Chapter 50:

Al and Hydrick IV

Sword Quest

He was only barely able to react to the spear, thrust forward in a blur straight toward his face. Gritting his teeth in a panicked response, he crossed his blades in defense, just in time to deflect the trajectory of the spear. However, his deflection was only enough to prevent a fatal blow, and the spear tip sliced through his eyebrow and temple.

Shuant then swung the opposite edge of the spear in low, cutting cleanly into his abdomen plating and breaking skin before Al could jump back.

The onslaught did not stop there. The man calmly danced around Al, forcing him to parry his incessant spear jabs with all the effort he had. Through continued, intense focus and effort he gained a brief respite, deflecting both ends of the spear with either blade. His body screaming at the chance, he lunged forward aggressively.

Swinging viciously, Al aimed a flurry of strikes at Shuant’s torso. His body whirled in and out of strikes, deftly avoiding Al’s wild swings while using both spear-ends to deflect, before poising himself to counter the second Al showed an opening.

Fatigued by the heavy output of energy, along with his wounds, Al was once again just able to see the attack coming. An effortless diagonal strike threaded between both of his blades and sliced across his forehead and over his right eyelid. He staggered back, wincing as another relentless flurry of jabs came.

This time, Shuant’s movements became even harder to predict. He controlled the pace, effortlessly pushing Al into other scuffles and attacking in blind spots created by them. After landing several grazing jabs and blunt blows to Al’s head and torso, Shuant eventually shrunk back into the crowd of soldiers. Al shook off the attacks and made chase, his vision blurred by the blood pouring from his head.

What… is this man…

I’m… completely at his mercy…

This trance he’s putting me in…

The way he melts into the battlefield before striking like a viper…

He’s like… an actual god of war!

Suddenly, the man emerged from the crowd, tucking his spear horizontally to his chest. Before Al could respond, he darted in, outstretching his arms in one swift motion. The core of the brass spear crashed into his windpipe, knocking him back. Al attempted to throw his left arm out to counter, but his blade was sidestepped, and his arm consequently locked between Shuant’s coiled right arm and his spear.

Helpless to react, Al watched as his arm was jerked away from him with a sharp popping sound. Releasing the dislocated arm, Shuant spun to his right, simultaneously deflecting Al’s desperate right-handed attack and knocking away his left-handed blade with both of his spear tips. In the same spinning motion, he performed a swift front kick to Al’s chest, finally putting the Teuton on his backside.

With only adrenaline left to compel his body to move, Al rolled to his side and staggered onto one knee, his left arm dragging limply. Gasping for air, he attempted to wipe the pouring blood away from his eyes.

I’m… completely outmatched…

This was a fool’s errand… thinking I could beat him…

Dammit… dammit…

There’s no doubt… this man is the strongest under the dome!

Al gnashed his teeth and looked up at the intimidating figure, whose dark curly hair hung ominously over his eyes and shadowed his short smirk as he pointed his spear at Al’s bloodied face.

But still… I won’t allow myself to die here.

Not after everything…

He slowly rose to his feet, ignoring the spear tip aimed at his face, in arm’s reach.

Not after Valblin gave me the chance to rise out of the village slums and become something…

He wiped the blood from his face with his right arm, before grasping onto his hanging left arm.

Not after that brave boy saved me and gave me a second chance at life…

Muffling his scream of agony, he forced his arm back into his shoulder joint.

There’s no way I’ll allow myself to die here… not without making something of myself!

Gripping his lone blade with both hands, he lunged forward, throwing all the enmity he could muster into one strike.

At least, not without taking this piece of shit with me!

His blade made a short arc, crashing into the spear’s tip and deflecting it away.

“ALL TEUTONS, ON ME!” Al shouted at the top of his lungs, stopping in his tracks upon deflecting the spear. Shuant stopped as well, his eyes growing wide in surprise for the first time.

“THE ONE AND ONLY GENERAL SHUANT IS RIGHT HERE IN FRONT OF ME!” He continued shouting, face wrought in anguish as the chaotic battlefield around them began to stir, shifting its focus in their direction.


Shuant glanced around as the roused battlefield began to turn its attention toward them. Al took advantage of his pause and rushed to retrieve his lost blade, before charging once more toward the general, who seemed to be contemplating his options.

Al whipped both blades furiously at Shuant, who reacted just in time. Blocking the blades with a horizontal spear hold, he curled his lip at Al.

“You were smart to take the easy way out, Commander,” he said, voice tinged with a mixture of satisfaction and frustration. He directed several final strikes at Al, his killing intent stronger than before. This time, though, Al had confidence in knowing the momentum was on his side as his soldiers flocked toward them. With relative ease he deflected the strikes and stood his ground, a haze of blood falling with each exhalation.

“It seems both of you may live to see another battlefield,” Shuant continued, turning his body toward an incoming Wolverine horseman. “Though I wonder, how many more battlefields will this war, and your people, last? You won’t get another chance to take a head like mine, 3,000 Man Commander Al… not in your lifetime.”

With that, he leapt onto a spare horse led to him by an allied soldier and calmly retreated into the thick of soldiers.

“Al, get on!” The voice of Al’s Lieutenant, Jack, rang from behind. He turned to see Jack leading a spare horse toward him as well, along with a group of his men.

“Well done, Jack!” Al shouted, climbing the horse as it galloped, and following after Shuant’s group. Teutons and Wolverines alike swarmed in droves toward them, reforming their lines to either make chase or defend the retreating general.

“The battlefield is shifting entirely toward Shuant,” Jack declared, taking the leading position and advancing forward. “We might be able to come out of this victorious by pressuring him to retreat, so we could send a group after him as a diversion while we recover Hydrick. What are your orders?”

“You’re exactly right,” Al answered, pushing the pace. “He knows that too, though, so the only way we’ll force his retreat is by going all out in pursuit. Besides, he might have something planned to turn this back on us. The man can’t be underestimated, so it’s got to be every man in full pursuit. We’ll have to trust Hyd to look after himself.”

Jack nodded hesitantly as Al pushed his horse to full speed, taking lead of the charge. “AL AND HYDRICK ARMIES, EVERYBODY ON ME! WE’LL TAKE SHUANT’S HEAD HERE AND NOW!!!”