Chapter 22

Breathing heavily, I rush to the gates. Loud thuds bang against the hardened wood. The sounds of pleas and cries for help ring through my ears. The standing sentries watch as they decide to keep the gates closed out of fear and ensure the village isn’t exposed to danger.

“Open the damn gates! Those people are defenseless!” I shout at the top of my lungs.

“Our rules are clear! We cannot expose ourselves to any danger! Go back home and let the adults do their job, kid!” The head sentry speaks clearly.

“By order of House Aris, I command you to open the gates; refusal is treason! Punishable by death!”

“What authority does a Nixx like you-“

“My authority! Fourth born son of your lord, Valum Aris! I, Caleb Aris, command you to open the gates immediately!” My eyes are filled with passion and a bright fire. My resolve absolute breaks through the sentries, and they reluctantly pull the lever that pulls the gates apart.

The screaming villagers rush in, some holding their wounds, others helping the wounded or elderly to safety.

“Oh, thank you! Thank you, thank you!” An older woman with her small son pleads to me.

“Just hurry and get to safety! The goblins will be dealt with soon! Where are those damn adventurers!”

Barking out orders and commands, a loud horn is sounded as the small party of goblins snarl and swivel in the snowy fields. Their dirty brown-green skin visually represents the stench they reek naturally. The surprisingly cunning of these creatures knew to wait for the gates to open to summon the rest of their tribe to assist in the raid. A good thirty carry mainly blunt weapons and the occasional makeshift spear and bow.

An arrow flies and strikes the back of a young man; he falls down and quickly tries to escape, only for his corpse to drop into the snow.

“No…!” I curse under my breath.

“M-Mommy!!” A small girl with short brown hair tries to aid her wounded mother, attempting to reach her feet. The arrow protruding from her arm and leg was more than enough to stop her from doing anything. She pleads for her daughter to run; the child does not budge.

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Swiftly, one of the nasty creatures approaches behind her; the startling scream of the disgusting mouth pierces their eyes, and he swings his club at the girl’s head, wanting to see her corpse before it.

It was, without a doubt, a moment of clarity. I stood and watched as the horrors unfolded before me was a dark and deep reminder of the terrible actions that war and raiders had caused to innocent people. The chaos and evil nature were sickening.

Bink!

Almost close to the sound of metal hitting an object, I rushed ahead to use the artifact in my glove to cast a barrier spell to protect myself, the woman, and the child. The goblin looks concerned as he reels back from the recoil of his strike. With a determined spirit, I shift my dagger into my hand and tear it into its throat with the blade.

The inky green blood squirts from the severed neck, and the foul-smelling blood splashes across my chest and face. My stomach turned inside out at the mere feeling alone, but swallowing down the vomit was the least of my worries as I summoned another barrier to deflect a couple of arrows flying in my direction.

“Grab your mother, drag her if you have to! But get to the gates! I can’t hold them off for long!

“R-Right!” The young girl was momentarily stunned at a boy barely older than her taking down such a scary creature.

She was able to help her move a bit closer to the gates. Knowing that the assault would only get more intense, I channel my power into the artifact and expand my barrier ability to create a massive wall. The horde of goblins smash into the wall, and cracks quickly show on the spell.

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With sweat and aches, I force them back a few feet before taking charge. Holding the stained dagger with a shaky hand, I push on through the pain and tackle a goblin; however, his club barely missed my head but cracked into my left shoulder instead. The bone felt rattled and would be sore for days at least. 

The teeth of the creature snapped at my throat but were cut short as the tip of my blade filled the inside of its mouth until the blood began to pool from the mouth. Swiftly sliding back to my feet, I encounter an approaching group with a spear and worn axe that meet my barrier. The ability to defend has been draining my stamina rapidly with such a high spell-cost ability.

The straining tears from my eyes are forced out, leaving me no choice but to hold out until Eckhart could arrive. A single knight in the Scarlet order can dispatch these small creatures in the blink of an eye with their divine arts and swordcraft.

“Come on, you ugly bastards! I may be small, but I will show you the might of House Aris!” I begin to taunt them without knowing if they can understand me, but I continue to push them back from attempting to enter the village or kill anyone else.

Until a sudden rumble in the ground quickens. Shaking the large stones into the ground, a massive hulking and disgustingly ugly ogre charges forth and slams into a large tree, obliterating the bark with its size. 

It makes an ugly roar and slams the massive club in its hand on the ground. The shockwave of the attack made me lose focus, and I slipped to my knee. The barrier is now disabled; the ogre has full ability to strike at me if it approaches.

The villagers scream, and the last remaining ones begin to approach the gates and enter. The sentries stare in horror as the massive size of this creature poses a threat to many. The fear overtakes the sentries, and they quickly slam the lever back into place, making the gates fall back on themselves. 

“What are you doing?! That boy saved us; go and save him!” The mass of protestors shouts to the sky. 

“Wait! Don’t close them! You idiots!” The familiar voice of Julie rings from the crowd.

I barely roll to the side as the ogre swings widely onto the ground. I grab my dagger tightly and stab into its arm. The puny blade hardly does any work, but I slam my fist into the handle, which causes the blade to rip through the skin and cause a sizable gash into the arm.

It proved to do very little to stun such a creature, which backhands me. I quickly placed my barrier in front of me, but the instant it touched the barrier, the attack shattered the magic to pieces, and I found myself laid out on the white ground, blood running down my nose and lip.

The mist of my breath stains the view in front of me as the ringing in my ears hasn’t stopped since taking the strike. The lasting numbness in my body or the cold, locking my muscles in place. All I could do was blink and watch as the giant creature looming over my stunned figure, raising the sturdy club in hand, raised high in the air as the beast smiled with content…

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