Passion of the Liger
Copyright Thuan Nguyen 2016
Published at Shakespir
Hi guys! Thanks for reading my story, the Passion of the Liger! Thanks to all those who have read from the start. I’m sorry I take a long time to release each volume! I get writers block and also get distracted by things like learning to draw, learning ukulele, playing games, exercising… all sorts of things! But I always try to get back to the story! Thanks for all the people who patiently wait inbetween volumes! I hope you are enjoying the story so far! I intend to keep working on it. I would like to see how this story develops and ends as much as you guys!
I am still writing this story for fun, and basically aim to have fun while I write each scene. I’m hoping it will feature lots of adventure and fun times, and id really like it to feature wuxia style martial arts story, although im going to let it develop organically and not force it.
I post each chapter I write (I call them chapters but they’re more like scenes hehe) at:
I also post it up at:
and it is on Wattpad as well.
I have a facebook page for my writing and drawing and creative stuff, although I don’t do much with it:
Once again, thank you so much for reading the story and hope you have fun reading it
Clarence and Lena were sprinting down Morenak road, one of the main food streets of Firgenduke when Clarence suddenly screeched to a halt.
“Lena,” he said, “Two for one donuts at Olympic Donuts!”
“Clarence, we don’t have time,” said Lena, “We should hurry. Anton seemed like he needed our help urgently.”
“It’s donuts, Lena! Anton will understand. I’ll get him one as well!”
“Plus,” said Lena, “It’s not totally safe for him. Those soldiers could come back snooping again.”
“It’ll only take a few minutes,” said Clarence, “Think of that hot jam pumped into those warm crispy donut balls! And rolled lovingly and lavishly in that sugar. Mmmmm…”
p. Lena wiped off a bit of drool from the corner of her mouth.
“Okay then, but be quick!”
“That’s my, girl!” said Clarence, and he kissed her on the cheek and then practically skipped into the little donut shop, barely able to contain his excitement.
Lena turned when she heard her name, and saw Four-tooth running towards her. He looked exhausted!
“Thank the Gods I found you!” he said as he pulled up beside her.
“Four-tooth!” said Lena, “What’s wrong?”
“It’s your friend, Anton! He has been captured by Javier! They are taking him back to the castle!”
Lena felt like the ground was crumbling underneath her.
“What did you say?” said Clarence, who had overheard Four-tooth from inside the donut shop. He grabbed Four-tooth’s shoulders and said, “What did you say happened to Anton?”
“Javier came!” said Four-tooth, “With the Honour Guard and the Three Sisters! Anton got poisoned and he went unconscious. They are taking him back to the castle now in Javier’s carriage!”
“I have to rescue him before he reaches the castle!” said Clarence. He ran back inside the donut shop and threw some money on the counter.
“Here’s the money! You can keep the donuts! My friend is in trouble and I have to go!”
Clarence bolted outside and said, “I am going to rescue Anton.” He grabbed Lena and kissed her deeply. He knew it was no laughing matter to go against the King. “I love you. Wish me luck!”
“I will do one better than that,” said Lena, “I’m going with you.”
“No!” said Clarence, “Anton is my friend. I don’t want to involve you.”
“You should have thought of that before you proposed to me,” said Lena, “Where you go, I go.”
Clarence looked at his beautiul wife and saw in her eyes that she was prepared to go into the very depths of Hell with him. His heart nearly burst with love.
He nodded, “Let’s go then.” He turned to Four-tooth and said, “Thank you so much. Hopefully we meet again. If not, it was great knowing you.”
Four-tooth shook his head, “I’m going with you too. You guys are like my family. I won’t stand by and let you do this on your own.”
Clarence saw the same determination in Four-tooth’s eyes. He placed his hand on Four-tooth’s shoulder, “You’re a good man. Well now, we must make haste! I’m planning on cutting through the garden and swimming across the river. It’s the fastest way to the castle. Let’s move!”
Lena and Four-tooth nodded at the wild plan and the three of them bolted off.
Inside the donut shop, the old man at the counter said to his wife, “In all the years that I’ve been serving that Clarence, I never thought I would see him leave his donuts behind for anything.”
