Black Saint: Chapter 4 – Arkand


Image by Dreamstime, a photosharing site

By Taran Mehta, Staff Writer

The man escorted Tania to the main hall of the house, seemingly bigger from the inside than the outside. White pillars supported the foundation, pearl white frames around the windows, and most noticeable of all, a man in golden robes and a studded crown with jewels on his head was sitting on a pearl throne.

“Arkand, get off your lazy arse and do something. You are supposed to be a ruler, and yet you sit in a lonely house with a couple of people around to help clean up for you?” Tania chastised.

“Tania? What are you doing here? I thought we would never meet again,” Arkand responded.

“I wished it were that way, old friend. But it seemed that someone did not care enough to pay attention to what was around them, and completely ignored the fact that we have the Tournament of Valor in a couple of days and have gotten zero people to fight for you.”

“Oh, as if it is my fault, Tania… All you ever did was brag about how strong you were and do some tricks with your little crossbow. I am not here to cause trouble, and there is no reason to participate in this tournament. Guard, escort her out of here,” Arkand pointed an ornamented finger at the massive door.

“Get your filthy hands off of me!” Tania said as she threatened the guard with her crossbow. “You cannot even get more than one guard to fight for you. What type of king are you? Matter of fact, you are not even a king.”

Arkand’s face filled with rage and emotion. He rose from his throne and proceeded to make his way over to Tania. The ambiance projected from Arkand even made Tania feel a shiver down her spine.

“Not a king? The first time, after years. You barge into my home, threaten my guard, and then proceed to mock me? Oh little Tania, you haven’t changed a bit. Ever since I met you that day. You thought you were so special. Trained by the legendary Morana and thinking you are suddenly the greatest. Do you even know what it took to get here? To this position, the sacrifice? All you did was win in some puny battle,” Arkand responded menacingly.

“Puny? Even you should know that was the battle that changed all of our lives forever. On top of that, you were such a rich king beforehand, I do not see why you would be so mad now with all your wealth,” Tania barked back.

“You see, when I came out of the shadows, people thought I was a joke. I would walk around with all these riches, but all that was thrown at me were tomatoes and remarks on how fake I am. I had to take all of my riches and pour it into buying this kingdom, just so I do not get threatened by anyone anymore and have the power to kill at command. As I sit on this throne with all that I have achieved, you call me a joke as well. So what if I do not have money? So what if I do not participate? Is that all you came here to tell me? How bad of a person I am and how fake of a king I am? Hmm?” Arkand asked, as he turned his back to Tania.

“Wait. That isn’t what I meant. I would not come all this way to just say that. I am sorry, and I understand if you will not believe me. We were never friends and I know that. Even though I wish it to be that way again where we were fighting against each other, I am just trying to help you now. Look, participate in the tournament of Valor and you will become rich. Richer than any other king, I promise,” Tania informed him.

“I will never forgive you, but I will keep it in my mind. There is one problem, I do not have a fighter. The tournament requires at least three, correct?”

“Yes, but we already have three,” Tania said.

He frowned. “We do?”

“I believe so. I have a friend who got caught in one of your traps outside, I bet he is up to participating as if he even had a choice. I am here as well, which makes two. And then there is you, and that makes three,” Tania explained.

“I don’t think I can participate in the fighting. Plus, I quit fighting a long time ago. I am not as good as I was before, when I fought you,”

“I did not see that in the rule book. Of course, you can participate, and a good fighter never loses his power. You just have to do a bit of training to get it back,” Tania told Arkand.

“We don’t have time for this, Tania. We only have a couple of days, and I don’t even have my weapon anymore. I sold it.”

“You sold Dearth? That weapon could cause massive damage if put in the wrong hands!” exclaimed Tania.

“You don’t have to worry about that. I will just go get it back since I have the power for that. But how will we win? We are up against trained knights and soldiers who have been doing this for years. We haven’t even studied the arena to figure out any strategies and vantage points.”

