Chapter II fired off several blasts of fire at the enemy soldiers. I aimed to hit instead of scare, but if they chose to run away that was fine, too, because I didn’t think that my small army of soldiers would be able to keep them at bay for much longer.I dove behind a large rock to avoid an oncoming water blast, which created an earsplitting explosion when it collided with the rock behind me. I winced at the sound as cold water splashed onto my armor. A moment later, a big soldier ducked next to me behind the boulder.Looking to my right, I recognized the soldier as Malum, one of the troops under my command. His armor was covered in snow splotches, he looked like he’d just been wrestling a Snaj, his sword was broken . . . and he seemed to be enjoying every minute of it. That didn’t surprise me, because Malum always loved fighting and killing, even if his enemies were the ones doing the fighting and killing.“Ackar, what are you doing hiding behind a rock?” asked Malum as he crouched next to me. “Why are you not there in the middle of the battle, leading your forces against the Water army? Don’t you wish to die in glorious combat?”“I would rather not die at all,” I said as I fired another fire bolt at the Water soldiers. “We are severely outnumbered. There’re maybe five hundred of us against two thousand of them. If I go out there and face the enemy head on I’ll probably just get killed, which wouldn’t help anyone but the enemy army.”“Well, if I were in charge of this brigade, I would be out there personally leading my troops to victory,” Malum replied. “And if I died, then it would be in combat. It is what my soul craves.”“You sound an awful lot like a Skrall.”“And you sound like a frightened little Agori. Which is better?”Malum had a way of getting under my skin and right now I wasn’t too happy, what with the cold weather of the Northern Frost, the stress of the battle, and my fatigued body. But I controlled my tongue, because arguing with Malum would get us nowhere closer to defeating the enemy and would just make me more irritable.I glanced around at our surroundings, trying to think of a strategy. We were in Ice Canyon, the primary route to the mysterious pool of silvery liquid that this whole war was about. Steep stone walls covered with ice and snow surrounded us on both sides, nearly impossible to scale due to their slippery surfaces. We were at the north end of it, protecting the entrance to the pool from the invading Water soldiers. Should they break through our defenses, the silvery pool would be lost and our Element Lord wouldn’t be happy, to put it lightly.In the no-man’s land between us and the Water army lay the corpses of soldiers from both armies, although it looked to me like there were more red-armored corpses than blue. The sight of all of those dead soldiers under my command made me feel terrible, but their sacrifice would be in vain if I couldn’t defeat the Water army. So I had to keep fighting, no matter how bad the situation looked.That was when I noticed all of the snow piled high on the cliffs above us. An idea occurred to me just then: What would happen if we were to cause an avalanche? And what if the avalanche, coincidentally, fell on the Water soldiers?The idea was incredibly risky, but we had no other options. So I quickly relayed my plan to Malum. To my relief, Malum actually chuckled, saying, “Ah, that’s more like it, Ackar! An icy death awaits those who stand before our raging fire!”“Yeah,” I said, with less enthusiasm than Malum. “Now go spread the word to the rest of the brigade. We’re going to have to get at least five or so on each side of the canyon in order to make this plan work.”“Never fear, Ackar,” said Malum. “I shall make sure this plan of yours works. It is better than losing the silvery pool to the Water tribe, after all.”Malum quickly left, moving swiftly across the snow and ice for a being his size. He even managed to dodge most of the Water army’s attacks. However irritating or even downright crazy Malum was, I had to admit that he did have his uses.Soon Malum reported back to me that all of the Fire soldiers knew about the plan and were even now moving into position. Despite the cold wind that blew through the canyon just then, I had to smile. My soldiers were the best in the army, for they never questioned my orders. Then again, I thought, there wasn’t much to question about this plan, except perhaps the wisdom of it.Just as Malum had told me, my soldiers began pulling back, as if in retreat. The Water soldiers were advancing now, for they probably thought we had given up. They probably thought we were all cowards. They probably thought they were better than us. They probably thought they were going to win.I couldn’t wait to prove them wrong.I reviewed my plan as I joined with the rest of my men in retreating. It was simple, really. Trick the Water soldiers into