Arlon the wizard got the call late at night. He was busy reading an ancient scroll when the red potion bowl bubbled. He focused his eyes on the bowl and spoke the spell: "Spake, speak, spoken it will be," and when he waved his hand over the bowl, the bubbles began bubbling with strange noises, so strange they began to sound like the voices of old men speaking through tubes. Arlon bent his head to hear better.
"The trolls and spiders have taken the pass. They are rolling into the valley. They must be held at the river bridge, or all will be lost."
Arlon stood up, gathered his staff, his cloak, and grabbed the heavy bag of herbs, potions, and gems of various powers he kept handy. He lifted his staff and with a fierce voice, intoned a travel spell: "Magnus Moribus! The old stone bridge. Imus Ima!"
In a flash of blue light he disappeared, leaving behind a stream of blue sparkle dancing in the air.
Across the land a shiver ran up to the river. Foxes and crows, naturally attuned to magic, knew a poweful wizard was traveling about. The foxes hid in their tunnels and the crows flew away, dark winged shapes in the gloom, croaking above the trees.
Near the river, fierce fighting could be heard. Steel clanging on armor, flying arrows zipping through the air with a shush. At the stone bridge, an Elven hero stood alone on the path. His blond hair was drenched with sweat and he let loose arrow after arrow into the mass of spiders crawling ever nearer.
His green cloak was stained with brown and black blood of goblin and mountain spiders. He was about to fall when the artillery of rocks fell among the spiders, and a volley of arrows from the little hill where the archers has set up their team fell among the spiders at the edge of the bridge, sending their shrieks of pain into the sky. Three knights came up to stand with the hero on the bridge, blocking the way with their shields, and mowing the spiders downs with great swings of their great swords.
For a moment it seemed they would have the upper hand. Artillery of massive boulders hit the spiders in great blows that squashed a few dead and injured many more with flying stone shards.
Then a great noise rose from the forest ahead, and a shiver ran through the defenders as they realized the armored trolls had arrived. More than ten feet tall, each troll weighed over six hundred pounds. They wore steel armor and each carried a war hammer that weighed a hundred pounds. The trolls ran forward with a great cry. Dozens of them stepped on spiders to reach the narrow bridge.
The Elven hero reached into his quiver and took his last arrow. "I can't do much more here."
The three knights pulled back. "We cannot fight the trolls alone."
The Elven archers knew, too, they could not fight the trolls' hammers and their arrows glanced off their steel armor. Even the rock artillers knew the bridge would fall.
With a heavy heart they prepared to withdraw. They all knew many farms would be burned, and farmers would have to flee, taking their families through the darkness to the safety of the fortress, if they were lucky enough to reach it.
The tallest troll, a beast names Grolk, reached the middle of the bridge, and with a great war cry, raised his hammer above his head and called out "Kraashnagor!" Which, in their foul tongue, simply meant Victory.
At that very moment, the air crackled and a flash of light from above came crashing down onto the ground and shook the bridge and all around in deafening thunder.
The trolls, once sure of their victory, cleared the bridge in sheer panic. When they looked up all they could see was a wizard atop the bridge, a nine foot staff in his right hand and a shield of Adamantine covering his left. Unseen to them was Gamladil, his magic sword, forged long ago, for it was hidden beneath the long purple robes the wizard wore.
Grolk screamed an ear-piercing cry full of malice and hate, urging the armored trolls forward, to rush the bridge once more.
But the wizard was ready. His staff shone with a great light, brighter than the sun itself, blinding the trolls and the spiders, sending them back to the darkness of the trees. The Adamantine shield began to glow with a pale and perilous light. The wizard's eyes saw all at once what had to be done. His beard barely moved as he spoke the ancient incantation: a spell of yore not uttered once since the great fall of Magdalion.
"Arno arum, ursus magnus, kreil zum!"
As he uttered that last word, a darkness fell upon them all, and from the darkest dark in the dark place came a wild roar, a bear's great voice.
Pitch black he was, curled up as though asleep. He rose on his hind legs and lifted two gigantic paws. He came to stand twenty feet high, twice as tall as the tallest troll. His eyes glowed red, and his teeth, each longer than a man's finger, glittered like gold. When he opened his mouth, his tongue, like embers from a fire, glowed red and smoldered.
The Elven hero came rushing back, a full quiver of arrows on his back. He looked at the dark bear. "I haven't seen a Volcano Bear in a long time!" He said with a broad smile. The three knights scratched their heads under their helmets. The closest one exclaimed: "I've never seen such a monster. Is it really on our side?"
Arlon turned to the knights. "Volcano Bears are on nobody's side, but they despise trolls, so this should work to our advantage.
Indeed, the Volcano Bear sniffed the air, and smelling the foul stench of the trolls, set off running toward the closest one. It barely had time to raise his hammer before the Volcano Bear closed its jaws over his head, crushing the steel helmet like aluminum foil. At that moment another troll came from behind and tried to swing his great hammer, but the Volcano Bear was swifter and a swipe of his great paw sent the troll sprawling head-first into the great river. He stood back up but realized much too late that the waters were enchanted, and by a powerful spell too, for he began to shrink, more and more, and soon found himself no bigger than a common cricket. He saw the fish at the last moment. Fish are fond of crickets.
Meanwhile the battle raged on. The Volcano Bear chomped another troll, and left a fourth in small pieces. Arlon pointed his staff at large spiders and with swift magic missile of bright white light he exploded a great many of them, showering spider innards on the unfortunate goblins.
Apparently the elf archers had decided on taking down all the goblins. One by one the goblins fell, pierced with arrows through and through, and some even fell in the river only to shrink impossibly and become trout food.
The artillers and their rock catapults too brought the fight back. They found more rocks, boulders really, and launching them into the sky with a thud, they aimed straight for the troll heads.
Arlon kept his mind focused on the spell that bound the Volcano Bear to this time-dimension, keeping his hand firmly on his staff, to help his balance. Keeping such a large creature out of its own time was exhausting, mentally draining.
Soon, the last armored troll had been dispatched. The spiders lay all dead in a mass of tangled legs, and the last goblin turned back and disappeared into the forest, an arrow stuck in his shoulder armor.
Alron spoke then, a growl meant for the Volcano Bear, and the beast growled back, seeming content at last. The darkness returned, a black swirling cloud that came to touch the ground where the Volcano Bear stood. When it lifted away, the bear was gone, and Arlen collapsed to his knees, spent.
The Elvish hero came to Arlon's aid and helped him up.
"Thank you Fealnor. I grew weary for a moment."
Almost as an afterthought, he reached into his pouch and brought out a small gourd, something old, made of dark leather. He offered it to the Elves and to the three knights.
"Drink, it's from an old druid friend of mine, from a small village in Gaul. It will restore your strength."
After they each took a small sip they felt themselves renewed, as though perhaps they now possessed unnatural strengh.
When the next wave came, it never stood a chance.
And that's the end of the tale. If I decide someday to write more about Arlon the Wizard, I will tell of it here.
Written from June 1 to June 3, 2015, because Andrew liked the beginning I wrote at Cha Cha Chicken, trying to not be bored before the food arrived. The story is loosely based on the android game Kingdom Rush, which they were both playing at the time.
© 2015 Christopher Mahan