The final Episode of the epic Zachania series, comes to a breathtaking finale!
Will the Zachanians be victorious in their fight for freedom, will they revenge the injustices of their ancestors by the evil Kallick Empire?
The Zachanians led by Talon the Zararhakzar and King Arun now battle for their lives as they advance relentlessly towards their enemy.
Will Lord Heikan and his elite House of Heikan regiment be a match for the emperor’s son and his lethal assassins, the Kinjoura?
Will the legendary Zachanian battle wizard Ganasis, outwit his nemesis, the evil imperial wizard Grarlin?
Can the ancient and formidable race of Kesain, prevail against the barbaric race of Degrain.
Zachania Tome III will reveal all the answers..
Tome III, comes to crashing end as you are taken across the five realms of Kratos….Beast battles beast and wizards fight wizards. Men of honour and courage fight to the last ounce of strength as they strive for survival and victory.
It is a time of chaos and fear as war reaches every corner of Kratos! Only one side will prevail, only one ruler will conquer….. Zachania tome III never stops to take a breath, it unfolds at a frightening pace where battles are fought on the fields of war and in the hearts of men.
The man who defends his home will fight with every sinew of his body; he will leave his last breath on the field of battle if it saves the lives of his family.
Ancient words of the God Apollo.
“Such feeble fighting men should not hold a sword in their hand….they shame the steel they grasp!”
“I want the same steel in your hearts as you wield in your hands.”
“Beyond that valley lies greatness……By nightfall every single one of you can be a hero of Zachania! People will say your name with reverence….there will be songs and sonnets written about you, children will pretend to be you…You will live the rest of your lives as Gods!
“Fear is for children at bedtime…we are men on the battlefield and to show fear here, will surely put you into a sleep you will never wake from.”
Zachania Tome III
There was a weary and troubled look on the brow of Grarlin; he stood hunched as he listened to the tribal leaders arguing amongst themselves, his usual assertive self was replaced with a look of exhaustion as he tried to take stock of the situation he had now found himself in.
Degrainia the capital city of Degrain was a town under siege, there was panic in the air as everyone feared the imminent onslaught of the Zachanians.
Baron Gragu the tenth Luid of the ancient Tockla tribe was shouting angrily at his men, he was enraged with what was transpiring in Degrain and furious at Grarlin and the Empire for their lack of assistance.
“Why does the emperor delay?.... Does he want Degrain to fall?” He yelled loudly at Grarlin who just sat down amongst all the bickering.
“Of course it's not what we want, I am here to prove this and what do I find?.... I find a town gripped with panic and despair.”
“You confuse panic with anger Grarlin, where is the help we were promised?...Over half this sacred land is now under control of the wretched Zachanians… when is this help arriving… When will you aid us. When we are all without breath and crushed into the dirt?”
Grarlin bit his lip and looked down at his feet trying to calm himself from the angry manner he had just been spoken to, a moment later after a long breath he replied to the Baron.
“We have already taken steps to save Degrainia, you must trust me on this, Degrainia will be safe.”
“How are we safe? You came alone Grarlin, where is your army?...The Zachanians are in the hills breathing the same Degrainia air as us and alone we still stand, waiting for the attack!”
“You must not worry Gragu, have trust in your emperor, he has not abandoned you.”
“Shall I tell that to the towns of Harloom and Doofra?.... They too trusted the emperor; they waited for help as the Zachanians breached their walls and murdered them in their homes. What shall we say to them?”
Grarlin suddenly jumped up from his chair, Baron Gragu’s constant shouting had now stretched his patience too far.
“BE SILENT!.....ACT as a leader and remember the heritage you stem from!....I came here to help you fight!....All I have found is a group of fat Degrainians scared that they might miss their next meal. So you are under attack, so you have lost lives, well so have we.
We have been fighting the Zachanians for the past year!.....Enough of you winging Gragu, ready your army and prepare for battle.”
“We will fight Grarlin, we will fight them to the last man, but what shall we do with the one they call Talon, he fights with the gods on his side, in his hand he carries the sword of Apollo so how do we fight such divineness’?”