believing we were retreating, and then cause an avalanche that would fill the canyon with snow. With luck, a large majority of the enemy force would be crushed beneath tons of freezing slush and the silvery pool would remain safe in the hands of the Fire tribe. Easy.Of course, the whole plan would fall apart without the avalanche. That was why I had five Fire soldiers on both sides of the canyon waiting for the right moment to strike. Assuming nothing will go wrong, as soon as the Water army reaches the center of the canyon, my men will use their elementally-powered weapons to create an avalanche. If my calculations were correct, then the Water army was about to get a very cold surprise.I realized the canyon would be blocked by the snow, but I reasoned that, if necessary, my men and I could melt it to allow possible reinforcements to arrive without trouble. Fire melts snow, after all, but I didn’t know if we could melt the tons of snow that the avalanche would create. I figured I would worry about that later, when protecting the silvery pool was no longer an issue.I shouted orders to my men to run faster, in order to make our ‘retreat’ look realistic. I could hear the shouts of the Water army as they advanced, taunting us and yelling victory cries. I mentally counted down the seconds until my men escaped the canyon. Fifteen . . . fourteen . . . thirteen . . . twelve . . . eleven . . .Just then, I tripped over a rock, of all things. I hit the ground face first and immediately started sliding down the slippery incline. Panicked, I tried to stop, but the iced over rock was too slippery for me to grab onto. I looked over my shoulder and saw that I was sliding straight down toward the oncoming army. With dread I realized I was probably about to die, for none of my men were close enough to save me. In fact, it looked like they didn’t even know I’d fallen, for they were still running toward the mouth of the canyon as though everything was still going exactly according to plan.“Wait!” I shouted. “Hey! Someone help me!”But I don’t think my soldiers heard me over the loud war cries of the Water army. They just kept running like their lives depended on it (which they did, in fact). I dug my sword into the ground, which stopped me from sliding any further, thankfully.At that moment, I heard loud blasts of fire strike the canyon walls . . . and with dread, I realized that the avalanche was heading right toward me and the Water army. I looked to my left and right and saw tons of snow thundering down the cliffs on either side. Even if I did stand up and run for it, I doubted I would be able to escape.I stood up anyway, pulled my blade out of the icy ground, and looked around. The Water army seemed to have noticed the avalanche, too, for they were now frantically retreating. I doubted they would escape, for in their haste to run away many of them slipped and slid on the icy ground, knocking their companions over in the process. It didn’t take long for the whole army to become disorganized to the point where it was obvious that their fate was sealed.Mine probably was, too, but I was still standing at least. So long as I still had my two feet, I knew I had to at least try to escape. My instincts as a soldier made it impossible for me to give up even when the odds were against me.So I began running up the slope as carefully as I could to avoid falling. But it was a doomed effort, for in a minute a wall of cold, rock hard snow slammed into me, knocking me out instantly.-For a long while there, I was sure I was dead. I neither saw nor heard anything and I seemed incapable of speaking or even moving my body. I had been buried underneath tons and tons of snow, after all. Dying was the only outcome one could expect from being hit by an avalanche of that size and power. Even I, a Fire soldier, knew that much.After a while, I opened my eyes, slowly and painfully, for they felt frozen shut. At first, I saw shadows playing on the walls of a cavern and was almost certain that I was dead now. But then I felt heat (maybe from a warm fire?) nearby, thawing my body. And then the pain; dead people don’t feel pain. Of that I was certain.I struggled to sit up, but couldn’t due to my weak limbs. So I tried to look around the cavern, to get an idea of where I was.It was a plain cave. The walls were not decorated in any way. No carvings, no pictures, nothing. I also didn’t see any furniture, which meant that this cave probably belonged to an animal or at least was not inhabited by Agori (or Gadarians, my own species).As I had thought, a warm fire was blazing near me. The heat felt good after the cold. All I wanted to do was lie there until I thawed out, and maybe even after that, too. It was such a cozy fire. I could just sleep in front of it forever.That was when I noticed someone else in the cave, sitting on the opposite side of the fire. She was a female in blue armor, carrying a trident in her hands. The Water soldier didn’t seem to notice me, but I didn’t have the strength to get up and run or fight. I just managed to push myself slightly away from the fire, which I knew was a mistake as soon as I did it because the Water soldier looked at me when I stirred.The Water soldier started when she saw me move, then relaxed and said, “Oh, you’re still alive.”