Prelude - Best Laid Plans
She simply stood and watched the maroon ball burrow into the ground, a glimmer of a breeze from the outside world stirring the mantle around her shoulders. It was a good plan; no, it was an excellent plan. All that was left to do was hope; to hope that her disciples could do what needed to be done, and to hope that nobody moved against her in this time when she was most vulnerable.
Running an almost skeletal hand over the pronounced rib bones she felt out what the ritual had cost; mind, body and soul. She knew it would work; it had to work. Soon, the time for ascension from a pitiful mortal form to join those who once betrayed her was at hand. The memory of being ruthlessly thrown from the echelons of god hood to this disgusting hellhole known as Ohr left an ever present bitter taste in her mouth. She spat, a thin streak of scarlet tarnishing the clear liquid marking the toll her body had paid. Millennia in the making and this was it, the time of triumph was at hand; the time for revenge would shortly follow.
Once again every detail of the meticulously laid plan played in her head, images of future victories dancing in the imagination. For the first time in centuries thin cracked lips curled up at the sides into a sadistic smile. With short, lethargic steps she carried her damaged body with pride out of the small antechamber and into the main cavern of her lair; the breeze strengthening with every pace until the trailing clock begins to whip into a frenzy. As her shriveled form emerges over a small overhang the vastness of the cave is exposed, filled to the brim with Andhakara faces staring blankly up towards the ridge. A moment of complete silence ripples through the crowd as realization spreads from the detailed elven faces of the front row all the way to the indistinct profiles of the back. Time seems to stand still in the throng, as if a spell had captivated the entire audience, until a singular voice calls out a cheer. Then a second is added, then a third. Before a short breath can be taken, the entire room explodes in a cacophony of voices screeching out to their herald.
Caught up in the moment the Lich Queen raises her hand into the air. Staring at the skin hanging freely from her bones she clenches her fist and slams it down into her other palm. Elation breaks out among her followers, the cave walls barely able to contain the power of the roar, as each one is spurred into action.
Chapter One – A Boy come Man
The longsword came crashing down, with a force no normal man could muster, driving the shield hard into the shoulder of Krasus. Before he could counter a low kick from his opponent forced a backwards step towards the wall. For a moment his mind raced, the bitter taste of defeat almost alien of late and was not something he missed. Gritting his teeth Krasus tries to drive back with his own flurry of blows but each is skilfully parried aside. Desperation clearly showing on his face now Krasus knows he will have to think his way out of this one, and judging by the triumphant look on his opponents face it won’t be too difficult. Another onslaught of blows all striking the now battered wooden kite shield, the attacks become almost rhythmic as training from the legions overruled nuances of single combat. Counting out the beat in his head, 1… 2… 3…! A sly smile stretches across Krasus’ face as he sees the inevitable over extension and his spry body leaps into action, parrying the oncoming blow away with his longsword. Pivoting quickly on his left foot, sweat spraying from the tips of his braided hair into the watching crowd, he drives the shield into the spine of his opponent. The much larger man is thrown off his feet, plowing his face into the solid stone walls of the fighter’s guild. Raising his sword into the air, high above his own head, Krasus prepares the final stroke to end the bout; bringing it down in a controlled arc as his opponent is still spluttering on the floor.
“Enough!” A low, booming voice bellows from behind the duelists as Krasus’ wooden blade comes to a stop inches the skull of his opponent, “You have proven your worth Krasus, the trials are complete and you have shown more than enough skill.”
With a crack of the neck Krasus steps back, sheathing his training sword, reveling in the cheers that now surround him. Months of work had paid its due in a single moment, and now he was a fully-fledged member of the Kaastark Red Bellies. Finally lifting his steely gaze from the crumpled mound, his friend and training partner Tunlor, to meet the eyes of the guild leader to give a curt nod, the quick return a sign of respect from Eirnholt.
“In fact, as a mark of respect to both of you and the exceptional battle you exhibited I will extend the acceptance to Tunlor.” Eirnholt announces, again followed by swift cheer. “It is difficult enough to fight an enemy, but to fight a friend with such vigour is a mark of true comitance, and one I would be daft to omit!” he finishes with a haughty, dwarven chuckle.
