The Chosen One

Eldor had said he was the Chosen One. Destined to defeat the Sleeping Evil that was corrupting the world. Even now the agents of that evil were searching for him. His village was destroyed, burnt to the ground. The only reason he was alive was because Eldor had found him the night before they came. And now they were running. They had been running for weeks. But now they were surrounded. Eldor, Fraye, Dobbins, and Artur, the Hope of the World.

They had tried to flee into the mountains but they were found and now they were trapped in a box canyon. Eldor had tried to stop them, casting his magic to cause landslides and fireballs but nothing had worked. Now he was exhausted and could barely stand without falling. “My magic has left me,” he said.

Fraye held him up with one arm, his great axe in the other. “We’ll have to fight our way out.” His teeth were clenched and his eyes scanned the ridge above them, looking for an escape.

“There’s too many of them! We’ll never be able to cut our way though,” Dobbins said, launching another arrow at a gnoll on the canyon walls above them.

“We need the power of The One.” All eyes turned toward Eldor. “Artur, you must channel the power within you, use the sacred blade, trust in its power.”

Artur looked like he was going to vomit. He stared at the sword in his hands as if he didn’t know how it had gotten there. It gleamed with an otherworldly beauty but he had never been able to use its power. It felt like so much dead weight in his hands.

There was a triumphant roar behind him. He turned to see the gnoll captain atop its war hog, 20 soldiers surrounding it. In its clawed hands it held a massive curved blade, too large for even Fraye to carry. He couldn’t understand what they said, but Artur knew taunts when he heard them. Their mouths were wide with vicious yellow-toothed grins.

He heard a whoosh as one of Dobbins’ arrows flew past his head and towards the grand gnoll. It swiped the arrow aside with its sword like swatting a mosquito. The laughter of the gnolls turned his insides.

“Reach for the power Artur!” Eldor screamed. “You’re the only one who can use the sword. I believe in you.”

Something in Eldor’s voice steeled Artur’s nerves. His hands gripped the sacred blade tighter and he turned to face down the gnolls, locking eyes with the gnoll captain atop its mount. It raised its massive sword above its head and the soldiers drew their bows.

Artur looked around him. There were gnolls on all sides of the canyon walls above them as well as the main force in front of them. “If you’re going to use that sword, now’s the time,” Fraye said, standing beside him with his axe, ready to fight.

Was it just him or did the sword feel warmer? He had to do this, he was the Chosen One. He couldn’t afford to fail now. With both hands he raised the sword towards the sky. He yelled to words of invocation with a sense of determination he had never felt before. “Power of Ornash I call to you! Fill my sword with power to crush my enemies!” The sun caught the sword and filled the canyon with a brilliant light. Artur charged towards the grand gnoll filled with a new energy.

The gnoll’s sword came down and pointed at Artur. A flight of arrows rose from the gnolls in front of him. He could hear Fraye running behind him. Dobbins’ arrows flew past their heads towards the gnolls as they ran.

This was it. Today he would meet his destiny.

He spun around as an arrow struck his shoulder. All he could focus on was the pain, like a hot knife scraping his bone. His back was to the grand gnoll and he stumbled over a rock, landing on his back. An arrow flew over his head, missing him by inches. Above him he could see the gnoll archers on the walls of the canyon firing down. His ears were ringing and his eyes were blurry. When his head cleared, everything was quiet.

Dozens of eyes stared down on him from the ridge. They were smart and they were savage. They may have had the face of a wild hyena but they were not animals. Artur forced himself up with his one good arm. Fraye lay on the ground in front of him with an arrow through his throat, blood pooling on the ground beneath his neck. Dobbins was on his knees, riddled with arrows in his chest in back, blood dripping from the fletching. His bow lay in his lifeless hand by his side.

How had this happened? They said he was destined to free the world from the Sleeping Evil, that the sacred sword of Ornash would undo the curse on the world. He shuffled forward, in shock, his back still to his enemies. Eldor lay on the ground, an arrow in his chest below his heart. He was still alive but his breath rattled. His eyes were lost, searching for something, but going cloudy. “Why? Why didn’t the power answer your call…” Blood flecked his lips as he talked. “You were supposed to free us, why…?”

Artur didn’t have an answer. His injured arm hung useless by his side, in the other arm his sword slid from his hand and clanged on the ground. “I spoke the words,” he said. “You heard me. I called on Ornash and nothing happened!” His voice grew frantic as he spoke. “You told me I was the chosen one! You took me from my home! I couldn’t even save my family, you said my destiny was more important! You said I had to follow my destiny!” He was shouting and fell to his knees as he finished, sobbing into his elbow.

 He heard a noise behind him. The gnoll captain stood there with its sword in its hand, a sneer on its face. Artur couldn’t fight any more and turned back to Eldor. His eyes were filled with fear.

“I still have a little power left,” Eldor said, an edge of defiance in his voice. He raised a hand towards the gnoll captian and began to speak the words of a spell. His hand had just begun to glow when an arrow whistled down from above, burying itself into Eldor’s eye. His body jerked as it died, the glow from his hands faded.

The gnoll captain laughed and barked something in its language. The soldiers deftly climbed down from the ridge of the canyon and stood in a circle around Artur. Some of the gnolls were licking their lips. Artur wet himself. His knees shook and he felt like he could barely stand. A hand grabbed him by the hair to hold him up and panic took him over. He tried to run but his feet were no longer touching the ground. All he could focus on was the pain in his scalp and the fear in the pit of his stomach.

He closed his eyes to scream but before a sound could come out there was a pain in his throat. The gnoll captain had ripped it out and Artur could feel the hot blood running down his chest. He couldn’t breath, he couldn’t scream, he was too shocked to move. The gnoll captain tossed him to the ground in front of his soldiers. He had time to feel an arm being ripped out of its socket before his consciousness slipped away from him. He wondered how this had happened, he was the Chosen One.