Lord Heikan allowed himself a confident smile as he knelt down to grab a handful of Degrainian dirt, he raised his hand to his nose, smelt it then threw it back onto the ground. It had been a long and exhausting month of battle in this far off land but he could feel that it was coming to an end.
He slowly rose to his feet and looked down into the valley where the vast Zachanian army were camped, he smiled again as the pride sent a shiver down his spine, he felt more alive than ever before. He thought of how the people back home would be talking about them, and how they would be forever named as heroes for conquering Degrain.
The sun was setting over the mountains in the distance, a time of the day when everyone felt relief for a few hours as the scorching Degrain sun gave way to the coolness of the night.
Heikan looked down at the leader's tent and tapped Kinlan on the arm,
“Let us return to the tent, Lord Talon will be starting again.” He said leading the way down the small hill.
Lord Talon gave Heikan a slight smile as he entered the tent, at Talon’s right sat King Arun and Ganasis and around them sat all the great Lords. Heikan got back into his chair just as Talon resumed the meeting again, a meeting that had been called to discuss tomorrow’s march on Degrainia.
“Do we have any idea just how much resistance we shall meet?” asked King Arun directing his question towards Ganasis and the wizard Zumal.
“That is hard to say Sire, if we take the view of what we have already met, then we should be confident that their armies will not be able to match us.” answered Ganasis only for Zumal to add his own opinion.
“But if we judge the Degrain on what they once were, then who knows what we will come up against…. we could walk into a town which is full of might and power and if we measure that power on the strength they once had, then the outcome of this battle could be very different indeed.”
King Arun nodded as he digested what he had just heard, “interesting.” He sighed almost silently as he sank into his own thoughts, “does anyone else have anything to add?” he said once again quietly.
“My instinct tells me that this town of Degrainia will be completely different to anything we have encountered thus far.” Talon added which suddenly stiffened the lords.
“What makes you think that?” Ganasis asked him.
Talon raised his hand and held up two fingers, “Two reasons…the first is because this part of Degrain is completely barren, the dirt we walk upon is completely dead and in regions such as this you find that the wealth of the civilisation is usually found in just a few large principle cities. Degrainia is vast and sits alone in this landscape of death, its two nearest cities are Galiko and Yom which are far to the east……and secondly….it has been far too easy for us to get where we are.”
“How can you say easy my Lord? We have fought almost every day for the past month; we have ground out our victories with our sweat and blood!” Lord Heikan replied.
“That has been baited, Lord Heikan… bait to draw us in, I fear we are on a long fishing line being drawn into a very large net.” replied Talon.
“I do not agree with you Talon! We have been glorious in victory!” snapped Heikan looking slightly angered.
“Heikan, do you disagree that we are sitting in the land of Degrain?”
“Of course not!”
“Then do you disagree that the people of this land have been raging war on Kratos for countless millennia?”
“So my dear lord, can you explain to me how the beast that have risen from this land crushed the mighty empire of Tusaria, drove the Kesains to the point of extinction, killed thousands of our kin and even battled the gods, how do explain this?....How do you explain the ease which we thus far defeated them?”
“Zachanian steel and heart!” Heikan answered still trying to sound proud with his armies’ achievements.
“You fool yourself my lord!” added Talon which made all the lords frown at his remark,
“We must not dare underestimate these warriors, they come from a heritage where they possess a horrifying skill in battle, they are cunning and cruel and are driven by a burning desire to kill…. Heed my words all of you…. Our battle in Degrain has only just begun.” Talon added speaking with a strong conviction in his voice.
Now the tent fell into silence as the lords all contemplated Talon’s warning, they all knew too well that when Talon spoke this way then it was something that could not be ignored.
After what seemed an awkward few moments it fell upon the king to break the silence.
“Are you trying to suggest something to us Talon?”
“My message is that we must not dare become complacent sire, we must rid our minds of what has happened and face each day as if it was our first day in Degrain, I do not want our men going into a battle thinking it won before we begin… we must remain focused and totally determined…..If we become gloated with pride and confidence then we do it at our own peril!”
Suddenly a laugh came from the back, the lords turned to see Talon’s grandfather Lord Zalon sitting completely at ease and smiling from ear to ear, “spoken like a true gladiator!” he barked proudly at his grandson as the other lords looked at him like he was raving mad.
