Moonlight poked through a cloud covered sky and glowed softly over the sleeping village. A small creek trickled softly nearby as birds cooed in the darkness. Akkenta sat on the largest stump surrounding the fire pit. The flames glowed orange  as the moonlight shone across his trunk, as if the fire light and the moonlight were fighting to see which one was brighter.

“Brother.”

Bongani approached Akkenta from out of the darkness behind the fire.

“ It’s late, and our trade route starts at first light. What has you up at this hour?”

Akkenta shifted to his left side, still sitting on the stump with both hands on his knees as he stared over the fire and into the jungle beyond.

“I’m not sure, but my heart grieves with sorrow. It’s almost as if a part of me is missing from my whole.”

Bongani sat down on the stump to Akkenta’s left, facing him.  

“Father was a great warrior Akkenta. I miss him too, but we must still carry on the trade. He would have been proud of you.”

Akkenta raised his head to look at Bongani, “ I wish I knew him better.”

Bongani reached out his hand and placed it on Akkenta’s shoulder. “ As do I, Brother, but all we have to go on is his warrior like will, and good looks.”

Akkenta and Bogani paused for a moment and stared at each other in silence, before bursting into laughter.

“Haha! I believe I’m the only one with the good looks,” Akkenta gestured to himself with his trunk, “you were the one who inherited the fighting spirit, while I inherited everything that a mate is looking for. They love me.”

Bongani shoved Akkenta’s trunk aside, “ Please, the only one who really loves you is Mother.”

Akkenta stood to his feet, ready to chase after Bongani and tackle him to the ground. The only way to solve this was a wrestling match. “ I’m going to get you for that one!”

Bongani leaped up, beginning to run around the stumps and fire pit. The ground shook as Akkenta began to chase after him, both young Tuskaar men whirling around, trying to catch the other to wrestle.

“You get back here Bongani! I’m not through with you!”

An arrow pierced through Bogani’s chest. Akkenta stood frozen in shock as Coursers rode into the village.  They burned homes and slaughtered people who had awoken in a panic, only to see that a nightmare awaited them.

“That will teach you, you filthy tusk-faced scum!” A mounted Courser knight shouted as he slid his sword through a Tuskaar man who had rushed out of his home.  

Akkenta dragged his brother to the door of the closest hut.

“ Come in young ones, come in!” an old Tuskaar whispered from inside the hidden hut, “ Make haste now!” Akkenta dragged his brother into the small hut with the Elderly Tuskaar man.

The Elderly Tuskaar shut the door behind them, sealing it with some kind of magic.

Akkenta paid no attention to the magic and knelt beside his fallen brother.“Bongani -”

Bongani raised  his hand up towards Akkenta. “Don’t let them hurt anymore of our people Brother. Don’t let them take us out like vermin. If only we had been prepared for this attack–”

Bongani now lay dead before Akkenta. Akkenta’s heart twisted inside, grieving at the loss of his brother. The heartache tore him apart suffocating him in panic and pain. Anger swelled within him.

The Elderly Tuskaar man walked over to Akkenta and placed his hand on the young grieving warrior’s shoulder. “Akkenta,” the man said softly, “I know your struggles”.

Akkenta rose to his feet and turned to the old Tuskaar, “ What do I do now, elder?”

The elderly Tuskaar hobbled toward the back of the hut to a book sitting on a podium. The moonlight glistened over it. The pages began to flip on their own as a light breeze formed around the book.What was this book? Was this a form of sorcery? The elderly Tuskaar picked up the book as it clasped shut. He turned to Akkenta, noticing that the Elder appeared to be gliding across the floor. Everything was bathed in darkness except for the moonlight that now shone upon Akkenta, the Elderly Tuskaar, and the spot in which they stood.

“This will grant you revenge Akkenta. This will help you save our people.”

The Elderly Tuskaar handed the book to Akkenta who grasped it firmly in his thick warrior like hands. Akkenta looked down at the book and could see that the book was as black as night, with a Tuskaar skull on the front. It had gold and purple etched borders, with a purple vortex symbol that swirled around the skull on the cover.

“Place your hand upon the book, Akkenta.”

Akkenta placed his hand upon the dark book and heard  the screams of his family and the slaughter of his people. Sounds of crackling fire and chaos entered Akkenta’s mind as he saw Tuskaar women and children ran terrified his village.  Suddenly an image of his brother’s murder at the hands of the courser invaded  his mind. Akkenta was deeply shaken.

