Warren Gates Warren Gates
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sounds like an effective repellant!

Warren Gates Warren Gates
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gripping descriptions!

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Daniel Bird Daniel Bird
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To Kill A Centaur

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She had a friend.

I posted this some time back and no one read it, so I thought I would Re-Post it! Enjoy!

      Its great roars – like a pride of lions ready to do battle – could be heard a great distance away, and even now as the soldiers raced onward up through the wilds, gripped by fear – swords, lances and arrows sharpened by fire and stone – the old legends came back to haunt them, flooding through their veins with frightening power, bashing morale and spawning fear. But lead by Atronius Agrippus of Olympia, a great warrior and legendary hunter of beasts, the men held their weapons close and their courage closer, their hearts and wills about to be tested.

     With their helmets, body armour, greaves and leggings tied tight they moved quickly and quietly, winding up an ancient stone path, creeping deeper into the old forests of Mount Pelion. Like an ancient serpent of old, the stone path – worn by time – had long receded back into the earth, covered over in tall grass, wild flowers, thickets, heavy boughs and old oaks swallowing up the early morning. And the skies themselves, dark and menacing, sang a bad omen as thunder rolled in from the south while whipping rains charged out from the north. And like a clashing of Titans engaging in battle overhead, a foreboding wind raced through the trees, like the ghosts of the fallen whispering evil secrets through the land.

     And still – charged with fear and courage, hearts pounding, blood racing – the men tore through the wilderness, distracted by Zeus Himself, hidden away in the clouds, throwing huge mountains across with thunderous impact, lighting the day in thunderbolts! In the old legends the mark of the Centaur – drawn on parchment as a single ‘arrow,’ so as not to offend the fragile sensibilities of children and their mothers – told stories of a great beast: half man, half horse; a destroyer of men. The name – though not to be uttered here – was Gradius of Pelion, who had slain the long ago king of these lands and took his wife for his own, driving the citizens from their rightful place in the city.

     Once, a beautiful city reigned atop Mount Pelion: a bustling city of great splendour, alive with architectural achievements, thriving farmlands, sweet lagoons and waterways teeming with long avenues of wonderful hillside villas. Great wealth poured through these parts with traders and merchants and rich caravans adorned in silks and pillows and strange pets and stranger people. Upon entering the city through heavy wilderness it was said that one’s breath was stolen away by such magnificence! Oh so splendid were the red-clay roofs of six storey courts, theatres, bath houses and arenas, lost up in a sea of buildings held aloft by wonderful stone pillars, accented by beautifully manicured gardens set deep in the yards of great mansions. Great forums and mighty structures made way for teeming markets and great temples with people arriving day and night to test her wares and barter their silks, trinkets, exotic food from far off places, plants, roots and medicines. And the nightlife, it was said was filled with drinks and fires and wild shows and glorious fornication!

     Now all that remained of those long ago days of harmony and trade and growth were fallen buildings, scattered rubble and eroded stone, falling back into the earth, swallowed up by thick foliage. And even the waters settled back from whence they came leaving naught by a dried carcass of lost ages, swallowed up by a dense forest spanning hundreds of leagues in every direction. Thousands of years had passed since those long ago days of old and still the tales of monsters and ghostly legends still played a part, weaving tales of bloodshed and terror long after the Lords of the land sunk back into the darkness of the world; the mythical beasts somehow kept alive in the imaginations of all.

     It was often said that Gradius – the destroyer of men – still haunted these old forests, cloaked in shadow, hooves pounding, racing over the land, guarding its secret treasures, slaying those who ventured too close, suddenly appearing like a ghost, alive and terrible, at home in the darkest pitch, when the full moon shone down full and bright.