“Why? Were you hoping I was dead?” I asked as I sat up, my strength returning to me, although I was still weak.“Kind of,” said the soldier, but to my surprise she sounded doubtful. “Well, not really. I mean, I know you’re a Fire soldier and all and are my enemy, but I just think it would really suck if you were dead because then I’d be all alone. Being all alone in the Northern Frost would not be fun.”“Oh,” I said, although I wasn’t entirely convinced by this. “It still would have benefited your army if I had died.”“You’re right,” said the soldier, nodding. “Then again, I’m not sure if anyone cares if you died. You’re just one soldier, so-““Be quiet,” I snapped. “How’d you survive that avalanche and drag me into this cave?”“I didn’t drag you here,” said the soldier, folding her arms. “I just woke up in this cavern after the avalanche. You were also asleep until just a few seconds ago. So I have no idea how we get here or who started this fire.”She gestured at the blaze, which burned brightly in the cave.“That’s strange,” I said. “So you don’t know who did it?”“Not a clue,” said the soldier with a shrug. “So anyway, what’s your name? I’m Kiina.”“Ackar,” I answered. I looked around and asked, “So, do you know where we are, at least?”“Somewhere in the Northern Frost,” said Kiina. “I explored outside the cave mouth a little but couldn’t identify our location. All I know is that it is dark out and there’s a snowstorm blowing through.”I cursed my bad luck. However thankful I may have been about surviving, I was still angry about being separated from my army, especially since I was stuck with a Water soldier (an obvious trainee at that), and had no idea where we were. I didn’t think it could get any worse.“Hey, did you start that avalanche?” Kiina asked, breaking me out of my thoughts.“What?” I said, looking at her.“The avalanche that probably killed a lot of my fellow soldiers,” said Kiina, looking at me with new dislike. “Did you order that?”I was about to say yes, I did, but I hesitated. If I told Kiina that I was responsible for the possible deaths of hundreds or maybe even thousands of her allies, she might just kill me here and now without a second thought. It would be too risky to tell the truth in this situation. I needed to be alive and in order to remain alive I needed Kiina’s trust.So I said, “No. That was someone else’s idea.”“I think you’re lying,” said Kiina, pointing at me angrily. “I know your name. Ackar, the master strategist of the Fire army. I know you were in charge of that brigade. You must have come up with that brilliant plan, didn’t you?”I had to admit, I was amazed at Kiina’s sharp mind. She’d managed to see straight through my lie right away. She may have been a trainee, but she was a pretty smart trainee, I had to give her that.I shrugged and said, “Okay, you’re right. I came up with that plan. It was all my idea. I suppose you’re going to kill me now, right?”“No,” said Kiina, the anger in her voice obvious. “If I killed you, what would that accomplish? Nothing because I’d be all alone in the middle of nowhere without food or water or anything. I have a better chance of surviving with an ally than without one. Doesn’t mean I have to like you, though.”“What if I try to kill you?” I replied. “Did you think about that?”“Easy,” said Kiina. “You’re in the same boat as me. If you kill me, your chances of surviving on your own are just as slim as mine. So you won’t kill me because you need me, just like how I need you.”“You have a point,” I said grudgingly. “So let’s make a deal. I won’t kill you and you won’t kill me. We work together until we find civilization. Agreed?”“Sure,” said Kiina with a shrug. “Why not? It’s better than fighting and killing each other like two dumb animals.”“We will leave after the storm outside stops,” I said. “Going out in that weather would be suicide. Perhaps we should rest until it passes.”“Okay,” said Kiina, nodding. She yawned and said, “I’m tired, anyway. Time to sleep.”“’Night,” I said.Neither of us got much sleep that night. Even though we’d made an alliance, I still kept awake for as long as I could, just in case Kiina planned to kill me in my sleep. I suspected Kiina thought I’d do the same to her, but I didn’t know for sure. Even a rookie would know better than to sleep in the same room as an enemy soldier without first being prepared to fight for her life. It was the smartest – and safest – thing to do. Review Topic
Edited by TNTOS, Apr 05 2012 - 08:52 AM.