The time was 5 am when all the High-Guards on the Platform with him received a piece of horrifying news.
Seven High-Guards and two Elders died inside the cave when a Spider with six discs came out with a new creature. They did not even get the time to pass the message to Shazan, and they engaged in the heated battle right away.
Shazan clenched his fists tightly, and his heart palpitated in anxiousness.
“I think we should disregard their arrangements now?” Gerald grimly said.
His words contained his fury at the stupidity of the Aryans.
Shazan had warned them, but the elders still had urged on benefitting from the situation. And now they had paid the price with nine lives.
“What were the orders of the King?” Shazan asked the Guard who passed down the news to him.
“He’s putting you in charge of the situation. You will command over the Aryan forces in the battle.” The High-Guard replied without any hesitation.
“I see.” He sighed. “Every one of you must stay here on the Platform to guard it. Do not allow anyone to go down.”
“Yes!” The Guards answered in unison.
“I will be sending some people up here to get some rest. Do not allow them to go back unless ordered.”
There was no way he was going to allow the nuisances to stay on the battlefield to create more problems than there already were. He was going to send them up here to be restrained by these High-Guards.
Shazan nodded to Gerald, and all the Blood Knights assembled behind the two of them.
They descended the stairs at a quick speed, and in a matter of a couple of minutes, they were outside the cave, on the small Platform.
The pale faces of the Guards stationed there were evident to how grave of a setback everyone had suffered. The fear reflecting in their eyes said that they had finally understood the gravity of the situation.
Shazan did not stop there to ask about their well-being. After stationing twelve Blood Knights there, he entered the cave with the rest.
They did not know what they were expecting, but the stench of blood in the air was not strong. It was strange. And what was stranger was that there were no bodies of the dead.
Shazan frowned when he saw piles of clothes against a sidewall. He recognized them as he had seen the people wearing them before. They belong to the deceased.
Even if what had happened could not be blamed on the King, the Aryan King still did not meet his eyes.
“Tell me what happened in detail.” He asked Queen Izna, who looked haggard beyond she had ever been in her life.
He let her take her time to assemble her thoughts, and no one else around them dared to answer the question in her stead. That was because the voice he had used was not gentle. There was suppression in his words that weighed on all their Hearts.
Izna then informed him of what happened here. They had just finished off two small spiders when a Large one came out of the Wall. They tested it to see how many discs it had, and while they were at it, another creature appeared out of the Wall.
It was a Silver Scorpion, bigger than the Spider, and it had a strange ability.
They all found themselves trapped inside an invisible barrier when they tried to send the weak ones out.
The Scorpion attacked them without wasting time, and the Spider worked together with it.
The first to fall was a High-Guard. He was pierced by the telson of the Scorpion, and his life and flesh were sucked. It was as if he never existed, and all that remained of him were his clothes.
They battled the Scorpion using Flood Lights to heir advantage, unlike the Spider, it did not have discs to protect itself, but a complete barrier that would surround it. And so they divided into two Groups with the Elders and the Charm Witches responsible for finishing off the Spider as soon as possible, while the rest kept the Scorpion busy.
All the High-Guards that died were responsible for keeping the Scorpion busy. One of them died saving Vikaros’ life.
The Scorpion proved to be too much for them to handle by themselves, and it rushed in to help the Spider, resulting in the Death of two Elders.
After they took out the Spider, they all surrounded and battled the Scorpion. They discovered that it could create two Barriers. One was a large barrier that stopped enemies from escaping, the one they were trapped in. And a defensive barrier that lasted for thirty seconds and was immune to all their attacks.
After using the defensive barrier once, it needed a minute before using it again.
Once they ascertained it, they used its weakness to light to blind it and attacked it when the barrier was down.
“The Barrier that caged you all inside the cave remained till its death?”
“Yes…” Izna nodded in reply.
“How tough was its body?”
“Not as tough as that of the Spider, but it would still take great strength to harm it.”
“And spoils of war?”
“A few of its stingers,” Izna answered him and looked at the three High-Guards that were holding Curved blades, the size of swords, in their hands. “It could throw them, and one was stuck on the ground and so it broke it off to evade our attack. A new stinger would come out of the telson within a minute.”
“And how weak was it to Light?” Shazan frowned and asked.
“Just as much as the spider. It was forced to close its eyes in bright lights. However, it was better at relying on other senses and was not as hindered by the light as the spider.”
“Is it enough?”
“More than enough.” Queen Izna nodded. “The light is the weakness. Once it closes its eyes, even if it has better senses than the spider, it is still clumsy and full of openings. Once the barrier goes down, it can be injured. The only parts of it that can not be injured are its tail and claws. They are even tougher than the body of the spider.”
Shazan nodded and thought for a while. He turned to look around the people and counted the number of Javelins they had collected. All the remaining 29 Elders, including Armaaz, had a Javelin. And Izna, Vikaros, Caius, and Seven High-Guards had Javelins. And then there were three High-Guards with the Swords from the Scorpion. But the swords were not useful as they had no handles. And that was probably why none of the Elders had asked for them.
