The Elois stood their ground, waiting for Kraal to make his first move. They knew that they do not stand a chance against the Amun before them, but they are willing to lay their lives nonetheless.
"I have an offer to you surviving Elois!" Kraal cried. With outstretched arms, he continued. "Be my loyal subjects and I'll let you live under the grace and glory of the moon. Be one of us!"
"We'd rather die!" the Elois replied.
Seeing an opening, two mages attacked Kraal. They fell the moment they were in his range.
"I knew it won't work," Kraal said. "You are not from the moon after all."
"Then why are you here? Want to fight the best Orders?" Alon asked.
"Fight?!" Kraal laughed.
They were not able to react at all when they saw him appear behind their back.
"Pardon me, but I do not think it is fair to call it a fight. Let's say, I want to play with you."
"Are we an amusement to you? If you think you can slaughter us - then be my guest!" Alon said.
"Don't get too excited, boy, we'll come to that. But you'll enjoy this little game of ours."
"What then, Rajah? What game should we play?" Baltog asked.
"Do not call me Rajah, young man. I'm not yet a king. But here is the deal; if anyone of you leaves a scratch on my face, you are free to go. As long as you are still breathing, that is. No one will pursue you on your way out."
"Just a scratch, eh?" Alon scoffed. "I'll do more than that, I'll burn you face then 'til you're screaming for mercy!"
"You're a funny one, no? I think I might spare your life. We could use a jester in our courts."
"But you'll pursue us after we get out, am I right?" Baltog asked.
"You're a smart one big guy! You think faster than your late kings."
"'Late kings?" Baltog thought. "Then the Datu and his heir are gone, as Ya'ul suspected."
"Of course! This game is between you all and me. After you go out the gates, it's a war between you and the Amuns. All our Chaos will hunt you the moment you step out of the kingdom. But to be fair, we'll give you a seven-step lead. That was all I could bargain from those pesky elders."
"Fair enough!" Baltog said. "Well then, shall we?"
"Amuse me!" Kraal asked.
A few mages tried to attack using their swords and diwa but as the ones before them, they found no luck.
Alon flipped his flicker blade and enforced it with fire. The fire took the blade's form, triple the metal blade's length. It caught Kraal's attention.
"A torch blade, eh? Fascinating magic but inefficient. Only a handful of fire mages were able to use it properly in battles." Kraal said. Touching the blade of his scythe, silver flames raged within it. "Creating a torch expends too much energy at a rapid pace. I wonder how long will you last without the sun? But if you cycle the flames, you'll be able to conserve your strength and achieve the same result."
"Was he able to copy the technic that took me years to develop? Or does he know of it all along?" Alon thought. "I haven't even mastered it yet. But this one has even a better form and efficiency."
With a blade reinforced with silver fire, Kraal attacked Alon. The latter dispersed into hundreds of flaming swallows as the former's scythe slashed him.
"Ah, how convenient dispersing into the form of your diwa, no?" Kraal said. "But convenience is the enemy of efficiency. If you were able to transform to birds before my blade reaches you, then you should have been able to dodge the attack in the first place."
"I got to admit, he has a point. But why is he lecturing all of the sudden?"
At Baltog's signal, the water mages with them summoned a huge wave. Higher than the trees of the forest, it swept towards Kraal but was able to evade it. The wave continued to flow towards the latter, wave after wave they pursued him up north.
Nearing the edge of the forest, Kraal stopped. One swipe with his scythe, he swept the waves pursuing him to the side.
Summoning a similar but more powerful version, Kraal brought fear to the mages. The Elois trembled before the waves aimed at them from all directions. Walls of tide swept them to the ground.
Cold and wet, the mages got up in a different but familiar place. Behind the colossal statue of a sage, the road was paved with basalt. Before them - a huge gate. Behind them were the remaining Elois who're surprised by their appearance.
Having divided the mages, Baltog's group fought Kraal so that the other mages led by Dalip and Yaul could escape.
"Do you think I'm a fool not to notice?" Kraal said.
"It's worth the try!" Baltog said.
Pairs of eyes appeared as the growled towards the mages. Silver blades sparkle with the moonlight. The Elois were surrounded but were baffled as their enemies were not attacking them.
"Shall we continue our game?" Kraal asked. "I should warn you, their patience are not as huge as mine. "
Regrouping with the other mages, Baltog and his group explained the situation with the other mages.
Upon hearing that they would be able to get out of Eloi should they wound Kraal's face, other mages attacked him relentlessly. But as the ones before them, they fell before they had the chance to land a blow at the latter's face.
"Careful with your magic, he's able to copy technics and amplify it beyond our imagination." Baltog warned them.
"I knew it. I should be careful about the 'other' one." Alon thought.
Ya'ul and Inari combined their powers. Fog covered the entire area they were fighting. It was thick that made it impossible to see. Some mages who can fight without the need of sight attacked but were unsuccessful. A thud echoed for each mage falling to the ground in an attempt to land a blow at Kraal's face.
At his whistle, Kraal's chimera flapped its wings and blew the fog. All that appeared were a handful of Elois remaining.
"Great plan, but ineffective when fighting those who don't rely on mere sight," Kraal said. He was with his lectures when he realized there was a vine creeping on his ankles. On purpose, he let the vine grab him. "What a sinister magic you have there. You sure you don't want to be on our side?"
