As Coop and Zendra sat on their mounts, encircled by the advancing horde, Zendra looked across at the experienced knight, who studied his opponents, the helm turning slowly from left to right, as their mounts turned slow circles. The scythe in Coop's hand was held loosely and Zendra wondered if he was ever going to ready the black weapon.
"Are you well, Coop? You don't look like you can lift your arm."
"Well enough to give you a run for your money, my friend. I still draw breath, so I feel at an advantage." A screaming visage of Bitey of Brackenwood leapt at him and Coop fended it off with a mere swipe of his left arm, the shield lifting it over the knight's heads and into the crowd on the other side. The snarls of these creatures of shadow and deceit were low and threatening. "Remember, stay close to me and we will hold this line." Zendra nodded, as one of his opponents was brought down with a thrust of his sword. The battle had begun.
Sensing their superiority was in numbers, the masses gathered and surged forward, towards the two valiant knights. Dawn Chaser kicked out, her powerful legs reducing a two combatants behind to ethereal projections, as Coop fought sparingly, his shield absorbing blows and throwing the advancing members of the mob under the hooves of the horses, or under the feet of their comrades.
The cut and thrust of Zendra's sword was ruthless and sometimes wild, while the man he fought back-to-back with conducted himself with much more efficiency. After the first few had merely been parried with his good arm, he brought his right arm to good use and carved a deep slash up through the chest of one advancing aberration. The thing fell back, gurgling and instantly another of its comrades stood in the gap. A kick with his left foot brought the point of his toe into play and another one fell back with a nasty looking shoulder injury.
The creatures were getting restless and the knights continued their futile looking defence, against the swarm. "One swing should be enough to kill one - hit one, then move onto another, Zendra!" As one many-legged thing vaulted the crowd at Coop, he moved the shield aside and met the oncoming jaw with his fist of steel. As the creature fell, unconscious, it managed to push a few of it's fellow combatants into the ground with the weight of it's large frame. Zendra nodded and then began practicing the economical swings, as demonstrated by a master of the craft.
Due to their massive numerical advantage, spammers were beginning to gain the upper hand over their foes. While sporadic fighting had also begun in outlying areas around the combat zone, most of the greedy eyes of the spammers were focussed upon the Knights Moderator fending off their minions in the centre of the melee.
Having brought his right arm into use, Coop felt the burning pain of the wound, like a line of fire along his underarm. Inside his helm, he winced and through gritted teeth drove the blade across the throat of a foe with a raised sword, splattering the nearby combatants with blood and ichor.
The scythe held at arms length, Coop knew that he was vulnerable then. As another large creature vaulted over the mess of bodies and into the knight, Coop was thrown from Dawn Chaser's saddle and he tumbled over across the ground, amongst biting, hacking and clawing beasts of all manner of shapes. Zendra tried to carve a way through the masses, while Dawn Chaser kicked and bucked her way towards her master, but Coop was nowhere to be seen, beneath the clamour of bodies obstructing their view.
As he had fallen, the scythe had tumbled from his hand. Seeking to protect himself, he used the shield to great affect, blocking fists and claws that sought his flesh out. He crawled along on his back, trying to find a spot of daylight that would allow him to stand, where the fiends would face the wrath of Coop, injury or not.
He backed up against something solid, which lowered a massive claw of a hand, gripping Coop around the throat. His free hand scrabbled, desperate to try and find something to use, as he punched his opponent with the shield, though it seemed to make little impact upon the armoured skin of this beast.
The massive hand lifted Coop from his back and hoisted him up in the air, while a second hand ripped off his helm. As Coop rose, his fingers wrapped around a piece of wood, finished with metal fixings. Rising from the floor, he felt the weight of this item was quite substantial. Sagging his left arm, as if defeated, the creature brought him face to face with a gaping maw, outlined in tentacles. At this point, Coop chose to strike, swinging his new found weapon at the creature's face.
The double-headed axe glided through the air, separating a few tentacles from the horrific visage as it entered the flesh. The head struck true and in shock, the beast released Coop, who dropped to the floor, the pain of the mighty swing fading into the heat of the battle, which had overcome him.
Clutching a hand to what was left of it's face, the creature screamed an horrific, guttural whine, that caused rippled of disquiet amongst the ranks of the spammers and their creations. Zendra broke through their massed ranks and slashed his sword across the creature, which stumbled backwards at this, before being hit by a volley of arrows. Coop cast his gaze to where the arrows had come from and saw a group of men standing atop a hill, no more than a hundred yards from where they stood. Nodding his head toward his saviours, Coop swung his axe into the midriff of an approaching skeleton, scattering bone across the landscape and watching as the rout started. Seeing their leader drop to it's knees and keel over was the last straw. The ranks of spammer turned and fled, some of them being cut down by the archers on the hill, others falling prey to Coop and Zendra. Re-mounting, Coop chased down a few stragglers and ended their miserable existences on the hill, before returning his focus to the hill.