     It was only six days ago that Darius, Hermedes, Graucus and Lionidus and a band of veteran hunters went after Gradius in hopes to quell the rising fear that was beginning to set roots in the lives of farmers, traders and towns people. And already the rumours of Gradius waking from his slumber, rising from the dead, was beginning to disrupt commerce, slowing the natural flow of sales, driving the numbers down while people barred their windows and doors, afraid he would come right down the mountain and storm the towns. Truly the neighbouring towns suffered troubled sleeps and terrible nightmares, awoken in the middle of the night by Gradius’ terrible roars, coming closer and closer every night that passed, circling the towns and vanishing back up the mountain by dawn.

     And now, this very second, with the first glimpses of the ancient city peeking out at them through wild tangled growth, the scene was complete with fallen pillars, leaning columns and worn roofs rising up in the distance, swallowed up by vines, grass and weeds. Taken up by a heavy pall of uncertainty Atronius, Lethello, Opux and Hollow and a band of thirty seasoned hunters and warriors could hear him: the Legendary beast of nightmares; a thorn in the side of comfort and serenity: Gradius. A great beast, his monstrous roars, the beating of his chest, the crashing of great hooves on stone set their hearts to flight, calling out to them in a lost tongue, smelling them long before they arrived.

     Gradius, lost out of view amongst the city thick taunted them, breaking branches, galloping hard back and forth and around, circling them down the steep slopes behind them and back up into the city proper, always hidden just out of view, toying with them. In these terrifying moments their senses came to life, their ears, eyes and noses taking in the air of the day whilst the rain began pouring down thick and heavy. Atronius, with a simple look, aided their hands to grasp their weapons tight and ready, their nerves becoming rattled, their wits sharpening while their long years of training slid into play like razor toothed Hydra rising up from the depths to guide their hands, hearts and souls if only to drive them forth with courage and skill!

     And if they knew the language of the Ancient Gods, they might just understand his words, his sinister laughs echoing against piles of rubble, traveling off into the forest, “Come out and play little cowards! Don’t let fear stay your hands! Come and face me like men!” And when they stopped to gather in a huddle, he carried on, “Fools! You think you can best me! Come out and fight!” And it was quite an obvious thing that rose up to confront them head on: the fact that none of them knew how to kill a Centaur. For it was common knowledge that the many, many men who lost their lives – their heads to be spiked to posts to rot in the sunlight – were no more successful than the last. And all twelve bands of hunters and warriors over the ages had not returned.

     Atronius looked to his brave men, a wave of uncertainty rushing out to meet them from dark narrow eyes, if only to let it be known outright that their very lives were in peril. With a hard cold look washing over him, he sought their wisdom, their views, if any, and their concerns, wondering if any of them had any idea on how to complete their mission, “If anyone has any idea...now is the time to speak.” And in the rain a hollow look washed through them all, slamming into cold hard walls of doubt.

     It was Cranium, the youngest – bold and baby-faced – who began, “I have with me arrows of silver and sacks of rodent stomach stretched to the kilt with oil. They’ll bust on impact and the amount of oil is enough to set a house to heavy flames.” 1 comment

     Vixus, a barrel-chested bearded brute was next, “I have a deadly poison in my possession that paralyzes the victim moments after entering the blood-stream. I think it shall be best to dip your spears, blades and arrows.” They did at once, laying it on thick until there was no more to be had, until every blade, spear and arrow was dipped in the black substance, ready to dole out terrific damage.

     It was Hollow, a blond, heavily scarred menace who broke in, “That’s great and all, but will it have any effect on the Centaur?”

     Vixus shrugged, “I don’t know. But it’s worth a try.”

     Daedalus, a wise and artful steel smith drew forth a great broadsword, “I have here in my possession 'The Strength of Hercules.' He removed it from his back and unravelled its black silk robes. Shiny and bright – sharp as a razor, it stood as tall as young Cranium and weighed more than enough for a small man to wield. “Now who is bold and strong enough to wield it?” He looked to the largest and strongest men, his eyes simply running over them, as if to say, ‘Which one of you three will take it up? You, Oh brave Cronos who put to the dirt many brave warriors? Paulus, wise and fitted with great strength, are you up to the challenge? Dominicus, you oh bold warrior, who has lopped many a man’s head clean off?’ And when they did not respond but to look at each other, Daedalus asked them all, “Who will offer to wield ‘The Strength of Hercules? Come now! Be quick! There is little time!’”

