Re: [WAR X] Kingdom 2 Come
Minutes of preparation later, Remish and I hiked to the top of ravine. The day had grown hot and dry; the ravine had little vegetation to offer in shade or relief. We army-crawled our way to the edge, where we could spy on the soldiers. They filed through the ravine in a long train, since the walls allowed only one or two to pass through. True to Remish’s word, they were dangerously armed with swords, pikes, and shields.
“Are you sure about this?” the light-haired archer asked for the umpteenth time, watching the procession dourly.
“Sure as I’ll ever be,” I muttered back. I followed the procession with my eyes to the front, where a rider led the troops on the back of a horse. My eyes widened as I recognized him—and the bag resting on the saddle. “That’s him!”
“Who?” Remish leaned in, trying to follow my gaze.
“That’s the man who tried to kidnap me,” I answered, never tearing my eyes from the rider. “And he has my bag!”
Remish finally found the man I was talking about, but then returned his regal eyes to me. “What do you want to do?”
I bit my lip, wondering what I could do. The plan was already laid down—all they needed was a simple signal. But if I could grab the bag, I might be able to help Shachor…
“I think I might have an idea,” I nodded without much confidence.
Remish snorted and shook his head. “You and Zek with your ideas…”
“You’re free to add some input, you know,” I retreated from the edge of the ravine. Once I was far enough, I stood and started back towards the cave.
“What are you thinking, Zayna?” Remish called as loud as he dared.
“Go ahead and give the signal when you’re ready.”
“Zayna!” he hissed, but I ignored him. Soon I left him in the dust, my thoughts whirling as I tried to refine my plan. It wasn’t much; most of it consisted of winging it. As I traveled beside the ravine, I could see where my Pokémon were stationed, patiently waiting for their part in defending the cave.
I turned to see Zekarus pulling out of his hiding spot—an alcove set into the ravine wall. Rascal’s fiery eyebrows peered over the rock as well, curious but excited.
“Don’t worry, everything’s fine,” I hurried to assure him. Letting out a shrill whistle, I called for my flyer, Archie. The prehistoric bird appeared in a flurry of feathers, flying from his perch on the opposite side of the ravine.
“What is going on?” Zekarus pressed, unsatisfied with my vague reply.
“Fly, Archie,” I ordered, and obediently the raptor flapped behind me, grabbing my arms just below the shoulder. Giving Zekarus a grin, I shouted, “I found my bag,” before Archie lifted me from the ground.
“Zayna, wait!” Zekarus started climbing out of the alcove, but I was gone before he could stop me.
I had Archie fly me back down the ravine, but landed just before the place where I knew Rouge waited. There, we crouched close to the edge of the cliff, and waited.
Remish, I pleaded, please just stick with the plan.
Down below us, I could see two black points resting in the ground. Strangers might have mistaken them for rocks, but I knew what they were: Rouge’s eyes. They were the only part of his body that remained above ground, the rest of him lurking below the earth like a crocodile waiting in water. I marveled at his immense patience as he remained frozen in place, not even blinking as the wind stirred the dirt. Eventually, the ravine filled with the sound of tromping footsteps. Soon, the first of the men appeared around the corner.
The soldiers stomped on through, oblivious to the Pokémon buried in the earth as they passed. I tightened my hold on the lip of the canyon, straining my ears for the sound I prayed would come.
And come it did: the bugle of Remish’s hunting horn.
Rouge exploded from the dirt, eyes glinting hungrily as he startled the men closest to him. Before they could strike, the Krookodile raised his arms and commenced his part of the plan. The ground beneath the troop suddenly thinned, sinking as it turned into sand. The men at the front suddenly found themselves buried knee-deep into a Sand Tomb they could not escape from. The horse had been trapped as well, flinging its rider from its saddle as it struggled desperately.
Rouge grinned toothily as he reveled in the chaos he had created.
“The Beast!” the rider barked, scrambling to his feet. “Kill it! Kill it!”
The soldiers who weren’t trapped pulled out their weapons and started towards my Pokémon. I tensed, but Rouge sneered, waiting for them to come. Just as they reached him, the crocodile dived into the ground, escaping them as he dug through the earth to safety.
“After it!” the rider roared, looking outraged.