"Looks like we got here just in time, Sir Coop." The bowman stood there, clad in leather greaves and leant gently on his bow, while smiling at the two knights, approaching.
"That was time enough, reverend. I still sit here before you, do I not?"
"Aye, that you do. One of these days, you'll be thankful for someone like me showing up, that's for sure." Coop dismounted and shared a left handed shake with the bowman, reverend, as Zendra also dismounted.
"Have you been introduced before? Reverend, this is Sir Zendra, of the Knights Moderator. Zendra, this is reverend, a friend of mine with a sharp eye, from Whereisnia."
"I've heard of you, reverend, though I've never had the pleasure. Well met!" While Zendra and reverend exchanged, Coop noticed an insignia on a gold chain dangling around reverend's neck.
"You never told me that you made commander. We'll see you with your wings yet." Coop clapped reverend on the shoulder and felt the pain returning from his wound. He winced.
"Yeah, I got it a few days ago - there have been plenty of refugees to escort and that has given me a chance to show my quality. Are you alright, Coop? You don't look all that well."
"Nothing that a good meal, a hot bath and a decent bed would not cure." Coop flexed his arm, trying to get the pain to lessen, but it would not.
"There is an inn not too far from here. Is that a new axe? I thought you styled yourself with the black scythe that Prince Wade had given you." Reverend's keen eye rarely missed a trick.
"It fell from my hand on the field and alas, I have not been able to find it since."
"Let us adjourn, then. SERGEANT!" One of the reverend's charges turned about and approached the three men.
"Don't let the men get over eager with the clear up. Have them kept busy for a while, then bring them back to town."
"Sir. Camp on the town's outskirts?"
"Nay. We shall dine at the inn and the men shall all have a decent bed tonight." The sergeant saluted and walked away, addressing the soldiers, as the two knights escorted their mounts toward town, with reverend.
The men under command of reverend returned to the town by nightfall and Coop was especially glad of the respite. Zendra regaled all in the tavern with tales of heroism and battles against the odds, his embellishment passing unnoticed by all but a few. The food was good and the beds were soft, causing Coop to fall into a deep slumber for the first time in weeks. His dreams were strangely memorable this evening, as he lay there in the White Hart Inn.
"Coop. You knock on the doors of our hallowed hall. Once we were mighty - now only a few remain. A great burden is placed upon these few and you must be willing to carry the torch of righteousness, else the doors shall remain sealed." The booming voice coming from the shadows caused Coop to sit bolt upright. He moved to the side of his bed and pilled a dagger from his belt.
"Who are you? What manner of sorcery is this?" He asked, as he stepped around his bed, noting the feel of stone underfoot and no other furniture within the room.
"We are the Guardians of Newgrounds. We watch from the shadows and strike down all that seek to overrun this land. We are the Blammers."
"And you yourself?" Coop took slow, quiet paces into the darkness around the bed, attempting to find the source of the mysterious, but somehow strangely familiar voice.
"I would have thought that you would have recognised me. For one such as yourself, who follows in my footsteps."
"I know your voice, stranger, though I know not your name. Show yourself!" As Coop bellowed the command at the darkness, a corridor lit up away from the bed. Curious stonework greeted Coop as he made his way down this unfamiliar passage. The large double doors at the end of this corridor were ornately carved and bore a motif that was foreign to Coop's eyes. It was a shield, with a lion, striking down what looked like a unicorn. Almost too detailed to be a coat of arms. Convinced that he should enter, Coop placed his hand flat on the door and pushed. When the door did not yield to him, he braced himself and put his back into the shove. Still, the door did not move.
Casting his mind back momentarily, Coop remembered what the voice had told him. "You knock on the doors of out hallowed hall." As he stood before these doors, he raised a bunched fist and brought it down onto the door. His hand caused an echoing thump on the other side and he brought it down twice more to the same effect.
The door opened slowly and deliberately. Coop stepped through, as the voice commanded "Enter, Coop." A vast hall greeted him, the walls disappearing into the darkness. As he walked along, he saw a powerfully built man, sat on what looked like a throne, a fur lined cloak wrapped around his shoulders. Age was starting to take its toll and the older man looked as if he has seen many years of strife judging by the scars on his arms. Coop became aware of the footsteps making a lot of noise as he approached and the man looked up from his musing.
The man on the large chair looked up and stared straight into Coop's eyes. As realisation dawned upon Coop, the man smiled at him and the room fell away from Coop, as the darkness descended.
Suddenly, he found himself wrestling with something warm and soft, which was entangling him. As he freed himself from the terrors of his duvet, Coop sat up in bed, the moonlight glistening off the beads of sweat on his bare, well muscled chest. For the first time since he awoke, Coop noticed the dagger in his hand and moved to the side of the bed, where his belt hung. Replacing the dagger in its sheath, he declared one word.
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