Welcome to chapter 26 of Arena of Souls- A Brock Stone Adventure, a serial adventure story in the style of the old pulps. If you’re just joining in, begin here:
Chapter 26: The Battle
Stone heard the commotion long before he reached the valley. Alarmed shouts, sharp commands, loud cracks and crashes emanated from far below. He quickened his pace, and the faint sounds solidified into the unmistakable sounds of battle. His heart raced. What had happened? Were Trinity and the others all right?
He shot down the steep path at a breakneck pace. Several times, he almost lost his footing. A fall down the steep, rocky face of the volcano could be deadly, but he did not consider the risk. He’d left his friends alone and now he feared they were paying the price.
He topped a rise and Ogygia came into view. Down below, the Ogygians battled the caveman-like Varri. Stone searched the chaos for signs of his friends and quickly spotted Moses, who had presumably emptied his rifle and now used it as a club, battering the powerful but slow Varri. Nearby, Alex had found a spear and was desperately keeping a determined Varri at bay.
He saw no sign of Trinity.
It felt like an eternity before he finally burst into the city and into the midst of the battle. He drew his Webley, dropped to one knee, and selected his target— a brute of a warrior, armed with two clubs, who was driving Alex back toward Stone. He took careful aim and squeezed off a single shot that took the huge Varri in the eye socket.
Alex whirled around and a relieved grin spread across his face.
“Stone! Thank God. We’re being pressed hard here, and Moses and I are out of bullets. Not to mention, I’m no great shakes at hand-to-hand fighting.”
“Just stay alive. Where’s Trinity?”
Alex’s eyes narrowed. “I haven’t seen her since the attack began. We were at the pyramid, meeting with the council. Samman said he would keep her safe.”
Stone immediately took off for the pyramid, weaving around the combatants who dueled all around. A Varri occasionally blocked his path, and immediately fell to Stone’s bullets. By the time he reached the pyramid, he’d reloaded twice and was down to four bullets in the revolver.
The battle raged hottest at the foot of the pyramid. Malik and Akenta fought like cornered tigers, slashing and thrusting their spears at every Varri that came within reach. Stone prayed Trinity was safe inside, but he’d have to fight through the throng in order to find out.
Forsaking his Webley in the close quarters, he took up a club dropped by a fallen Varri, drew his knive, and drove forward. The Varri fell back before his furious attack. He killed a few, but most shied away.
He heard a cry in the distance and saw Moses leading a group of Ogygians. Their line swept in behind the Varri who were attacking the pyramid. Up on the pyramid’s heights, a group of young men armed with primitive bows seemed to take heart from this new turn of events, and began loosing arrows at a rapid clip.
The Varri assault crumbled, and soon the brutes were in full retreat. Stone, Moses, and Akente held back as the Ogygians drove their enemies from the valley, taking down as many of the fleeing primitives as they could.
Stone watched the retreat for a few seconds, then turned to Akente.
“Where is Trinity? Is she inside?”
Akente’s brow furrowed. “She retreated toward the back of the city when the attack began.” He pointed his lips in the direction from which Stone had come. “Samman was with her.”
“I came from that direction and I didn’t see her.” Stone paused. “Why would Samman take her? Why wouldn’t he stay and fight?”
“At the time, I thought he wanted to keep her safe. Of course, I was busy fighting for my life, so I did not think about it for very long. Now, it seems odd. The pyramid would have been the safest place for her.”
A heavy feeling hung in the pit of Stone’s stomach. “Do you have any idea where he might have taken her?”
Akente shook his head.
“We’ll just have to find her, then,” Moses said.
“Find who?” Alex, still clutching the spear, appeared around the corner of the temple. Other than a bruised cheek and a few cuts in his forearms, he appeared unscathed.
“Trinity,” Stone said. “Samman took her.”
“Where? Why?” Alex asked.
“I know where,” a small voice from somewhere above them said.
Stone looked up to see one of the young archers looking down at them. “I saw Samman running with the white woman.”
“Did you see where they went?”Akente demanded.
“Yes.” The dark-skinned youth paused and swallowed hard. “They went down the Path of the Dead.”
“No.” Akente took a step back. “It is forbidden.”
The youth shrugged.
“The Path of the Dead? What does that mean?” Stone asked.
“It means.” Akente took a deep breath. “That Samman has taken Trinity into the Arena of Souls.”