Six men had been trapped in the sand, but the others surged forward. Their footsteps churned the sand, slowing them down some before they reached firm earth once again. With nowhere else to turn to, they went deeper into the ravine, and deeper into our trap. I stood up and walked with Archie down to our next checkpoint: now it was time for Terra to shine. The Scrafty had been positioned on the other side of the ravine, but when men started passing through her turf, she crawled out from her hiding spot.
The men never noticed her as she lifted a boulder several times her size. With her incredible strength, she threw the boulder at my wall. I braced myself as the wall shook with the incredible force. Below, I heard the shouts of men as the rocks rained down on them. The ravine rumbled as a rockslide brought down part of the wall, and if it weren’t for Archie support me, I would have lost my balance. When the chaos stopped, I peered over the edge again. The troop had been separated by the rockslide, half on one side, the rest trapped on the other side.
Now, Kiki would do her part. The Simipour appeared next to Terra, looking absolutely thrilled. Before the men could begin to scale the rock, she deftly climbed her way down the cliff, landing right on the peak of the rock pile.
“What the--?” I overheard a soldier cry as they paused in surprise. Kiki happily screeched, dancing in place until she threw her arms out. For a minute, nothing happened; then, the walls on either side of her exploded. A deluge of brown water flowed from the holes, flowing down towards the startled soldiers. They screamed and started retreating, but their efforts were futile. Kiki’s Surf washed them away, back down the ravine and far from the other men. Kiki laughed, sliding down the now-empty side of the ravine and sticking her tongue out offensively.
“So far, so good,” I muttered, counting up the men we still had to deal with. They had gone to thirty strong, to a mere dozen men.
The rider glared at the rock wall, accusing it of stealing his troops. I spied from atop the ledge, barely hearing the men mutter amongst themselves.
“We should just turn back, Cap’n,” one braved, turning to his leader with care.
“No,” the man’s stubborn voice echoed off the walls. “We’ll keep moving.”
He spun around, fixing his men his men with a determined expression. “The exiled princes are here—I know it. I saw them conspiring with the witch with my own eyes.”
The captain raised my pink bag in emphasis, shaking it before the men’s faces.
I narrowed my eyes. These men weren’t just here for me—they were here for Rem and Zek. The prize for capturing a pair of exiled princes must be tempting, especially for a rank-seeking Captain, I would think. But I wasn’t going to let him find them. I had to stop him.
The men wordlessly continued down the ravine. I followed along the rim of the ravine with them, staying just as silent. Archie, however, was growing anxious. He had no idea what I had in store for him, nor did he understand why I had pulled him from his checkpoint. But he would see, soon enough. Next was Sniper’s turn to shine.
As the men rounded another bend, they suddenly stopped short. I hurried over to the next viewpoint just in time to see what had given them pause: several whirlwinds stirred the dirt ahead, swirling with razor-sharp leaves. The minute the men came into view, Sniper—from his unseen perch—sent the Leaf Tornadoes raging towards them. The continual attacks from my Pokémon had unsettled the soldiers, and for some this was the last straw. While others braved forward, others fell back and began to retreat.
“Stand your ground!” the captain ordered, but even his bellow couldn’t stop their retreat. Apparently, he didn’t have as much of a hold over his men as I had thought—or perhaps their fear for Beasts far outweighed their fear for him. Those who stood with him, however, were soon caught up in the tornadoes, the blades cutting into their armor and skin.
I saw my opportunity.
While the soldiers occupied themselves with fighting the razor-sharp whirlwinds, I stood up and nodded to Archie. The raptor cawed uncertainly, but reluctantly wrapped his talons around my upper arms. Together, we dove from the top of the ravine, heading straight for one man: the captain. He shouted at his men, trying to regain control of the situation, and it was too late when he noticed my approach. The minute he glanced up at us, I landed a kick right to his face.
We both tumbled to the ground. The landing jarred me more than I thought it would, but I glanced around, looking for my bag. There! Just ahead! I started crawling towards it, only to be grabbed from behind. A strong arm abruptly yanked me backwards, throwing me on my back. The face of the Captain seethed down at me.
“You!” he growled wrathfully, his face twisted in such rage that I felt afraid for my life.
“Yeah, nice to meet you again, too,” I spat, and then kicked at his leg. In half a second, I regretted that. His legs had metal shin-guards, and ended up hurting my foot more than his shin. Giving that up, I tried to squirm away. My efforts ceased when he kicked me in the side.
I cried out in pain; he had hit me where I was bruised. As I curled into a pathetic ball, the Captain reached down and secured a strangle hold on my neck, lifting me high into the air.