“All of you listen to my grandson, what he says has merit, the gladiator who enters a battle with too much confidence, enters the battle with one eye closed and one arm tied behind his back.” added Zalon quoting an old gladiator mantra.
“Anyway how can we be complacent when we have you telling us what to do?” Zalon then snapped jokingly at his grandson trying to lighten the mood.
Talon looked up at him and smiled, the sight of his grandfather sitting there laughing made him feel safe. His smile grew larger as it broke into laughter, soon everyone was laughing, Zalon slapped his own leg as he now roared with laughter, but then Talon suddenly stopped laughing and once again his face turned serious.
“What is wrong my son?” Lord Zalon shouted across the room.
Talon raised his head as a sudden nausea rose within him, he quickly turned to Ganasis with a look of deep concern on his face, Ganasis suddenly felt a shiver down his own back as suddenly the tent jerked violently throwing the men from their chairs. The ground then shook and above their heads they heard an ear shattering cracks, the shaking grew more intense where they struggled to stand.
“WHAT IS HAPPENING?” Lord Heikan shouted.
Then as sudden as it begun, the earth just stopped shaking. The lords slowly picked themselves up and looked at each other with fear and confusion, outside the tent screams could be heard, the king reached out and pulled himself up with the help of Talon.
“What the damn just happened?” he groaned wiping the blood on his forehead of a cut that opened when he fell to the ground.
“Are you alright sire?” Talon asked when he noticed the blood
“It’s nothing.” answered the king.
“TALON!” Lord Heikan shouted as he saw Ganasis still lying on the ground, Talon quickly turned to see his wizard friend hunched with his face screwed in pain as he clutched his chest.
“Ganaais!” Talon said as he knelt down quickly beside him.
“Ganasis, what is wrong?”
Ganasis rolled onto his back and tried to get his breath, he flinched his eyes a few times as he tried to focus on Talon.
“Evil!....I felt evil so intense it entered my heart!” The wizard gasped as he tried to compose himself.
“Are you alright Ganasis, shall I call for aid?” The king said.
Ganasis pulled himself upright and blew a long breath, “No Arun, I am alright now.” He said as he looked up at Talon and noticed the strange look on his face.
“You felt it also didn’t you Talon?”
Talon did not answer with words; he just gave a slight nod of his head before helping his wizard friend back to his feet.
“Are you sure you are alright Ganasis?” Talon repeated only to get a quick rebuff from Ganasis.
“Don’t fuss over me; we have a meeting to resume.”
Talon’s grandfather then pulled Talon to the side and whispered in his ear, “There is much confusion in the camp, you should address the men Talon, let them know everything is okay.”
Alright grandfather, give me a moment.” Talon answered as he once again turned his attention to Ganasis who was now back in his seat and breathing heavily. Talon knelt beside him and grabbed his hand, “What has just happened Ganasis?...Tell me what you are feeling.”
Ganasis took a deep breath and looked Talon in the eyes,
“Something terrible has happened!.....I have not felt such pain since Apollo’s mortal body was slain, but this time Talon the pain is more severe, more swamped in evil, I fear that we are in the midst of great danger….I fear the worst!”
The two days that followed were full of unease and expectation, Ganasis seemed more lethargic than usual as the Zachanian army marched towards the city of Degrainia. Talon gave the old wizard a wide berth as he could see that he was trying to reach into his own thoughts and find some clarity of what he was feeling. The rest of the council lords were all too busy, the eve of battle was upon them now as Degrainia sat on the horizon.
When the lords sat down for a council meeting at dusk the first thing the king commented on was the absence of Ganasis, Talon explained that the wizard was feeling tired but the council insisted that he should be brought to the meeting as they needed his wisdom and knowledge, the king asked Graval to go and fetch the old wizard but was interrupted by Talon who said he would go and fetch him instead.
A few moments later Talon found Ganasis sitting alone on a small knoll looking across the valley to the town of Degrainia in the distance.
“Your presence has been requested at the council meeting old man!” Talon said as he joined him.
