Chapter Four: Rock, arrow, scythe, draw
Ka'vak had been making his way to Cur'vak'ah's cave when he saw it, believing that it was the most likely place the Agrom would have gone to, in light of Ka'vak's disbelief. When they got home, the boy was going to be in so much trouble, Empresses knows Agora was probably starting to worry now about where they were.
It wasn't that Ka'vak didn't love Agrom - quite the opposite - no one else was as precious to Ka'vak as Agrom and Agora. It was that the boy refused to grow up, to mature and leave those childish dreams behind him that Ka'vak didn't. Once, when he was a boy himself, Ka'vak had been a dreamer. Admittedly he'd still wanted to be a miner but that had not stopped Ka'vak from begging Cur'vak'ah to tell him stories about the Lords of Gorm, about the stones and the Empress and the battles that their own proud people had marched away from the victor. Once Ka'vak's head had been full of dreams and tales to tell, full of all the things he'd do once he climbed that wall.
But once was a long time ago. He'd been forced to grow up quickly when Agora fell pregnant with Agrom - he would not allow his child to starve because of his foolish imaginings. He'd abandoned his imagination when he picked up his pickaxe the first time, when he'd raised it and struck down against hard rock to put food on the table for the love of his life and unborn son. He abandoned the idea that there was anything on the other side of the Great Wall. Now he knew, or thought he knew, that there was nothing on the other side. Agora knew that there was nothing on the other side. Their unborn child would know that there was nothing more than a desolate wasteland on the other side - a scar left by The Way. And yet… Agrom carried on, carried on believing and looking up into the sky, carried on with his dreaming and his wishing for something more.
Ka'vak was terrified that one day Agrom would die because of his dreams. Terrified that his baby boy would return home battered and broken. Yet, Ka'vak was petrified that the day would come when Agrom's hopes and dreams would be murdered, cut down by harsh realisation.
Then it happened.
A blinding white light.
Pain as white maggots of light bore into Ka'vak eyes.
Pain as he heard the most unearthly screaming.
Firespitter had been gliding above the ground, trying the find that pesky Gormiti. Oh he'd make the boy pay for burying him under that rock pile.
Suddenly Firespitter was knocked back several feet in the air.
A blinding white column of light shooting into the air.
The voices of the Lords and Ladies of Earth.
Firespitter smiled as he caught sight of a nearby village. Well, if he couldn't find the boy, then he might as well get the attention of the new Lord of Gorm.
Agrom had opened his eyes. He felt… different. Something had… changed, but he didn't know what or who. Glancing at his hands, he was surprised to find a gauntlet that went from above his left elbow to his left wrist. His loan cloth had been replaced, longer now but not impractically so. Amour covered his torso and chest, with the Earth Stone set in the middle of the earth kingdom symbol on the latter. His legs were protected by armour as well. Upon closer inspection, the amour looked just like stone, but somehow it moved with him, flowed over his limps, never once constricting him. It was so odd.
Quickly, he scanned his surroundings - looking for anything that might have changed, or anything that was the same - he wasn't sure. Nothing. Nothing was different. It was just him. Just him.
For a moment Agrom had believed that they were the same as those he had heard only moments before, chanting, ordering (and that woman…) realisation dawned up him soon after. One was Cur'vak'ah, the other sounded recently familiar, but he couldn't place it. Not yet.
As Agrom made his way back to the ground floor, the voices turned a conversation. Agrom only got snippets of it, something about the "other Lords" and "Magor's threat". That had earned a frown from him. Wasn't Magor a myth? Then again, hadn't fire Gormiti had mention Magor? Could be a relative, Agrom supposed, certain names got repeated in families in the Earth Kingdom, so why not in others?
"If we leave now, we'll reach the air kingdom in a month's time." The familiar voice said in response to Cur'vak'ah's.
"And what are your plans when you get there? As I recall the last time you went there King Navrin wasn't a fan." There was a hint of humour in Cur'vak'ah's voice. However he quickly sobered up and added, "From what I know, his son Nadar isn't much better and don't get me started on his child! Arrogant like his grandfather but without the skill and brains."
"Appearances can deceive old friend. The stone would not have taken to him if there was nothing of merit. Blood is not enough for such things."
Agrom made his way up the steps and found Cur'vak'ah talking to the strange Gormiti. They both turned to look at him. Cur'vak'ah smiling sadly, whereas the other bowed.
"Lord Agrom." He said politely.
Agrom stared at him, thinking of something to say, "Old Sage." came out without much input from his brain.
Old Sage was about to correct the mistake when a sudden explosion rocked the ground beneath them.
The three raced outside the cave.
A thick column of smoke was raising from the distance. Bloody light dancing along the contours of the cloud as something beneath it burned.
It was Hearth Keep.
Hearth Keep was burning!
