Contest Entry – Epic Battle

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This story was written shortly after my first encounter with the Controllers and Golems that invaded Britannia some time back. I originally posted it on my guild’s message boards as a bit of fun for them. The character I was using at the time was Aerwyn, an Archer and Axer.

*I have returned from an epic battle.*

Earlier today, I was in Britannia, close to the east bank, when I approached a mage on his horse. The mage was named Keyleo and I could clearly sense the power of Order radiating from him. Upon asking whether the rumors were true, and strange beasts known as Golems and their Controller masters could indeed be found by the brave in our land, he eagerly confirmed this and then happened to mention that he was ignorant of the function of the strange gem-like stones he had found on the bodies of his enemies. While I was ignorant of the presence and location of the Golems and their masters in our land, I HAD paid close attention when the sages and wise ones spoke of them, and their strange stones.

I proceeded to tell him of the arcane gems’ abilities and he became very excited by this, as he had a large collection of the newly useful stones. He then offered to take me to a spot known to be infested by these creatures and promptly opened a gate! After readying my weapons and armor, I stepped through, and entered Hell. Instantly, 3 of the immense metal beasts, that I realized were Golems, fixed their cold, metal gazes upon me and attacked. I was forced to flee for my life in an attempt to find a more advantageous position to fight from.

After dodging through trees and underbrush, and several narrow escapes from the prowling Controllers, I was at last able to fight the pursuing Golems. I quickly made ready with my heavy crossbow and as the first clanking monster cleared the trees, I fired! Luck was with me and I made a solid hit that made it pause for a moment as it stared at the simple wooden bolt buried deeply in it’s metal hide. I quickly moved away as I readied the crossbow for another shot. While glancing about to ensure that I had open paths, I noticed that I had managed to lose two Golems and now only one pursued me. I was to quickly realize that even that was one too many.

As I continued to weave my way through the forest, stopping every once in a while to fire, I made a mistake that almost killed me. I misjudged the distance between myself and my target, and the speed at which it was moving. I fired my crossbow and quickly prepared to make another shot, when before I could even blink, the Golem was upon me. It pounded on my humble studded armor, and left me gasping with every blow. I began to bandage myself even while fighting (mother always said I was quick with my hands) and I was doing well. Until the Golem raised it’s metal fist high… and brought it around in a punch to my stomach that actually blew me off my feet and a good thirty paces back! As I lay there, stunned and gasping for air, I could hear the monster moving in to finish my life.

Again luck stepped in to save this elf’s life. Some small noise from the bush momentarily distracted it, and as it briefly glanced away, I sprang to my feet and began running. After only a few steps, I broke through the trees and beheld the glittering, deep blue ocean in front of me. I was momentarily speechless at the beauty of the clear blue sky constrasting against that water, an occasional gull making the transition between the two with ease. Clearing my head and looking about, I spied a house and hearing the clanking steps grow closer, prayed the door was unlocked as I raced for it. Someone high up must have heard that prayer because door opened silently on my first pull and I moved inside, closing it behind me. I made haste to the roof to await the Golem with a few well-placed shots. The monster broke through the trees, knocking a few down in the process, and looked about to see where I had gone. It then looked up as a bolt speed past it’s head and spied me upon the roof of the house. The Golem made a strange, horrific, grinding scream and charged straight at the door………..

As the Golem charged at full speed for the house that was my sanctuary, I quickly said a few prayers and prepared for a messy death. While Sosaria’s wandering healers were out in force in the surrounding forest and my return to life would be a fast one, I still did not enjoy the fact that I was going die screaming at this creature’s hands. I closed my eyes and braced for the shock of Golem meeting house. After a few tense moments, I was startled to hear a puzzled squeal come from below. I carefully looked over the roof’s edge and was met with the most amazing sight. The Golem was walking back and forth in front of the house, looking up at me every so often while making that same puzzled squeal.

It couldn’t figure out how to open the door to get to me and was too afraid to test it’s might against the sturdy building! I gave a silent sigh of thanks and slowly became a boneless heap on the roof. I could stay up here as long as I desired and the Golem would never be able to get me…. but then I couldn’t get down either. That thought quickly got me upright again and planning my escape. While I thought of ways to get out alive, a metallic roar from deep in the trees got my attention. As I looked in that direction, I saw a warrior running out with two Golems hard behind him! Looking around as I had earlier, he spotted the house, the Golem in front of it, and then me on the roof. Giving me an oily smirk, he ran up to the house and hid himself in the bushes out front.

The now victimless Golems burst from the trees then stopped and looked around for him, but he remained well hidden. After a few heartbeats they gave up on him and focused on me! I now had three to deal with, and a very limited supply of bandages. As the two Golems clustered at the front of the house with their brother, the warrior came out of hiding and walked back into the forest, pausing only to give me a somewhat rude one-finger salute. I was in the manure pile up to my pointy ears now and I knew it.

