Scribe of Texas Book Page Scribe of Texas Poems Scribe of Texas Short Stories Scribe of Texas Fan Fiction Scribe of Texas Preaching Politics Scribe of Texas email

Universe of G-Minor Logo
Two Trails - Title

Chapter 9

The forces of evil never could leave well enough alone, Storm despaired. They always attacked and always tried to blame it on the victim. Now it looked like it was about to happen again. The joint declaration from from the two gods was a death sentence, pure and simple. But why didn’t the so-called “gods” kill us themselves, he wondered disjointedly as he prepared himself for battle? Why order their followers to do it for them?

“We need to close the gates, now!” Lorelei said desperately, eyeing the mass of enemy soldiers beneath the feet of the two gods.

Aram grimaced as he clenched his fists around his mace. “I’ll send Brother Barmus to get the key but who knows how long it will take him.” He yelled over his shoulder at the unseen Barmus then turned back to the enemy massing before them. He raised his mace in front of him with both hands and began praying aloud.

Storm tightened his grip on his swords, leaving aside his questions for another time. “Ralt, hit them with a fireball before they get too close. Then Lorelei and Thomas, you let fly,” he ordered tersely. “After that . . .” he shrugged, “. . . we fight until Hell is overflowing with our enemies.”

Rough laughter echoed up and down the line.

Storm was glad the Temple soldiers took encouragement from his words, he had very little for himself. They’d been outnumbered in combat before but either had the advantage of surprise, or the confusion of other battles taking place around them to prevent them from being overwhelmed. Here, they had no such providence. He glanced at the Temple soldiers around them. They looked to be good fighters, but so were the men grouping together before them, and four-to-one odds was a bit too much to expect them to overcome. Plus, the attackers had the advantage of having their gods literally watching over their shoulders, giving them a tremendous morale boost.

The rest of them were thinking along the same lines. Lorelei threw back her shoulders. Ever the Biqah warrior, she smiled grimly at their enemies. “Today is a good day to die,” she proclaimed in a loud voice.

The Captain of the guard threw her a quick glance at her ringing declaration of the sentiments of the tribesmen of the great prairie. “You’re a long way from the Biqah,” he observed dryly.

“But fighting right next to my husband,” she returned quickly. “My true husband,” she said, spitting toward the gods.

Storm shook his head at the sight of the assembled enemies. There wasn’t going to be any strategy or tactics, he realized. In obedience to the dictates of their gods it was going to be a straight-up, head-on fight; no finesse at all, just steel against steel. He despaired of Krista’s men, still trapped in the Temple by the crowds. “Here they come,” he muttered. No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the priests gave orders to their commanders who in turn brought their swords down in the universal signal to attack. A mighty yell erupted from two hundred throats at they surged forward.

Ralt’s answering fireball hit their front rank, directly behind the two commanders. They vanished in the explosion. The priests were slightly behind the fireball; they disappeared in the flames as well. The charge staggered, and nearly stalled, then regrouped and sped up again. Charred bodies littered the ground and almost immediately others began joining them as Lorelei and Thomas let fly with their bows. Temple guardsmen on the walls on either side of the gate also fired, using their height to good effect. They only had time for two frantic volleys before a wall of steel, flesh, and bone crashed into them.

The first man impaled himself on Storm’s sword, pushed forward by the surging warriors behind him. Shock etched itself on his face as he gasped feebly. Storm shoved him back, ripping his sword out of his chest then whirled to meet the next attacker. Steel rang on steel. He was strong but the sheer mass of the enemy warriors forced him to give ground to gain room to swing his sword.

Lorelei dropped her bow to pull her own sword. She fought shoulder-by-shoulder with Storm, smiling in spite of the hopeless odds. Durin was laying about him with great swipes of his mighty axe, then smoke erupted from it, coalescing into the great, horse-sized wolf known as the Whelp of Fenris. Exclamations of horror burst from the enemy soldiers as the wolf appeared and began ripping savagely at them. Aram chanted a prayer as he swung his mace back and forth. Thomas, like Lorelei, now fought the enemy with his sword, while Krista, darted in and out with her knives, relying on her speed and agility to protect her from their greater strength.

