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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, '10, 6:49 pm
Chapter 6

Many hours had passed since Mieu had begun her descent. The other four idly waited at the steps of the temple ruins for more news. Piotr quietly twirled his batons in reserved nervousness, pacing back and forth quietly up and down the steps. Jack sat on the steps of the temple next to Laya, holding her head tightly against his shoulder. His hands trembled slightly as he did. Sari also sat in silence on the staircase, her body bowed over and her head pressed down on her knees. For a long while, none of them spoke a single a word. Once in a while, Laya and Sari let out a light sigh, the only sound to break the deadening silence that enveloped the locale.

Jack was the first person to speak up. “Dude, this hecka sucks!” he blurted out.

The other three, startled, looked up at him, confused by his sudden outburst.

“I mean it does,” he continued, deadly serious. “Why do we have friggin’ wait here? Why isn’t it Piotr and I who are down there, looking for him? Why did she send Mieu?”

Laya looked at him incredulously. “Would you leave me alone like that, Jack? Is Corg so important to you that you’d risk making me a widow for him?”

Piotr spoke up in a hushed tone. “Um…Laya. You have to understand that Corg and Jack made a pact quite a few years back…What was it now?”

Jack glanced at Laya and then at Piotr. “Brothers…we live together…and die together. It’s been our motto since we were adolescents.”

Laya pursed her lips, but remained silent, trying to choose her next words carefully. Sari opened her mouth to speak, but was cut off by a fifth voice.

“Do not worry, good Jack,” called a familiar female voice. The four jumped around to see Athena descending the staircase. She was wearing a white gown and her helmet was gone, revealing a head of long, wavy black hair. Her large grey eyes had a softening effect on the four. “You may yet have the chance to fulfill your promise to Corg.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” asked Laya, her voice beginning to rise.

“It means that my father has something for the four of you to do, if you want to see Corg again,” Athena replied resolutely.

Piotr and Jack shook off the lethargy that had enveloped them while they had been waiting. Sari stepped over to Piotr’s side and wrapped her arm around his. “Very well. What do you want us to do?” Piotr inquired.

Athena scrutinized all four of them carefully. She then snapped her fingers three times. In the distance, on the other side of the temple, a horse whinnied. The three looked over to see a horse coming into view, carrying a cart. Inside the cart lay five statues. Their faces were perfectly carved, their figures sculpted into what would have been the perfect bodily form. It was difficult to tell if the statues were male or female, but there was no denying the beauty of what they saw.

“One of these statues will be for Corg, should Mieu return successful from her quest. Your quest will simply to be to accompany this cart to the other end of the cemetery, some three miles from here. It will be there that Mieu will return from the Netherworld, should she still be alive.”

“That’s it?” Sari retorted. “Mieu is risking her life in the depths of the abyss and all we have to do is walk three miles?”

Athena smiled and nodded. “Yes, I believe that is it. I shall see you on the other side.” With that, Athena vanished into thin air, leaving the four alone.

For a few moments they looked at each with bewildered faces. “Come,” said Jack, leading Laya by the hand. He walked her up the cart and pushed her in. He looked at Piotr and Sari and beckoned them to follow. “Hecka no use just standing around, guys. The sooner, the better.” Piotr and Sari looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders, and walked up to the cart.

“You and Laya stay in the cart. Jack and I will walk alongside. I think at about fifteen minutes per mile we can get there in about 45 minutes if we keep a reasonable pace.”

Laya and Sari agreed and stayed in the cart. Sari unsheathed her daggers and Laya, seeing her companion arming her herself, got her bow ready. With a strong slap, Jack got the horse moving. The journey had begun.

The first twenty minutes of the trip were uneventful for the four. The cemetery was a surprisingly large grassy plane, with moss-covered tombs and broken columns jutting out of the ground at regular intervals. Dozens of fallen statues littered the beautiful green grass, turning the graveyard into some sort of marble battlefield. The only sound to be heard was the low nay of the horse and the slow, but steady creak of the cart.

It was after they had traveled about halfway through the cemetery that they spotted something moving to their left. There was something living among the multitude of the ruins. They saw its shadow, although the object kept itself from view.

“What do you think it is?” Sari whispered over to Piotr.

Piotr shrugged. “Dunno. Let’s keep on going though. Place gives me the willies.”

“Look!” shrieked Laya, pointing again in the direction of the moving shadows.