After almost 10 minutes of alternately cursing fate and the warrior, a brilliant plan burst into my head. I pulled myself together and thought harder. There were several open plains to the east of this house, I could see them from the roof. If I could get out the door alive, I might be able to lure the Golems in that direction and pick them off one at a time with greater ease. After readying my weapons, checking my bolts and bandages, and settling my armor, I lured the Golems around the the back of the house and raced down the steps and out the door. The Golems weren’t the brightest creatures I’d ever met, but they weren’t that stupid and they had perfect hearing. The sound of the door slamming shut behind me quickly clued them into the fact that I was escaping, and they moved to give chase. I tell you now, the sight one Golem chasing after you is frighting enough, but to have THREE trying to run you down is positively bowel-loosening! I clenched my buttocks hard and kept running.

After several tense minutes, and a few well-placed shots, I finally made the plains. While there were houses in abundance here, there were still more open areas than the forest I had left. I ran ahead to a choice spot, turned around, and steadied my crossbow. The first Golem was to come out of the forest was my old friend from the house and also the most wounded one. The majority of my shots had landed square in him and it showed. Strange fluids leaked from cracks and holes in his body, and his body groaned and shook with every step. But he kept coming, and I could see the other two not far behind him. I took careful aim, let out my held breath, and squeezed the release. The bolt whistled through the air and with a loud clang landed right in the Golem’s face! The creature let out a grinding roar that echoed through the forest and slowly toppled over.

The impact of that body hitting the ground rattled the windows of every house I could see and almost knocked me over. I cautiously closed in on the body, wary of some trick, and inspected it. It was dead, if a mechanical creation could ever be called that. Thoughts of victory quickly turned to thoughts of compensation for my troubles and I eagerly searched the beast’s metal carcass. I did not search long before I was awarded a small number of gems and some iron ingots. I was momentarily stunned by this paltry amount for my efforts, but then recalled all of the valuable knowledge I had gained in the areas of healing, anatomy, and the use of my crossbow. That calmed me somewhat and I sat down to enjoy a brief rest. That was the second mistake that almost got me killed. I had forgotten about the other Golems and they were on me before my butt even reached the ground. As I sprang back onto my feet, the first one raised a hand high…. and delivered the same stunning blow it’s deceased brother had, with similar results!

As I lay on the ground, gasping for a second time, I knew I was going to die this time. No luck, no noises from the brush, just alot of pain and then grey vision. I closed my eyes and awaited the end. But luck wasn’t through with me yet. As one Golem kicked me in the side, my crossbow slid up my chest and came in line with the second one’s knee! Another vicious kick had an almost predictable result as the crossbow went off and sent a bolt at almost point-blank range straight into my enemy’s knee. The newly crippled Golem let out a scream of agony that surprised me and made the second halt in it’s beating. While I had taken a few shots to the head, I still had enough left in there to realize this was the only chance I was going to get. I slowly got up and as both Golems looked down at me with death in their cold eyes, I ran.

I managed to reach another house and hid behind it to bandage my wounds while the two Golems lumbered around, searching for me. I remained in hiding while I gathered my wits and breath and, when I was ready once more, I stepped out and got their attention by shooting the crippled one right in the back. As they moved in again to chase me, I put the second part of my plan into action. Rather than running deeper into the forst and pausing every so often to shoot at them, I ran around in large circles. This confounded the Golems as they could not keep up with me, and often gave me an exposed back to aim at. This continued for several minutes, until at last, I managed to drop the crippled one! After that, the remaining Golem was almost easy to finish. I simply kept myself and him in range by moving in circles. After a few more minutes, he also fell in death.

I quickly moved in to loot him, hoping for better than I had gotten from the first. I was not to be so lucky. All I found were a few more gems and ingots. With a feeling of disgust I gathered what few bolts were worth recovering from the body and moved on to the second one. As I searched him, I found yet more gems and ingots, but this one had a surprise on him! A strange blue glow got my attention and I moved some Golem parts out of the way to reveal a beautiful gem-like stone. I quickly realized that this was one of the arcane gems the sages and wise ones spoke of, and I eagerly plucked it from it’s resting place and put it into my bag.

Happier now, I decided I had enough of the beatings and terror, and set off south for a road or town. Little did I know that my adventures in the forest were not yet done……

As I walked through the forest, I considered myself both lucky for having survived my time here and a fool for coming here in the first place. I resolved to get home quickly and avoid any more fights. But, unfortunately, all that luck I’d had was about become due. I was moving at a fast pace through the trees, steering wide of the area the Golems and their masters called theirs. As I moved through a tangle of low-lying bushes, I heard the sound of a twig snapping to my right. By the time I could free myself and ready my bow, it was too late.

I turned to the right just in time to see a smirking, blue-skinned Controller finish the last movements and words to a magic spell. The blood-red color of his clothing turned a bright blue as a massive bolt of lighting streaked down from the clear sky and transfixed me to the ground. The current was so strong that I couldn’t even open my mouth to let out the screams that were piling up in my throat . As the bolt finally grounded out and stopped, a thick cloud of smoke arose from my armor and body. The exposed skin that had not been protected by armor or the thick bone helm quickly blistered and turned black, wrenching a fresh wave of screaming from my already raw throat as the agony washed over me. Had it not been for my strong resistance to magic, I know I would have died from that attack.

