"Wergild?" Kendall pounced on that word.
Prince Philip nodded.
Ivan nodded in return as he scratched his chin.
"Well. It happened after the battle of Aaronne Glades. I put it away because it was blood gold and I wanted to do nothing to it. Sir Wilfred helped me put it in a bank, and I did not give it much thought until I needed the money. Those were harsh times; there wasn't much point in a knight like me to hold on to so much money, seeing that I may not live to see the second day."
A raging inferno ripped through the stream that was winding through Aaronne Glades, throwing up a wall of mist and quenched the fires immediately. Now, Ivan picked himself off the ground. He was very fortunate to have survived the explosion.
He checked himself. None of his limbs was broken, and he only had a few bruises. He thought to himself, "Surely, the monster must be destroyed by that fire."
It had been a brutal battle and Ivan had not slept for a day. The Zandarian rangers led by Marquis Rex had intended to ambush the Venetian's army. However, they were attacked by the monster Fury who was seeking the scent of an energem which he found on Ivan.
They found out that Fury was impervious to everything that they can throw at him; swords and arrows and spears and traps could not scratch him. Ivan tried to lure the monster into the Venetian's camp to be destroyed by the Venetian's army, and yet Fury prevailed over an entire army.
The monster would have slaughtered Ivan too, but Sir Wilfred came to their rescue. He transformed into the Gold Ranger and to fight Fury. Even though he had the power of the energem by his side, Sir Wilfred could not defeat his enemy as he was advanced in years and gravely wounded from the siege of Istria Triste.
It was in such strange circumstances, where enemies had to set aside their differences in order to fight a common enemy. The Venetian offered Marquis Rex the use of explosives crafted by Eastern alchemists to defeat their foe.
Marquis Rex, Ivan, and Sir Wilfred bound the terrible monster and detonated the explosive. In that explosion, Sir Wilfrid's sword was destroyed and the energem fell into the Venetian's hands. The three of them had barely made it out alive. Fortunately, Ivan landed on some soft grass. His mentors were not as lucky. From the corner of his eyes, he could see Marquis Rex drag Sir Wilfred, who was unconscious and de-morphed, to the far bank of the stream.
Despite their best efforts, the monster was still standing. Fury stood in the middle of the stream and picked up its wicked looking sword. It cast its eyes at the survivors with a look of satisfaction; Sir Wilfred, Marquis Rex, the Venetian, and young Ivan were the only ones standing between him and the energem. They have been exhausted from the fight. They would be like lambs to the slaughter.
Something was different now. Fury's hide, which had been impervious to all weaponry, was clearly scratched by the explosion. That was a trickle of blood flowing from a gash on Fury's forehead. It would appear that the monster was not so invulnerable after all.
Fury commented, "I must congratulate you humans. You made a weapon that could scratch me. But let this sink in. You have sacrificed so much and struggled so hard. All of this just to scratch me."
Ivan felt a lump rise in his throat. They may have weakened their enemy, but they were still in dire straits. Ivan was the only one left who can fight.
Every instinct in his body screamed at him to run. Ivan forced himself to stay, and he found a little bit of courage in defiance in him to face this foe.
With a quavering voice, Ivan shot back, "You know nothing, Fury. Today, Man has managed to lay a scratch on you, the monster. You may defeat us for now, but one day, we will prevail over you."
Fury sneered as he brandished his sword, "Fool. You cannot defeat me. I will raze this land until nothing grows on it. Step aside, and you may yet save your puny life. "
Ivan shot back as he readied his sword, "I am a Zandarian. This is my home and my life. I will fight for it."
Fury raised his sword to strike Ivan. Before the monster could land a blow, it reared back its head in pain.
An arrow had plunged itself deeply into the gash on Fury's forehead. On the far bank of the stream, there stood, Marquis Rex who fitted another arrow to his bow.
Rex called out, "Well said. Young and courageous Ivan."
With one hand, Fury plucked the arrow from its bleeding forehead and snapped it in half between its fingers. Then the monster flung the broken shafts into the stream. It was the moment Ivan was waiting for.
"By George! Taste steel monster!" With a loud yell, Ivan drew his sword and leapt into the air and slammed his sword into Fury's forehead. It buried itself deeply into the gash that Fury bore and drew a copious amount of blood.
With a roar of pain, Fury backhanded Ivan and sent him flying. Ivan landed in the stream; the water broke the impact of his fall. He got up but he realized that he had no weapon to fight Fury for his own sword was buried deep in the monster's head.
With a roar, the monster ripped the sword buried into his forehead and flung the weapon away.
"I will enjoy making you suffer. " Fury snarled as he advanced towards Ivan. Rex fired arrow after arrow to slow Fury's advance, but it failed.
"Not on my watch. Demonspawn."
It was the Venetian. He stood beside Ivan with the energem in hand. The Venetian's posture was regal, and his cruel eyes were set with unyielding determination.
The energem crackled with power in his hand.
"I will use this power to stop you. For now and for good, " the Venetian said, his cruel eyes blazing.
Fury sneered, "The Gold Ranger has tried to defeat me, but he failed. What makes you think you can do any better, human?"