      Comfortable with their great axes and two handed blades, Paulus and Dominicus said nothing. It was Cronos who stood up, driving his own broad blade deep into the ground, instantly marvelling at ‘The Strength of Hercules,’ taking its great weight into his hands, giving much thought to its charmed ambitions; the way it seemed to speak directly to him, ‘You wield me with all your might and I will cut a tree in half. But...only if you wield me straight and true, without fear! Mistakes will simply not do! You make a mistake...you show fear...and I will hold you unworthy Oh great warrior and leave you to your fate!’ The men applauded him with quiet nods, feeling him the right man for the task.

      The eldest of the warriors – a greying veteran, Aramis, brought forth a little sack of roots, “Here, take this, chew it until it is no more, until your mouth becomes numb and you feel it flow hot in your veins.”

     “What is it?” Asked Cranium.

     Aramis looked to them all, passing the little pellets around, “It is ‘Crimson Tides of the Heathen Fates.’ It will sway fear and pain.”

     Atronius said, “Will that not cloud judgement and slow reaction time?”

     Aramis, holding true to his craft, said, “In times like this I would take courage and the will to rush forth into battle over reaction time any day. Especially when up against such a terrible opponent.”

Aramis took it as did the others. Cranium took it but did not eat it. Magic and old medicine terrified him. And though he was already afraid, he was more afraid of not having his mind fully aware and clear. And he never quite trusted roots and magic. He put it in his pocket beneath his armour.

     Lethello spoke up, his voice deep and cautious and to the point, “Yes, all great and mighty, our weapons and methods against men, but what about a stinking Centaur?”

     Lethello too, offered his concern, “I don’t want to seem like the bearer of bad omens, but....we still don’t have an answer that satisfies.” And just then, through the wind and the rain a sudden sound of music could be heard coming from the forest nearby.

     Opux, startled, turned around, gripping his shield and lance, his eyes straining to penetrate the deep woods. A slight movement back there in the thickets. Some unseen creature. Too small to be a Centaur. The rest of them drew their weapons as the flute played its tune, drawing their eyes forward, rustling branches and leaves, barely visible in the grey morning under a heavy rain. But the music...so quick and stirring. Atronius yelled in the direction of the flute, “Show yourself or meet a hail of spears and arrows! Show yourself! Do it now!”

     Just then a tiny figure strode out cautiously, startling them, their eyes widening, their hearts held in awe. It was the very first time any of them had ever seen one. A Satyr. Small and pudgy the little beast raised its hand, twirled its tiny flute in its curly hair and removed its hood to reveal wide eyes that of a lamb, a face of a small boy and the legs of a goat. And it spoke like a small child, “Please masters...do not bring harm to me! I am a friend of the forest! I mean you no harm!” And truly he was just a young little thing, sweet on the eyes and pleasant to have as company. He came out into view, standing before them as tall as a small child, little horns atop his crown, little hands, little arms and a cute harmless face, heart on the verge of bolting. “Please master’s...for your weapons frighten me!”

     With a simple gesture Atronius bade them to drop their arms. “You’re a Satyr.” He said, suspended in disbelief. “I thought you were extinct. I thought that the Centaurs ate you all! Its in the legends.”

     Cautiously, his curly head, big eyes and twitchy ears turned in the direction of the city, his little finger going to his mouth, “Shhh...quiet now. He can hear us. He can smell us too. Make no mistake, he knows you are here.” With their weapons aimed in the direction of the city, they heeded his advice suddenly becoming very quiet.