"A scratch to the face right?" Dalip asked. Walking before the Amun prince, Dalip spat. One bloody bandaged arm, the other holding a sword. In one swing, he slashed Kraal. Smiling, the latter turned to hundred bats before appearing again behind Dalip.
"Aside from the iron vine that wraps around my feet, fine iron roots plunged through my skin and wrapped my bones. But why stop at just impaling your victims? If you are able to wrap around every bone, you'll be able to control their movements. Using silver is more efficient, or should I say gold on your end."
Dodging Alon's attack, Kraal jumped back.
"Hey Dal, you okay?" Alon asked.
Standing before him, Dalip did not reply. To Alon's surprise, the former swung his blade against him. Dalip's attacks were awkward and lacked speed and strength that Alon dodge with ease.
"Hey, what's the big idea? You already one of them?!" Alon said.
Jumping from behind, Baltog punched Dalip's chest. The latter fell to his knees. Rocks crept through his body and covered him except for his head.
"Hey Al," Dalip said. "Looks like we'll have to settle our fight in the afterlife."
"What are you talking about?! Hang in there, OG's gonna heal you." Alon said.
"I'll take the silver out of your body," Baltog said.
Dalip shook his head. Knowing that the internal damage he took was beyond repair, he accepted his fate. With blood and specks of silver flowing from his mouth, he said his last words - "Sorry, brothers. May Lord Elo'ir protect you."
"Looks like I need to work on that one. Controlling just physical movements is a waste." Kraal said.
The ground shook with Baltog's anger. Abandoning his will to survive, he let loose his rage. Like a mad bull, he attacked Kraal. Powerful attacks, but not even a hair of the latter was touched. Blow after blow, he did not care anymore. He stumbled when the scythe caught his left leg.
"Anger may give you power, but it clouds your mind. You might have the chance should you have kept your cool."
Baltog stopped the bleeding quickly and replaced the leg that he lost with a stone one. His anger still consumed him as he ran towards Kraal.
"I would love to fight you a little longer, but playtime's over!" Kraal said. With a whistle, his chimera appeared before them. It flapped its wings that shoot crude arrowheads towards Baltog.
Alon and Ya'ul went in front of their friend and deflected the arrowheads.
The chimera stopped shooting but a silver fire raged from its mouth. A huge fireball flashed from its mouth, but to their surprise, it flew past them.
Ya'ul chased the fireball with dread. Knowing that they were not the target could only mean one thing, that his wife and children were in danger.
Riding a water current driven by a snake, Inari was able to slither unnoticed towards the gate.
Yaul was able to fly towards Inari and the babies in time to protect them. He readied wind magic to deflect the fireball. To his surprise, it bursts even before it reached him. A mage faced it head-on but it was too powerful that he was sent to the ground, burning. It was Alon.
Ya'ul surrounded him with a vacuum to stop the flame. Inari then rushed towards them. Wrapping him with icy water, she treated Alon's burnt flesh.
The faint sound of his steps was like crackling thunders to their hearts as Kraal walked towards them. "You should have fought me seriously than tried to escape for those little ones," Kraal said. Two crude arrowheads floated before him. Each one aimed towards the couple's hearts.
The sun was almost up and the Amuns grew impatient. Kraal aimed to finish them for good. Without any warning, the first iron arrowhead pierced through Ya'ul's chest.
He struggled to get up as he mustered his remaining strength. Blood trickled down his mouth and from the hole on his chest. Pointing his arrow towards Kraal, his hands shook as he draw the string of his bow. Inari held his hand and supported his back. Their aim was still shaky but nonetheless, they let the arrow flew the same time Kraal's remaining arrowhead shoot towards them.
Ya'ul's arrow was off the mark that Kraal did not bother to move at all. But to his surprise, its fin detached from the shaft and turned to a bat. It flew towards his face but his reflex was way too fast that its wings did not touch him.
Inari and Ya'ul fell on the ground, lifeless.
Kraal was about to finish off the remaining mages but he noticed that there was something dripping from his cheek. Touching it, he saw a few drops of blood. The cut was thin that it did not sting at all.
Laughing, he realized that he made a mistake when he dodged the bat's wings. "What an interesting bunch of mages!", he said. He withdrew his scythe as he ordered the Amuns to let the remaining Elois go.
The Amuns grumbled against him but there was nothing they could do. The Amuns must honor their word.
With stone feet to replace the one he lost, he walked towards his friends. Chimeras growl before him. The Amuns wanted them dead, waiting for the moment he went out the gate. He summoned his diwa and placed the children on it. He also placed Alon who's still unconscious on its back. He tried to get the others but Kraal forbade him, saying that only those who breathe were allowed to go out as per their agreement.
His heart was heavy as he guided his huge carabao out of the kingdom. Every step he took seemed like an arrow piercing his heart. If not for the children, he would have rampaged towards his grave.
One, two, three, four - he counted his steps as they walked past the gates. Turning towards the Amuns on his fifth and sixth steps, he said - "Seven steps. I am allowed to take only seven steps, right?"
As the rays of the morning sun shined, the black stones that paved the road rose and swallowed them. Without taking another step, Baltog and the others disappeared before the Amuns.
Kraal smiled, satisfied by the mage's slyness. "We'll meet again, Order of the Golden Dawn", he said.