“Aye,” said his wife, “It’s a beautiful thing, what he just did. Anywho, shall we eat these donuts he’s left behind?”
“Yes,” said the old man, “It would be a shame to waste them.”
He picked up one of the freshly made donut balls and took a bite. It sent him to heaven!
“Oh, these are so good,” he said, “And here, look. Some jam dripped onto my pants and I don’t even care, because these are so delicious!”
In front of the backdrop that was the starry night sky, was the darker than dark silhouette of the castle on the hill: Castle Aerie, home of King Bastion, ruler of Tuscan.
Lena gazed up at it and couldn’t help but feel an aura of calm majesty radiating from the stone. The castle had stood there for over two hundred years. How great they were, these builders from long ago.
The wind blew across her body and she felt cold, dripping wet as she was. She had just swum across the Anduin river, which snaked along the western side of the castle.
Lena turned to look where the sound was coming from. And then she saw them! Clarence and Four-tooth tumbled out of the water and collapsed onto the grassy bank. Clarence rolled onto his back, sprawled out spread eagled.
“I guess you guys haven’t swum in a while!” said Lena.
“Clarence,” said Four-tooth inbetween gasps, “Saved my life! I ran out of steam and was drowning! He came and grabbed me.” He turned his head to look at Clarence, “Thank you.”
“It’s nothing,” said Clarence, still huffing and puffing, “I’m just glad we made it. It felt like we weren’t even moving back there!”
Lena smiled at her husband the hero. But then something else caught her attention. She saw some movement along the road that lead to the castle.
“Clarence,” she said, “Get up. It’s here. Javier’s carriage approaches!”
Despite feeling dead tired, Clarence whipped himself up. In the pale moonlight he could see it too. A fancy looking carriage being pulled by two grey horses. It would be passing them in moments.
“We need to intercept it before it reaches the castle!” he said.
“Are we really doing this, Clarence?” said Lena, “Once we do this, there is no going back.”
“I will not stand by and let my friend get captured.”
“Okay,” said Lena, “I’m with you. Through thick or thin, I am by your side.”
Clarence looked at his beautiful wife, love welling up inside him.
“Aw, guys,” said Four-tooth, “You guys did this already!”
Clarence brushed Lena’s wet hair back and pulled her in towards him and kissed her deeply.
Four-tooth sighed and forced himself to stand up.
“Ahem,” he said, “I hate to interrupt this touching moment, but the carriage is nearly here. What’s your plan, Clarence?”
Clarence pulled away from Lena and said, “I didn’t really think that far ahead. I don’t really have a plan! We don’t have time. I’m just going to rush this carriage and see what happens! Are you guys ready?”
“Ready, my love,” said Lena.
“Aye,” said Four-tooth, “Let’s do this!”
The three of them charged at the carriage, which was due to pass them in mere seconds.
Four-tooth, who was still exhausted his swim across the Anduin, was now sprinting as fast as he could, directly at the fast moving carriage. He knew he only had one shot at this.
Make it count, he thought to himself, For Lena and Clarence, do it!
The carriage rolled quietly along the cobblestone roads of Firgenduke.
“It is such a shame you struck him with your needles, sister,” said Abigail, “I was looking forward to sparring with the Iron Snake.”
Javier and the Three Sisters, who were seated on the plush, purple seats, looked down at the floor between them. Anton was lying there with his hands bound by some thick rope.
“How long will he stay unconscious for?” said Javier.
“It’s hard to say,” said Arisa, “It could be a few days. Or a few hours. He could even wake up right now.”
All of them were silent for a moment, as if they half expected him to wake up.
Suddenly, there was a noise from the front of the coach; it sounded to be a struggle, then voices, and then the sound of someone being thrown off.
“What’s happening?” said Gwendolyn, “The carriage is turning around.”
Javier turned and pulled back the little wooden slat, which revealed a metallic grill. He peered through, but in the darkness saw nothing.
“Svenson,” said Javier, “Why are we turning around? I need to get Anton to the King as soon as possible.”
There was no response.