At the sound of his name the half-giant on the floor rolls over, gazing upwards adoringly as the captain speaks his praise. Looking down at his friends’ joy Krasus feels a surge of pride, both had worked so hard and both certainly deserved this. Tunlor’s eyes dart up again to meet Krasus’ friendly stare, with a grunt of effort Krasus drags the much taller statured man to his feet and the two share a warrior’s handshake, clasping each other at the wrist.
Being human had never been a disadvantage for Krasus until now; he reflected how his strength was no match for that of his friend and pondered if this was how the smaller races felt when fighting him. This lasted but a fraction as the crowd swelled inwards enveloping the two new members to their ranks as they are hoisted into the air. The long, blonde locks of Krasus whipping to-and-fro, a stark difference to the lime blue, bald head of Tunlor.
After a few minutes of adulation the commanding voice of Eirnholt cuts through the joyous mood, “Alright that’s enough. Our ranks are swelling now to a formidable fighting force and just in time. I received news this morning of a menace that threatens to consume Kaastark herself, the damned Andhakara are up to something and we’re tasked with sorting it out. Now go, get a good night’s rest and prepare for travel in the morning. I expect all of you, including the new recruits, to be ready for dawn. Dismissed!” His voice rising on the last word, gauntlet striking against breastplate as the formal signal of respect to his own men, quickly reciprocated by all in the vicinity.
Krasus narrows his eyes at the announcement, although he hasn’t known the captain too long he picks out the small hints on the dwarfs face that mark the true signs of concern. The standard predications that the first mission of each new member should be a simple one seem to have been cast aside for now.
The crowd shortly disperses, each member wanting to give their new comrades their own personal congratulations. Tunlor and Krasus are left in the hall, eerily quiet for the first time since they arrived months ago.
“I should really go talk to Amilé about this. I know she’ll bite me head off for going away so soon.” Krasus says to his friend. As a man of few words Tunlor simply nods back, the bond between the two conveying all the connotations of a full conversation without it ever taking place. “I’ll see you tomorrow, bright and early bud.” Krasus continues, a slight edge in his voice. With another, short clasp the two friends go their separate ways.
Darting out into the cool evening air Krasus savours the beautiful sky for a moment, soaking in the surrounding he’s loathe to leave behind. He grew up on the streets of Kaastark and although he knew the path ahead would lead to her defence the knot in his stomach warned him otherwise. Navigating the misty streets was second nature to the young man and he swiftly found himself at the entrance to a small but well adorned pavilion. Beyond the iron gates his beloved would be waiting to hear how his initiation had gone, probably praying to the gods that he failed which would mean staying here by her side. With a half-hearted laugh to himself he nimbly scales the pavilion wall, grasping at errant vines that have been allowed to snake their way into the mortar itself. Two stories high and he climbs higher still, the fear of falling non-existent having taken this route several times this week alone.
The evening air has finally given way to night as the last clutches of day scrape through the sky in dying colours. Eventually Krasus clambers up to a window ledge on the third story, the faint glimmer of a dying candle illuminating the frame. With a careful hand he pushes the window ajar slightly unleashing a soft smell of lavender into the night air, tickling his senses and reminding him of the beauty that resided within the room, the one that made all this effort worthwhile. Pulling the window open fully now and dragging himself through the small gap to acrobatically roll onto the floor barely making a sound. Looking up the angelic form of his lover is gently breathing on the bed, a book fallen to the side. ‘Poor thing, she must have tried to stay up and wait for me.’ He thinks to himself as he observes for a minute, taking in how lucky he is just to be in the presence of such grace.
With a tender shake Krasus awakens the sleeping girl; her eyes open slowly at first, then excitement forces them wide as she recognition washes over her face. “Hey there, beautiful.” Krasus whispers.
The two embrace for a time and pleasantries are exchanged, Krasus feeling the affection from every word that spills from her plump lips. Eventually she brings up the trials and Krasus admits to his success. He ignores the feigned happiness she presents in response to the news as he knows the meaning behind the little lie is well meaning. He even knows the next part will completely shatter that façade anyway.
“My first mission is tomorrow, I’m to be away for a while. Who knows how long.” Krasus admits to his lover.
“But it’s your first! You’re supposed to be on guard duty or something mundane!” The girl blurts out, unable to control the emotion welling inside.