Agrom hadn't realised he was running until he heard Cur'vak'ah's voice, seemingly far off, begging him to wait.
She was running. Her feet slammed against the rough ground as she powered on. The smoke and fire had been visible from the Great Wall, alongside the winged shape of Firespitter. Ember prayed to the Empress that she wasn't too late.
Everything was burning. Burning to the ground. The Singing Stones were crying out, their azure surface pulsing with the frequency of a terrified heart. Building were crumbling to the ground. Gormiti were screaming. Agrom had been forced to stop to just stare.
How could he have let this happen? He should have gone with his father. He should have tried to warn someone, anyone about Firespitter instead of running off like a child to Cur'vak'ah. He should have… he should have…
"What do I do?" Agrom whispered to himself, watching the catalyst of his home's destruction as he flew high above, vomiting lava onto the stone buildings.
Agrom hadn't expected an answer.
"You defend your people, young Lord."
Agrom ripped round to see the Old Sage standing there.
"But when I fought him earlier I could barely defend myself, let alone anyone else." Agrom stuttered.
"How can I be expected to defend anyone else."
Ka'vak cursed himself. Agrom had been telling the truth.
The creature was circling over head, spewing lava over Hearth Keep, destroying anything in its path. Half the homes in the village had already caved in on themselves, and Gormiti had been evacuated to the cave system below. At least Agora was safe, having led everyone below ground. Feeling responsible for not heeding their son's warning, Ka'vak had stayed above ground, distracting the creature whilst the last of the Earth Gormiti made their way to the cave system. Some had been scattered about - Ka'vak had seen Kondo get separated from his family, but not where the young Gormiti had gone - but that was better than staying in the burning village.
Ka'vak ran, twisting out of the way of a lava stream, ramming his pickaxe in the rocky terrain to turn sharply. He took refuge behind a boulder, panting and struggling to regain his bearings. He knew that the creature would have seen where he'd gone, but right now he didn't have a plan. He needed a plan. He needed help.
Empress he hoped Agrom was safe.
"Come out a face me dirt pile!"
Agrom watched in horror as his father narrowly dodged being engulfed by lava, as his father hide behind the bolder.
"The power to defend your kingdom is within you, young Lord." The Old Sage spoke.
Agrom could feel the power, he could feel it but what did he do with it. He would have asked, but his father was thrown across the ground.
Firespitter raising his scythe.
Agrom ran, for the second time, head on into trouble.
How would he ever learn?
Agrom ran into Firespitter, sending the fire Gormiti back several feet.
"Hey, flame brain, why don't you leave whilst you still have the chance."
The fire Gormiti quirked a brow, "So you have realised the power of the Gorm stone! No matter, it shall not save you! By day's end my master shall possess that stone."
The young Gormiti sneered, "You want it so bad? Come here and take it!"
Firespitter smiled, "Very well." With a flap of his great wings he flew straight into Agrom, latching onto the Lord's shoulders with his talons and throwing him to the ground. Agrom rebounded roughly from a boulder. Agrom ducked under a swipe from the talons, feeling them tear open his left shoulder.
On instinct, he pushed back. The earth around them shuddered.
Firespitter laughed and stalked round the youngling, laughing. "Discovering power means little dirtling if you do not know how to use it." Firespitter swung his scythe low. Agrom twisted to avoid having his knees severed from the rest of his body then rolled under another wide arch. He came up a few feet around and lunged behind a boulder to gather himself. He gasped when he noticed the old Gormiti from earlier, who had seemed to appear from the air itself.
"Firespitter is correct young Lord. The power that the stone has unlocked is mighty but undisciplined. You need guidance, which I am willing to offer."
Agrom shrugged "So he got in a few good hits. But I'm just getting started."
The old Gormiti raised an eyebrow, "Any fool can hit. As a Lord of Gorm your surroundings are among your greatest allies - learn to harness them." Glancing to his left the Gormiti added, "I suggest you move."
Quickly, Agrom jumped out of the way of a shot of lava. He come up in a roll, taking hold of a large rock as he did so. He wasn't sure what he was going to do with it, but with Firespitter approaching anything was better than nothing.
"Just give me the stone," the fire Gormiti said silkily, "Give me the stone and then your people can live in peace youngling."
He's lying, Agrom thought. He tightened his grip on the stone, taking aim. "Huh, yeah, right. You'll just leave us alone?" Agrom threw the stone. Shocked at such impertinence, Firespitter batted it away with a flick of his wrist. The stone bounded off the blade of the scythe and landed somewhere behind them.
Laughing Firespitter advanced on Agrom, who was grabbing a boulder and hefting it above his head. Just as Agrom was about to throw it at Firespitter, the elder Gormiti projected a torrent of lava at the young Gormiti. It splashed Agrom's hands, burning through the tough hide. Agrom threw the boulder blindly, missing Firespitter by a mile. Falling to his knees Agrom screamed, lava rolling down his hands and rapidly cooling.
