Chapter 60:

Chapter 60 - King!

The Flight of The Draykes

I opened my eyes to see a giant mountain in front of me.

Quickly looking down at myself, I was relieved to see that I was garbed in my leather armor and my weapons were strapped securely to my body.

Holding out my hand, I summoned the warforce potion and examined it carefully to make sure that nothing had changed.

Then, putting it away, I looked around at my surroundings.

Apart from the giant mountain in front of me, the land was barren as far as I could see.

Looking closely at the mountain, I saw stairs extending all the way to the top of the mountain, which was flat like a plate.

Sucking in a deep breath - for this mountain was almost as tall as the 10,000 peaks that surrounded Draconis City - I began walking toward it.

Standing at the foot of the stairs, I craned my head back as far up as I could and even then, I still couldn’t see the end of the stairs.

Squaring my shoulders, I determinedly stepped forth onto the first step.

At a slow pace, I slowly ascended the mountain.

At first, I kept my guard up for any enemies that would appear, but none came.

As time passed, I slowly relaxed and focussed only on the next step that awaited me.

Thus, one step at a time, I climbed the mountain.

As I reached higher and higher, the air kept getting thinner and thinner, causing my lungs to burn with every breath.

But I had survived the searing pain from the fires before, and this was equivalent to it. Something that I could withstand.

Halfway up the mountain, it began to get really cold. Frost began icing on my skin and hair. Snowflakes drifted lazily down upon me, and each step became an arduous task.

I made it another hour or so before I was shivering so badly that I had to summon more clothes to keep warm.

But the more I ascended, the colder it became and the more layers I had to wear - tiring me out faster.

As night fell, the temperature became freezing, and my hands shaking badly; I fumbled with the cork of the potion bottle and refusing to use my teeth, which were clattering; I opened it with much struggle and poured two drops on both my legs.

As steam began rising from the legs, I used the burst of warforce to increase my speed rapidly and began ascending the mountain faster.

When I would begin to lose the effects of the warforce, I would drip more potion onto my legs and occasionally on the body parts, which were becoming blue.

In this way, I finished half of the bottle of warforce before I finally reached the top.

Standing on the summit and sucking in very shallow breaths, I trembled as I tried to straighten my back - hunched from the many hours of climbing the mountain steps - and then I froze as I heard a noise ahead.

Moving frozen limbs into a guard position, I advanced while summoning lightstones and then stopped, stunned. As in front of me, a magnificent stone platform emerged.

The stone platform wasn’t what had me stunned, though. It was the majestic tiger that lay on it. White as snow with black stripes running down its length and one paw dangling off the platform, it lay - regarding me with ice-cold blue eyes.

Tearing my eyes away from it, I noticed a flight of stairs leading downward behind where the tiger was lying on the platform.

Clearing my throat and grimacing as my chapped lips skin broke and bled, I hailed the tiger.

“How may I address you, Sir?” I asked.

No response came.

Clearing my throat again, I pitched my voice further and tried another time.

“How may I address you, Sir!” I shouted out.

Lazily, the tiger flicked its tail before it said, “That’s not the important thing, is it, boy?”

Confused, I had a bad feeling creep up on me before I forced out the words, “Surely we can come to a peaceful agreement?”

The tiger rumbled with amusement, clear in its voice. “Why would we? You climbed my mountain. You are the interloper and I am the owner of this mountain.”

Swallowing with difficulty, I said, “I have need to pass by you and enter the stairs behind you on the platform you’re lying on.”

Without batting an eye, the tiger replied, “You have need of it, but I see no need to let you pass!”

Angry now, I exclaimed, “But why do we have to fight? Can’t we come to an agreement!”

Getting up to its full height, the tiger stretched leisurely before fixing its gaze on me, much like a cat looks like a mouse, and said, “Two tigers cannot be on the same mountain.”

“I am not a tiger.” I cried out.

“Oh? Then what are you, interloper?”

“I am a Drayke,” I said as I drew my sword.

“Even better,” the tiger chuckled, and then it vanished.

Grunting, I slid backward until the stairs were right behind me as I locked my sword with the claws of the tiger.

Then I heaved and went tumbling to the side using the force of the Tiger’s swing as I hoped it would fall off the stairs.

Only for it to agilely dig its other paw’s claws into the ice at the top of the stairs and twist around before its muscles bunched together and it powerfully sprang again at me.

Rolling to my feet, I held out the sword horizontally as the tiger bit at me, but I couldn’t do anything about the claws that raked across my chest, leaving bloody gashes.

Recoiling, I lifted one hand off the sword and used the free hand to punch the no effect.

Yelling out, I threw myself back and kicked off while doing so at the tiger, who paused for all of a second before leaping after my airborne figure.

Backflipping over, I landed and pulled out the warforce potion and as time slowed; I smashed it against my body and let the potion douse me completely.

Steam rising, I crossed my arms in front of me; the sword having been dropped during the flip, and the tiger’s snarling mouth clamped onto my bracers and, holding me in place, raked my body again with its sharp claws.

Screaming with the pain, I again freed one hand, but this time the punch that went toward the tiger knocked its head sideways.

Then the kick that hit the tiger sent it flying back.

As the tiger flew, my figure flashed, and I appeared under it and launched a barrage of punches at its weak underbelly as I followed it, causing the tiger to roar out in agony.

Then something flashed in my vision and my head whipped back as the tiger's tail smashed into it.

Grunting and rolling away, I struggled to regain my footing on the ice, but the tiger with its claws puncturing the ice and snow was upon me again.

Unable to gain my footing, I was caught on the ground - prone - as the tiger snarled and leaped at my throat.

Raising one hand and blocking the tiger’s mouth with it, the other hand flashed towards the tiger's exposed neck as it bit me and a dagger appeared in it, the edge slicing the tiger's neck ever so slightly.

Panting, the two of us froze in that position.

The tiger's claws were stuck in the fragments of my chest armor, its teeth clenched around my left arm bracer, which was torn to shreds and with the arm itself useless, and my right hand holding a dagger to the tiger’s neck.

Spitting out a ragged breath, I breathed out, “Stop and we can end this peacefully.”

Looking at me with the same ice-blue eyes, the tiger snarled, “I told you, two tigers cannot stay on the same mountain,” and saying so, it jerked its head forward and my dagger sliced its neck open.

The dying King of the Mountain in its death throes madly bit, clawed, and gurgled its last breaths as it went prone on my body.

For a long while, the only sounds were the wind whistling and the blood seeping into the snow and dying it red.

Then a grunt sounded out, and a hand appeared from underneath the tiger.

More grunts followed as the tiger’s body was heaved aside and I emerged, savaged brutally, armor more scraps than armor, and bloody cuts on my face; arms; and chest.

My other body parts also had cuts in them, but not as deep as my flesh above my waist, which, for the most part, was shredded into ribbons, just like the armor.

Reaching out a trembling hand, I tried summoning the warforce potion, only to realize I had smashed the bottle against myself at the starting of the fight.

Swaying, I turned around to regard the tiger and, with a twisted expression, bowed down to it and stumbled toward the platform.

At the entrance to the downward passage on top of the platform, I took a long look again at the tiger, and then I walked inside, leaving a dead King of the Mountain and a trail of blood as I left the mountain it had died for.