St. Gwydre's Church . Dark Isle Saga
Chapter 1: Grim Hollow
Part 7 . Dark Isle Saga
Chapter 1: Grim Hollow
With the aid of Ella, Taryn and Sarlina had made it to Darkmire Mill where they were introduced to Ella's cousin, Owain. It had now become evident that Haldur's Scroll would have to be destroyed to prevent it falling into the hands of the enemy, a decision shared by all except Sarlina. Blinded by the power of the scroll, she was adamant that it was the key to restoring peace and prosperity to the land. Caught between his childhood friend and his sense of what was right, Taryn was feeling the strain of knowing he must soon make a choice.
Time was growing short, the enemy had been sending out scouting party's across Grim Hollow to track down those with the scroll. Now it seemed they had caught up with them as a small war band had appeared at the foot of the hill where Darkmire Mill lay. Owain and Ella knew they must get Taryn, Sarlina and the scroll to the safety of Artorious' camp which was situated just west of the church. It would be a desperate journey but they had no other choice as the enemy were closer now than ever.
So Taryn and Sarlina, led by Owain, Ella and two of Owain's men, fled the mill and headed west. Owain led them down through deep valleys and secret woodland paths which he knew would mean that the enemy would have to dismount and follow on foot if they wanted to keep up. It was no easy journey, they were all tired and it was already late afternoon but they had to keep going. The enemy was almost upon them now, they could hear them close by, forever on their heels, closing in for the kill.
On they went, through the woods and up a narrow track way. They reached the crest and came out into the clearing, the church lay just ahead and Owain smiled knowing they were so close now. Then an arrow came shooting out from the woods behind them and whistled passed Owain's head. The enemy had caught up with them.
"Run!" shouted Owain, "To the church!"
St. Gwydre's Church: Located west of Grim Hollow. It is said St Gwydre had once been a famous warrior who was invincible in battle and carried a golden sword forged in dragon's fire. In his later years he became a monk and lived out his last days by the shores of lake Caregg. He is credited with having written many accounts of Avalonia's various history, including many famous battles. He is also said to have written a teaching on sword techniques which has become quite sought after but has never been found. The church itself is one of the oldest buildings in Grim Hollow, in these dark times it is now in use more than ever and so appears much better looked after than anywhere else in the village. Built on a commanding site and standing defiant in the face of darkness, St Gwydre's is one of Grim Hollow's greatest landmarks and a beacon for those in need.
The six of them raced across the open plain between the woods and the church with the enemy right behind them. They entered the churchyard and headed for the door at the foot of the tower. Owain slammed his fist against the solid oak door then pushed up against it with all his might but it was to no avail. He looked back to the others with a half smile on his face.
"It seems we're not getting in." he mused, then drew his sword and turned towards the advancing enemy. "No more running!" he smiled.
Ella drew her swords and turned towards Taryn.
"Stay on my right flank, remember Taryn...the're frightened too." Taryn was confused, why would they be frightened? He nodded and then looked at Sarlina who had come to stand beside him..
"Stay close" said Taryn. Sarlina looked angry and shook her head slowly.
"I hope this is all worth it" she hissed quietly.
Owain turned to them all and smiled confidently.
"Stay sharp, kill quickly and keep your shields high!" he shouted.
"Some of us don't need shields" grinned Ella as she twirled her two swords.
They stood and watched as the enemy approached.
The enemy approached slowly from the side of the church. Their armor was coated with a black pitch which gave them a dark sinister appearance and their weapons were the same. They carried no banner but they seemed to be led by a tall equally dark warrior who wore an impressive coat of armor. It was a small war band but large enough to overwhelm them and Taryn felt a strong urge to turn an flee as he watched them slowly approach. He told him self he must stand his ground and fight like a man, but oh how he did want to turn and run. All of a sudden the enemy charged, there would be no running now!
Owain and Ella hit the charge head on, cutting to and fro while Taryn and Owain's men followed behind.
