The Sword of Hegemony/FONT>

By Alan Fleming

Chapter 1: Stone Over Iron

     Link stared out the window of the inn's room, the city was stationary in the late night. The moon sat high above the horizon awaiting the coming morn. The impressive castle loomed over the vast city. Tall spires reached ever upwards toward the stars from the castles center. The huge edifice laid unlit under the ebony sky.

     The silence broke as two men emerged from the darkness shouting about a coming assault. The city turned into a mass of confused souls preparing for the inevitable battle.

     Link heard a knock on the door to the room. Link opened the door to see the innkeeper standing at the door.

     "Would you be willing to fight with us, sir. We need as many able fighters as we can get." The Innkeeper seemed to be bewildered by the attack.

     "Yes....I will fight but who has attacked?" Link inquired because he knew of no country close enough or big enough that was bold enough to attack this magnificent city.

     "I am not really sure, but we have been attacked. You must hurry to the main gate." The innkeeper was getting impatient with Link and he headed off toward another room to recruit another soldier for the upcoming battle. Link dressed and headed out toward the castle's walls.

     Link walked up toward the walls of the city as the soldiers were being released onto the battle field. Link was given a crude bow and was positioned on top of the city's huge walls. Men and women equipped with bows sat along the castle walls waiting for the enemy to come in range.

     Link looked at the large slow moving mass of creatures approaching the city. The creatures were about twice the size of the average person. They were large human shaped beasts made entirely of rock. Their bodies were impenetrable shields of solid stone.

     Some of the archers drew back their bows and shot their arrows. Each arrow that hit one of the monstrous beasts fell to the ground without leaving a scratch. As the long row of archers prepared for another shot Link retreated to the bottom of the wall to join the foot soldiers.

     Link found himself standing next to two heavily armed soldiers, each carrying a broad sword and a shield as tall as Link himself. They stood about half of an arm length taller than Link and were waiting for the battle to begin.

     Link drew his sword out of its sheath and sat waiting for the battle to begin. One of the soldiers walked over to one of the men and retrieved a small iron shield, he walked back and handed the triangular shaped piece of iron to Link, without a word. The shield was heavy in Link's arms, but Link soon became used to its weight.

     The first sound of steel clashing with stone shattered the silence and all of the warriors rushed forward and into battle. Link met up with one of the fitful beasts. It glared at Link, its eyes chiseled out of its massive face.

     The beast approached and swung one of its huge fists at Link. Link dodged the swing but then was knocked to the ground. The creature approached Link and with its massive hands reached forth to grab Link. Link swung his sword which hit an arm of stone giant. The giant recoiled backwards, and one of its hands fell to ground. A huge sword slammed into the back of the beast, its blade protruded through the chest of the stone creature.

     The knight who killed the beast was one of those he had met earlier. The knight pulled the broad sword out of the back of the beast and walked over to Link. "Are you alright", Said a woman's voice. Link looked around to see who was speaking and realized it was the knight.

     "I'm fine." Link spoke still confused by the situation. Link surveyed the landscape and found that the battle was raging on around him. The huge beasts were covered with blood that wasn't their own. They all moved like gears in a machine bent on killing. He saw people being crushed by the giant hands of the stone giants.

     "Come on, we must retreat back into the castle." She spoke but Link didn't hear what she said. As she walked away Link followed and saw the beasts throwing rocks at the walls of the city. "The townspeople have been evacuated, there isn't much we can do here either. We will leave as soon as the soldiers are gathered." The words of retreat had never been welcomed by Link until now.

     The beasts were now through the gates and were now attacking the houses. The inn where Link was staying was no longer there now; only a smoldering pile of wood and stone remained. Link looked back to see that all of the of the battle had only killed several of the stone beasts out of over two score that had attacked. The human army was massacred; only about a thousand of the ten thousand that had began the fight remained alive, only half that number would ever fight again.

Chapter 2: The Pool of Elsewhere

    Link was sitting at a campfire in the crude camp the escaped soldiers had constructed. The commander sat across from Link. The commander, whose name Link learned was Ledwin, sat staring at the fire reflecting of the previous day's battle. Next to him sat Chandra, the knight who had saved his life. She was poking at the fire with her broad sword, its blade blackened with soot.

     "Where are we headed?" Link asked to anyone who could give him an answer.

     "To the north, there is a mountain city there." The commander responded, his eyes staring off into the darkness.

     "They may have been attacked already." Chandra said grimly

     "How long will it take to reach the castle?" Link asked looking back at the castle that was destroyed the day before. It was only a smoldering glow that sat upon the horizon.

     "About three days, maybe less if the weather is good. We will be getting up early tomorrow, you should probably try and get some sleep." Ledwin responded and then got up and retreated to his tent. Chandra did the same, leaving Link to sitting alone in the darkness.