“May I?” He smiled at the High-Guard and drew his hand.
After the Guard nodded, he grabbed the sword in his Aura and caught it in his hand.
Gerald touched the blade with the tip of his finger, and it cut through his skin smoothly.
“Sharp…” He commented as he found the cut heal at a slower rate than it should have, but it still disappeared in a few seconds. “But I doubt there are forgers who can make a handle for this blade. It is too tough.”
“Yeah…” Shazan sighed and passed the blade back to the High-Guard. “Be careful if you have to use it.”
The High-Guard nodded to him respectfully and stayed silent.
His head hurt when he saw how mentally tired all the Charm Witches were. They were the most precious force in the battles, and it was clear that they needed some rest for now.
“All of you go down to the Training Ground and get some rest. Report back in 8 hours.” He ordered the Witches.
All the Unit-S members looked at him in surprise. And everyone around them had the same expressions as well. He was sending the best force away to get rest. And all of them at once.
“Lord Silverstein,” One of the women leading the Unit-S stepped forward. “We are physically fit, and after the last battle, our strengths have increased. We don’t need that long to rest. We can battle with you.”
Shazan smiled at her words. She was an Elder as well, but unlike the Aryan Elders, she was more concerned about others than her safety. She understood how important her Unit was to preserve the lives of the people here.
“I don’t like my Soldiers to stand behind me with exhausted minds.” He simply said. “Go and rest. Come back when you are all in your prime. If I find anyone of you not ready for the battle after 8 hours, I will send that person back down to rest more.”
The woman still had a reluctant look on her face. She turned to look at Queen Izna and her King for their opinion, but they both remained silent and only nodded to her.
“Be safe…” She gave in and bowed respectfully before leaving with her Unit.
“All the High-Guards, Escort the King and Akash out of the Cave. And stay with them on the Platform outside.” He gave another command, and then looked at the 43 High-Guards present there. “The High-Guards here will form up with the High-Guards outside.” 66 High-Guards were resting outside. “Every two hours, a team of 20 High-Guards will come and replace the active team. You will rotate in such a manner and get proper rest and sleep. Only one Team outside will stay on Guard, while the other three will get their rest. Got it?”
“What about the High-Guards on the Platform above?” Akash frowned and asked.
“They have been informed of their duty.” Shazan simply said and looked at the King. He walked over to the old man and smiled palely. “Get some rest.” He worriedly said.
The King had red eyes, and even if he had not been as physically involved as the rest, he was mentally tired more than anyone else.
“When you have had your rest, you will be managing communication between the groups, inside and outside.” He did not say the words in order. It was more of a request.
“Alright.” The King sighed and shook his head. He patted his shoulder and then affectionately patted his head. “Be safe..” He said and started walking out of the cave.
The High-Guards all followed him out, leaving behind the Seven Javelins, and soon only the Elders and the Blood Knights remained inside.
Vikaros stood silently behind his mother, and even if he was tired, his clothes torn from place to place, he was brimming with rage and wanted to battle.
Even if Shazan had asked him to leave, he would have refused, and that was why he was not asked.
“Your task is to follow your Queen’s lead. Work together.” He only said those words to Vikaros before turning to look at the Elders.
Amraaz stayed silent and made it clear that he was not going to interfere in whatever Shazan wanted to do with these Elders. He was partly at fault as he had asked to be in command of the Elders, and even he had failed to contain them from their greed.
“I left for four hours, and when I returned, the plans we had settled on were all discarded.” He grimly said. “How does it feel now?” He asked. “Do you feel better at gaining this strength at the cost of two of your brothers’ lives?”
All the Elders frowned at his words and clenched their fists. But they did not say anything.
“I can see that some of you don’t even care what happens to others as long as you can gain strength, and I can see that some of you genuinely regret following your greed. But there is one thing common in all of you now. And that is that you are scared.”
His words were like the words of a Devil. The fears they had all been suppressing inside of them flashed on their faces in an instant. None of them even suspected that it was under the influence of his mental strength. That was how dangerous the powers of a Silverstein were.
“I shall grant your wish to gain strength.” Shazan smiled brightly. “Whatever comes out of the Wall next. Only you will deal with it.” He turned to look at Amraaz. “And he won’t help you.”
Izna frowned at his words, and even Amraaz was worried. But they remained silent.
“Lord Silverstein…” One of the Elders pleadingly looked at him.
“You will do as you have been asked to. It is up to your luck now. Pray that what comes out is alone.” Shazan refused all their pleas.
Amraaz walked out of the Group of Elders and stood by the side of Shazan.
“There are some older than me, and I thought I would be able to suppress them with my strength, but it only fueled their greed for strength.”
Shazan had not asked for explanations. He knew how things would turn out here. And that was why he had left in the first place. What happened was important to get all the forces together and make them realize that things were not in their hands.