“BROTHER!” he cried out, and trumpeted aloud. Robes and armor of purple and black covered Akkenta. Horned shoulder pads magically formed upon him. A wooden staff that held a large glowing purple gem appeared in his hand.

Akkenta breathed heavily, full of anger and sadness; gripped his new found power at its very core. His eyes glowed purple and emitted a magic mist. He turned to the Elderly Tuskaar, “ I must bring our brothers and sisters back. To seek revenge upon The Society for what they have done. They are not above any law they set. THEY MUST ANSWER FOR THEIR CRIMES!”

The Elderly Tuskaar smiled a wicked grin.

Akkenta hugged the Elder, “Thank you Elder.”

Suddenly, Courser knights broke down the door of the hut.“There you are! You dirty tusk faced scum always up to -”

Akkenta brought his staff to the air quickly and blasted a dark shadow bolt straight through the Courser knight and into the ranks behind him. Screams of pain carried over the Courser Knights as Akkenta emerged from the hut throwing shadow bolts in every direction, killing each Courser as they charged to attack.

Akkenta lifted his hand and staff again  and shouted, “YOU SHALL PAY FOR YOUR CRIMES! You shall pay for what you did to my family! TO MY BROTHER!” hurling a large dark shadow ball into the entire Courser Cavalry as they charged , dismounting half of them and killing the rest.

Akkenta stomped forth readying another attack as the Courser Sergeant stopped and shouted back to his ranks, “Retreat! Ride To Nethandrestar!”

Akkenta lowered his staff.

The Elderly Tuskaar  emerged from the hut, “ You did well Akkenta. Our people have been avenged, and now you may join them in the afterlife.”

The Elder planted a dagger in Akkenta’s shoulder.  Akkenta shouted in pain, but  managed to scramble together a shadow force powerful enough to kill the Elder instantly. Akkenta removed the dagger from his shoulder and threw  it to the ground.

The dagger handle had a marking of the Eraebus on it. After a moment, the  dagger disintegrated. “Demon magic? What is this?!” Akkenta said, standing up to look over the mass grave that now lay  before him.

An unfriendly voice whispered “You are mine now, Akkenta.”

“LIAR! I have avenged my people!” Akkenta shouted into the darkness.

The voice entered again, “That you did, as the Coursers also did the work for me. You should be proud to have joined me.”  

Akkenta grabbed at his tusks and furiously shook  his head and trunk. “BE GONE DEMON! You have no control over the dead, you deceitful wicked creature!”

The voice vanished from Akkenta’s mind. Akkenta now stared  back into the mass grave. Flames flickered from the torched huts, and the fire crackled as the smoke rose into the night sky.

As Akkenta stood up, the wind whipped in, snuffing out the flames. His eyes glowed with purple death magic in the darkness.  He raised his staff into the air and slammed the point of it into the ground.  A black tidal wave of arcane death magic turned into a tsunami and consumed  the corpses. Loud shrieks, and tearing sounds could be heard ripping through the jungle trees, almost as if clothes were being torn apart at their seams.

“Not the Coursers, not The Society, NOR A DEMON SHALL STAND IN MY PATH! YAAAAAAAAAAH!” Akkenta pulled his staff out from between the stones in the ground. “RISE MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN DEATH!”

Akkenta lowered his staff and pointed towards the cities surrounding the lake.

“We will seek aid from our brothers to wage war upon the Society!” The corpses rose , now undead, and stared at Akkenta, willing to follow his command. “MARCH!” The Trumpeting Undead began to march towards the lake cities off in the distance. 
“The Elves will be able to help. No demon will hold me down – hold us down.” Akkenta stomped ahead of his tribe, toward the Elven city of Shamradaer.

 


A War Drum of Death – Part 2

The moon shone brightly as Akkenta and his new found army trod  the crooked path towards the Elven city of Shamradaer. A light fog covered the twin lakes. Akkenta’s feet sunk into the marshy ground as he and his minions picked their way over the slivers of land that crossed the lake.  

Akkenta heard chatter from the ranks. He stopped and turned around to hear what the Undead Tuskaar had to say. “What say you brother?” Akkenta stared sharply at the Undead Tuskaar, but the Tuskaar stayed silent for  fear of Akkenta’s wrath.

Akkenta spoke again. “Brother, I am not here to harm you. I simply want to know your thoughts.”

The Undead Tuskaar spoke, “ I’m not sure it is wise to visit the Elves at this hour, Oba.”  

Akkenta stood and stared at the Tuskaar he had just revived . “Oba?” Akkenta thought, “I’m no Ruler.” Then Akkenta realized he was the last of his tribal kinsman and the other Tuskaar tribes were miles away.  He had inherited Oba out of right.