     Link sat staring into the coals that lighted his body in a crimson glow. For hours Link watched as the coals slowly winked out, one by one as the night dragged on. The sky began to lighten but Link found that he was not tired, his mind still pondered the previous day and the battle that had taken place.

     The commander came out of his tent, fully armed with a long ebony sword , a slender rust colored shield, and a long chain shirt. Ledwin stood out among the poorly equipped men who wore only what they could salvage before the retreat. The soldiers quickly began to disassemble the camp as he ordered them too. Chandra emerged from her tent in a less impressive garb, she wore a thick leather shirt, a crudely made wooden shield, and the broad sword which seemed to always be at her side. They waited until the camp was disassembled and then set off toward the mountain.

     After two days of walking they were beginning their ascension of the mountain. It sloped gently upward and they would have to rest once again before reaching the mountain city called Yellow Peak, due to the vast amount of gold in the mountain and its location. Link was walking along side Chandra when he spotted a cave in the side of the mountain.

     Link and Chandra returned to the cave as the rest were setting up camp. Link lit a lantern Chandra had brought along. The cave was wet inside, it had walls made of rich iron ore which gave the cave an eerie red glow. Inside link came upon a pool of dark blue water. The surface swirled like a whirlpool but without any determinable reason. Link and Chandra peered inside the pool, something inside glittered.

     A long ivory white sword lay inside the pool of water. Link reached into the icy blue swirling cobalt waters. The icy liquid sent a chill up his arm, his body shook as his hand reached further into the pool.

     Link grabbed the hilt of the blade and he felt a shock tear through his body. The sword pulled his helpless body into the frigid waters. Link tried to scream but was no longer anywhere near the cave. He didn't know where he had gone, but where ever it was it was far, far away.

Chapter 3: The Lord of the Firery Mountain

    Link stood up, his eyes scanned the room in which he stood. It was a large room with a tall wooden door at one end. The door had elaborate images engraved onto its surface.

     Link approached the door and pushed it open to reveal a large throne room. A man sat on a gold throne that was covered with jewels and designs. He stood and walked over toward where Link stood.

     "I am Cephas, Lord of the Fiery Mountain." The man said in a booming voice. Link had once heard of such a place, it was supposed to be the home of one of the world's Incessant Martyrs. They were supposed to be warriors who had immortality bestowed on them for the great deeds toward society.

     "What am I doing here?" Link asked confused by the situation he found himself in.

     "You went in search of the Sword of Hegemony, you must pass the test if you wish to receive the honor this sword carries with it." The warrior looked over toward his throne, aside it the pearl-white blade was stuck into the stone floor. The blade was the same as the one he had reached into the pond to retrieve. The Lord looked back at Link expectantly, after Link gave no response he spoke again. "Are you ready?" He asked, but Link did not wait for an answer as he lifted his hand to signify the beginning of the test.

     The right wall of the room began to crack, huge fissures appeared on its surface and as the wall fell a huge beast emerged. The creature was about five times Link's height, it had a massive black scaled body and a large neck and serpent head. The beast seemed to be a huge lizard, the only color that betrayed its sable image was its golden eyes which gleamed in the fire lit room.

     Link pulled forth his sword and prepared to fight the ebony reptile. It struck its massive head at Link. Link was knocked several yards backwards by the force of the blow. He stood up and looked up at the huge beast, it was swinging its head back and forth. Its head looked like a immense pendulum as it swung from side to side, taunting Link.

     The beast launched another attack against Link, but Link was ready as he stabbed his sword into the skull of the huge beast. The creature recoiled its head in pain but the beast continued its assault. The beast slammed its head at Link again, its knife-like teeth flashed only several feet from his face. Link swung the blade of his sword down upon the beasts skull. The edge of the sword cut through the skin of the grand reptile's head, a scarlet liquid spewed forth from its forehead. The large lizard pulled away his head in pain but the skull of the huge beast slammed into the ceiling.

     The beast shrieked in pain, its eyes turned black and the beast convulsed one final time and went crashing to the ground. The beast laid dead on the floor of the great hall, the Lord sat in his throne staring at Link in amazement.

     The man pulled the blade out of the stone floor and walked up to Link. Link grabbed the hilt of the blade in his hand.

     Link grasped for a breath in the icy waters, Chandra grasped the back of his neck and pulled him out of the pool. "Are you alright?" Chandra asked.

     Link looked around, in his hand he held the Sword of Hegemony, it was a pure white sword with a long blade. One of its sides was serrated and the other smooth and finely sharpened, the blade didn't have a scratch or flaw on it. "I'm fine," Link answered, though he wasn't sure that was the truth. Link took a long look at the beautiful blade. On its handle the words "Sword of Hegemony" was engraved.

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