towards the troll’s neck, knowing full well the sheer volume of armour and skin was too great for the dagger. The troll however instinctively turned round and dodged backwards, giving Talos a window to strike at his head with the great axe. Talos wasn’t amazingly proficient with the weapon, and he managed to miss the head entirely and skim the back instead. This didn’t make a massive difference however, as the troll still fell over in agony. Talos then turned round to the other troll, still clutching his arm in pain, and decided he wasn’t a threat. A simple nod to Red was all that was needed, and they ran towards the still floating elf.
“Every single step in my life, Rathron, every damned thing I have ever tried, you’ve been there to stop me. Every single time you’ve halted me with your morale high ground and damned self-righteousness. You’ve always hated me!” Kelto screamed up to the elf, his words charged with anger.
“You’re right. I’ve always hated you, and the things you’ve tried to create. You only care about yourself, your pursuit of power, your desires. The number of people who have fallen under your watch, Kelto, is too great, and today I will end it!” Rathron shouted back to the dwarf.
The two wizards studied each other for a few seconds, trying to predict each other’s first move. It didn’t take long for Kelto to lose his patience and throw a fireball in Rathron’s direction, who created a force field to block the attack. The two of them continued throwing projectiles, manipulating the earth or block the other’s attack – both seemingly oblivious to the battle between Talos, Red and the trolls going on around them.
Talos saw the two magic users locked in their battle and lost his concentration for just a second.
Hearing Red’s shout just in time, he noticed the charging troll and ducked out of the way. He kept to the ground and swung at the troll’s feet with his axe, making contact with the skin but failing to score any deep wounds. The troll struck with his sword vertically down, grazing Talos’s left elbow. Red leapt on the back of the troll and tried to slit his throat, but he suddenly stood up and her hand slipped, making contact with the skin and causing blood to trickle out, but without hitting anything major.
Red hastily grabbed onto the back of the troll as her feet left the ground. Realising there was some pesky human on his back, the troll tried to use his sword to swap at her. Luckily for Red, his accuracy was pretty poor, and she managed on one of the swings to embed her knife into his shoulder.
Talos stood up again and charged at the troll with his axe, swinging it at his chest. However, he turned around at the last moment and exposed Red to the arc of the axe. She reacted at the last moment and jumped up onto the troll’s shoulders – the axe skimmed her feet and drew blood.
“Shit!” Talos shouted, realising his mistake.
“Only a flesh wound!” Red responded, jumping backwards off the troll’s back.
While his neck was bleeding, it seemed that this troll wasn’t going to give in. Talos and Red saw him pick up his sword from the ground and start to trudge towards them.
“I’m gonna try and get his neck again. Let’s swap.” Red commanded.
Talos, knowing full well she had a much better idea what to do that he did, passed the axe to Red who handed him the dagger.
“Distract him. I only need a few seconds. Just don’t get in the way of the axe. Oh, and don’t slash me again.” Red said, looking deadly serious.
Only now did Talos look down and notice that Red’s feet were still bleeding through her boots.
“Don’t worry about it – I’ll patch it up when we’re done here. Ok, let’s go!” Red shouted, practically shoving Talos towards the troll.
Caught slightly off-guard by the sudden push, Talos almost panicked and ran when he saw the sword high above the troll’s head, ready to swing at him. He quickly regained his composure and ran towards the troll, preparing to jump on him like Red had done. He kept his eyes fixed on the sword, waiting for the perfect moment.
Luckily for him, what the troll had in strength and muscle he lacked in strategy. He slowly raised the sword above his shoulders, making it abundantly clear his intention. Then, he stopped moving and Talos knew he was about to strike. He stopped for a just a second to bend his knees, then tried to jump onto the troll.
As he collided with the much bigger and heavier figure than him, arms and legs sprawling everywhere, only then did he realise that it was probably a much harder thing to do than Red made it look. He desperately yanked on the troll’s shoulder, knowing if he fell off it would leave him completely open to attack.
Only after the troll had swung the sword and was watching it float in midair, with no half-elf dead on the floor, did he also notice the thing attached to his belly. He tried to stab Talos in the back, although couldn’t work out how to do it with such a long sword.
These few seconds as the troll’s lack of finesse caused him to struggle with his sword gave Red enough time to charge at him from the back and try to force the axe as far as it would go into his neck. Unfortunately, a last minute grab for the shoulders by Talos caused the troll to erratically move, meaning the axe struck deep into his right arm instead.
The troll immediately dropped his sword, and Talos kicked off the troll’s chest, picked it up from the ground, and drove it through the troll’s chest. The troll made one last ugly cry, then fell to the ground.
Talos doubled over, trying to catch his breath. He had never fought like that before, even though Red made it look like child’s play.
“Hey, buddy – you did good.”
