Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Where Angels Fear to Tread (not about the book) (09/08/11)
TITLE: One Dared to Tread
By mick dawson
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Aluf knelt by a black puddle in the street and hovered with gaping mouth. Although only eight, he looked eleven. The tangled shock of dark hair atop his sallow, grimy face stared back from the dark surface. His torn robe looked like a sack filled with ungainly limbs.
Not knowing his parents, he imagined they were killed by the evil giants. It was the story of so many other waifs who ran among the streets like vermin.
A group of children on hands and knees swatted and exchanged bites from half starved dogs for the last vestiges of meat on a collection of bones in the gutter.
Aluf prayed that God would use him to free his people from the Nephilim. Their king, Azakiel made it known that he could be challenged. If he lost the fight, the people were free. Of course Azakiel knew no one would, because no one could.
Aluf’s thirst diverted his attention back to the puddle. A tendril of drool dripped free and rippled the surface. Better to walk the three miles needed to drink from the river. He had seen others drink, and die painfully from knotted stomachs. Something looked out of place in the puddle, even after the rings settled. His probing fingers found something solid and lifted. A metal gauntlet shimmered in the sun, with gold inlays of doves, obviously made for a giant’s hand. Memories came to him; not his, but those of the gauntlet.
A fierce battle waged in another realm by the edge of a cliff. An armour clad giant in mail, white surcoat, and eyes of blue fire swung a huge double-edged sword. It batted an axe from the hands of an armoured figure. Its black orbs for eyes shot to his empty hand. Its mouth gaped, revealing oversized fangs.
The mailed giant dropped his sword and hefted the fiend above his head and threw him from the cliff. It grasped desperately, removing the warrior’s right gauntlet. The monstrosity fell to earth, screaming amidst flailing limbs, followed the tumbling gauntlet.
Aluf saw it drop into the puddle and jolted back to reality. The gauntlet came from the sky, therefore, a gift from God. If it was forged for giants, it could be used against them.
He marched boldly up the steps of the palace. One of the guard’s feet stomped down at the doors, refusing him entry.
“I have come to challenge Azakiel,” he said simply.
The giant nodded him inside. In the gloom of the great throne room, Aluf could see the massive stone throne ahead, and the shadowed figure thereon.
“I have come to challenge you, Azakiel, for the freedom of my people!”
“Have you?” echoed the silhouette, rising from the throne with sceptre in hand. “And does your God favour you this day?”
“He does,” Aluf said, donning the gauntlet, “with this.”
It instantly shrunk to fit his hand. Azakiel charged and brought down his sceptre. Aluf’s gauntleted hand shot up of its own volition and snapped off the head of the weapon. The gauntlet tore Aluf from his feet in a wild uppercut, sending Azakiel onto his back. It slammed into the stone floor, shattering large chips on impact then leapt free of his hand and flew into all the stone columns, shattering them with each blow, before returning. The ceiling began to sway. Aluf ran through the doors of the throne room as it thundered behind him. His ears rang as he looked, into the debris at the base of the dust cloud.
“Well done, Aluf!”
The mail clad warrior from the vision appeared atop of the debris and strolled toward him. “I have come for my gauntlet.”
Aluf handed it to him. It instantly grew to suit the ten foot tall giant before he slipped it on his bare hand.
“I am Michael,” he said in answer to Aluf’s stare, “General of God’s host. The Lord forbade that I intervened and none of us would dare defy God’s will. This battle was for someone braver – like you, Aluf. My gauntlet was not the source of your strength, but your courage. Remain in your faith,” he said fading from view and disappeared. “That is where you will draw true power.”
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