Ganasis turned and gave Talon a slight smile then looked back in the direction he was looking at before he was interrupted.
“Ganasis, did you hear me?” Talon said louder only to be once again met with silence.
Talon gazed across the valley and looked at what Ganasis was looking at, then he knelt down beside his friend.
“What is wrong my friend?.....In the morning we march on that city, your friends are in the tent now making plans Ganasis…. They need you…. I NEED YOU!”
Once again Talon was met with silence, he waited patiently for a reply but Ganasis just ignored him as he held his stare on the horizon, Talon bit his lip in frustration and after it became clear that he was not going to be answered, he grabbed the wizard's arm firmly.
“Damn it Ganasis! We have work to do, their lives are at stake here, our friends lives, the men who depend on us and look to us for guidance and leadership…..Do you hear me old man?”
Again Talon waited for some kind of reaction but again he was met with silence, Talon rose to his feet and looked at Ganasis, he had never seen him this way before.
“What is wrong with you?” Talon snapped in anger.
“Ganasis!” Talon added as he stared at his friend who still ignored him, Talon shook his head and stood motionless for a moment as he hoped for any kind of answer, he waited a few moments before he sighed loudly and then turned his back and started to walk back towards the direction of the tent. He walked about five steps when he heard the wizard speak his name,
Turning his head Talon saw that his wizard friend was now standing, so Talon walked back to him and looked him sincerely in the face, “Ganasis, what is wrong with you?”
“There is nothing wrong with me Talon……..But something is wrong, something is terribly wrong…… there is an evil down there in that valley, an ancient and terrifying evil…… it horrifies me.”
“Ganasis, everything is fine, the army is safe and we have witnessed nothing unusual.”
Once gain Ganasis looked back on the horizon, Talon saw his face frown before he turned back to him.
“Listen to me Talon, something horrifying is coming for us!......Something evil. I have been trying to feel what it is for the past two days but with every attempt I make all I feel is pain and confusion.”
“What are you saying Ganasis, I do not understand you, what do you mean by attempt?”
“I have been attempting to reach out with my spirit and let it taste the land, trying to discover the source of this evil presence but every time I attempt this I am met with a strange void…. A blackness where everything is drenched in pain and death.”
Talon tilted his head as he saw the pain in his friend, he reached out and grabbed the wizard, placing a hand on each of his shoulders.
“Ganasis, stop doing this to yourself, I feel death too but we have a battle to prepare for, if we do not prepare ourselves now then tomorrow when we fight we will be at a disadvantage, you must put these feelings to the back of your mind and come with me to meeting now.”
Ganasis stretched his neck and gave Talon a slight smile; he looked deeply into his eyes and then answered in a tone more pleasing, “So what is it you need me to do?”
Talon smiled as he saw his friend return to his senses, “I need you to work with Zumal and prepare a spell for the battle.”
Ganasis nodded and then told Talon to give him a few moments alone then he would join him shortly in the council meeting. Talon patted his shoulder and smiled, then returned back to the meeting.
“Did you speak to Ganasis, Talon?” The king asked as soon as Talon returned.
“Yes Arun, he will join us shortly.”
“Good, in your absence Lord Heikan has volunteered to head the attack tomorrow, do you have any objections to this?” King Arun said.
Talon was still in thought about Ganasis and barely caught what the king had just said, he rubbed his face then noticed that all the lords were looking at him for a reply, the king repeated the question and Talon smiled and turned to look at Heikan.
“I can think of no one more suited to take such a charge…… my only objection would be if the noble lord refuses to have me ride by his side” replied Talon.
Lord Heikan rose to his feet and stuck out his chest proudly, he raised his head and looked sternly at Talon, “That would be my greatest honour!” He stated almost shouting it.
“Then it is agreed!....In the morrow Lord Heikan and Lord Talon will head the attack on Degrainia…. May the gods bless us with victory and may our casualties be at a minimum.” added the King getting to his feet.
Making plans and scheming, the council sat well into the night, they rejoiced and toasted for their success totally oblivious that the winds of war were turning against them, proudly they fashioned their strategies ignorant that six minions of evil were waiting in the valley below, waiting to unleash their evil wrath and horrifying woe.