Orlando awoke with a start upon hearing the roart of the beast.
He quickly sat up and peered out over the brush to see if he
had been detected. The beast hadn't picked up his scent, but
was either hunting or on it's way to terrorize the castle. He
stood up and streached, then walked around trying to get the
kinks out of his body. He glanced up at the low hanging, grey
clouds as a steady breeze blew across the valley.
He wondered how many soldiers remained with the Worlock.
If he was lucky, those that hadn't been killed, had fled back to
the castle or were on their way out of the Kingdom. He had
no plan for when he came face to face with the Worlock. As
he gazed up into the hills there was a whinny behind him.
He smiled and walked over to the mare and stroked it's mane.
"I hope by days end we can return to the castle." He slapped
the mare's and it trotted away.
Ackert stood alone in the clearing in front of his tent, his hand
on the hilt of his sword, his eyes searching the tree line. The
few remaining soldiers appeared to have deserted him. From
the tree tops, a great horned owl watched. Around mid-
morning the owl left it's perch.
Orlando stepped into the clearing, his bow and arrow at the
ready. Ackert drew his sword, pointed it outward as a
lightning bolt flashed across the open area, and at the same
instant, Orlando released his arrow, leaped aside and raced
back to the cover of the trees.
The owl returned to it's perch and watched as Ackert sat on
the ground with an arrow protruding from his theigh. It watched
as the man pulled it free and flung it aside .He tore of piece of
cloth from his tunic and bound the wound. The Worlock didn't
have the power to heal himself. A mighty roar sounded from the
valley. Ackert was trying to summon the beast to his side.
The beast clambored up the hill in the direction of the Worlock"s
tent, like a puppy returning to it's master. It was three fouths up
the hill when the bat creature hovered over it. The bat creature
swooped down, drove a sword into it's left eye and darted away
an instant before the beast's clawed hand reached for it. The
beast stood upright, but lost it's balance, toppled over and rolled
part way down the hill. It regained it's footing, yanked the
sword out of it's eye and cried out in a mournful roar. Picking
up the scent of a human, it's one good eye searched the
trees as the bat creature swooped down and drove a sword into
it's right eye. The beast released an ear shattering scream of pain
that shook the ground, then it tumbled backward and rolled
Orlando stopped to drink and bathe in the brook that cascaded
down from the hills. The beast was blind, but still alive, and he
hoped it would be unable to help the Worlock in any way. Ackert
was wounded, but he was still a formtable foe. He sat down to
to eat some jerky. The clouds had broken up and the wind had
With a shield which had belonded to a soldier, Orlando carefully
made his way up the hill knowing Ackert might have left the
clearing and be waiting for him in the trees. When he was close
to the tent, he got down on his hands and knees and crawled
forward. He lay flat on the ground when he saw Ackert
standing in the center of the clearing, his sword drawn, his
eyes serching the tree line.
"I know you're out there, " the Worlock shouted. "Show
Orlando fully saware of the Worlock's magical powers, raised
his head enough to take in the tent and the clearing for any
sign that Ackert might have conjured up another beast that
was waiting for him inside the tent. Seeing nothing suspicious,
he stood up and moved to the edge of the clearing, his body
in a crouch, the shield placed between himself and Ackert.
"What the hell are you?" Ackert asked in a booming voice.
"A shapeshifter," Orlando replied.
Ackert gnashed his teeth. "We could he a force to be
reckoned with if you joined me."
Orlando chuckled. "That's not going to happen."
Ackert riased his sword as a bolt of lightning shot out striking
the shield in a fiery blast as Orlando rolled aside and dashed
back into the trees.
"You can't defeat me, fool," Ackert screamed. "You can't
defeat my magic." He fired two more bolts as the nearby
trees burst into flames. "You may have run my soldiers off
and seriously injured my beast," he shouted,"but you can't
defeat my magic."
Orlando, breathing heavily, his hair, beard and clothes singed.
lay on the ground and stared in dismay at the burning trees.
It was evident that he couldn't face Ackert in a swordfight.
The man's magic was too powerful. He had never ran away
from a fight with any man during his four centuries, and this
wouldn't be the first time.
In the distance, he could hear the faint muffled roar of the
blind beast as it tried to manuver up the hill to the Worlock's
side. He pulled himseld to his feet and slowly made his way
down the hill. He would wait until dark, and by then the
Warlock might have let his guard down. Ackert, like himself,
had to be growing weary.
Throughout the rest of the day fire slowly crep down the hill
Toward evening, dark ominious clous appeared on the horizon,
and as darkness closed in on Orlando, continous lightning
knife across the sky. Thunder crashed as the storm slowly
and steadily swept across the valley and up the hillside.
The Worlock remained at his station in the clearing, ever
vigilant, but when the rain began to fall in torrents along with
the hail and the wind, he sought shelter inside the tent. He
seated himself on the cot with the sword lying across his
legs. The wind became a gale, and part of the canvas was
ripped away. As the storm seemed to grow more intense,
the bat creature swooped into the tent with a sword in
both hands, loomed over Ackert, and before he could
react, the bat creature was gone.
By morning, the rains had stopped, the skies cleared.
Orlando, bow and arrow in hand, stood at the edge of the
clearing. There was no sign of Ackert. Before the storm, he
had heard the mornfull moans of the beast, but he didn't know
if it was still trying to make to the Worlock's side or had died.
He slowly and carefully crept around the water holes to the
torn flap on the tent and peered inside. The Worlock was lying
on his cot. He watched, ready to race back to the safety
of the trees in the egent the man was planning a
welcoming surprise for him, since he wasn't sure that he had
inflicted a wound on him.
"I've been waiting for you," the Worlock rasped as he pulled
himself into a sitting position. His face was haggered. His
arm and the cot were soaked with blood. He had been
unable to stop the bleeding and was dying. "I never thought
you could defeat my magic," he said through clenched
teeth. "Who are you?"
"Orlando from the Kingdom of Drafton."
"Orlando, you will no doubt one day rule this Kingdom." He
had a coughing spell. When he stopped coughing, he said,
"There is one thing you can't truthfully tell King Aquila."
"And what might that be?"
Orlando noticed that the hilt of the Worlock's sword was
buried in the dirt with the blade pointed upward. "That you
killed me." With all his remaining strength, he threw himself
upon the blade as it cut deep into his chest. He gasped and
fell off the cot.
Orlando stared dumfounded at the fallen Worlock for some
time, then he cross the clearing and made his way down out
of the hill to the valley where he found his mare. He saddled
the horse, collected his belongings, mounted, glanced up into
the hills, then turned the mare in the direction of the castle
and the prize.