     Atronius said, “Be quick child, tell us your business. And just know that we cannot take you with us, you will only slow us down.” With the others keeping the Centaur’s movements intact, Atronius said, “What is your business with us...? What’s your name?”

     And the tiny Satyr said, “I am Thillius of the woodland realm, these forests are my home. I have a secret of the ages if you’ll hear me.”

     Atronius whispered harshly, “Speak Thillius, and make it quick, we are wasting precious time!”

     His next words were like an answer to their prayers, “I know how to kill the Centaur.”
     They all turned to him now, their ears still tracking the beast, “How? How do we kill him?”

     From his back Thillius produced a long blow-gun. “Your weapons will have little effect without this.” He drew a tall narrow shaft from his back, unwrapped it to reveal a blow-gun crafted with precision and great skill.” His eyes lit up with trepidation now. “And forget all your plans to surprise it. Best to charge right on in and throw everything you have at it. Do away with all your strategies and go head on, face to face with it! But you will need this!” He reached deep into a satchel, bringing out white paper pellets rolled up like grains of rice.

     “What is it?” Opux asked.

     “It is powder made from the bones of an Erymanthian Boar. It will stun him but a few seconds. I have two shots to be blown into his face.” He gave a tiny shrug as if to let them all down, “I would use it, but I lack the strength in my lungs to make the shot.”

     Opux, a hunter of the blow-gun took it up, instantly surprised by its weightlessness, its smooth shaft, perfectly straight and crafted with gifted hands. “I can make the shot. I am the only one here who can!”

     Aramis cut in, “Well stunning the beast is all good and swell, but how do we bring it down?”

     Thillius’ eyes drew narrow and grim, “The only way to kill a Centaur is to cut off its head and remove its heart. But...only in that manner. For it can still kill and hunt you down with its head cut clean off if its heart remains beating. And whosoever holds the head better run for your life. Hide in the narrow spaces of the city, under broken stairs and crawlspaces. Better to just run, for it will simply put its head back on if it gets hold of it. Or if its heart is removed and its head remains...it will grow terribly angry and surely kill you all! For it will try to place its heart back in its chest” A grim silence swept through the men, their weapons held tight in the rain while the beast still charged back and forth, taunting, waiting their charge, waiting to taste their blood and suck the marrow from their bones.

     Thillius gave a sincere bow, “Master’s I bid you the luck and strength of the Gods, but I must leave you now, for I am terribly frightened.” And a moment before he disappeared back into the forest he turned around and said, “Kill him good and dead. Cut his heart from his body and take off his head and chop them to pieces. That is the only way!” And like that, a little finger to his little horns, he disappeared back from whence he came leaving the men looking one another over, a glazed look entering their eyes as ‘Crimson Tides of the Heathen Fates’ began to take its effect, expanding their pupils to wild gazes.

     Atronius stood up, whispering, offering his own wishes to Thillius, “To you my little master, we bid farewell. May you run in peace at the end of this day my little friend.” To the others he said loud and clear, “Hold dear to your fear men! It may be the last time you are blessed with such emotions! Hold your prayers til the most dire moment your hearts will ever see! Be brave! Be bold! For the Gods look down upon us and judge us where we stand, and only the strong shall prevail!” And like that, he lead them up, quietly, the great beast roaring still from the confines of the city walls, hidden by a horde of foliage too thick to penetrate with the eyes.

     A city of sheer brilliance and utter magnificence they were astounded by her high walls, her abandoned structures, their heavy pillars swallowed by crawling vines and heavy bush in every direction, those little alleyways seeming to smother them, seeming to be dark and frightening under the heavy rains. And like that Atronius threw his fingers out, a silent sign commanding their next movements. And like a tight-knit band of trained killers the group spread out in twos knowing full well that a Phalanx would not do. Racing up a wide stone road covered over in grass and weeds they raced forward to the foot of a great plaza temple in the direction of the beast’s terrible roars.