From behind a small mausoleum emerged a human-like figure. It was far enough away that the heroes couldn’t discern its features, other than it was wearing a purple robe. It walked steadily towards the cart, which had not stopped moving. Sari gasped in horror when the creature came into full view: The creature, apparently once a human, had no head on its shoulders, but rather carried its skull in one of its arms.

“What the—“ Jack yelled out in disbelief. “C’mon, we’ve gotta hot-foot it now!” He slapped the horse, which whinnied and picked up the pace. Jack and Piotr jumped on the sides of the cart and held on as the pace quickened.

Soon, more headless creatures begin to crawl out from the shadows, moving intently toward the cart.

“Laya!” Sari yelled. Laya didn’t stir, but kept staring at the monsters that pursued them. “Laya!” Sari yelled again. Laya snapped her head around. “Get your bow ready for some head shots!”

Laya nodded and begin to fire her bow. Laser-like arrows whizzed through the air toward the dozen or so monsters that came after them. The monsters that were struck in their bodies kept moving. Two or three received the laser bolts to their skulls and toppled harmlessly to the ground.

“Heck yeah, love!” Jack called out. “Keep up the fine shooting.”

Laya continued to rain her laser arrows on the horde of monsters. The excitement of the four over their seeming victor was cut short by a loud rumbling sound. The ground shook and churned about hundred feet in front of the cart. Soon, desiccated hands and heads begin breaking through the grassy plain. Skull-like visages stared blankly at the four as they decayed bodies rose from the ground. In a few moments, a whole army of corpses surrounded the cart, which continued to push forward without any intention of stopping.

Jack and Piotr jumped off the cart and followed along the horse. “The two of you stay in the cart!” yelled Piotr with more urgency than he had ever used. “Laya, give us cover. We’ll keep these zombies at bay and away from the horse. Whatever you do, do not let it stop!”

Piotr and Jack fell upon the zombie horde with unbridled fury. Piotr swung his batons with full force into the heads of the undead host, their skulls exploding and being reduced to powder in mere instants. He aimed particularly for the mouth and teeth, lest they peradventure bite him. He swung his arms in circles, performed spinning back-handed blows, and even used his feet to keep the lumbering army away.

Jack fought like a dragon with his furious kicks. He launched spin kick after flying roundhouse kick, also taking aim for the heads of his enemies. Left leg. Right leg. Left leg again. Like a great tornado, Jack’s spinning kicks leveled the desiccated mob as him and Piotr drove them back, allowing room for the cart to continue forward.

Sari fought back the tears as she watched helplessly from the cart. Laya was scared nearly out of her wits, but continued firing numerous bolts with her Nei Bow in order to keep the zombies away from the cart. Every few moments, Jack and Piotr would turn their heads to check on the cart. For a brief moment, their eyes would meet up with those of their beloved wives, and then they would quickly tear their glance away to focus on the fight.

The zombie hordes ceased not to rise from the earth. Soon there were far more than Jack and Piotr were able to handle. They continued to fight like madmen, but were soon overcome.

Sari couldn’t take it anymore. “Laya, stay here and keep protecting the cart. I’m going to help my hubby!”

“But Sari—“ It was too late. Sari had descended from the cart and was lost in a flurry of maddened dagger slicing.

Piotr let out a howl in pain as a zombie bit down on his arm. His arm was soon scarlet with blood. He smashed the offender’s head and continued to fight his way through mob. He could feel the sharpened nails of dozens of zombies digging in his arms and face, but he tried to ignore it as he kept fighting.

“C’mon, endorphins. C’mon adrenaline. Don’t let me down now.”

Jack kicked a path through a half dozen zombies, but soon was tackled by another group. As he struggled to throw them off and get back to his feet, he felt a sharp pain his neck. He elbowed the hollowed-out skull of the zombie who had bit him. Ignoring the blood, he continued to strive for balance. It was in a brief flash that he saw the laser bolts from Laya’s bow streak past him and found their targets in the zombies’ heads. He got up and smiled at her. Laya’s eyes widened at horror at the blood running down his chest.

Sari hacked and slashed her way through all of the creatures that had threatened to block the horse’s way. Piotr glanced back and saw her in battle, but by this point, he realized there was nothing he could do and continued pushing the hordes back.

The battle continued for fifteen more minutes, in which Piotr, Jack, and even Sari sustained more wounds. The tunics beneath Piotr’s and Jack’s armor were stained in blood and they were beginning to lose their sense of pace. Sari’s beautiful face was now scratched and streaked with blood, which also matted her long brown hair. She had not given up, however, and continued her frenzied assault on the undead.