Javier shuffled to the door and opened it. He leaned out into the cool, night air and looked at who was driving.
It was Lena Straud, owner of the Encumbered Adventurer. Seated next to her was a man dressed in rags that Javier didn’t recognise.
Why were these people driving his carriage?
Lena turned to Javier, smiled and pointed upwards, indicating that he should look upwards.
Javier looked up and saw a very familiar looking man perched on the roof of the carriage.
“Clarence Straud!” said Javier, “What are you doing?”
“Rescuing my friend,” said Clarence, and he reached down and gave Javier a push. Javier who had been balancing out the door, now tumbled out and skidded onto the cobblestone road. When he finally came to a stop, his coach was disappearing down the road.
In the opposite direction to the Castle.
Javier wasn’t sure what was going on, but he knew he didn’t like it. He jumped up and bellowed at the top of his lungs:
“After that carriage! Arrest the Straud’s! Bring them to me!”
Clarence clung onto the roof of the coach as it rolled down the road, and thought to himself, Today really is not a typical day! What am I doing here?
The coach rolled over a large rock in the road, which jolted him and he nearly slipped off! That sure brought him out of his daydream! I suppose I had better do something now, seeing as how I am on a rescue mission and all! Well here goes nothing!
Clarence did not even think, he just grabbed onto the edge of the carriage and did some crazy somersault, half twist in midair, that seemed like a good idea at the time --until he was actually in it-- and then it seemed like a very bad idea! But then, somehow, through sheer dumb luck, he managed to swing feet first in through the side of the carriage and landed neatly on a spare seat! If he had been in a gymnastics competition he would have been give a score of 10 by all judges and a standing ovation! But seeing as how he was not in a gymnastics competition, he was simply met by stunned looks on the faces of the three girls who were sitting in the coach.
“Hello, ladies,” said Clarence, “I hope you don’t mind me dropping in.”
One of the girls chuckled.
Yes! thought Clarence, rather pleased with himself. Having made his big entrance, and also taken the opportunity to make a joke, the next thing on Clarence’s agenda was to quickly scout out the situation. He saw three young ladies and being the knowledgeable guy he was, instantly knew them to be the infamous ‘Three Sisters’. They sure were beautiful girls! The next thing he noticed was that his feet were not resting on the floor of the carriage, but on someone! He looked down and saw the unconscious body of his old friend, Anton DiManlen! He suddenly a mixture of many different emotions, all at once.
“Pardon me, my three lovely ladies, but this is my best friend, Anton DiManlen, who I have not seen in an age. Would it be alright with you if I take him off your hands? He is heavy and quite smelly and I am sure that you do not want him.”
“You…” said the blonde girl (who was Arisa), “Are Clarence Straud!”
“Indeed I am!” said Clarence, “You’ve heard of me?”
“Have I heard of you?” said Arisa, “I’m your biggest fan!”
“No way,” said the brunette, Gwendolyn, “I am his biggest fan! I’m a way bigger fan than you are!”
Clarence turned to the third sister with the red hair.
“Don’t look at me,” said Abigail, “I just like fighting.”
Just then, another person appeared! It was Lena! She swung in with the grace of a ballerina, but because there were no seats left, she ended up sitting on Arisa’s lap, which was a little awkward.
“Not as cool as my entrance,” said Clarence.
The sisters nodded in agreement.
“The atmosphere in this carriage is not what I was expecting,” said Lena, lowering her sword, “Why are you guys just sitting and chatting?”
“It turns out they know who I am!” said Clarence.
“We are big fans!” said Arisa.
“Not me,” added Abigail, “To me he’s just another charming guy.”
“I see,” said Lena. She wasn’t quite sure what to do next.
“Mr Straud! Tell me,” said Arisa, “Do you know what you’ll be sculpting the Obelisk into? I’m busting to find that out!”
Clarence’s face lit up! “Funny you should ask that! I just got the idea for it today! It’s going to be so cool. I can’t wait to get started on it! Which reminds me, the sooner you let me rescue my friend here, the sooner I can get back to sculpting.”
“Let him take, Anton!” said Arisa and Gwendolyn at the same time. Then everyone turned to Abigail.