Owain was cutting deep into the enemy ranks, fighting like a fiend, swiftly killing and enjoying every minute of it. Ella leapt towards the enemy and brought her sword down like a hammer that slammed into the shield of an enemy warrior as he desperately tried to parry her blow. Within a flash she brought her other sword up and cut straight into his unprotected chest, the sweet spot, just below his breastplate. The enemy warrior grimaced and screamed in pain as she pulled her sword out, ripping flesh as it went and sending a spray of bloody droplets flying back off her sword. Then she was onto the next, using both her swords with a deadly skill, mercilessly killing, doing what had to be done. In the heat of battle, there's no time to pause for thought, no time to negotiate, its kill or be killed. A gruesome business.
Taryn did as Ella said, he stayed close protecting her right side, fending off the enemy as they rained down blow after blow, trying to get behind them. Sarlina was fighting along side one of Owain's men who was shielding her but he was soon overwhelmed and took a spear in the neck. His killer stepped over the body and headed towards Sarlina who waved her sword wildly at him. Taryn rushed to her aid and swung his sword towards her attacker who managed to deflect Taryn's sword and turn to face him. Taryn stared at the enemy warrior and it was then he finally realized what Ella meant. The enemy soldier was only a young lad, perhaps even younger than Taryn was and he had a look of shock and horror in his eyes. Taryn noticed how the warrior nervously gripped and re-gripped his sword handle, he was as frightened as Taryn was. The warrior lunged and Taryn parried with his shield, sending the enemy's sword past his head while at the same time bringing his own sword up to meet the enemy's stomach. A look of unspeakable horror crossed the young warriors face. The wound was a particularly nasty one, as Taryn's blade had cut straight up through his body. With all his might Taryn pulled the blade from the enemy's body, fighting against the suction until it was free. The warrior sunk down to the floor clasping his belly, preventing his intestines from spilling to the ground. Tears of pain welled in his eyes and Taryn felt a pang of sorrow. He stared into the eyes of the dying suffering warrior and held his sword point over his neck. The young warrior nodded and Taryn stabbed down hard unleashing a well of blood and killing him instantly. For a moment, Taryn's head was clouded with confusion and guilt but within seconds he was being attacked again.
More enemy soldiers came rushing towards Taryn and Sarlina, swinging their sword's in deadly arcs toward's the pair. Taryn could see Owain was furiously cutting his way through to where the dark knight waited, while Ella was desperately fighting off two battle scared warriors. Owain's other spear man had been killed. Taryn didn't see it happen, only the body lying lifeless on the ground with a spear sticking from his chest. Just then, a great brute of a man leapt at Taryn, swinging his axe down in a crushing blow that splintered his shield and sent Taryn flying back. Taryn just had time to see Sarlina being knocked to the floor by another warrior but then he had to roll out of the way as the great brute swung his axe down on him again.
Taryn got to his feet and swung round to face the enemy warrior. Taryn now had no shield and knew his sword alone could not parry the crushing weight of the warrior's axe. The warrior swung his axe in a wide curve hoping to split open Taryn's belly but Taryn jumped back and wildly swung his sword back at the warrior just missing his neck. The warrior laughed and kept swinging at Taryn who did his best to dodge the attacks, all the while watching every move and waiting for his opening to strike. Then, he got it.
The big warrior was getting frustrated and swung his axe hard towards Taryn. Taryn stepped aside and the axe dug into the ground, that was all the opening Taryn needed. He put his foot on the axe and swung his sword hard and fast across the warrior's neck, half severing his head in the process. The big warrior was dead before he hit the ground, a look of disbelief upon his face. Taryn turned to look where Sarlina had fell but she was nowhere to be seen. He scanned the carnage with his eyes but there was no Sarlina. A look of painful concern crossed Taryn's face but he shook himself and ran to help Ella. The battle was not over.
Ella was covered in blood, none of it her own and she fought like a mad thing. Ella had been trained by the best and to underestimate her because of her sex was the biggest mistake any adversary could make. She made light work of the enemy who were mainly youths probably fighting their first battle. There seemed only a few battle hardened warriors and Taryn had already bested one of them. Ella danced around her attackers, avoiding their strikes and inflicting her own at every opportunity. She kicked a fallen shield up into the face of one warrior, then threw one of her swords which pierced straight into his chest, ending his life. Ducking out of the way of another warriors attack, she then spun her remaining sword fast and low across the ground and into the attacker's ankles, who collapsed on the ground. She pulled her other sword from the dead warrior's chest and stood with both swords ready to strike above the other enemy's chest.
