The Tip.It Times

Issue 26599gp

A Hundred Heavy Hearts - Part 2 (Honorable Mention)

Written by and edited by Arceus

The only noises that we were hearing were our own heavy footfalls. I had never expected to be a war leader, much less a crown prince. All of this made me wonder whether or not fate was truly inescapable. Was it fate that left me in the dark about my own history? Was it fate that let the Shadow take all that it had? Was it the fate of Gielinor to simply fade; to crumble like a dried leaf? Or could we change fate? Could we change our destinies?

As we walked down our narrow path of light, I wondered- did anything that I had done ever matter? I took a quick look back to observe the faces of the army I was leading. No helmet could hide the expressions of fear and anxiety scarred onto their faces. This actually made me feel better, as a true leader always feels compassion for his men.

I continued to ponder my decision to join this army, but somehow, I knew that it was my rightful place. Yet what swayed my hand was a sense of duty. A sense that I had not felt for years. A voice in my conscience that simply said "You must."

I was lost in thought, and had to shake my head once I realized that we had begun to tread upon snow. I simultaneously began to wonder how long we were in the ice fields, and why we did not feel a change in the temperature. The shadow had claimed this territory too, it seemed. All we saw within the darkness was a mere silhouette of what was once Gielinor. Some men had occasionally reported seeing something moving in the dark. While I knew better than to dismiss such things as paranoia, I also knew that not one of us should enter the void.

Besides, we had a mission to accomplish.

While we never increased nor slowed our pace, I felt a new sense of vigor as we began to approach the God Wars Dungeon. I felt pressured, yet at peace, for I had finally learned of my true heritage. My father was the ruler of Varrock. My mother must have been the Queen. And I had come to save the world. All of us had come to save the world. Yet whether we would win or lose, this was the end. This would be our greatest sacrifice.

In about an hour, we had finally reached the entrance to the God Wars Dungeon. Our path of light had encompassed the staircase and stopped abruptly. As we began our descent, I remembered the first time that I had come here. I tried to sell my sword to a spelunking troupe who had heard of the fabulous treasure found here. All that they could find was an early death. Yet I had barely managed to escape with my life. We all descended into the maze of the Dungeon. There was no longer treasure to be found, and the central hall, once an eternal battlefield between the gods, seemed to be completely devoid of life. As the main hall opened up to us, we saw a spiral of light and darkness dancing on the floor, along with the army that had been lying in wait for us.

They appeared humanoid, but their bodies seemed to be completely encased in darkness. Their armor was the polar opposite of our own: black where ours had white, silver where we had gold, and blood red where we had sky blue. The men had all gathered behind me, swords and shields drawn. I drew my own, and turned to face our enemy.

"For Gielinor!" I shouted, raising my shield. "We hold the line!"

The men and I simultaneously raised our shields. The Shadow warriors began to charge. We held our ground as the first blows struck most our shields, but some of them had an unnatural grace; they managed to get a solid blow in. I imagined that these particular opponents had to be the best of the best.

"Don't hold back!" I shouted, but I had no idea to whom. While I secretly wanted this to be the most intense and exciting moment of my life, I did not want to lose this battle. I sliced down at my current foe's shoulder, but metal hit metal, for he blocked the blow with his sword. I stepped back, fighting defensively, as my only hope came with outlasting my foe. I blocked the next incoming swing, and saw the first Shadow Warrior fall. To my regret, I also saw two of my men collapse. Unfortunately, I had no time to grieve. I feinted my next attack, but the foe blocked my stab with his shield. I blocked another attack, and charged into the maze.

It was not a complicated labyrinth, but I knew that my best chance lied in using the environment to my advantage. I encountered a skirmish with no end- a situation similar to the one that I had escaped. I stuck my sword into the back of the attacking Shadow Warrior. I ran past my comrade, and entered the main battlefield from the side. I could not help but notice that not only was the combat beginning to wane, but the side of darkness was sure to win the day. I mustered all of my strength and willpower, and began to strike every foe in the back of the neck with my blade. Honor no longer mattered. The fate of Gielinor was all that I cared about. I charged shield first, always blocking an incoming blow, always being blocked on my counterattack, but most importantly, always providing an opening for the side of light. Yet, while we fought on equal terms, the Shadow Warriors seemed to have superior agility. It took two men simply to fell one warrior.

