THE FINAL BATTLE
The carnage was immense. The best of men from two kingdoms lay strewn on a battlefield first soaked with blood and gore and now drenched with the thunderous cold rain of a raging storm. Lighting bolts, furious shrieks of light, slashed across the sky in rapid sequence, their gut-wrenching booms as if groans of anger at the illuminated death-ground.
Elegan the Wrathful, of Anthor, rose from his knees, his armor dented so badly he could barely rise, the sluice of near-freezing water slapping his breath away. Swaying from exhaustion, wounds and cold, he looked out across friends and foes, searching for a sign of life. His sword barely gleamed in the flashes of angry lighting, covered in blood so thickly that not even the pounding water could wipe it clean. He could barely see, but in one streak of the heaven's hammer, he saw...someone.
Jal Ka-tul of Lebensac stumbled over a corpse, and then another. His armor was ruined, bashed and now so wet that it could never be fixed. Blood seeped from his wounds, aided by the cold water that kept him from falling inert upon a fellow soldier...or an enemy. His morning star, once a thistle of death, was now an anchor that snagged on armor or roots, its spikes flattened or bent. Jal Ka-tul staggered again, cursing the battle, the storm and--suddenly--he saw the enemy across the field, holding a sword aloft.
Elegan couldn't tell who the enemy was, only that he was big. The lightning flashes blinded him more than they helped, but he could tell where the enemy was and that they were moving towards each other. Nothing else moved, and the stench of death was no a distant memory.
Jal Ka-tul could see that his enemy was one of their elite, for his armor had the markings of nobility. Jal spat in contempt and almost moaned as he felt his jaw shift the wrong way. He paused to look around, careful warrior to the bitter end. Nothing else moved, and the final death was but seconds away.
Elegan and Jal Ka-tul stumbled to within ten feet of each other, wretched remnants of the greatest armies in two kingdoms. Elegan raised his sword, but his battle cry was a choked grunt as he felt the wounds of the day clutching at his body. Jal kept quiet, marshalling his strength, weaving his morning star from side to side in rhythmic anticipation. Seconds passed, the deluge strengthened, lighting scarred the sky and thunder crashed all around.
With guttural grunts, both men lurched forward, Elegan slashing across and Jal smashing his morning star at the other's arm. Before the weapons could clash, lightning slammed into them, sizzling and crackling from one to the other, a skull-shaking thunderous roar slamming them both back and to the ground with the fury of a god denied.
Minutes passed. Then Jal groaned, followed by a coughing spasm from Elegan. They both rolled over, taking several seconds to breathe. Then they began searching for their weapons. Each crazed flash helped them, until they grasped their weapons and slowly, painfully, made their way to their feet.
Thunder boomed again and again as they faced off. Both men looked to the sky, then at each other. With a silent nod, they stepped back and dropped their weapons. Each began the slow, impossible process of removing his armor. The rain and wind became knives on their exposed flesh as piece by piece, ripping crusted wounds and causing new ones, Elegan and Jal Ka-tul stripped themselves of their armor.
Standing in loincloths, bloodied, bruised and shivering weaponless in the screaming rain, they stumbled forward to fight the final battle on the death-ground of two kingdoms.
Hours later, in the morning sun, the winner grabbed his weapon and staggered off with nary a glance at the corpses in his path.