“I don’t care, do whatever you want,” said the third sister.
“Great!” said Clarence, he reached down to pick up Anton.
“Oh wait,” said Arisa, “Let me give him some of the fast recovery antidote. She whipped out a needle and stuck it into Anton’s neck. “That should help him wake up sooner.”
“Thank you very much,” said Clarence. He reached down again to pick up Anton, when the carriage suddenly screeched to a halt.
A voice came from the front of the coach.
“Err… guys. We have a problem.”
It was Four-tooth.
Clarence wondered what it could be. He climbed out of the carriage to take a look. The sight that he was met with stunned him like getting slapped in the face by a dolphin. A blanket of dread draped over him. The blood seem to drain out of his body.
Standing before him was the possibly the most fearsome warrior he had ever laid eyes upon.
“My name is Cronax. I am here to take Anton DiManlen to the King.”
What was this day turning into? thought Clarence.
One minute, he was hanging off the rooftop of a moving carriage, the next, he was being confronted by one of the five most powerful fighters in the realm! If he wasn’t so busy being petrified, he would have thought it was the coolest situation ever!
“Hand over, Anton DiManlen,” said the beefy King’s Champion, “I want the Iron Snake.”
There was complete silence.
Clarence decided it was up to him to speak up, but before he could, Gwendolyn put a hand on his shoulder and whispered into his ear, “Be ready to grab Anton and escape. Understand?”
Clarence nodded automatically, but his brain hadn’t quite registered what was expected of him.
“You three girls,” said Cronax, “Don’t you nomrally work for Javier?”
“This guy is Clarence Straud,” said Arisa, “We are fans. And no, you may not have Anton.”
She reached into her belt and took out a small round object, that looked like a silver pea. She threw it onto the ground and…
Smoke filled the air!
Clarence couldn’t see a thing! He couldn’t even make out his hand in front of his eyes! It smelled nice though, like a peachy smell. He sniffed it admiringly a few times, before he snapped out of it. He had been given a task! Grab Anton and get out of there!
He fumbled his way through the smoke, taking one tentative step at a time. Suddenly his outstretched hands came upon something warm and soft, but firm at the same time. It was strangely familiar.
“Err…” came Lena’s voice, “Is that you, Clarence?”
“Why are you groping me? I don’t think now is the best time.”
“I’m looking for, Anton.”
“He’s still in the carriage,” said Lena, “It’s over there.”
She was probably pointing, but Clarence couldn’t see. He reluctantly let go of his wife’s bosom and dived once again into the misty nothingness. He had no idea where he was going! He was just using his instincts and praying! He stepped, and stepped and stepped.
His hands were waving about in front of him, he hoped they would touch the carriage soon. But all he felt was air. Slowly his vision came back. The smoke was clearing. Finally, he could see again!
And realised he was no where near the carriage! He was standing a fair distance away from everyone else, on the side of the road, next to a well. A few more steps and he might have fallen in!
Everyone else was still clustered around the carriage.
“Oh,” said Clarence, “I was way off.”
“A nice little trick, Lassie,” laughed Cronax, “But aren’t you supposed to be gone by the time the smoke clears?”
Gwendolyn dashed to the carriage, dragged Anton out and in one graceful swing, slung him over her shoulder. She ran over to Clarence and transferred the unconscious man to him.
“Oof!” said Clarence.
Anton was heavy! It was like carrying a bull! He marvelled at how easy Gwendolyn had made it look.
“Go now,” said Gwendolyn,“Save your friend. We will slow down Cronax as best we can.”
“I can’t leave you,” said Clarence.
“Go,” said Gwendolyn firmly.
She turned and glided back to the others, and drew her two short swords. She said to Lena and Four-tooth, “Go help Clarence, we sisters will take it from here.”
Lena shook her head, “I will aid you.”
“And I go where milady goes,’ said Four-tooth.
Lena smiled warmly at him. Then she said to Clarence, “Now go my darling husband. I will meet you at the special place. Till we meet again.”
Clarence did not want to leave Lena! But he knew if he stayed, Anton would certainly be captured by the King. And that was as good as a death sentence.
