"And where do you think you're going," came a baritone voice from behind. Caelum turned and then looked up at a giant of a man outfitted in the finest armor possible. He wore the armor of a Warrior. A warrior of the Church.
"Do you dare run from a battle?" the huge warrior said, sneering.
"Garland," Cael said, no friendliness in his tone. "This is not between us."
"Isn't it? You were always Aegis' favorite." Garland stood before the crimson haired soldier, several feet taller than him. The 9 foot man was the epitome of strength and vigor.
"The air of the church affects your thinking, brother. Aegis had no favorites." Caelum knew that better than anyone of just how empty the King's love was. All he wanted from Caelum was a capable killer; a monster he could control.
"Think about it. While I was stuck at the border, he chose you to destroy his enemies." Garland spread his arm wide and implored the skies. Caelum made no effort to hide his contempt. He only arched a brow, wondering where his point was in that statement alone of Aegis' favoritism.
"Not convinced? How about this? While you were dubbed the Knight of the King, I was sent to protect priests." He laughed uproariously. "An honor. Hah! Perhaps he did allow me to lead an army, but he made your name known amongst the people. A fierce warrior. A killer made hero. A demon made Holy!" Garland's accusing voice at the claims aimed at Caelum were unrestrained. The hatred was thick and Caelum shared in the same sentiment towards the man. "But this time, fellow brother of the Church.. This time I will destroy you. Call it my holy task for the church. Soon, I will become the right hand of the King and claim that position for myself!" Garland swung his staff about, the tips glowing with dancing blue magic. Wicked edges along the shaft gleamed in the light as he spun it about easily, spinning it in a circle that came close to Caelum's face.
"You aspire to be a servant of Aegis, yet his servants are coming to an end." Caelum said, circling the immense man. "We'll see about that." Garland snapped.
Caelum drew his blades and squared off against the holy warrior. A spear whirled about, leveled, and drove directly at Caelum's midriff. But Caelum had seen the resolve harden in the man and was already backpedaling. As he deftly avoided the sharp thrust, he swung his swords about and deflected the shaft. Magic collided with magic. His holy twin blades crashed into steel when he struck the shaft of the spear. "The position of Right hand shall be mine!"
"You delude yourself if you think you can defeat me." Caelum said sarcastically.
Garland picked up the pace of the battle, thrusting, blocking, advancing, always pressing Caelum back towards the edge of the coliseum. Caelum allowed Garland to herd him-- for a few more steps. Then his blades crossed into an X. Caelum caught the spear at the vertex and lifted hard. The spear tip pointed skyward, giving Cael a chance to kick out. His food landed on Garland's heavily armored belly. The kick staggered the man. Caelum surved forward, got past the spear, and found he was too close to use his swords.
Caelum began pounding Garland with his fists, opening cuts on his foe's face and stunning him. When he tried to grab Garland's chin and wrench his neck around, he caught a knee in the ground that lifted him off his feet. He fell heavily to his hands and knees.
Garland whirled the spear around but missed, stumbled, and then ran from where Caelum fought to regain his feet.
"Come and fight me, craven!" Cael bellowed.
It was then that Garland tapped his spear to the ground, and a creature made of ice burst from the floor like volcanic islands pushing upward from the sea. But unlike a stolid island, the ice creature showed jagged weapons and moved with stunning speed. Garland tapped his spear on the floor twice more, and Cael faced a trio of the elementals. They roared and charged him, ice-splintery feet clacking against the stone.
And then arrows had come from the sidelines, piercing Caelum's chest and making him stumble back in irritation as he looked up at the archers who now cowardly aided from the sidelines. The temperature on this battlefield dropped as he moved about, dodging to keep himself from getting mauled by the beasts and arrows.
"You are a coward, Garland. You let your minions do your battle!"
All he got in reply was a harsh laugh. Garland had climbed on the balcony overlooking the coliseum and pointed his spear. Caelum somersaulted away from where the lambent energy touched - and a stalagmite thrust up from below. If he had remained in place, he would have been impaled. Caelum dashed about, dodging the arrows and avoiding the sharp upthrusts of ice from the floor as Garland tried to stop him. Caelum shifted his attack to Garland again, throwing shards of his own ice that he cut off, and forcing him to cease the summoning of the stalagmites.
The instant his opponent stopped this assault, Caelum turned to the frozen monsters. Using his swords, he attacked. The first shattered. The second and third thought to encircle him. Caelum was too cagey a fighter for that, battle-hardened and aware of every tactic. He turned and kept one blocking the other's attack. He eventually wore down the first and dispatched it. Then he lowered both swords and thrust with them simultaneously. The final ice creature exploded in shards.
"Garland!" Caelum called to his opponent. "Fight me. You said I was no longer a threat. Do you fear a mortal? Just like a coward." Caelum caught a arrow in mid-air and then threw off the perfect shot. He saw the light glisten on the arrow and then it disappeared into Garland's throat. The giant man grabbed for the deadly shaft, then fell forward. He dangled by a lace tangled around his ankle, feebly struggling. Caelum swung his sword, throwing it at the wall and cut the lace, dropping the man onto his helmet.
"You are pathetic," Caelum said, kicking Garland's helmet until the man tried to move away from the punishment. A final foot to Garland's head slid him across the floor to lie motionless. Caelum stared for a moment at his fallen opponent, feeling nothing but contempt. Caelum seized Garland's left arm and pulled off the armor plating that the man wore upon his body.
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