The Loss of Seven High-Guards in the fourth Realm was no small loss. And the Two Elders that had died were both in the sixth Realm. The forces lost a chunk of strength that would take a long time to recover.
One of the Blood Knights picked up a Javelin left by the High-Guards and came to stand in front of Shazan to ask for permission to wield it.
“Take it, Ann.” Shazan smiled and shook his head.
The Knight nodded to him and started performing battle stances with the Javelin to get used to its weight and length.
“She hasn’t changed at all…” Shazan chuckled and said to Gerald.
Ann was one of the wives of Gerald, and she was second in command of the Blood Knights. Her duty was everything to her, but her love for new weapons sometimes won over it. She seldom talked with people and remained hidden in the ranks of the Blood Knights. This was a strategy to keep a commander hidden among the ranks of the Knights, and in times of need, it could take the enemies by surprise.
Gerald lazily smiled and shook his head. And then turned to look at Amraaz.
“Your physical strength is greater than what it should be. Is it because of the Beasts you have killed?” He asked curiously.
“Yes…” Amraaz nodded. “I gained vitality and physical strength for every beast that we killed. Some Guards in the Fourth-Realm broke through the Fifth-Realm. Sadly, I don’t see myself breaking through realms.”
They both engaged in a conversation, and then Shazan picked up the remaining Six Javelins and handed them to the suitable Blood-Knights. He kept one for Gerald, but he did not keep any for himself.
Vikaros frowned at that and came forward to hand his Javelin to him, but Shazan shook his head.
“I will take a suitable one for myself. All of these were of weights and lengths that don’t suit my style.”
Every javelin was of different lengths and weights. It was because not all Spiders had been of the same strength. The smaller Spiders shot out lighter, thinner, and shorter Javelins.
“You are being picky in this precarious situation?” Vikaros unexpectedly smiled at his answer.
Shazan shrugged and smiled.
“They need it more than I do.” He replied and then looked right in the eyes of Vikaros. “Do not let your rage make your mother suffer a loss. There is no need to be a hero and sacrifice your life if a situation arrives at that point. Keep yourself alive.”
Vikaros frowned at his words and seemed confused. But Izna understood them and nodded.
“Not every life has the same value…” Izna whispered to her son.
As inappropriate as it would seem, it was the truth. Some lives were more valuable than the rest, and the decisions had to be made in desperate situations.
A living Queen could save more lives than a dead Queen that sacrificed herself to save a few. It was the same for a Prince. The question was not about morality and virtue, but of cost and benefits.
“How’s Maira coping with everything?” Izna asked.
“She’s helping out Rani-Ma for now. And that is all her focus is on.”
Queen nodded to him and frowned.
“How long would the evacuation take?”
She feared now that the battles may not stay in the cave for long. And once the Beasts gain access to Arkaya, it would prove catastrophic.
“We must defend at all costs for 5 fives days. And then we can plan things differently.”
“And Vikranth?” Vikaros asked worriedly.
“Little Prince is fast asleep. Princess Kashish is with him. They are fine.”
They were talking about the course of actions outside when the Wall rippled once more, and a creature stepped out of it.
“All yours…” Shazan palely smiled at the Elders.
It was a spider, and from its size, it seemed to have five or six Discs.
Seeing the Elders hesitate a little, he frowned and clenched his fists.
The grave look in his eyes ended up scaring Elders more than the Beast scared them and they all rushed at it.
Two of the Elders stayed back as they were responsible for managing the Flood Lights. And they did their job better than he had expected them to do.
“The Key was in using the Flood Lights at the right time, or it would not only be a hindrance to the Beast but their forces as well.
The Blood Knights all witnessed the battle with curiosity and learned and assessed the weaknesses of the creature.
The Spider had six discs, and it took the elders nearly an hour to kill it. They would have taken a lot less than that if they were not being as cautious.
Shazan was disappointed at seeing how much they all feared for their lives. It was to a point where he could even consider some High-Guards braver than them.
Perhaps it was their luck that no other Beast came out during their battle. They finished it with light injuries, and without any casualties. It was more than enough. And Shazan marveled at how sneaky these old people were. They even made sure that they were not fully exerting themselves, saving strength to run for their lives.
As disappointed as he was, he did not say anything to them. They completed their trial and managed to succeed without any cost.
The four new Javelins were all handed to the Blood Knights.
“Fall back now,” Shazan said to the Elders. “We will deal with the next Creature, and you will only join in if a second beast comes out.”
None of the Elders showed any dissatisfaction with his arrangement. They all heaved sighs of relief that they won’t be left by themselves again.
“I am nearly at the Seventh Realm…” One of the Elder excitedly told his fellow.
As the Elders conversed with each other, something came out of the Wall again.
It was not a Spider, nor was it a Scorpion.
All of them turned silent at seeing a new enemy. And they all braved themselves for the battle.
♛ Author’s Note:
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