Up next are the HoGW chapters!
Chapter Ten: Attack on Faerie Haven
The atmosphere was very tense. Lord Clearwing had dictated that all without certified combat skills either help with the evacuation or join those leaving. Alyx did not want to leave. He was born in this very hawthorn bush and he had lived his entire life in it and its environs. It was clear that something had the elders spooked and that scared him but not enough to make him abandon everything and leave. He was not the only one. Everyone said that sprites were bees but he liked to think they were more like wasps. They’d defend their hearths and nest with all they had but bees would never leave their nests. Only wasps could do that.
That was why he was facilitating the evacuation instead. They couldn’t go against the sprite lord without reason but he could hang back and see just what it was that had caused this uproar.
‘Probably some goblins or maybe a cheshire or two’, he reasoned. He understood the need for caution, Cheshires were dangerous but surely they wouldn’t be stupid enough to attack a faerie haven.
‘Maybe, that’s the problem’, he said to himself, a chilling thought dominating his mind. ‘Maybe it’s a rabid cheshire’, he thought. ‘Maybe, it might even be two’.
Having sufficiently scared himself, he tried to focus on the task at hand to no avail. Sensing his discomfort, his familiar, Bright, a will-o’-wisp, tried to cheer him up by sending positive emotions and literal warmth his way. Alyx smiled and held out a handful of his mana for the creature as a treat. Bright drained it all happily and sent another wave of warmth his way.
That done, Alyx looked out at the line of evacuees. Despite being told to only to take essentials, there were many sprites who had decided to haul house and home with them. Shaking his head, Alyx flew towards an old maid with an entire cart of odds and ends. It was at this moment that he saw it, the tell-tale signs of a shimmer. Remembering his earlier thoughts, he looked out for the trademarked grin of a cheshire cat and instead saw an incredibly large and knobbly knee.
It was the last thing he saw before the troll scooped him up and tossed him into his mouth. Alyx never even had the chance to scream or warn anyone before his assailant’s jagged teeth came chomping down.
Thorn now knew why the troll’s status said mutating and ravenous. The fell beast was devouring every sprite he came across. The scary part was that whenever it ate a sprite its body quivered, twisting and changing before their very eyes whilst its mana grew more like that sprite’s, more like a fae’s. Already, some of the sprites were trying to stop it but they were just throwing their lives away.
Screams of pain and terror filled the air as frightened sprites fled every which way. Thorn wanted to shout at them to stop, to hold a line but it was hopeless. They were losing more and more with each passing moment. Eyes red and streaming with tears, Thorn flew at the troll, his sword covered with a greenish-black light. He was lucky, the effect of his [Curse Field] finally showed itself as he closed in causing the troll to trip inexplicably and fall on its face.
Thorn did not waste the chance he had been given. Switching the mana coating his sword into something more appropriate, he raced along the troll’s leg and plunged it into its calf seeking that all so important artery. Blood spurted all over him but he couldn’t bring himself to care. He pushed as much cursed mana as he was able into the wound making the affected area glow an angry red. He was trying to ensure the bleeding did not stop.
The mutating troll shrieked at the sudden flash of pain and tried to swat him away. With his superior agility, Thorn was able to avoid the blow, taking to the air and watching the widening pool of blood with satisfaction. On any other opponent, this would be a killing blow but even Thorn knew that the troll’s regeneration would make short work of it eventually.
Only now did his ineffective warriors arrive. Thorn fought to keep from lashing out at them. It wasn’t their fault. They were just weak!
“Get our people out of here!” he yelled at them. A few of them tried to object stating their intentions to fight but he ignored them leaping back into battle. The troll was getting back up.
What followed was an incredible display of skill. Thorn buzzed around the troll like a mad hornet, slicing at anything he could reach. any that came close them died and in the end, everyone left him to keep the troll at bay whilst they fled. The creature was many times more powerful than he was but it was helpless when it came to dealing with him. Fighting Thorn was like trying to swat a wasp with your bare hands. The only contact you made was with its sting. the sprite lord fought long and hard but in the end, it was a lesson in futility.
He could attack all he wanted. None of his blows could score a deep wound and nothing he did left any lasting marks. Troll regeneration especially that of one of a rank higher than him was not something he could overcome, not even with his curses. All he succeeded doing was helping the creature destroy his home.
The monster was mad. It didn’t take much to deduce. It fought like a feral beast and the light in its eyes was dim and unintelligent. The only thing it seemed to care about was stuffing its mouth with anything that held faerie magic. That was one of the things that made the battle so easy. Sometimes, in the middle of the fight, its limbs would go completely out of control, contorting to become either more elfin or troll-like. Its facial features changed constantly and its mana fluctuated in a way that actually put fear into Thorn’s heart.
Whatever mutated the troll had hollowed it. The only thing it had left, besides its innate skills, was a brutal ferocity, a ravenous hunger and an instinctive cunning. However, this only made it more dangerous. It cared for nothing. It barely defended itself and as soon as Thorn gave it some space, it immediately started stuffing its maw. A root curled out of the ground and the troll tripped on it. This time, it recovered its balance and did not fall but he’d already given Thorn the opportunity he required. Pirouetting right in front of its face, he spun past it and slashed at its neck.
“[Blight Blade]”, he screeched.
His sword, glowing an ominous greenish-black, cut a few centimetres into the troll’s fleshy neck. That was enough for the curse to spread. It did exactly as advertised. A blight began to eat away at the affected flesh slowly spreading out. A new smell joined the twins of blood and sweat. The smell of rot. The flesh around the troll’s neck began to eat away and a black miasma accompanied it, spreading the blighting curse. It wouldn’t last long but the troll’s regeneration had a harder time fighting this off than it did the other curses he used.
Back-pedalling, Thorn tried to catch his breath. This battle was more fighting than all his two hundred years as sprite lord combined. Thankfully, he wasn’t the only one feeling the strain. The troll’s regeneration was slowing. Not by much but enough for him to notice. This gave him hope. He had to finish the monster off. It was clear to him that the creature’s hunger had not been satisfied and he doubted it could. It had devoured two entire sprite communes and still come after them. If he let it go it would come after them again. That much he was certain.
He glanced around the battlefield. The hawthorn bush he’d reigned from these last two hundred years lay in shredded pieces, torn apart by the troll’s wild, flailing attacks. His people were scattering to the winds, many too terrified to even follow the evacuation plan he had laid out before. It wouldn’t matter where they went. They were now homeless.
Sorrow and loss more intense than anything Thorn had ever felt filled his being. Everything they had had was gone and so many of them were dead. No one could stand there and not feel the impact of the events that had just transpired. Thorn tried to think of something, anything, he could have done to stave this off. Maybe, if he’d known what they were up against earlier. Maybe if they had had more time to prepare.
The hardest battles to win are not external but internal. Losing to yourself and losing yourself were greater threats than any external battle. Sadly, that was exactly what happened. Thorn lost the will to fight. With a final look at the ruins of his home, he disengaged, flying tiredly to the rally point. He’d have to fight another day. The troll had won!
Not a very imaginative title, I know, especially since I’m not much of a fan of the anime. I have nothing against the series. I just wasn’t able to get into the first few episodes and haven’t been able to give it another go since. I haven’t had much time to watch anime in a while.
Forget that though. Did you see Thorn back there? All those of you wondering just how powerful he is should have your answers now. Still, there is something very off about his powers. Curse fields, cursed wounds, bloodletting and blights? Someone is not all he appears.