Ella stabbed both swords down hard sending a spurt of blood up into her face. Taryn came and stood beside her. She had a cold hard look on her face, the look of a killer. She turned and looked at Taryn, a warm smile replacing the serious look.
"You're o.k." she sighed with relief. Taryn nodded and smiled back, then they both turned to look as Owain finally reached the dark knight.
Owain and the Knight weighed each other up, each waiting for the other to attack.
The Black Knight shouted and attacked, Owain met him head on and their two swords gave a dull clang as they locked together. Both men locked swords and heaved against each other trying to knock the other off balance but to no avail. The Knight nodded at Owain in a gesture that they should both step back and Owain agreed. Ella and Taryn looked on, as once again both men eyed each other up looking for an opening. Owain attacked first this time, unleashing a flurry of deadly cuts and lunges that drove the Knight back. The Knight could only parry as best he could as Owain rained down blow after blow. Not many men could have withstood that assault but somehow the Black Knight did and Owain just could not get past his guard. Owain pulled off and stepped back, he glared at the Knight who stood motionless and unfazed.
Owain threw down his shield, shouted and rushed at the Knight. He made to attack the Knight's left flank but switched his sword hand at the last minute and dived to the right. The swift and skillful maneuver should have seen Owain's sword cutting deep into the Knight's right side. It did not.
For somehow, the Knight had read the move and sidestepped out of the way leaving Owain off balance and the Knight able to back stab his sword, knocking Owain down.
Owain scrambled back towards his fallen sword but the Knight was on him with his sword pointed down at his neck. Owain lifted his visor and spat towards the Knight who just laughed. Ella and Taryn rushed with swords drawn to help Owain but the Knight waved them back.
"One more step and he dies." hissed the Knight. Ella and Taryn stopped and glared at the dark figure. "Yes I thought so, how very smart of you." The Knight laughed and turned back to Owain.
"The Scroll?" asked the Knight.
"What scroll?" Owain spat.
"Haldur's scroll, that thing you have been trying to protect all this time! Give it to me!" shrieked the Knight.
"That old thing" scoffed Owain. "What do you think I've been wiping my arse on all this time! It's hard to find decent toilet paper on the road you know!" he laughed and spat again towards the Knight.
The Knight shook his head. "Amusing. So be it, no one will remember you're death." hissed the Knight and moved to kill Owain.
Then a loud horn sounded, a war horn. The knight looked up as a large army was gathering in the distance. Owain knew that horn, he knew who it was and smiled up at the Knight.
The Black Knight cursed to himself as he watched the large army make their way towards the church. He removed his sword from Owain's neck, stepped back then laughed.
"Another time!" he said pointing his sword at the three of them. "This is just the beginning and I will have your blood on my sword!" He turned and fled cross the churchyard to where a horse was waiting.
Taryn watched as he rode off into the valley.
"Shouldn't we go after him?" Taryn asked.
Owain shook his head. "Like he said, there will be another time."
Owain went and put his arm around his sister as Taryn went over to where he had seen Sarlina fall. He looked around the bodies for any sign, nothing. What had happened? He suddenly noticed Sarlina's sword lying on the ground covered in blood. It had been her father's sword and she would never have left it. Taryn could only think the worst as he bent down to retrieve the sword. He picked up the sword and wiped the blood with his sleeve, vowing to avenge her life if it had been taken but but deep down he hoped that there was still a chance she was alive.
Owain and Ella came and stood by him.
"Sarlina is gone?" Ella asked. "What happened?"
"I saw her fall" replied Taryn. "I couldn't get there in time."
"There's no body." Ella insisted. "Which means she could still be alive."
"There's bigger problems then that." said Owain. "Where ever she is, she still has the scroll."
"I fear that Black Knight was right, this is just the beginning."
And so the three battle weary warrior's slowly around to the front of the church, hungry and thirsty they waited as Artorious and his army came to greet them. They were alive and they were safe but at what cost. Sarlina had vanished and with her the scroll. The path ahead was full of uncertainty and the encroaching darkness was suffocating. This was indeed just the beginning.
As the sun fades this night, the screams of those slain in battle echo across the churchyard and on through eternity. Only one figure dares to tread the blood soaked ground on this cold night, he comes to collect his victims...
To be continued...