He turned and ran off. Well, ran is not the correct word. Anton was very heavy. Clarence moved away at a pace equivalent to a fast walk. But he was giving it one hundred and ten percent effort, which is what really counts.
Cronax watched him leave and did not seem the slightest bit worried.
“Do you five really think you can stop me?” said Cronax with a self assured smirk.
Gwendolyn said nothing, but just waited.
“Buying time for your friend, I see,” said Cronax, “Well, let us do this then,” said Cronax, “But please, all five attack me at once, I don’t have all day.”
“Oh, man,” said Clarence, “Anton you sure are heavy!”
He was carrying his best friend on this back and unfortunately his friend seemed to weigh as much as a bodybuilding bull! Every muscle in his body was burning, screaming at him to put his friend down, but Clarence would have none of that.
We are carrying Anton out of town until he is safe. Until he is safe, shut up! was what his mind was telling his body. It was a little bit strange for his mind to be talking like that but he was so exhausted he was delirious.
“Urrr…” came a voice from behind his ear.
“Was that you, Anton?” said Clarence, “Are you awake?”
“I think so,” said the big man, “Where am I? What’s happening?”
“I’m taking you out of the city,” said Clarence, “The King is after you! He has sent Cronax!”
“Who is Cronax?”
“You’ve never heard of Cronax?” said Clarence, “He’s the King’s Champion and one of the strongest fighters in the realm! You really have been away haven’t you?”
“Is that you, Clarence?” said Anton, peering forward to look at who was carrying him.
“It sure is. So you do remember me after all these years!”
“Dude!” said Anton, “It is good to see you again, my friend. You can put me down now. I’m good to walk.”
“Thank the Heavens,” said Clarence, “You are so heavy, Anton.” He gently put his friend down on the ground and then groaned as he straightened up.
“Sorry,” said Anton, “It must be a pain to carry me.”
“You can say that again.”
“It must be a pain to carry me,” said Anton.
They both chuckled.
“So what’s been happening with you?” said Anton, “Still doing the art?”
“Yes!” said Clarence, momentarily forgetting the dire situation they were in. It always lit him up to speak about art. “It’s been going so well! And they’ve asked me to sculpt the Firgenduke Obelisk!”
“Dude!” said Anton, “That is huge. Literally! I’m so happy for you.”
“Thanks,” said Clarence, “But we really need to get going. If Cronax catches up with us, I fear it may be game over. The Three Sisters and Lena can only keep him occupied for so long…” Clarence hoped the girls were alright.
“What did you say?” said Anton, “Lena and the Three Sisters are fighting Cronax?”
Clarence nodded, “It’s a long story but the gist is they are buying us some time. We need to get to the docks and get to a secluded island that Lena and I often go to. We can hide there, no one will find you.”
“You say that Lena and those three girls are fighting the King’s Champion right now? In order that I may hide?”
“Yes,” said Clarence, “We need to get going, otherwise their actions will be in vain. I trust that Sir Cronax will not harm them.”
“I won’t go to this island while others fight for me,” said Anton, “We go find this Cronax immediately and I put him down. Then you can help me find Maruska.”
Clarence’s jaw opened. He had feared Anton would say something like that.
“Cronax is the most powerful fighter in Tuscan. And the city will be swarming with the King’s men-“
Anton held up one hand to indicate that Clarence should stop talking.
“We go find Cronax,” said Anton, “Lead the way.”
Clarence knew his old friend well enough to know there was no point arguing with him. The two friends turned around and started running [_towards _]the man who was pursuing them.
The four women stood in a circle around Cronax, each was huffing and puffing.
“How is this possible?” said Abigail, “I can’t even hit him. He’s dodging everything! From all four of us.”
“It is possible because I am way better than you,” said Cronax.
“Grrr!” said Abigail, “Trash talking! That’s my job.” She lunged at Cronax and swung her longsword.
He merely leaned to one side and her blade flew past him harmlessly.
“He’s just toying with us!” said Abigail.
“Keep your cool, Abi,” said Gwendolyn.