The bowmen on the wall were fighting their arrows straight down into the surging ranks but there were too many of them. The enemy was dying, but so were their own men-at-arms. The sheer mass of humanity crushing in on them was forcing them back, a step at a time, in spite of their best efforts.

Ralt, his staff glowing with power to enhance his blows, laid out his current enemy. “If they get through the gate they’ll surround us!” he shouted. A sword swung at him and he parried grimly.

Storm couldn’t spare time for more than a glimpse, but Ralt was right. The walls were about five feet thick at the gate. As long as they and the guardsmen filled the twenty foot wide gap, the enemy couldn’t get behind them. They’d started fighting standing at the very front of the wall, but they’d already been pushed back nearly three feet. Every time one of their men fell, the enemy gained another few inches. Two more feet, and the enemy could start slipping around the end of their line on either side. Once that happened, they were dead. It was just a matter of time. In fact, it already looked like it anyway.

His whole being rebelled against the idea. He wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction. He remembered something General Patton had once said. Turning his head he roared over the tumult to the archers on the wall, “Fear kills more people than death! Get down here and help us! We need more men in the gate!”

They obeyed quickly, some even jumping down rather than taking the stairs. Quickly they added their strength and numbers to them. Invigorated by the reinforcements his men rallied, pushing the enemy back nearly a foot, regaining precious ground. Storm felt a surge of hope. If Krista’s men could make it through the crowds in the Temple, their added numbers might be enough to swing the tide of battle. He threw a glance at the two gods hovering overhead. Why weren’t they doing anything? Their unaccountable passivity baffled him.

“Use a fireball in the middle of them,” he ordered Ralt, ignoring the two gods for the time being. “Take some pressure off us.” He parried a vicious swing as he spoke. The tumult of the battle forced him to yell to be heard.

“I need a free moment to do that,” Ralt panted, yelling back despite standing shoulder to shoulder with him. He used his staff to turn away a sword thrust to emphasize his point.

Storm nodded. He buried his sword in a man’s throat and roared, “One free moment coming up!” Forcing himself to fight and concentrate on magic at the same time wasn’t easy, but the necessity of the moment gave him the motivation to accomplish it. An instant later every enemy in the front rank jumped back in surprise and pain, yelping as the tips of their noses burst into flame for a moment, as if Storm was lighting a whole series of pipes and cigars.

He heard Ralt laugh, then mutter a command word. A fireball streaked out from his staff to explode in the middle of the enemy ranks. They were close packed, surging forward to the battle, with no possible way to escape the raging flames; they died by the dozens.

Fenris leapt over the front ranks to land in the area cleared by Ralt’s magic. He spun around to begin tearing at them from behind.

It broke their will.

Suddenly they began trying to escape rather than fight. A ragged cheer went up from the Temple of Light as the men saw certain defeat turn into victory. Storm charged forward and they followed him bravely, cutting down the enemy as they ran, unmindful of the color they wore. Krista’s men, finally appearing beside them, added their swords to the fray. Another fireball from Ralt’s staff scattered them to four winds.

Storm stopped his men a few feet from the Temple gate, letting the enemy run.

They paused in the middle of the square, dropping to their knees to pray to their gods, imploring them for help. Storm’s companions lined up beside him again. He glanced at them. “Does anyone need healing?”

Aram furrowed his brow in puzzlement. “You want me to heal someone right now?”

Storm laughed. “No. I’ll do it. I have healing power.”

The priest had a nasty, jagged cut on his left forearm. He held it out. “Prove it.”

He shrugged. “Alright.” He leaned across in front of Lorelei and Durin, touched Aram’s outstretched arm and healed it easily. Watching soldiers all around the square stared in amazement. After a moment’s silence, a hubbub broke out among them.

Aram gave Storm a searching look. “You must be a Ghibbore of the Lord of Light,” he said softly. “There’s no other explanation.”

Storm was too tired to argue with him. Too much had happened too fast; the emotional high of the wedding, the shock of discovering the gods were actually real, followed almost immediately by a life-and-death battle, and their unexpected victory at the last moment, had conspired to wipe him out mentally. “Fine,” he shrugged. “I’m a Ghibbore of the Lord of Light. There . . . happy?”

