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There was a strange pause from our enemies. They were awaiting something…a command perhaps. The Vampire bats would jump from tree to tree, but remained high above us as though watching a sporting event.

The Trolls just glared at us, each seemingly choosing its intended target. I found myself sharing eye contact with the apparent leader of the group. Trolls are slow in just about every aspect; their mind, movement and skills; however, in my current condition it was going to be very difficult to take this creature on alone. The Troll’s broad shoulders dipped up and down with each massive breath.

“What are they waiting for?” Mecca barked. He was gripping his sword so tightly that his knuckles were pure white.

“Don’t be so eager for this fight.” That was normally my stance before battle, but this particular fight was not in our favor…even if we were healthy.

“Delza looks jittery,” I said to Mecca

“Yes, I think we all are jittery just about now,” He replied.

“What are those bats doing?” Delza nervously asked. She raised her bow toward the tree tops aiming her arrow at multiple targets.

“Don’t worry about the bats, Delza,” I commanded. “The Trolls will attack first. Those nasty flying beasts are probably here to make certain the dumb Trolls do their jobs.”

“I don’t wanna be eaten,” Delza cried. “I can’t go out like this.” Blood began to trickle from her nose.

“What in Mistasia are they waiting for?” Mecca barked again as he stepped forward.

“No, Mecca wait…don’t,” I reached for his arm, but a sharp pain held me back.

“What do you wait for?” He yelled at the Trolls. “If this is the end, then let us begin already.”

The lead Troll leaned forward; its face features shifting into something all too recognizable…the face of Sorcerer LaCroiux.

“Then we shall begin, little Elf,” The sorcerer sneered.

I gasped. Mecca retreated, and Delza fired her arrow directly at the lead Troll hitting him in the cheek. LaCroiux’s face was gone. What returned was the ugly features of the Troll, which growled in agony as the arrow pierced its skin. It raised its giant arm back and swung toward her swatting her into the trees behind us. Mecca and I were now left to face these monstrously powerful Trolls outnumbered.

“NOOOOO!” Mecca screamed with hatred, something very unfamiliar for him even in battle. He raised his sword and dodged a Troll’s attempt to squash him.

Dirt escaped from the Troll’s hand. Mecca leapt up and disappeared into the cloud of dirt and debris. He emerged running up the mountain of an arm toward the Troll’s head.

The other two Trolls thundered around their leader and approached me. Panic coursed through my body. I was still too weak to fight them…so I ran into the heart of the forest.

As I entered the maze of entangled limbs and branches of the Deadly Spray Forest, I heard a great cry of agony followed by a tremendous rumble. The trees shook, the ground buckled and I fell to my knees.

“Mecca!” Mecca, are you alright? I called out to him using telepathy.

One down…two to go.  He replied with determination.

It was then I mustered up the courage to reenter the fray. I took the deepest breath I could handle, readied my bow and arrow, and launched myself through the branches back into the opening. Lying lifeless was the lead troll. Mecca was now attacking a second. I looked up to find the Vampire bats…they were still there watching and jeering.

I slid to a stop and pulled back upon my bow. My first shot missed badly and worse than that it drew attention to the fact that I had returned. I aimed again, this time striking a troll in the neck. It howled in pain. Mecca dashed forward and slashed at its ankles while sliding underneath the giant creature. This troll joined its slain brother falling upon him in the center of the clearing.

Now only one troll remained. We flanked the ugly beast. The troll swatted at us, flailing about angrily. I could sense its fear. We had destroyed two trolls; he knew he didn’t stand a chance.

I heard a rustling noise from behind me. Mecca’s face beamed. When I turned, Delza stood just inside the clearing. She looked awful, but was still alive.

“You will pay for that,” Delza sneered in an unusual voice.

She no longer had her bow, but brandished a short sword and came charging at me. I deflected her attack with my bow, but she swung again knocking my bow free. I winced in pain, grabbing my side as she continued to slash at me in rage. Her eyes were burning with anger.

“LaCroiux?” I muttered to myself. He had overtaken her mind. Delza was now the sorcerer’s prisoner. “This is a new trick sorcerer.” I grabbed a branch from the ground and swung. Delza’s sword sliced through, cutting the branch in two. “Delza, fight him!”

She reached straight back over her head, sword held high. I kicked her in the chest.

Meanwhile, Mecca finished off the remaining troll. I knew by the heavy thud behind me. All three trolls were now heaped upon one another. My friend strolled over toward me confidently, twirling his sword at his side. He attempted to sheath it when I stopped him.

“You may need that.”

Delza lay unconscious sprawled out on the ground; her sword now in my hand. She looked battered and beaten. I only hoped that LaCroiux would now leave her alone.

The forest had grown very quiet; only heavy panting from the Vampire bats above could be heard. My ears began to hurt. Pressure building up inside them pushed all sound out like a void. The branches began to lurch inward toward us at all sides. Then a flash of light burst forth; the tall trees bent backward. Mecca and I were knocked to the ground.

I struggled to my knees. There standing atop the fallen trolls was the sorcerer. His strength was impressive.  LaCroiux moved down the troll bodies and stopped just before me.

“Commander,” he mockingly bowed, staring at me. “You have done quite well. I never thought, with all your injuries, that your group would have been able to destroy these trolls. I guess I was wrong.”

“What have you done with the King and Queen?” I questioned through gritted teeth.

He snorted. “Well, you will be disappointed to know that they are not here.”

“Where are they, LaCroiux?” Mecca shouted.

The sorcerer swung his arm, swatting Mecca high up into the air. A Vampire bat clutched him and flew off. Another swooped down and snatched Delza from the ground.

“You are all alone, Grace.”

I wasn’t about to go out without a fight. I gripped Delza’s sword in my right hand.

“You wish to use that against me do you?” LaCroiux snickered. He had always been arrogant. “Do your best.” His voice deepened.

I swung, and he dodged effortlessly. Pain shot across my chest. I swung again but missed. LaCroiux punched me in the chest with a spell. I flew through the air, landing on my back. He slowly strolled toward me. I rolled onto my side and struggled with all my might to get back to my knees. I had no strength remaining…at least not enough to fend off a sorcerer.

I swung again, but LaCroiux knocked the sword from my hand and lifted me up into the air with the flick of his wrist. He summoned the winds, which burnt as they swept across my face.

“You are now my prisoner,” LaCroiux growled.

A forceful wind lifted me free from his grasp pushing me back until I collided with a tree…everything went black.

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