Blood. Blood was everywhere. The Shadow Warriors seemed to have oil coursing through their veins. Eventually, I had to withdraw into the maze a second time. As I ran through, I encountered another of my men. "Come on," I said. "We have to work together!" I did not legitimately recognize my companion, a fair-haired woman, but we bore the same armor. The two of us ran back to the central battlefield, only to come across a gruesome sight. Bodies upon bodies were piled upon one another. And, standing proudly upon the war zone, were three Shadow Warriors. "Run!" I shouted, as I ran back into the maze.

I had no idea whether or not the blonde woman followed me or not: I simply ran. I tried to take as many turns as I possibly could, in an attempt to lose my attackers. I ran, faster than I thought that I ever could. I made turn after turn, completely unaware as to who my pursuers were. And then I stopped abruptly. I had run into the central area where I had started, and none of the three Shadow warriors had moved from their positions. And then all three of them charged me. I held up my shield. It was all that I could do. The warriors' attacks were blindingly fast, and I was barely capable of blocking their blows.

Then, all of the sudden, a blade struck one of my attackers. The woman had returned. Now, the odds were even, but both attackers turned on my friend. She blocked one blow, but took a blade to the side, and the next attack beheaded her.

Her death was tragic, but she provided the opportunity for me to decapitate one of her murderers. Now, the odds were one on one, in a battle between two powers; the forces of good and evil. I had but one question.

"What are you?"

I never intended to ask this of my opponent. What was most disturbing was his response.

"I am a human. What are you?"

I had no idea what to say, or what to think. His voice sounded like an ordinary whisper. I simply responded with the first thing that came to my mind.

"I... am the crown prince of Varrock. I've been ignored. I've been imprisoned. I've been orphaned. I've been left in the dark."

My opponent did not move. He simply stayed and listened intently, truly curious about me.

"But I became a war leader. I came to save my home. I came to save the world. I now know my heritage! I know of my father!"

The warrior braced his shield.

"My name is Xenra!" I readied my sword and shield. "And I am alive!"

I charged a my opponent sword first, meeting with his shield. He counterattacked, and I blocked with my sword. I attempted to disarm him, but he sidestepped my attack, and thrust the sword into my chest.

The blade felt as cold as ice, and I could feel my warm blood flowing out of my body. But it was not over, for I could still feel. I was still alive. With the last of my strength, I struck my foe across his helmet. I swung again and chopped off his head in a single, swift stroke. His body collapsed, and I stumbled back.

The battle was over. We had won.

I was not long for this world, but I could tell that not one warrior of either side, save for me, was alive. The dungeon had gone completely silent. I crawled over to the head of my final foe, and removed his helmet. I gazed into his eyes, and he did indeed resemble a human, but his flesh was dark and translucent. And then, out of nowhere, the head turned into smoke and disappeared. All that remained was a helmet, but it quickly began to rust and crumble. The rest of the Shadow Warrior's armor began to follow suit. I too was about to die, but as the last man standing, my side had won the war.

I realized that our deaths were not in the hands of the pact, but prophetic. None of us would return from this alive, nor would we be sent to paradise for our deeds. Though I would never see Varrock again, I knew that my parents would be proud of me. I wished the same foe all of the warriors who had sacrificed their lives.

From the Battle for Gielinor, I had come up with a theory as to what the shadow was. I believed it to be a world not unlike our own, perhaps one that did not share our stars. The Shadow itself, I believed, was simply the area that had been captured, and taken from us as per land in a war. But this was on a cosmic scale, with two separate, yet equal worlds to be combined, with one being destroyed in the process. "The rest of Gielinor will be spared". I wondered if that meant that the Shadow would return what it had stolen from us, or if our worlds would be forever merged. I wished that all of the people who had disappeared would return safely.

I propped myself up with my sword, and began to stagger towards the exit, hoping to see the sky for one last time.

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Tags: Fiction Series

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