No sooner were the words out of his mouth than a white light abruptly surrounded him and his companions. The seven of them were outlined in pure light for a moment. Ashima and Adrammelech threw up their arms as they were thrown back from the light that brightened until it seared the eyes. They vanished in another spray of rainbow-colored light then the dazzling white light around the seven of them dimmed and faded away.

Storm froze in shock, unable to believe what had just happened. In spite of himself, he’d heard stories about this kind of thing but he’d never seen it. “Was that what I think it was?” he asked in a wondering voice.

Ralt and Aram answered at the same time, “It was a Servant Nimbus.” Ralt immediately gave way before Aram’s superior knowledge in this area and gestured for him to continue. Aram nodded. “When one of the gods approves of one of his servants, they’ll briefly surround them with a halo of light as sign to everyone else in the faith that that person is doing the god’s will,” Aram intoned slowly. “Each god uses their own colors of course, but it’s never done to more than one person at a time. Never.”

“But it was done to all seven of us just now,” Lorelei objected in a small voice, awed by having been so publicly approved of by the Lord of Light. “It even drove away the gods.”

Aram nodded. “I know. I, I don’t understand it. And why include me? I’m just a priest in a small town. I haven’t done anything special. Why me?”

“Ye officiated at the wedding of a Ghibbore from Elder Earth and ‘is lady, whose name means Child of Heaven,” Durin muttered. “Ye stood and fought beside him against Adrammelech and Ashima and were ready to die wit him. I dunno much about the gods but why not include ye?”

At the mention of the Ghibbore, all eyes turned to Storm.

Lorelei slid her arm around his waist, her eyes shining with pride. From the day they’d met, she’d been quick to accept his role as Ghibbore; today was no exception. “It all centers around you, my love. We’re all here because of you, and the Lord of Light honored all of us because of you.”

“But seven people all at once?” Aram spluttered. “It’s unheard of. I don’t know what to think. And how could a Servant Nimbus drive away two gods at once? How is that possible?”

Ralt leaned on his staff for support. “I guess Storm’s Ancient of Days is stronger than we thought,” he mused.

Aram turned with a puzzled look.


Storm tuned them out for a moment as he contemplated Ashima and Adrammelech’s strange behavior in light of one of Sun Tzu’s most famous quotes, “Know your enemy”.

First, instead of attacking themselves, they ordered their followers to attack but why? Storm frowned to himself. Was it possible they could only attack their own followers? Ralt said they all had exactly the same kind of powers and he vaguely recalled the Clan elders telling stories about the gods, how they competed for followers because legend had it they needed followers in order to survive, that they’d die without them. Was it possible they couldn’t attack the followers of another god, at least not directly? If one god could attack and kill the followers of another, they’d all be vulnerable to being slain through the back door, so to speak. Maybe they’d made some kind of compact when they created Gaia preventing them from doing such things. If so, it would explain why they attacked each other during the Chaos Wars instead of their opponent’s followers. He felt a rising tide of excitement. If Adrammelech and Ashima couldn’t attack them directly (still a big if), it meant they’d have to work through human agents and he felt supremely confident of his ability to handle himself in that kind of fighting. He also found himself wondering what would happen if they did attack the followers of another god, even by accident? Would their attack fizzle out or backfire maybe? It was an intriguing thought.

His excitement grew as he contemplated his second observation about the gods, that they’d fled in pain from the Servant Nimbus of the Lord of Light, which argued He was more powerful than The Six. That only made sense if the Lord of Light was actually God, which in turn meant (as if he’d needed any proof) they weren’t really gods at all. He chewed his lip watching as those around him celebrated their sudden and unlikely victory. He’d heard all the stories about the Chaos Wars of course, but seeing them in the flesh, seeing them flung away merely by the light of the Servant Nimbus, drove home to him not only their reality but also their vulnerability.

If they could be hurt or driven away, they could be killed.

A predatory smile crossed his face.

Everything on my web site is free but if you like my writing, please consider donating. Thanks!
donate button
Chapter Index
arrow-back-chapter-8 arrow-forward-chapter-10