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Chapter 31-A Really Bad DayEdit

Iron Gorge, Halfway Between Omashu And EtakeValeEdit

Graveren shoved a boulder into place, "They'll have to come through here," he muttered, "It's the only ford cavalry like them can make along this entire river." He had been there littering the steep slopes of the valley with traps and boulders for hours. Now as he got the last boulder he could lay hands on into a good position, he sat atop the rock wall he had erected on the north end of the ford and tried to calm himself.

"Bad enough they're sending an army of Mechs, Etake Vale's not equipped to deal with mechs, but now this?" He growled and stood up, "I'll kill 'em all for daring to move on EtakeVale, every stinking one of em!" He growled and stalked among his traps on the northern slope, casting a glance up at the clouds, "Be safe Ia. I'm not gonna lose this fight. You had better be safe when I get there."

He raised his skull like mask from his face and wiped his eyes. He turned and flipped his mask back down as he heard the thunder of approaching cavalry.

Five Minutes LaterEdit

Marrow watched from the sky with cold eyes behind his skull like mask as the White Hunt crashed toward the ford like a white wave. He growled, they had come in force, the entire Hunt looked to be there. Marrow snarled and released his weapons from his armor. They may have only been bone and metal and razor wire, but he knew they would account for more than his fair share of the hundreds of Huntsmen beneath him.

Then he loosed his newest weapons, his spiders. Eight bone and copper wires around a battery, the deadly little things could whirl into a disc or bolt of lightning at a thought from Marrow. They had wreaked havoc on Republic Mechs over the past few weeks, and now he knew they would do the same to the White Hunt.

First thing's first though, he thought. He spread his hands and after a second of focus, unleashed a massive wave of force. As his wave of force crashed into the Hunt below, many horses foundered on suddenly shattered legs and many huntsmen fell from their saddles as their bones shattered at Marrow's command and found them trampled by their brethren.

Then Marrow was upon them. He shot across the front line, his spiders providing a blinding shield that caused many of the horses to rear in fright as the sudden light caught them off guard. Then they fell as Marrow's razor lines cut down dozens of riders and crippled their horses. A wall of bodies was left in the wake of his first strike and many of those unfortunate enough to be directly behind the front runners found themselves thrown from the saddle or crushed as their horses tripped and foundered over the bodies of their fallen friends.

The remaining Huntsmen managed to rein in their horses and stop before they could do anymore damage as Marrow disappeared into the low hanging clouds. Then they all whipped out their bows and took aim at the deadly figure rocketing back down towards them. They released a storm of arrows burning with white flames hot enough to melt any armor. Marrow grinned, Suckers.

Then the empty suit of bone armor the Hunt had fired at fell from the sky just in time to dodge the burning arrow storm as the real Marrow swooped and blindsided them, his razor wires carving yet another massive swath out of the Hunt's ranks and his decoy crashed through them going in the opposite direction, now a storm of spikes flying through their ranks with the force of cannon fire.

Marrow banked and sent his razor wires carving up the left flank of the Hunt, cutting down several more as he returned to hover above the ford. Then suddenly the ranks of the Hunt parted to reveal a man with stark white hair in an equally white suit of armor and cape. "Lord Fang," Marrow muttered, "Never thought he'd come out of the deep mountains." Then suddenly Fang called up to him, "Very impressive Black Lion. I would love to stay and see you fall at the hands of the Hunt, but I'm afraid that as you know we have pressing business in EtakeVale. So we will not be able to stay and watch your magnificent defeat."

Marrow frowned, That can't be good, he thought. So much bravado in a commander that had just lost a third of his force usually meant said commander was either insane or had a really good ace up his sleeve. Marrow had a sinking feeling that in Lord Fang's case it was the latter.

Suddenly a large hairy form grew in the center of the crowd and pushed its way to the front, "A most impressive display Black Lion!" The silver furred wolf man with baleful red eyes thundered, "I was worried that the descendants of my people would be weakened! You shall prove a fine opponent! Our battle shall shake the heavens and echo throughout all of history!"

"You have the advantage of me!" Marrow called back, a bead of sweat rolling down his cheek, "You know me, but who are you?" The immense wolf-man laughed as bone armor not too dissimilar to Marrow's sprang into existence on his form and huge wings of flesh and blood erupted out of his back, "I am Lycaon Stone-Heart The Destroyer! Last Knight of Kimar and Greatest Warrior of the Wolf Clan! Son of Iath the Invincible, Brother of King Kyvon Snow-Heart and Lady Mya Wild-Heart, Husband of Kumiho Silver Fox and Vanquisher of Black Taran the Recluse!"

Marrow sagged internally, "Yeah," he muttered as lightning cracked overhead, "That's what I was afraid of."

Twenty Minutes LaterEdit

Kert Masen, the Faceless One, grinned over his shoulder as the two titans of power fought with everything they had over the gorge behind him. He had lost nearly thirty more Huntsmen to Marrow's traps in the gorge. He had only a hundred or so Huntsmen now, but that would be enough he thought. Suddenly a young huntsman called over his shoulder, "Lord Fang! Come on! If Lycaon loses we need to be as far from here as we can get!" Masen turned to him, "Of course you are right. Let's ride!" He spurred his horse and raced along with the rest of his troops, his ghostly heart pounding with exhilaration at the thought of finally crushing the Empire with the secret kept in the depths of EtakeVale.

Back In The SkyEdit

Graveren swooped as Lycaon lashed out with a burst of fire. Graveren launched his razor wires and managed to cut away the wolf man's wings, but they reattached as quickly as he cut them off and the Kimarehto barely faltered. "You are very fast Black Lion!" Lycaon called. Suddenly Lycaon disappeared, "BUT SO AM I!" and a huge fist punched Graveren between the shoulder blades with such force it knocked him thirty feet straight down.

Graveren righted himself and managed to shoot out of the way as Lycaon came plummeting after him, spewing fire with razor sharp claws and wings spread wide in the form of a wyvern. "I'm having a really bad day!" Graveren called back. Lycaon swooped and roared, "I had a bad day too once!" Then he landed, changed back to his wolf man form in an instant and jumped a hundred feet almost straight up, and delivered a punch that hit with enough force that Marrow's mask shattered, along with his jawbone. Marrow spun head over heels threw the air before righting himself and repairing his jaw.

He dropped just in time to dodge a flying fire spewing Lycaon's claws, "What did you do?" Lycaon laughed with vicious delight and twisted midair, suddenly turning into a winged snake, "I wiped out the offending city and everyone in it!" Then he lunged through the air, fangs bared, sharp, hard as steel and loaded with poison. Graveren punched right down Lycaon's serpentine throat as steel blades popped from the sides of his gauntlets.

Lycaon was cut clean in two as neatly as if he'd been made of parchment. Graveren spun and punched him in the face as the ancient warrior reformed into his wolf man form on the other side of him, completely unfazed by being cut in two. Graveren loaded his second punch with enough force and bone magic that every bone in Lycaon's body shattered and he went flying into the ground below, plowing up a trench in his wake.

Graveren panted, "Wipe 'em all out, that sounds like a good idea. I'll have to try that if I live through this." He caught his breath and groaned as Lycaon got back up, "What does it take to kill this guy?!"

Next Time: Flood and Storm WindsEdit