Talos looked up to see Red, squatting and looking at him. He appreciated the comment, but realised now was not the time for idle chatter.
“Come on – Rathron’s still fighting” he simply said. Red needed nothing else to get moving again – she had just been waiting to give Talos a moment to catch his breath, as she could see he was already exhausted.
Kelto was doubled over, holding his arm across his chest, trying to catch his breath.
“Had enough yet, dwarf?” Rathron enquired, lowering his feet to the ground.
“No, ” Kelto started, before coughing up blood onto the floor. “No, I’m just getting started.” He turned to look at Rathron, revealing a curled smile. Rathron realised almost immediately that he wasn’t joking.
“ARHHHHHHHH!” Kelto let out a bird-chilling scream as his head went as far back as it could. He turned again to Rathron, revealing black eyes.
“You dare defy me, mere elf?! I have been granted power by Maenesto, the very avatar of the Goddess Herohalia! You have tried to defy the very gods of this world, so now you shall pay for your transgressions!”
“Kelto? What have you done? This power you have awoken, this is not of the natural sort!” Rathron shouted back, starting to look genuinely worried for the first time in the battle.
“My dear elf – I give you the sort of power you can only dream of! No magic has ever come close to what I will unleash – it has been granted to me by Maenesto herself! Do not fear my friend – you will have the best seat in the house!” the dwarf continued to scream. His voice had started to falter and distort, until it could not be described as his own.
Rathron suddenly realised what his nemesis was planning, and dropped to the ground. He put his book away and looked sternly at Kelto.
“Kelto, listen here. You needn’t do this – you gain nothing by doing this!” His voice was getting more strained and worried with every second, watching the particles of energy getting closer and faster to Kelto every second.
“It’s too late, old elf. ” The dwarf turned around to see Talos and Red, both watching struck with fear and confusion. “Take a good look at Comas, everyone. It is the will of the Gods that this sinful region be destroyed – and I will serve the Gods with all my strength!”
Rathron gave up on negotiating and took off at a sprint towards Kelto, holding both of his arms out.
“Rathron!” Talos screamed at the top of his voice, suddenly realising what he was planning. He began running at Talos and Kelto, having absolutely no idea what he planned on doing.
“Talos, no!” Red screamed. Realising the half-elf had no intention of listening to her, she dived at his feet, tackling him to the ground and stopping him in his tracks.
“NO!!” Talos screamed, desperately trying to escape Red’s strong grip on his legs. She easily overpowered him, and he could do nothing but watch what happened next.
Suddenly, Kelto gave one final cackle and exploded in a giant burst of energy. Rathron screamed a spell at the top of his voice and held his hands out, creating a barrier to contain the explosion. The fireball collided with the barrier, giving off a sound that could have been heard from miles away and sending Rathron flying back.
Talos started to see the floor in front of him again, and then the ringing sound in his ears began to end. The memories started to flow back to him, and he noticed the still body of Rathron in front of him. He jumped to his feet and starting running towards him, stumbling over and then almost tripping onto the elf.
“Rathron, Rathron!” he rasped desperately, hoping his friend was still alive.
The old elf’s eyes started to open, looking at the young half-elf in front of him.
“My dear friend – why are there tears on your face?”
Talos coughed, struggling to keep the words flowing from his mouth.
“You came back. You saved my life” was all he could manage.
“My dear friend…” Rathron started, bringing his hand up to Talos’s face, pushing the tears from the half-elf’s cheeks.
“I want you to know, I have never hated you. In fact, quiet the opposite.” Rathron whispered, clearly struggling.
“I don’t understand” Talos replied
“I…. I only ever wanted to save you. I never wanted to get you mixed up in all this… this nonsense.”
Talos placed his hand onto Rathron.
“I chose to do this. You cannot blame yourself.”
Rathron chuckled, clearly in a lot of pain.
“All that half-elf nonsense… all the fake animosity… the reason I left… was because I loved you, Talos.”
This took Talos by complete surprise. He recoiled slightly from Rathron’s hand, taken aback.
“Me, a haughty high elf? Old, embroiled in enough hidden conflict to satisfy any autocrat, and in enough daily danger to make the greatest thrill seeker…” He coughed again, blood spurting from his mouth. Rathron put his hand behind his head, holding it.
“And you, young, a half-blood, inexperienced and naive? No, I could never put you in that much risk. We could have never been.”
Everything clicked into place for Talos in that moment. He felt the tears continue to well up in his eyes as he saw the high elf in his arms, the high elf who loved him so dearly that he would force himself to keep his distance for Talos’s safety. The half-elf tried to say something, but failed.
“I never wanted to make you sad, Talos. I am sorry. “
“Rathron…” was all that the half-elf could manage.
“At least this way, I can go knowing I had at least this secret told…” were the last words Rathron said.
Talos buried his head into the high elf’s tunic and screamed at the top of his voice.