“Perhaps you are right,” said Cronax, “I think I am warmed up enough to fight Anton. Thank you ladies for helping me practice my dodging a little. It’s not every day I have the luxury of training with four fairly decent opponents. I’ll be going now. Please enjoy the rest of your day.”
“You make me so mad!” said Abigail. She slashed furiously once again and once again Cronax evaded her as easily as one fends off a toddler. But this time, following his dodge, he did a neat little round house kick that sent Abigail flying into some trash cans. She groaned and it did not seem that she would be getting up anytime soon, such was the power of the kick.
Now only three surrounded Cronax.
Gwendolyn looked at Arisa and said, “The Viper Spits.”
Arisa nodded, and took out a bunch of poison needles from her belt. Gwendolyn leaped into the air, somersaulted and swooped down at Cronax, both of her short swords bared. Arisa simultaneously threw her needles at him.
Cronax instinctively knew what was happening, so he jumped into the air, grabbed Gwendolyn and threw her in the path of Arisa’s projectiles.
“Oof!” said Gwendolyn.
She had been hit in the buttock by one of the needles. Her leg went numb and she tumbled to the ground.
“Dammit!” said Gwendolyn, “Your poison is so potent. I think it-”
She didn’t finish her sentence as her mouth had gone numb and now she was drooling.
Arisa ran over to her fallen sister and took out a little porcelain bottle containing antidote. She pulled out the stopper and poured a few drops into Gwen’s lips. Once she was satisfied it had been administered, she gently laid Gwendolyn down and said to Lena, “It’s up to us now.”
Lena could feel in her heart it was futile to attack Cronax. He really did live up to his reputation. But she also knew every moment they could delay him, would allow Clarence and Anton to get further away.
She nodded at Arisa and said, “Let’s take this sucker down.”
Anton and Clarence were running down the street.
“I’ve been neglecting my running,” said Anton, “I’m so disappointed in myself! I used to run like it was nothing!”
“You’re doing better than me,” said Clarence, “I was never good to begin with!”
Then they turned the corner and saw a body flying through the air towards them. Anton recognised that it was Lena!
“Catch her!” he shouted.
Clarence immediately dived to catch the body, as if he was playing kick to kick with a football with a friend. He crashed to the ground on his back, the familiar body on top of him.
“Oh hello, darling,” said Clarence.
She was unconscious and so he gently moved her off him.
“Why is your wife flying through the air while she’s asleep? said Anton, “Is it like a more advanced level of sleepwalking?”
“No, silly,” said Clarence, “She is flying through the air because of him.”
Anton turned to look at where Clarence was looking and saw a man standing there. He was exuding power, confidence and deadliness.
“You must be Cronax,” said Anton.
“Aye,” said Cronax, “And you must be doomed.”
“No,” said Anton, “My name is Anton DiManlen.”
“Psst,” said Clarence, “He knows that. He was just trying to intimidate you with a smart response.”
“Oh,” said Anton, “Haha! Good one. I get it.”
“I am obligated to tell you that you should turn yourself in, for the King wants you. But oh how i wish you would resist.”
Anton just paused and said nothing for an awkwardly long time.
“Um, Anton,” said Clarence, “I think he is waiting for you to say something.”
“I will in a minute,” said Anton, “I was just trying to think of something smart to say back to him. He’s set the level of banter to a higher standard than I usually do. I want to step it up.”
Finally, after another minute, Anton said, “The King wants me hey? Well you can tell him I’m already married.”
Cronax looked very puzzled.
“Oh, Anton,” said Clarence.
“Well in any case,” said Cronax,, “It looked like you wont be coming in quietly. I am so sad to do this, but I will have to use force now. Prepare yourself, Iron Snake.”
Cronax started jumpping around on the spot, and then kicking his feet on the ground and snorting. Then he charged, like a bull at a red flag.
“Wait!” said Anton holding up a hand.
He said it with such power that Cronax the Mighty actually stopped in his tracks.
“I don’t have a weapon,” said Anton, “Will you let me go get a sword?”
Cronax laughed and said, “If you don’t have a weapon that is your problem, not mine.” He immediately continued his bullish charge. He pulled out his Great Axe and held it out menaxingly.