Tania knew they stood no chance, but it was essential that they win for the wealth. She also knew that they needed to gain Arkand’s trust to obtain the Crystals of Chaos, so winning this tournament would prove to Arkand that they are capable of things that would be essential to his plans.

On the other hand, Galahad was still hanging from the net. He closed his eyes and started to doze off, but he awoke only a minute later to a vulture’s wing brushing over his face.

“Ah! Get away!” Galahad screamed, scrambling to grasp his footing on the net.

However, he soon realized that they were pecking the net. He calmed down but then noticed an unknown shadow stride across the graveled pathway. The net snapped and he fell straight down onto the gravel. The metal door had suddenly unhinged and it creaked open.

Strange, he thought.

Galahad followed the strange shadow as it magically disappeared. However, in front of him were two large, wooden doors and he could hear a faint conversation beyond them.

“Wait, I have an idea,” said a figure.

“Galahad?” Tania asked, as the two doors opened.

“Yes, and I have to say Arkand, that trap is a pain. Thankfully the vultures were able to peck out of the net. With that out of the way, this battle of Valor is something that I have heard of. Matter of fact, I had watched some of them. A huge battle I have to say, super popular. The knights that take part in the battle are very smart and strong, so we have to play this smart.

“What is your master plan?” Tania asked.

Galahad grabbed some chairs that were near and set them up in a circle formation. They all sat down as Galahad took a paper and a pencil out of his pocket and placed it on the table.

With what I saw earlier, I will not even question where he got that, Tania thought.

“Sit tight, this is going to be a long one. Oh and Tania, I got it from my pocket,” Galahad responded to Tania’s thoughts.

Oh my god, this guy, I might as well run away now and turn him in for murder, Tania thought.

“You could turn him into me,” Arkand blurted.

9:00 PM | Training Grounds | Kingdom of Viprin

“Welcome! These are the Viprin Training Grounds! Here is where we will be spending our time over the next couple of days!” Arkand announced.

“You have got quite the land, Arkand! But I have to say, I found your old land to be more your style rather than this bright field,” Tania remarked.

“You are right, but after I came out of the shadows, things have changed. I started to prefer more lively things – if you know what I mean.”

“Wait, you have drifted away from your dark side and skeleton armies?” Tania asked, puzzled.

“Let us just say I have taken a long break. But enough about that, we have to start training now for us to even have a chance.”

The ground started to rumble, and out came large pillars and training equipment from the ground.

“This is more impressive than I could have ever imagined!” Galahad said with a surprised look on his face.

“That isn’t even the start of it, wait until the rest come out,” informed Arkand.

After a few seconds, a massive temple appeared from the ground. The monstrous building almost cut into the clouds, and the gradient texture was rich and strong. Galahad and Tania were left with their jaws wide open.

“Is this where the rest of your wealth went? I imagined you would not live in such a medium-sized house as the king,” Tania puzzled.

“Well, sort of. This palace isn’t for living in. It’s an ancient training palace, used for when I trained my soldiers. Since I got banished, I managed to find the location from above ground and was able to bring it up to the surface on command.”

Galahad raised his eyebrows. “That is impressive. Can we enter it?”

“Do not be so dumb, of course! It was built for training anyways. I think we have around four days to get prepared for the battle, so we should start immediately.”

All four of them made their way over to the palace, entering through its massive gates. They were met with floating pillars and sleeping skeletons.

“Skeletons! Watch out!” Galahad announced as he scurried behind a pillar.

“Do not be such a scaredy-cat, Galahad. Watch this. Tro Geu Weo B’oe, Weo Taw’d To’e Ceda L’amore!” Arkand chanted.

The skeleton bones started to shudder, as they suddenly clicked together to form a skeleton body. They rose from their coffin-like beds and stood up on their bony feet. Their transparent bodies were filled with dust that slowly flowed down their bodies like a cascade. You could hear the clicking and clacking of their bones on every step they took.

