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Read Chapter II

As the agnons appeared in the sky, the thought that most concerned him was the altitude at which they were flying. “At this height, our arrows just maybe able to hit them but I don’t think it’d be able to pierce through them. At least, that would be enough to get their attention. And when they come lower, we’ll get them,” the Captain thought.

On the other hand, an archer waited in anticipation for the agnons to come inside his range. His bow stretched, sweat dripping from his brows. The closest archer to him, just a few trees to the right, was Elmar. As soon as the first agnon entered his range, he shouted out “Elmar, the agnons have entered our range. Shoot! Now!” He released the bowstring letting the arrow fly towards the dragon.

Elmar, however, had other problems to deal with, as it seemed. “Darn, why isn’t it stopping? It stops all the other times very quickly! I should’ve put this ring on after knowing the details!” His right hand, where he wore the ring, was already covered by a red glow. He could no longer see his nails anymore. “Oh, for God’s sake! I have to act now, be it revealed or not! Maybe it’s a blessing that it’s happening now. I can take down those agnons easily!”

The first arrow to hit an agnon, brought an angry cry from it and it dived down to find it’s predator. Just then, a few more arrows from the surrounding trees flew towards it and it fell to the ground.

Elmar fixed an arrow to the bow and stretched it, picking up another one of the nine agnons as target, which was behind the one that just fell. They still were pretty high up and the fact that one of their companion was down, didn’t seem to affect them. “Alright, you ring! Time to put you to test one more time.” He released the arrow. He could hardly see his arrow flying towards the agnon. “That had to be at least fifteen times faster than an average arrow!” He saw the agnon suddenly jerk hard and for a few second it flapped its wing frantically as if it were intoxicated. After a while, it crashed into the ground some five hundred feet away from where he was. “Whoa!” was all he could say.

“Oh my gosh! What was that?” Someone in the rear middle lines cried out loud. A few others, including the Captain, saw it too. Nick was there, somewhere along the middle lines. “Why do I have a feeling that that was Elmar’s doing,” thought Nick. All of them were quite astonished at the sight but they could dwell over it for only a little while. Because, even if getting the attention of these agnons were quite a pain in the butt, that little crash did the trick. All the agnons were now diving down to see who or what had caused it.

All the soldiers started to fix their arrows on the bows hastily and started shooting those agnons. Elmar fixed his arrows on the bow too. His hand was now glowing even brighter. “Yup! For now, it is a good omen. You ring, have caused me quite a bit of trouble. I hope you make up to it, and I know you will, judging from the power you just showed me. You’ll help me kill most of these agnons and the monsters to follow!” he said. He shot his arrow at another one of the agnons.  As soon as it hit it, the agnon was thrust higher into the air as if it was hit by a massive catapult stone. The agnon fell somewhere nearby. Elmar could feel the adrenaline rushing through his veins, as he saw that.

Not only just Elmar, it affected the other people who saw the scene of the agnon crashing. They could see it was hit by an arrow but could not see who shot it. “Where are these extremely powerful arrows coming from?” someone in the middle formation asked. “I think they’re from the front line.” “I don’t know what is happening, but whatever is happening is good!” Three of the ten agnons down and zero casualties. The morale of the whole army there was soaring high above the clouds that afternoon.

Even though the arrows weren’t raining on those flying creatures, there were arrows coming from all side. More than half the agnons have already taken at least one arrow. But they wouldn’t weaken from just one. One of the agnons above the middle lines opened its mouth and spit a rock. As soon as it hit the ground the rock became aflame and rolled around destroying some trees before coming to a halt. That was the most dangerous thing about agnons, their burning rock spit. Thankfully, none of those trees had any of the archers.

Two more agnons spit burning rocks, one of them hit the rear part of their formation. This time they were not so lucky. A few of the trees broke down and at least two archers fell to the ground. One of them merely scraped his knee. But the other one couldn’t feel anything in his arm for a while. Then suddenly an excruciating pain hit his arm like an electric shock. He screamed out loud. “God, hope he’ll be alright!” a nearby soldier prayed.

Meanwhile, another burning rock hit somewhere near Elmar’s tree. Elmar’s tree was spared but one of the trees housing another archer fell. “Oh God! Hey, you alright?” Elmar called out. “Oh God, my chest! I think I broke a rib, man!” Elmar couldn’t abandon his position now. No one could, actually. In a ‘real’ war you could get the wounded out of the way by covering for him but in this situation, when the agnons were directly above the head and with only a handful of soldiers do defend against them, leaving your position even for getting the wounded out could be fatal, for both the one who is evacuating and the evacuee alike.

The agnon, who spit a rock at his wounded fellow archer’s tree, started to loom closer to Elmar’s tree. He took out an arrow from his quiver and fixed it to his bow as fast as possible. As he was aiming, he saw the agnon getting ready for another burning rock spit. But Elmar was first. His arrow flung towards it and it fell thrashing somewhere nearby, knocking down a few trees.

And so, four agnons fell and it became harder and harder for the archers to become demoralized, even with all those burning rocks. But after a while, it seemed that morale alone wouldn’t be enough for them to hold their positions. Because, with a few more spits of burning rocks, the trees at the center of the formation started catching fire. “Leave the trees! Start spreading out in the woods! Find another tree. Go! Go!” Even without Nick shouting these instructions, the archers were aware of what to do.

One of the archers caught fire on his back and started jumping around and shouted frantically. Another fellow archer, seeing that went towards him and slapped his behind to put the fire out. “Oh God, it stopped! Come on, let’s get out of here.” He walked him out of there.