A whispering voice crept  into Akkenta’s mind. “You are the Ruler now. You have joined me.”

“SILENCE!” Akkenta shouted. The Undead Tuskaar clan gasped and silence immediately fell over the minion clan.

Akkenta grabbed his tusks and shook his head furiously, then trumpeted into the air. “LEAVE ME BE DEMON!” Akkenta clenched his hands into fists and began to summon a shadow ball.

A look of horror came over the Undead clan. They had already experienced death once before and dared not upset their new found Oba, lest they face it again.

Horns sounded and bright lights shone in the distance. Akkenta’s rage eased as the whispering demon’s voice faded.

New voices shouted from behind him. “WHO GOES THERE?” A deep thunderous voice rang out in a crisp and deep tone.

Squeaks and growls rippled one after the other through the night’s wind as four Water Hounds raced to Akkenta. The Water Hounds stopped in front of him, then proceeded to jump on him out of sheer excitement. The Elven chieftain stepped forward with five other Elven hunters behind him carrying war spears, bows, and axes. The Elves were a very barbaric type of people, yet great hunters.

They stood tall, and had so much muscle that it looked as though their biceps could smash a boulder between them. Elven tattoos crawled up  their torsos, over their shoulders, and onto their backs. Long braided beards hung from their chins, decorated with steel ornaments  to show respect to the Fire Eternal.  

The Elven chieftain stepped into the moonlight and looked Akkenta up and down. “It’s been too long brother.”

He offered his hand and arm to welcome Akkenta back to Shamradaer, to the commander’s home.

Akkenta smiled and his eyes danced, “It’s good to see you too, brother.” Akkenta took the tribal hand shake and then reached out to hug his old friend. “I wish we were meeting under better circumstances, Dathmar.”

Dathmar frowned. “What troubles you Brother?”

Akkenta stepped to the side and gestured for  Dathmar to see for himself.

Dathmar’s eyes widened a bit and  his eyebrows raised in disbelief. “They are as pale as the moon!” Dathmar turned to look at Akkenta, concerned. “What happened tonight, Akkenta?”

Akkenta rested the end of his staff on the ground and explained.  “We were attacked by the Coursers. They destroyed our entire village. I was out of options, the elder gave me this magic power that brought them back to life and -”

Dathmar interrupted Akkenta, “Back to life? Are your brothers and sister dead? This can’t be. They stand before me right now.”

One of the Tuskaar warriors stepped forward, “I saw heavens. I saw The Fire Eternal speaking to me. Then a loud voice came calling back to me, and it was Akkenta. I immediately turned back from the heavens to aide him.”

Dathmar was shocked. “Dead Tuskaar? Or should I say undead Tuskaar?!”

Dathmar turned to look at his Elven party as they discussed the situation in the Elvish tongue.

“SILENCE!” Dathmar shouted. “The Tuskaar are family. They are welcome to stay here in Shamradaer. I would die for any of them.”

Akkenta and the Undead Tuskaar were silent.  

“Follow,” Dathmar commanded his new guests.

The Waterhounds ran ahead squeaking and bellowing noises again into the night as Dathmar lead the way with Akkenta by his side. The Elven hunting party and Tuskaar army followed behind.

“Fandredor!” Dathmar shouted. One of the Elves from the hunting party ran up beside Dathmar.

“Yes Chieftain?”  Dathmar turned to look at Fandredor, one of his loyal men and warriors.

“The Tuskaar may have any resources they need. Food, Beds, and Water. Whatever it is they need.” Fandredor nodded and turned to leave but Dathmar spoke again. “ You must also send message to the other six Tuskaar tribes that their brothers are in need of aide. They must meet here in Shamradaer. Please also send a call to our Human brethren, and to the Cenzai.”

Fandredor looked confused. “Chieftain, why the Humans and the Cenzai?”

Dathmar stopped, halting Akkenta and the rest of the Tuskaar and Elven behind him. He turned to stare at Fandredor.

“We are on the Brink of War.” Dathmar handed Fandredor his chieftain spear so that he could bring it to the Elven Elders for confirmation, to sound the horns for war.

Fandredor stood, looking in disbelief for a moment, confused at the sudden matter of events.

Dathmar motioned for him to hurry.

Fandredor still stuck in confusion, standing stiff as a board, with his eyes squinting and mouth open.

“GO! Now Fandredor!” Dathmar shouted.

Fandredor ran toward the Elders lodge, with the Water Hounds playing chase alongside him. War was coming.