It was as the zombie army was being reduced to its last numbers that a new enemy appeared. A large humanoid monster appeared on the path directly in front of the horse. It was huge and muscular, although part of its body was decaying, exposing some its bones, including its ribs. Two little horns sprouted out of its forehead. It ran toward the horse. Laya fired her bow numerous times at it, but was so hysterical that she couldn’t hit it in the head. With a thud that Piotr and Jack could hear from afar, the monster struck the horse in the neck and killed it.

Jack quickly tore himself from his melee with the zombies and confronted the new opponent. The monster unleashed a barrage of punches on Jack, all of which he struggled to block. One punch struck Jack square in the chest and sent him flying to the ground. The creature ran to Jack and lifted him up by the scruff of the neck. Jack threw his right foot out, which connected with the monster’s head. The creature stumbled back and was soon on the receiving end of a series of high chain kicks from Jack. The monster did not relent, however, and grabbed Jack’s leg with one hand and his torso with the other and launched him through the air. Jack tried to push himself up, but the monster was soon upon him ramming his head repeatedly into the ground.

It was Sari who acted at this moment. She slashed her way through the last zombie’s and ran to Jack’s aid. She jumped in the air and grabbed the horned man with her legs in a scissor-like movement. She twisted her body and threw the man-beast to the ground. Quickly, she sprung forward and began to stab the monster repeatedly in the head with her daggers. Jack finally had to pull her away from the unmoving mass of rotting flesh.

“What are we going to do now?” Laya called out to Jack and Sari, pointing out the dead horse.

“Piotr!” Jack yelled immediately. “C’mon, you and I have to bust out the phat running now!”

Piotr looked over at the cart, took a deep breath, and nodded. “Sari, please, love, get back into the cart. Jack and I will get us there.”

Sari, now wiping the tears away as she gazed upon Piotr’s blood-drenched body, nodded. She climbed back into the cart while Piotr and Jack took up the yoke.

“Just like the pioneers, my friend.”

“Heck yeah!”

Jack and Piotr begin to push the cart forward, bringing their pace from a jog into a near sprint. The yelled and groan in agony as the wounds opened up more and more. Sari, usually the strong one, sobbed as she saw the love of her life suffer.

“Laya, please, heal them,” she pleaded.

Laya was preparing to perform the Res magic she knew In order to heal them, when suddenly a trio of bird-like men descended from the air and attacked the two women. The women fought back, but the ambush was so sudden that Laya soon had talon marks in her face and Sari had more scratches on her shoulders. Sari slashed wildly at the new foes, keeping them at bay. Laya struggled to take aim with her bow. After a few unsuccessful tries, she fired off a bolt that struck a flying creature in the throat. It plopped noisily on the ground and soon stopped moving. Sari climbed up on of the statues and jumped on a second bird-creature’s back, digging her dagger into its neck. She leapt back on to the cart before it brought her down to the ground with her. Landing on her back, she saw the third flying monster swoop down toward her. Sari instinctively threw her other dagger at the monster’s chest. With a loud shriek, the monster plummeted to the ground.

A few more minutes passed, and soon the two men began to slow down their pace. They gasped for air and tightened their grip on the cart, trying to ignore the pain in their bodies. Their sprint became a jog, and soon became a slow walk.

Ahead of them, a lone human figure stood, waiting patiently for the four. It was Athena, dressed in a brilliant white tunic that practically glowed. She stared intently on the four wounded humans and nodded her head with a large smile.

“Welcome, my friends. I was beginning to think you wouldn’t come,” she said, her smile not leaving her peaceful face.

Jack and Piotr glanced at each other and rolled their eyes. “Man, what the heck?” Piotr said sarcastically. “Hecka leaving us alone with the zombie-stuffs.”

“But you made it, didn`t you? Isn’t that what matters?”

“Hecka almost in several different pieces though, your majesty,” was Jack’s rejoinder.

Piotr and Jack brought the wagon to a stop in front of the goddess. Piotr and Jack looked back at the cart at their wives. Sari lay on the floor of the cart, her back against one of the statues. She had passed out from a lack of blood. Laya was still conscious, but was bleeding profusely.
The two men turned to look at Athena. They looked at each other for a moment and nodded their heads. They made a weak effort to bow down in front of her, but soon collapsed as well.

Last edited by H-Man on Tue Jul 27, '10, 9:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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