     In a moment that slowed them in their tracks, they saw it, looking down at them from atop the great temple, a world of wonder racing through their hearts, followed immediately by a single question: how in the world did it get up there? And before they could react, it hopped down with frightening agility, simply leaping from roof to roof like a set of stairs, touching down before them with a hearty laugh, like the Nemean Lion in the stories of Hercules. Finally their time of truth had come, and their mettle was yet to be tested, their will and their hunting prowess for which they were known.

     A hundred yards directly in front them, standing in the center of a wide plaza before the great temple – rising up sixteen-feet in height – the beast was a giant of difficult proportions, with the powerful body of a massive black stallion. Lithe and powerfully built, they had never seen anything like it in all their lives. With its great hooves crashing down with every step, the beast stood tall, mighty and proud, its massive bulk: steaming in the rain.

      And with an all too human face, grim handsome features, cold black eyes as menacing as its soul, it stared them down with frightening appeal, absolutely unafraid, seeming to inhale all the courage in the air. From behind a bold jaw it offered but the tiniest smile, bearing sharp fangs, letting out a great roar in their direction, and with a movement that was quite human – releasing a thunderous laugh – it began beating its massive chest with great and powerful arms and heavy hammer fists before cracking its neck side to side. As if to taunt them it furled its nose, sending out a thick spew. A hairy beast it rotated monstrously wide shoulders – its long black mane dripping in the rain. Ready to charge it raised up on its hind legs, standing some twenty-five-feet in height.

     With astonishing speed, it was Marvello – a Bow master – who drew up his bow and let loose a poisoned arrow starting off the battle! The arrow, gliding full and true was met by an equally fast Gradius who simply swatted it aside, adding to their terror! With that a dozen poisoned spears sailed through the air, three of which made their mark, slamming home in his shoulder and chest with little effect. He simply ripped them clean and tossed them aside broken. And the poison seemed to only annoy him in a swelling red itch but no more.

     And like a startled beast Gradius raced forth with astonishing speed, arms out, great hammer fists coming down, knocking heads clear before swiping up Matias, and Dorosidus, biting their heads clean off, enjoying the taste of bone and flesh and fresh hot blood. Atronius and the others dove off the way, scrambling off in every direction, any plan they had quickly neutralized. With five already dead in the first blow, a wall of swords and spears lashed out slicing deep into massive hind quarters, steel nicking hooves and tearing flesh. But still the beast came on with frightening speed and terrible kicks sending Ortmaius and Candor flying a hundred feet through the air, slamming against trees, instantly dead. 1 comment

     Racing behind Cranium in the direction of a narrow set of stairs, every man for himself, Cronos raced to second floor Twenty-five-feet up and with ‘The Strength of Hercules’ in his grasp, he looked to Cranium who lit the ties of his oil filled sacks. Without a word, listening to the death going on only a few feet out, weapons and men screaming and fighting, he took up a lit sack and crept forward through a wide door in the direction of the beast before coming to a terrace. Looking out, he saw that Atronius and half the men were already headless, broken and stomped to death.

     On the other side of the plaza, he saw that Lethello, Dominicus, Paulus and Daedalus were crushed and fatally wounded, the light in their eyes extinguished. While a dozen men threw their spears and slashed with all their might – their last efforts meeting the full extent of Gradius’ great power, Hollow and Vixus ran opposite one another. It was Hollow, who, in all his careful training, all his years of combat, was unable to escape the terrific speed of Gradius, nor his great strength and his mighty bite. And like a sickening crunch, blood spraying off in the rain, Gradius flung his headless corpse far out into the forest.

     With toppling columns coming down, saving him a brutal death, Opux was in need of aid as Gradius tore quickly into Aramis, before heading onto Gaius who wound up with all his might, slashing three of Gradius’ fingers clean off, driving him to rage, his enormous frame rushing forward absolutely unstoppable, crushing bodies and knocking heads clean off, reducing the thirty men to five in a matter of time so very short in span. Gradius slammed his massive weight and terrible hooves down on a fallen stone pillar, trying to get at Opux who clung tight to the blow gun, narrowly escaping certain crushing death at the hooves of Gradius.