“You would steal my victory,” he tightened his hold, cutting off the air to my lungs. I gasped, my vision starting to blur before me. “Witch! Spawn of the Demon!”
I guess… I hadn’t thought this through enough. Being strangled to death wasn’t part of the plan. As I tried clawing at his gauntlets, I heard familiar shouting—then a rancorous squawk. Feathers brushed against my face as Archie attacked the captain, claws scratching at his face and armor. The man cried out in pain, losing his grip on me and stumbling backward. I fell to the earth, gasping desperately for air. I slowly lifted my eyes—and found the bag once more.
Light-headed, I crawled towards it as Archie continued battling the captain. I couldn’t see much beyond my narrow goal, but as soon as I wrapped my hand around its strap, I realized that the other soldiers were retreating. Turning around, I found out why: Rascal was coming, tucked into a fiery Rollout with several flaming boulders following after him. Just behind him, Zekarus raced down the ravine.
“Zayna, get out of there!” the dark-haired twin shouted on the top of his lungs.
I glanced back at Rascal, who continued tumbling down the ravine. From the looks of it, the Darmanitan wouldn’t be able to stop easily. Once he was in a Rollout, he stayed until he lost his momentum.
Heart racing, I called out, “Archie!”
The raptor made a final, powerful kick that sent the captain falling onto his back. After giving one last hiss, he flapped back over to me. Catching me around the arms again, we prepared for another flight. I started running, helping the Archeops to get some momentum, and little by little we gained altitude.
Then a hand grabbed my ankle.
We were yanked back to the ground, back into the hands of the vengeful captain. I spun around, holding my screaming ribs, and watched as the man pulled the sword from his hilt. He raised it, aiming right for my skull. Archie squawked, and would have lunged if I hadn’t held him back. No! I couldn’t let him get hurt! Not like Lilly… I wrapped my arms around my Archeops, squeezing my eyes as I expected the blade to pierce through my flesh.
The ground rumbled. I opened my eyes as the first flaming rock careened past—then Rascal. Curled into a tight ball, he rolled right towards us. I watched as he bounced right before us, leaping into the air and catching the captain mid-swing. I didn’t see what happened to the man after he was knocked off his feet; instead, I became preoccupied with the other rocks that rushed towards us.
Grimacing, I sat up and whispered a command: “Ancient Power.”
As soon as I released him, the Archeops turned and sharpened his focus on the incoming avalanche of stone. Spreading out his wings, the raptor cawed. Like soldiers obeying his command, the rocks immediately before us slowed to a stop, letting others harmlessly barrel past us. When they passed, the ravine returned to an ear-piercing silence.
Letting out a sigh of relief, I fell onto my back. My throat felt sore, and my bruised ribs burned with pain, but I was alive. I survived. And I had done it. I had stopped the army, retrieved my bag, and saved two very special twins.
“Zayna!” I heard footsteps approaching.
Speak of the devil, I weakly chuckled. I didn’t try to call back, or even sit up to greet him. I stared up at the blue skies overhead, reveling in our victory. Archie, however, soon blocked my view, and so did the anxious face of Zekarus.
“Hey, Zek,” I smiled. “How ya doing?”
Zekarus shook his head, either stricken, amused, or relieved. Maybe all of the above.
“Are you all right?” he asked, letting concern take over.
“I’ll be fine.” To prove so, I finally sat up—though my grimaces probably didn’t convince them thoroughly enough. Grinning impishly, I held up the bag and said, “Got it.”
Zekarus heaved a frustrated sigh. “Why did you do that? What on earth were you thinking?”
“What? I had to get my bag back. We need the medicine for Shachor.”
He blinked, opening and closing his mouth as he tried to think of something in return. Apparently, he wasn’t use to being the one giving the scolding. “You didn’t… But… That was… Just… don’t go scaring me like that again, Zayna.”
“I can’t make any promises,” I laughed.
“Zekarus! Zayna!” a voice shouted from above. The three of us, including Archie, glanced up to the source, finding Remish calling from the lip of the ravine. “The soldiers are retreating. Is everything okay?”
“Yeah, just peachy,” I answered before Zekarus could, though the burst of air stung my lungs and side.
“Zayna has been hurt,” Zekarus couldn’t stand my honesty.
“What? What happened?”
“I will explain later,” the dark-haired twin replied. “We should head back to camp.”