"As intelligent as a bag of rocks, all Earth Gormiti are the same." Firespitter smiled, "Like lambs to the slaughter."
Ka'vak heard Agrom's screams.
Without thinking he ran out from his hiding place.
His son was on his knees, crying out for someone called Old Sage to help him. To do anything.
A voice on the wind. Barely audible, whispering something. Later Ka'vak would assume only Agrom could make it out as the boy gasped something back.
"Who are you talking to dirtling? Have I driven you mad with fear?"
That monster was laughing! How could it be laughing at Agrom's pain?
Ka'vak roared and ran straight at the creature, pick axe raised.
Agrom strained his hearing to listen to Old Sage over the sound of his own screams. The lava had cooled and dripped off his hands.
"I cannot help you young one. Magor must not know that I have returned."
"Just throw - just throw a ro-rock or something. P-Please."
Suddenly Firespitter was screaming also. Ka'vak's pick axe had found its way into the Fire Gormiti's shoulder blade. Blood spurted up from the rock and rolled in heavy drops down the monster's shoulders.
Breathing heavily, Agrom rose to his feet. "Use your enemy's abilities against him."
Ka'vak ducked under the scythe. He pared against another swipe with his pick axe, hooking the end round the blade and drawing it wide. Then he shot forward and took Firespitter to the floor.
Firespitter threw Ka'vak off him. Agrom saw his father slam against a rock wall, Firespitter poised to move in for the kill.
"Use your surroundings."
Agrom watched the jet of lava shoot from Firespitter's mouth.
Time seemed to slow down.
Agrom concentrated on the earth around him. The stones at his feet, the rock wall behind his father, the earth itself.
Empress nothing had happened!
That was until a volley of arrows darted from somewhere above and smashed upon impact with the ground. A strange substance bubbles as it rapidly grew, forming a barrier against the lava which splashed against it as useless as drop of water against a canyon wall.
Agrom tried to stand as a figure moved with a swiftness he had never seen before, dodged each of Firespitter's attacks. They disappeared behind a rock and would reappear several feet away, fire an arrow, then rematerialize again in another spot.
Firespitter was driven further and further back until he's back was against a one of the Singing Stones, several feet Firespitter's height.
A final arrow hit the rock. An explosion followed. The Singing Stone collapsed and crumbled on Firespitter.
Agrom sighed as his father began helping him to his feet. As soon as Agrom was standing, Ka'vak began examining his son's hands.
I beat him. Agrom looked around him for the stranger who had attacked Firespitter. He hadn't gotten a good luck at them, but he knew it hadn't been Old Sage. The body had been too fast and too small for the old Gormiti. Or at least someone beat him. But Hearth Keep's destroyed. How did he even know about the village?
"The good news is your hands will be fine. Thank the Empress for thick skin or -"
"Where's mum? Where is everyone?"
I must have led him here! I ran off the Cur'vak'ah and led Firespitter straight here!
"Your mother's fine. She led everyone into the cave system. She can handle them."
Agrom frowned. The village had more than fifty residence. "How -"
Ka'vak smiled, "She raised you and married me. Pretty sure she can handle anything."
A rumbling sound behind them. Firespitter's fist breaking through the rubble.
He's not going to stop! Agrom thought, he's-"My Lord seeks something in this land of yours: and artefact of no importance to you but of grave consequence to him. Where is the Earth Stone". Agrom glanced at his chest, where the stone rested.
"If he's after the Stone, then he's after me." Agrom muttered to himself. Before his father could question him Agrom added, "I'll lead him away from the village. Make sure everyone's safe."
"Agrom! Agrom get back here!"
Galesdo watched the young Earth Lord speed away from the village, tearing a path across the landscape. Infuriated for having been bested by an Earth Gormiti and a youngling at that Firespitter perused the child without a second thought spared for the village. Ember had disappeared, but if any of his lessons had left an impact on her, she'd be following Agrom and Firespitter.
Sighing with relief Galesdo smiled, "He's no Terra, but the fool might be the Gormiti for the job."
"Come and get me flame-brain!"
"If he doesn't get himself killed first."
I can't believe how long it's been since I've updated anything one this website. Since last chapter I've found a channel on Youtube that shows Gormiti Nature unleashed. I'd almost forgot how much I love Old Sage sassing everyone. I have a plan/checklist now. There's at least 80 things on it, but that's just an estimate based upon things that need to happen and nothing else so just how many chapters is still unclear
I've also got a deviant art account under the same name that you can check out.
Here's hoping you enjoyed Chapter four
Edit: I wasn't happy with the chapter – certain things felt forced - so I've changed a few things.