But somewhere, on the further east of their formation, another archer did not have as much luck. He was falling back from his position to find another tree to get on. Fire around that tree was getting more and more intense. Two more soldiers were accompanying him. Seeing a shadow underneath their feet, a soldier looked at the sky behind them. “Watch out!” he shouted and pulled one of the soldiers along with himself leftwards while the other soldier jumped right, as the agnon spit a burning rock upon them.

As one of the archers looked to the right to see if he was okay or not, he was seized with alarm. The soldier, who jumped right, was on fire and he was separated from the other two archers by a screen of fire which was slowly spreading. “Hey, we got to get to him!” the other archer said as he began rushing towards the burning soldier. But as he approached the fire, the other archer tried to hold him back “don’t go near the fire! You’ll get yourself burned.” “But he’s on fire, for God’s sake! We have to pull him out of there!” “Agnon!” the archer shouted and indeed the agnon was looming immediately over them just above the trees.

They started fixing their arrows on the bows and shot a few arrows towards the agnon. Lucky for them, the four-five arrows the two of them shot together did the job and the agnon was falling somewhere nearby. “Eat that! You scoundrel!” one of the archers said. But immediately afterwards, their joy was overtaken by panic again as they turned their attention to the burning soldier. He was completely surrounded by fire and down on the ground, perhaps due to suffocation.

Again, the archer, who tried to reach him previously, made an effort to go towards him again but the intensity of the fire was way too much. “Come on, let’s get out of here.” “But………” “There’s nothing we can do about him right now. You’ve seen how hot fire there is! Now, let’s go!” He complied but kept staring back in disbelief and disappointment.

Elsewhere, Elmar himself took down two more agnons. A small fire was there in the front line, but the archers still held their positions. And somewhere in the rear lines another agnon fell. Seeing the fire slowly building up and the force of ten agnons were down to only two, Elmar saw his chance and pulled his nearby wounded soldier out of there, and climbed onto the tree with him, with the weight being no problem at all. “Thanks a lot, Elmar! By the way, why’s your hand so red! It seems like red hot iron!” “Long story,” Elmar said with sigh. He had been bracing himself for a while that everyone will know about this. So, it did not come in any shock at all. “I’ll tell you all about it later.”

Much to everyone’s relief, the agnons decided to flee from here northeastward, an action the monsters less often choose to do. More often than not, the monsters were very persistent and they would not back down until each and every one of them were dead.

Now that the monsters left, all the soldiers were moving to the rendezvous point they previously agreed to. “Come on,” Nick said as he helped put a fellow wounded soldier’s arm around his neck and helped him walk.

The scene was common all throughout the soldiers. Elmar actually decided to carry his injured fellow soldiers on his back rather than just supporting him on his shoulder. “Hey man! You better be careful about this. I’m actually pretty heavy and you may end up with a broken hip by the time we get to the rendezvous point!” the soldier with the broken rib said. “Don’t worry about it.” Elmar said. “You got a broken rib. You deserve some rest. And for some reason, you don’t actually feel so heavy.” “Hey! Just what are you getting at? Do you mean to say I don’t have enough muscle in my body?” he said in a mock-angered tone but then went quiet abruptly. After some moments of thinking, he said again “Wait, does this have to do anything to do with the red glow in your hands? Oh and it’s not glowing anymore!” “You’re pretty sharp, aren’t you?” “Oh, you thought I was thick-headed?” he joked again.

“Oh, look,” Elmar said ignoring the mock-accusation the man on his back put him. “We’re here, the rendezvous point. I can see it, just a few more yards away.” As they approached near it, they saw many other soldiers coming towards the place. Many wounded were already being treated.

“Oh, you guys just arrived here? Whoa! Elmar, that’s some show of strength!” Nick said to Elmar as he approached the place. “Yeah, thanks, I guess!” “Anyway, go put him down over there where they are,” he pointed in the direction where some more wounded people were laying down and some other soldiers and volunteers were tending to them.

As he made his way to where the Captain was hastily giving some orders, he declared “Sir, I have come back with another wounded soldier. He is with the other wounded, sir.” He turned his head to him and said “oh, is that so? Well, how bad is his injury?” “I think he broke a rib, sir.” “Oh, too bad. Hope he’ll be okay.” He turned to another soldier beside him and said “how many are here now?” “Sir, forty seven have reported in so far. We still have three more people to report in.” “Make that one. I think that’s two more soldiers coming.” And indeed, two more soldiers were coming.

“Sir, we are reporting in,” they said as they came to the Captain. “Alright, that’s forty nine. Alright, we need one more soldier to report in. You guys know about any other soldiers who’s missing?” One of the archers looked like he was about to open his mouth for speaking but stopped short. He started shivering. The Captain gave him a questioning look. The other archer with him said “sir, we do know about another archer, sir. He is dead.” “Dead, huh? How’d he die?” “Well sir, he was burned by a burning rock spit. He was surrounded by fire, sir. Couldn’t recover his body.” The Captain’s face assumed a thoughtful look as he said “then that’s two dead in this skirmish and seven wounded. Quite a success! I say, unexpected, isn’t it, Elmar?” The Captain seemed to insinuate something.

“Yes sir. That was my thought,” Elmar said in a matter-of-fact manner. “And who do we owe this unexpected success to?” Elmar remained silent. He wasn’t sure whether he should reveal the cause of the extremely high velocity arrows. “Sir, I think it was Elmar from where the glow was coming from, wasn’t it? And I’m pretty sure that’s where the powerful arrows were coming from,” a soldier said. Elmar looked at him. He looked unsuspecting. Elmar still wasn’t sure what to say.

“Well,” the Captain spoke. “It didn’t look like it came from Elmar, it indeed was Elmar. Wasn’t it?” He looked at Elmar expectantly. Elmar gulped and thought that there was no use hiding it anymore. He said out aloud “yes sir. It was me who shot those arrows.” Some soldiers around him in that room looked at him with awe.