As I struggled to my feet, I could hear through the haze of pain that the Controller was preparing to unleash more agony upon me. Using what little control I had over my still twitching limbs, I raised the scorched crossbow as high as I could and triggered the release. The bolt sped toward the Controller’s stomach, but missed just a bit to the left. But that was enough, as it disrupted his concentration upon the spell. He looked at me with hatred and spoke in a strange, hard language. Although I did not understand the words, I understood the tone well enough. He was promising me a slow death for what I had just done. Very well, let him kill me slowly. For I knew a bit about magic, having watched as my guildmates, the humans, and even the hated Orcs cast their spells.

My knowledge was scant, but I knew that the magic-user must remain perfectly still while casting. They cannot move more than the limits of the spell they cast allows. That meant that as soon as the Controller began to cast again, I was hauling my leather-covered ass through the trees in the opposite direction, and there wasn’t much he would be able to do about it. Things worked out as I expected and by the time the Controller had unleashed that fireball, I was already some 200 paces away and still moving. While I twisted and dodged through the trees, I was already hard at work with a bandage, which was a good thing. For no sooner had I finished the last knot than that previously mentioned fireball caught me right on the back of my head!

While the the fireball was mostly absorbed by my helm, it still packed enough punch to make me stumble. As I fell to my hands and knees, I saw something in front of me that was totally unexpected. Some nameless person had gathered what must have been scattered and forgotten bolts, bound them in a pack, and left them on the ground! I almost wept for joy, as the last shot I made had been the one at the Controller’s stomach. I got to my feet and eagerly picked up the pack. A practiced glance told me that almost 100 bolts were there for the using! I could fight back. I quickly drew my crossbow, placed one of the bolts in the ready position and then hid behind a tree to await the Controller that I knew was following me.

As the blue-skinned mage came through the trees, bending over every so often to look for my footprints, I could see his face clearly. The hatred that burned in his eyes and twisted his face almost struck me dead on the spot. I knew that nothing I did could have created such powerful emotions. This was the product of something more. I put such speculations aside as he came closer and slowly brought the much-abused crossbow up to my equally abused shoulder and took careful aim. I let the sights drift with his movements so as not to alert him to my presence, and as his head came into view, I gently pressed the release. The deep twang of the crossbow brought the Controller’s head up just in time to see the bolt coming. He let out a yelp of terror that quickly turned to a agonized squeal, much like that of a stuck pig. The bolt had not struck his head as planned, but instead buried itself up to the fletching in his chest. He clearly did not like being on the receiving end of the pain.

The chase was on from that moment. As I raced north, with the Controller fast behind me, each of us would stop every so often to attack the other. The time taken by the Controller to cast a spell, and for that spell to catch me, allowed me to get far ahead many times. But this was balanced by the time it took to fire the crossbow and the fact that I had to be able to see him to hit him, which usually meant that he caught up. Eventually we burst out onto the north plains were I had defeated the Golems. Now, I had the advantage, and I knew it. I began using the same tactics that had succeeded against the Golems, with equal results on the Controller. As we traded our attacks, I could see him beginning to falter, and his clothing start to disintegrate. The things I had learned from the sages came back to me. His clothing was powering his magic, and it was running out!

A triumphant grin spread across my scorched lips, cracking them open and letting the blood run down my chin. The Controller was dead. I made that thought a reality with one final bolt that caught him right in the small of his back as he tried to flee for cover. I put my crossbow away for the final time and slowly moved toward his sprawled out body. I turned him over and was surprised to see that look of deep hatred had not eased, even in death. A chill crept up my spine, but I shrugged it off, and began the time-honored tradition of rifling through his pockets and bags looking for goods. As I moved his clothing around, it quickly fell apart into a strange ash-like substance. All the magic he had used had completly drained his clothes of the energy it contained, right down to the mysterious energy that held not only his clothes, but mine, and everything else in existance, together.

This bothered me a great deal, and as I thought about it, my already beaten head began to pound. I realized that perhaps this was not the best time to be thinking of such weighty matters and returned to appropriation of his goods. I did not have to search for much longer before I was rewarded with another arcane gem and a pile of almost 300 shining gold pieces! I cheerfully pocketed this sum, added the gem to my other one, and set off once more for home, this time taking a much wider detour around the area inhabited by the Golems and Controllers. After almost 30 minutes of walking, I came upon a mage who had recently returned to Sosaria after an extended trip to other realms beyond mere mortal comprehension. I explained to him about the Golems, the Controllers, and the strange abilities of the arcane gems. I gave him one to study for himself, and he repaid me with an offer of a gate to any town I wanted to go to! I quickly accpeted his offer, and before you could say “Elf in the woods”, I was stepping out of a glowing blue portal right in front of the Skara Brae Bank. I quickly stashed my hard-won treasures, keeping an eye out for thieves, and then headed to a comfortable inn to sleep off my pain and injuries.

Thus ends the epic telling of my first (and for now, last) encounter with Golems and Controllers. I hope you enjoyed it.

Last modified: March 27, 2011

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