     Seeing his friend in need of aid, Cranium let loose his fiery sack, immediately followed by Cronos. And like that, their sacks hit home, lighting Gradius up in flames, opening up a seething powerhouse of rage. With a terrible roar, Gradius, engulfed in flames, turned around quickly, charging right up the narrow stairs with stunning agility and speed. With only a wide stone archway preventing him from his quarry, he threw forth great hammer fists, bashing down the walls, heavy stone chunks flying off, while sudden cracks began to appear in the floor beneath his hooves.

     A giant creature with devils in his eyes Gradius entered the hall coming face to face with Cronos, who – despite ‘Crimson Tides of the Heathen Fates’ racing through his blood – was gripped in fear, washed over in a moment of panic with Gradius coming to stand before him, licking his fear right from the air. With a final effort, he swung ‘The Strength of Hercules’ opening Gradius up at the knee, causing him to scream out in agony. But the strike, tainted with fear did not bring down the beast. No. His efforts were marred with fear, and there it was: his fate, the great mouth of Gradius, as massive hands brought him up. And the last thing he saw were the huge fangs of Gradius - his mouth opened wide, coming down.

     Stepping forth, hovering over Cranium who fought the flint rocks in both hands in a short attempt to light another sack, Gradius laughed and spoke his long lost language of the gods, “Ah...puny fool! You certainly are a brave one!” And just as the flames died out in his hair Gradius felt the shift of the floor as it began to sink. And from out of thin air it seemed, an arrow flew through the air, solid and true, driving home deep into his head, blinding him straight through the eye.

     It was Marvello’s arrow, and never had a Bow Master’s charge meant more than this very moment in time. With a second to spare Cranium lit the tie, albeit a second too late. The floor fell through beneath Gradius’ heavy hooves, sending Cranium to dive for the terrace just in time. And like that, Craniums life was spared by the luck of the Gods, a moment of relief washing through as Gradius fell to the floor below, thrashing and bucking menacingly with terrible roars. Cranium standing on the edge of the terrace stumbled back as Gradius rose back up before him, standing on hind legs. With huge hammer fists coming down, Cranium rolled to save his life when another arrow flew straight into Gradius’ other eye, sending him to fits of rage, shaking the entire building, threatening to bring it down.

     Cranium with a second to spare released the sack sending a plume of flames up in the air while Gradius flung great fists wildly n his direction sending chunks of stone in all directions, battering down walls with every kick, attempting to free himself from the lower floor. With that a blast of dust busted open against his chest! It was the stun-powder of the Erymanthian Boar! It did nothing but cause Gradius to sneeze and bash his great shoulders against stone pillars, knocking them down, causing the building to lean slowly to one side. Without warning a single spear drove through Gradius’ great chest, but still, the lower bath house – its rows of columns preventing his escape – kept him prisoner.

     With a second, third and fourth arrow taking him at the neck Gradius only became wilder and more menacing, thrashing, bashing, crushing and stomping, his screams like a torrent of beasts raged through, finding a slight opening in the wall, two feet to freedom but for a wall of toppling pillars, ready to send the building crashing down on top of him. In that moment, young Cranium, standing directly above Gradius, swallowed ‘Crimson Tides of the Heathen Fates’ and took up ‘The Strength of Hercules’ in both hands. With all his strength Cranium  drew the great sword high above his head, ready to drop it down with all that he could muster. In the moment he brought it down, the ceiling fell in from above, crashing down to the floor below, sending him back with a broken leg and busted ribs, ‘The Strength of Hercules’ loosened from his grip.