The Venetian suddenly spoke to the energem, "Hear me, crystal, my name is Victor Dracul Dandolo, and I am a Knight Templar in the Order of Solomon's Temple. I am also an adopted son in House Dandolo, peerless among the noble houses of Venice. When I was a young boy, I lost my mother to plague and my father to war. For ten years, I was imprisoned at the hellish island of Chateau d'If where I discovered the Faith. Since then I had only one goal. To defeat them, the demons and all the nonbelievers, undo the plans that they have made. Today I face a demon far too powerful to fight. So I say, there is no price too high for me to pay to defeat the enemy that stands before me."
In response, the energem flared to life in the Venetian's hands. He was cloaked with pure, unbridled power. Even the ground beneath his feet shook and splintered.
The Venetian shuddered as he was bathed in power and he let out a blood-curdling scream. Pure power matched equally with pure pain.
He pushed the energem straight into his left hand, as one pushes a needle through a piece of fabric, and it glowed within his left hand.
Something was terribly wrong. Even Ivan could feel it deep in his gut. An ancient fear. A fear that told him to run and he ran for his life. Behind him was the sounds of blood-curdling screams and the sound of bone crunching.
When he made it to the opposite end of the stream, Ivan heard a familiar voice.
"I got you, boy."
Sir Wilfred fished him out of the water. Ivan marvelled on the inside. Sir Wilfred was old enough to be his grandfather, and he had been gravely wounded. Somehow, that old man managed to get up and pull Ivan out of the water.
Spluttering like a wet chicken, Ivan turned around. Sir Wilfred looked completely drained and weary as he sat on the grass. Rex was beside him, his arrows were depleted, and he was forced to scavenge for more.
At a safe distance, Ivan turned to look at the savage battle that broke out between the Venetian and Fury.
Brimming with pure power, the Venetian slammed Fury into the stream and rained bone-crunching punches at the monster's face.
Fury fought back with equal intensity. At that point, there was no need for weapons as both sides began wrestling each other with other-worldly might.
Fury saw a chance. It opened its monstrous jaws over the Venetians' left hand and closed over it. The Venetian screamed in anguish as he held out a bleeding stump.
A burst of intense light erupted in Fury's maw and caused the monster great pain. It spat out a glowing hand and fell to its knees, clutching at its maw. The hand melted away, leaving behind a glowing energem
The Venetian seized his chance and drew on all the power that the energem bestowed upon him. In one fluid motion, he gave the monster a powerful uppercut which sent it flying to the skies. When Fury finally crash-landed on earth, it would have found itself in the harshest regions of Siberia. Far away from Zandar.
With that deed accomplished and all the energy drained from him, the Venetian picked up the energem from the stream with his right hand and raise it into the air in triumph.
"It is accomplished. I am Victor Dracul Dandolo, Surrogate to the House of Dandolo, Knight in the Order of Venice. This day I fought a creature called Fury, the devourer of armies, and prevailed."
Ivan heard Sir Wilfred speak from behind him.
"Well done, young Victor, Now, give me the energem. It is a most dangerous power. Whoever touches such power is touched by a cursed fate."
The Venetian cocked his head to one side. Then he scrutinized the energem. A mad smile spread over his face.
"No, Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe. The energem is mine. I claim this crystal as wergild. I claim this power for the cause of the Holy Roman Empire and the Church. I can reverse every single defeat. With such power, no enemy of mine can stand, and I will impale their heads on a pike."
Sir Wilfred got on his feet, assisted by Ivan. He stared straight at the Venetian with a knowing look.
"I know what it's like to lose. As a knight of faith, to feel so desperately that you're right, yet to fail nonetheless. The power you have in your hand can bring the whole of Europe to its knees in an instant. But I ask you. To what end? Would you stop until Europe is yours? Or even the world? Can you endure the temptation?"
The Venetian hesitated for a moment.
"With this, I finally rest from my labours, and watch the sunrise on a saved and ungrateful world."
An arrow shot through the air and knocked the energem from his hands. A second arrow followed immediately after and buried itself in the Venetian's knee. The Venetian fell into the stream, screaming in pain.
It was Rex. There was a grim look on his face as he uttered, "The hardest choices require the strongest wills."
He immediately jumped into the stream and fished out the energem from the stream. Rex had the same look that the Venetian had on his face, "We will do no such thing. I will wield this power for only one purpose. To protect. Zandar will always be protected."
The same mad look was on Rex's face.
Sir Wilfred looked at Ivan with a sad look. Ivan knew what he had to do. He knew what he must do.
Ivan cried out as he drew his sword against Rex.
"Don't make me do this sir."
Ivan stammered. "A-as a ranger and as a knight. I fear you are going down a dark path, Marquis. I care for you too much to let this madness take you, Sir."
Rex swallowed hard.
"Very well then."
He thumbed the energem and flicked it into the air. Sir Wilfred caught it and tucked it into his pocket.
Sir Wilfred said in a gravelly voice, "You done well, Marquis. You've done well."
Rex placed his blade across the Venetian's neck.
Rex said, "What I am doing. I do it in the name of peace and sanity."
Sir Wilfred thundered, "But not in the name of the Rangers."