Anton stood his ground and felt his stomach rise up into his chest. His old friend adrenaline had come to visit him. From now on, it was all pure instincts, he felt the warrior inside him take over. He saw Cronax reach him and take an epic 360 degrees backhanded swing at him with the Axe. Anton’s body automatically ducked and then did a leg sweep, which Cronax jumped over.
Impressive, thought Anton to himself, This boy is good.
Anton dodged attack after attack, like a little fish evading a little kid in a pond. Each slash by Cronax was made with such power that an actual little gust was created. Anton did not want to get hit by any of these strikes. He liked being alive.
I really need a weapon, he thought to himself.
Meanwhile, Clarence, watching from the side came to the same conclusion. Anton needed a weapon and fast. He picked up his beloved Lena and then placed her in a side street and ran off. He knew there would be a sword somewhere! He ran as fast as he could. He turned this corner and that, and pleaded with the Gods that he would find something that Anton could use.
And then salvation!
Well, salvation guarded by…
A big white wolf.
For yes, before him, there were a few unconscious City Guards, the glint of shiny steel weapons next to them. But standing between him and them, was a giant white wolf!
It was Cronax’s mount!
In ordinary circumstances, Clarence would have fanboyed over seeing Cronax’s epic mount. But today was not ordinary circumstances.
Clarence was so upset that he actually spoke out aloud.
“This is less than ideal,” he said.
The white wolf looked at him.
It licked its lips.
Anton ran and Cronax followed close behind; they were running around the city. Anyone who didn’t know might have thought they were going for a jolly nighttime jog together. Anton was looking for a weapon but also he had planned on running around enough that Cronax would become tired. But unfortunately Cronax was in much better shape than Anton was and the one getting tired first was him!
It was very discouraging!
“Quit running you cowardly cur!” said Cronax.
“I’ll stop running when you…” said Anton. He paused for a bit because he was out of breath. “When you stop chasing me.”
Oh, Dear, thought Anton, [_He is gaining on me! I hear him. I can feel his breath on my neck! _]Anton’s instincts kicked in and he darted to the side, just as he felt Cronax’s axe cutting through the air behind him.
Hmm, this guy is not playing around! thought Anton.
Anton suddenly felt a burst of energy and he suddenly dashed forward. Anton was rather impressed by how fast he was currently running. It’s amazing how fast you can run when someone is chasing you with an axe.
Anton looked at who had called his name.
It was Clarence!
His friend had suddenly returned from wherever he had disappeared to. And he was holding aloft a sword! He was certainly a sight for sore eyes, like an angel lighting up the darkness.
“Here, catch!” said Clarence, and he threw the sword.
Oh Clarence, thought Anton, [_that is so dangerous. _] But he was on automatic now, and his body calculated the trajectory of the spinning weapon somehow and Anton leaped into the air and caught it by the handle and in mid air turned and landed, facing Cronax, just in time to block a mightly strike from the warrior.
They both stood there, facing each other, neither weapon moving am inch as each tried to force the other’s weapon down.
“I have a weapon now,” said Anton, suddenly serious. And with a humungous effort, he pushed Cronax’s axe down and the King’s Champion stumbled backwards a few steps. The look on Cronax’s face showed he was not used to being pushed around by anybody.
“I am Anton. They call me the Iron Snake. Let’s play.”
Cronax laughed and then attacked ferociously.
Clang! Clang! Clang!
Anton blocked each strike, but Cronax was swinging with such force that sparks were flying from the blades! It had been a long time since Anton had fought anyone this strong before. He prayed his blade would not break. But he realised he couldn’t worry about that now. He focussed on the fight.
He cleared his mind and let his instincts take over.
Clarence watched from the side as these two warriors fought each other. It was like art. There was speed, spins, deft movement, fancy footwork. It was hard to tell who was winning, it was so evenly matched.
“You fight well for an old man,” said Cronax, through gritted teeth.
Anton didn’t reply. He was too busy trying to look for a weakness in Cronax’s attack. But he could see none. This man’s technique was solid.
