The Beginning...The End

Marax let himself relax for a moment lost in the thought that if the next few minutes didn't go we'll, he and his entire following would be dead by morning.  It was not a relaxing thought.

With the realization of what 'now' meant, Marax closed his blue eyes, extended his arms and felt the magic flow through him.  It was a pinprick of a feeling in his stomach at first; he felt his skin turn cold as the feeling of power grew within him.  Extending the magic out from his core and slowly enveloping his whole body.  His long, thin brown hair blew in the wind as the energy gathered around him. 

Marax felt the exhaustion, but knew that there was no time to relax, he pushed himself further and felt the tingling go up his arms and through his fingertips.  A slow mass of green and red magical tendrils extended from his fingertips, entwining themselves and growing outwards encasing him in a solid bubble of magic, he was happy to see that many of his following had seen what he was doing and following suit.

Today would either be won or lost by quick thinking and even quicker acting – hesitation meant death.

As if on cue, Marax saw a gigantic battle axe swing for his head.  Marax reeled back and then relaxed as it bounced harmlessly off the magic bubble that encased him.  He knew he could only take a few more of those, but he was defenseless to strike back while the bubble was up. 

“Marax, I can smell you in there,” said Kator, with a deep rumbling voice.  The Minotaur dwarfed the smaller man in height as well as width.  In the cold air, steam could be seen rising from the minotaur’s nose with every breath and the magical sigils on Kator’s arms glowed a bright blue.  “I know you and your tricks human, by the end of the day this will be over.”  Kator stepped back, lifted his axe and took an overhanded bash with his axe. Marax wondered how something so big, could be so agile – he suspected it was the sigils, but he couldn’t prove it, nor did he think he would ever have the chance.

Marax found no happiness in knowledge that this wasn’t going to end well, whoever won this day.  Kator was the Prime of the Minotaurs, and he had his scent. Their past let him know that if Kator wanted him dead, he was already dead.  He reached out with his senses and found Jana a dozen yards or so away, he was happy that the fray she was in seemed less deadly.

Jana had been a close friend for as long as Marax could remember.  She had stood by his side, even during the revolt, and they had become much closer than just friends or compatriots, but that was to be expected in such times.  Marax suspected in times of peace, if he wasn’t their leader, she would have found a different part-time mate.  He let his thoughts go to her for just a moment, connecting them.  He looked again and saw her long red hair flowing inside the bubble like a windstorm raged inside of it.  The last few years hadn’t been kind to Jana and she had become gaunt, a mere shadow of her former self, but today she wore the green dress well that matched her eyes…a blow of the Kator’s axe brought Marax out of his day dream.  A couple more of those and the bubble would shatter and he’d be defenseless.

Marax strengthened the bubble with his will and extended his senses to find Calibre, his lieutenant. Without Jana and Calibre, Marax knew that the fight was already lost.  He needed both to survive this day.

He found Calibre across the battlefield and quickly connected to him as well.  Marax had rescued Calibre from the Hadjen pits, when he was a boy, and he had become like a son to Marax.  With the proper Hadjen training Calibre’s aptitude for magic and his essence would have made him a far greater caster than Marax. Even without the training, Marax knew that Calibre would one day take his place – it sadly didn’t comfort Marax.

With the connections complete, Marax stood straight up, his back arched, and he felt himself siphon a shard of essence from both Jana and Calibre.  The power felt good – and he used it to help strengthen his bubble. He slowly drained in a little more – knowing he would need it if he was to survive.

Kator swung again and Marax felt the bubble weaken, even with the extra essence that was the last hit he could take. 

Marax strained against the exhaustion and felt the magic grow strong and pulse within him, throbbing in time with his heartbeat – it felt good.  He flicked his wrist and saw the white haze forming in front of him, in a few moments it would be over. The bubble was collapsing and Kator was ready to swing again.  Marax quickly looked around again, if this was his last moment he wanted it to be one he remembered.  He saw both Jana and Calibre and made a fatal decision.

Tendrils of magic dissipated into the air as Kator’s battle axe exploded through the magical protection and cleaved through killing its target. Kator snorted and stamped in anger, but Jana never knew what hit her. 

It wasn’t an easy decision, but Marax stood tall in his new bubble and looked across the battlefield to where Kator now stood over Jana.  He did what needed to be done and transposing them was what was best. If his following was to survive they needed him.  Marax used his connection with Calibre and drained a little more essence from him, he was almost back up to full strength. 

Kator looked down at Jana, sniffed the air and started to slowly move towards Marax.  Jana wouldn’t be the only sacrifice this day - that Marax was sure of. 

Marax suddenly felt a sharp pain coming from everywhere and he screamed out with pain…with that the world went black….