     In flew Marvello, sword flying, slashing hard, only to be met by a terrible hoof to the face, sending him back across the room, right out through the door, his body smashing and tumbling across the plaza. He was dead. With the building leaning even more, ready to topple, something happened that would change the course of all things. In a heart stopping moment Gradius face was met with a terrible choking dust which took the room, choking the air from Cranium as well. Falling to his knees momentarily, he heard a voice screaming up at him from directly below. It was Opux, “Strike now! Cranium...!”

     Cranium stood on one leg while Gradius stopped thrashing altogether, seeming to be knocked senseless, his air taken, his lungs gasping sickly, stumbling, eyes blinded, charred body, fingerless hand reaching out in the blind to keep him from toppling. Troubling to lift ‘The Strength of Hercules’ Cranium brought it up high over his head, gathering all his strength and will, ‘Crimson Tides of the Heathen Fates’ taking effect, drawing him into a sweet untroubled awareness. And in a moment that meant his whole young life, with ‘The Strength of Hercules’ raised and ready, he saw a sight that took him home to bliss and wonder. It was a spear thrown with incredible skill, striking the great beast through the heart. With that Cranium fell forth without fear, his arms swinging with all their might, his weight falling in, ‘The strength of Hercules’ coming straight down in a slow motion state of mind.

      Another spear sailed through the air striking Gradius a second time through the heart, weakening him at the knees, his great legs straining terribly, his massive frame ready to fall. And like that, the great weight of ‘The Strength of Hercules’ came crashing down, splitting his skull in two; right down the middle, sending a wash of blood about the walls before gushing to the floor. And like that Gradius fell to his knees, gurgling and unable to make any kind of fight to save his life. Opux raced forth, his blade hacking and slashing, tearing through the great chest of Gradius. Coming to land square on top him, Cranium hoisted ‘The Strength of Hercules’ one last time, releasing with all his strength, praying to the Gods that his mark be found brave and true, without fear.

     And like a mighty torrent the blood gushed across his face as ‘The Strength of Hercules’ found its mark, sending Gradius’ great head to one side. And while Opux reached inside and cut Gradius’ heart from its place, Cranium took his own swords and began chopping desperately, blood whipping in all directions. And after the longest moment in both their lives, all became silent save for their very breaths catching, their eyes and skin burning as the powder of the Erymanthian Boar ate into their flesh. And like that, together, utterly exhausted, heart and head in tow, Cranium and Opux crawled out the front door, falling to the plaza floor. And not a moment too soon, as the entire building came crashing down in a wide break of dust and rock, wood and clay.

     And the rain, in all its purity, its grand wash stole over them, like a blessing of the Gods to wash their terrors free from their souls. Arm in bloody arm Cranium and Opux just laid there, the terror of the day only beginning to sink in. And everywhere he looked, he saw them: his friends, his brothers: the mighty Atronius, Cronos, Paulus, Lethello, Daedalus, Dominicus and many others...dead. He looked to Opux, who, in his battered state was now gasping for air, looking up at him, a hand running through his hair, his eyes becoming strained with tears, his mouth grimacing, his breath faltering, his air telling the story of a losing battle, “Opux!” But he knew, could see it in his eyes. Opux was dying.

     Opux, losing his breath, a wash of massive bruises slowly spreading over his chest and stomach could only look into the young lad's eyes in wonder, loving the brave young man before him; proud and filled with a great honour and the deepest respect. “You...did it...Cranium.” And that was all he could muster. And then...like that, after a world of hurt, Cranium was all alone, struggling to fathom walking the many miles home on a broken leg. A great rise drew forth from deep within him, from a place deep down in his soul, like the greatest story to be told and the greatest secret to be lived, and he couldn’t wait to tell them down below in the towns his great secret. And he would tell of Atronius and all the other brave men that lost their lives in a bid to find the secret of the ages. And his story would be told in legends and myths, his famous words made into song and poetry: “And that’s how to kill a centaur.”

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