He was the bravest they had.
He was hiding in a cave and trembling like a child...
He was well familiar with the adage, "Courage is action taken in spite of fear."; but, in his horror-stricken state, his courage had evaporated.
The monster was rampaging near the cave--twenty towering feet of stone-like muscle and very little brain--raised-up from Hell and angry at everything...
The man's name was Trellon Gravuos.
The People had bestowed on him the title, Trellon The Dauntless; and, dauntless he had been, in countless wars against the Oppressors to the north--saving his People, single-handed,
from rape and rapine.
He had been a marvel in battle--swift, precise, deadly--seemingly impervious to being wounded; though, he had more scar tissue than smooth...
Here he was, cowering in the cave--mind flaming with fear.
The monster had no name--had never even been imagined by the People.
Not far from the cave, the Shaman, Mirzan, was praying for all he was worth--beseeching the Avatar, Haiminsos, for aid and assistance.
Haiminsos appeared to be unavailable...
Mirzan forced himself to walk down the cliff-path to the cave, using all his stealth to avoid confrontation.
At the cave entrance, he had to squeeze through the only opening left, rocks from the monster's violent disorder piled high.
He called in the near-dark, "Trellon?".
A swallowed gasp.
Mirzan stumbled toward the sound, found Trellon, shook his quivering body.
"Trellon, for the sake of all that is Right, wake from your dire dread!"
Trellon began to sit up from his fetal-clutch.
"There's a good soldier, Trellon, sit and breathe; deep, deep..."
Trellon spoke in a whisper:
"Trellon, wake from this! Speak your fear!"
"Mirzan... I don't... understand......"
"Of course you do, Trellon. There is a giant Phantom out there, powered by the Wizards of Terlonzaas; and, you are damaged--in body and soul--damaged but not dead, Trellon. Let me help you."
"Make it go away!"
"Trellon, dear soul, the Wizards have learned my weakness as well as yours. I am a Shaman of the Earth. This monster is of the Mind. I need your help."
"You? Need my help??"
"I can make your wounds less painful. I can enkindle more strength from your body. I cannot fight this monster. He is from your own mind..."
"My mind? You blame this abomination on me!?"
"There is no blame in my heart, Trellon.
We all are in this crisis and the Wizards have discovered long-hidden fears in your deepest mind--fears we all carry--fears as strong in you as your courage is strong.
This is your battle, none else can fight it... You must conquer yourself..."
"Mirzan... Mirzan, I do not understand..."
A rock rumbled down the cliff and blocked the narrow opening in the cave mouth, killing the meager light.
"Trellon. Listen carefully. I can deal with your body, I can deal with the rocks blocking the entrance. You must deal with the monster of fear in your mind!"
"I will invoke the Avatar, Haiminsos, but you must help me."
"Yes, you must pray to Haiminsos, pray with all your might for clarity of mind, pray for deliverance from this fear."
"I shall try..."
"You must do much more than try! You must succeed!
You must scrape-up your Faith and Trust, call-up the feelings of all the victories won in your name yet aided by the Good Grace of Haiminsos--focus on Gratitude,
concentrate on Thankfulness--shout-out your Plea!"
As Trellon began his earnest, nearly screaming, chant, the monster began battering the roof of the cave--dust, in gagging sheets, raining down.
Mirzan was murmuring in a heat of Invocation...
Dislodged fragments of rock fell with the dust, both men beginning a struggle against terminal choking...
A light began to shimmer in the cave, a tingling warmth invaded the limbs of the supplicating humans.
Trellon, though continuing to howl his chant, lost his mind--traveled to his past--saw the river bank and the horde of children from the north, creeping and sneaking through the water,
drooling green waste, eyes vacant...
The force of the image brought his mind back to awareness, impressed on his heart the unreality of the memory, caused a shock of discovery that dissolved the old nightmare,
bringing a surge of energy, erupting with the release from decades of hidden dread at a mere child's dream.
He rose in the glow of Haiminsos' Presence, joined hands with Mirzan, and bellowed:
"Be gone! Return to your masters! You are no longer mine! Give them the horror you rain down from your mindless existence!!"
They were engulfed in a mind-crafted blaze of flame, hot as magma, swirling against the rocks, bursting the bounds of mere earth, focusing a column of passion toward the monster.
The Phantom roared its worthy death--turned to blackest cloud--rose above the cliff and rushed north...