“Are… are those skeletons… alive?!” Galahad shrieked.

“Indeed they are, but do not worry, they are under my command. I haven’t thoroughly introduced myself to you. I am Arkand The Necromancer. I have the power to summon the undead and control them. I was once part of the Spearow; however, in the battle of the Spearow, I got banished as a punishment for losing. It gets rough down there, so better to leave early than face the consequences later.”

“Thank God I left, it is like they did not even care. There was a trapdoor almost right above me, so I was just able to exit there and Tania helped me out. I do not see how they are powerful at all,” Galahad explained.

“Oh, you got caught in Flako’s trap I see. It happened to all of us. We were all given an easy escape… well, at least the ones who wanted to leave. Then, they bring us back when they feel that they have seen enough. They do it to test our power,” explained Tania.

“Wait, you are saying that they let me leave on purpose?”

“Exactly,” Tania responded.

“What is the point of running away if they are just going to find me again after a few days?” questioned Galahad.

“Well they are watching your every move from wherever you are,” explained Tania.

Then, out of the blue, the top of the trees started to rustle, and suddenly a black figure plunged from the trees. He looked very familiar, and then a sudden realization hit Galahad.

“Hello again.”

“Wallace?” Galahad asked, with an astonished look on his face.

“Tania caught on pretty well, but you were completely oblivious to the fact that I was following you the entire time. I am guessing Arkand knew about it, considering he let me in. However, magic is debarred in the tournament; therefore, Arkand cannot participate. I have also seen a glimpse of Galahad’s power, but if he can control it, he might be able to join. I know Tania can go well without it, but that only leaves two of you guys to participate,” explained Wallace.

“Were you not listening before? I said we have three, now let us continue the training. Come on, Wallace. We have training to do.”

“Wait, no. I am just here to spy on you Galahad, I am not competing,” Wallace said, backing off.

“Well, it is not like you are going anywhere,” Arkand giggled.

The ground began to rumble again, as crumbs of dirt started to pop out of the ground. A dome started to mold around the field, creating a giant wall around the area.

“Y-y-you actually have a random dome that forms around your backyard?” Wallace asked, confused.

“Well, I just built it.”

Arkand put his hand up in the air and revealed a long, skeleton staff.

“Just a simple spell, even though it was fairly inimical to my body,” Arkand responded.

“I am not in the Spearow for nothing. Tania knows that you just made things harder for yourself. Good luck in the tournament,” Wallace announced.

He started to shrink, but his body was not getting smaller, it was merging with the ground.

“What the-” Galahad shrieked.

Wallace was not consumed, but he had transformed into a shadow, moving like one too. He was fast and silky, which made him hard to hit by shadow bolts that Tania had in hand. He quickly merged with the shadow projected from the dome and became invisible.

“Where did he go?” Arkand questioned Tania.

“I hate it when he does that, but no matter. We are not going to get him back, so we have to let him be. I guess he will just miss out on the prize of the tournament, apparently the largest one yet,” explained Tania, acknowledging the fact that Wallace was still there.

“If you think I am coming out just because you are telling me there is a cash prize… you are right.”

Wallace emerged from the shadows, but Tania’s emotion hadn’t changed from before, almost like she knew that would have been the outcome from the beginning.

“Now where was I? The training, we should go,” announced Tania.

“Yes, we should, and I know the perfect way to train,” replied Arkand, as he entered his first form.

In his first form, also known as Naratian Convoker, Arkand was enveloped in a black, smoke-like aura, and gained the ability to control greater undead.

“Oh, and how is that?” Wallace asked.

“Like this,” Arkand replied, summoning three greater undead skeletons holding swords and shields.

“How are we supposed to fight those?” Galahad asked, terrified.

“They aren’t going to kill you silly, they’re only going to kick your arse a couple of times,” Tania replied, laughing.