So Anton decided he could continue as he was, and wait for Cronax to make a mistake or get tired before him (not likely!) or he could push into his bezerker rage. It was something he used to do when he was younger and facing a superior opponent. He would go all out offense, using every ounce of his strength in every swing and try to overpower his opponent through sheer force and rage. But it was a gamble. If he didnt’ defeat him with that push, he would be utterly exhausted afterwards.
But Anton was not the type to sit back and wait for things to happen. It just wasn’t who he was.
“Raaaaaaaaaarrrrrrr!” cried Anton, the power from his scream alone startled Cronax. Anton swung so hard that Cronax’s axe vibrated audibly in his hands.
Anton looked into Cronax’s eyes and saw fear. This was the moment. The Iron Snake struck.
Crunk! Crunk! Crunk! Fwip!
Cronax’s mightly axe flew out of his hands arcing through the air and landed blade first into the trunk of a thick tree behind them.
Anton pointed his blade at Cronax’s throat and held it steady.
“I have been defeated,” said Cronax. He opened out his arms and said, “Do with me what you will.”
Anton lowered his sword. “I have no quarrel with you. I just want to heal my wife. I will leave now. You are worthy of the title of King’s Champion. Long has it been since I have fought an opponent as worthy as you. It was good. But now I am exhausted!”
Cronax smiled and the two men bowed at each other.
And then Anton’s danger senses went off!
He heard the sound of footsteps. Many footsteps.
A swirl of city guard surrounded them, like water going down a drain.
It felt like every man in the King’s army was there. Archers with bows set up behind the soldiers at the front. Then one man stepped through the crowd.
It was Javier.
“Arrest him, Sir Cronax,” said the Captain of the Guards.
Cronax shook his head.
“If he is to be arrested, it will not be by me.” and with that, Cronax began walking through the crowd.
“Those are the King’s orders,” said Javier.
Cronax ignored him and vanished through the crowd.
Anton readied his sword. He could feel his body cramping up from fatigue, even his scalp was getting a cramp.
“It looks like we will have to do this ourselves,” sighed Javier, “Charge!”
All the soldiers, made courageous by their superior numbers, rushed Anton. It must be noted that Javier, however, did not move an inch and actually stepped back a few paces.
Clarence also ran into the fray, to stand beside his friend. He knew it was futile and it would surely mean his death. He made it to Anton’s side, but he was weaponless and was knocked out almost immediately. The last thing he saw as he was going down was Anton spinning and taking out a circle of soldiers around him.
Yes, thought Clarence, Today really has not been a typical day.
“Didn’t I tell you never to return here?”
Anton opened his eyes. His hands were bound together and he was hanging from a chain from the ceiling. They were in a tiny, dimly lit room. It had dungeon written all over it.
Standing before him was his least favourite person in the world.
“Hello Bastion,” said Anton, “Long time no see. Not long enough sadly.”
Bastion was holding his royal sceptre and he prodded Anton roughly in his exposed stomach.
“Don’t you get smart with me. I am the King!”
Anton said nothing but just looked Bastion in the eyes. The King could not match his steady gaze.
“Remember that time I saved your dearly beloved Maruska, and you promised to never return to Firgenduke to see her? I thought you were a man of your word Anton. I saddens me to see that you have no honour. Did you not promise never to come back?”
“I did,” said Anton, “My wife was turned to stone and Maruska might be her only hope. I promise to leave as soon as I have spoken to her.”
“Your promises are worthless, Anton DiManlen,” said King Bastion. “Also, do you remember what I said I would do to you, if you ever returned?”
Once again Anton remained silent.
“Let me remind you,” said Bastion.
The King used his sceptre and traced a line, slowly and deliberately across Anton’s neck.
“Goodbye, Anton DiManlen,” said Bastion, “Long have I loathed you. Like a long splinter that Is stuck in your foot that you just cant get out completely. But today that will end and I will be rid of you. And Maruska will be entirely mine.”
And with that, the King left the little dungeon, leaving Anton hanging by his arms from the ceiling.
End of Volume 4
To be continued in Passion of the Liger: Volume 5