“Indeed, that’s usually the case. My guess, this is something serious.” He responds, and as she goes to retort Krasus cuts in, “Although, by the looks of things by the time I get back I’ll have accrued enough silver to get you a ring, then damn what your father says. We’ll be betrothed in the eyes of the gods and there will be nothing to get between us.” He says, passion welling in his eyes and words alike.
Stirred by the emotion the girl simply pulls the boy in for a kiss, dragging him to the bed, covers strewn on the floor. Sometime later the girl returns to her slumber, Krasus picks himself out of the covers without disturbing her and redresses himself.
“Please come back.” A muffled voice calls softly from the pile of sheets he has left behind.
With a genuine look of surprise Krasus looks over his shoulder, a smile creasing his face in affection. “I always do, my dearest Amilé.”
Chapter 2 – The March of the Red Bellies
The troops were miserable, Kaastark was only a few days behind and Krasus’ could feel the tension in his squad of forty men. The usual up-beat attitude of the delegation squashed by the abhorrent weather bordering on the alien. Although the continent was still firmly within the summer month’s rain, sleet and even snow had plagued the progress through the wilderness. On top of this the Andhakara had started harassing the flanks of the force, the first night alone they were taken by surprise a sizeable chunk of soldiers were cut down before the scum retreated into the night.
Just thinking about the situation made Krasus’ blood boil as frustration and exhaustion combined to foul his mood even further. “Damnit Tunlor. They haven’t even told us what we’re marching towards yet; we’re haemorrhage men every day. The grounds is turning to some weird black slush beneath us and it’s nothing but woodland for miles in every direction!” Krasus declares to his friend, his volume escalating throughout the short speech.
Face creasing into a smile, almost foreign in the last few days, with an expression of playfulness. As a man born of the water the weather clearly doesn’t faze him in such a way. Such a simple gesture is all it takes for Krasus to relax.
“You’re right. We’ll know soon enough, if the Andhakara are willing to risk themselves against a trained battalion we must be making progress.” Krasus sighs in return. Before he can continue a war horn cuts the conversation off, shrieking through the sounds of rain slamming against armour. Without warning a volley of arrows comes flying from the woodlands falling indiscriminately among the soldier. A man two rows over from Krasus drops to the floor, screaming silently as arrows protrude from his neck. Without command the entire force shifts to face the onrushing elves in unison as they come screaming from the darkness the trees are providing their foe.
The collective intake of breath of the soldiers would haunt Krasus for ever as the number of their foes was revealed. Thousands, with more pouring out of the woods with every heartbeat, rush up to the lines. As a new member of the squadron Krasus’ position in the rear is general accepted as the safest; however, as they pivot around he realises he’s going to be in the frontline, almost a death sentence. Eye wide he takes a step back and the closest elf moves to take advantage of the stunned trooper. With curved sabre the elf lunges into Krasus seeking and immediate death blow.
As if torn from shock Krasus is bowled to the side, the hulking figure of Tunlor filling the gap of two men as he receives the blow from the elf and immediately returning a blow in kind, thundering down strikes with a newly acquired Warhammer. Krasus watches the quality of his friends movements as he drives the shield into his enemy and follows up with a crushing blow to his opponents skull sending a red pulp spattering over the next to advance in his place. The spell on Krasus evaporates as he finds himself able to act again, years of practice over riding the screaming sensation in his mind that something is wrong.
Another volley of arrows, this time one is destined for him but Krasus is able to raise his buckler and block it mid-flight, the tip piercing through the light wood and pressing into his flesh narrowly avoiding serious harm. His first real contest approaches and attempt to drive into him, with a nimble sidestep he dislodges the elven man’s footing and send him tumbling into the mass of soldier to be quickly dispatched by those behind.
With the adrenaline surging through his veins, lungs thundering against his ribs, Krasus dives forward into the fray looking for a new victim. The formation of the squadron broken into smaller fights now as the unprepared defenders have their line conclave in several sections and commands from the leader might as well be non-existent in the crashing of the rain; all of this absorbed in an instant by the keen eyes of Krasus.
Another assailant comes charging from the rain but he’s starting to hit his rhythm now and he strides forward to meet the elf, sword and shield ready. Feinting to the left for a shield strike then pulling back last second to unbalance the enemy followed by a low kick to the front leg sends the much weaker opponent tumbling to the floor. Stabbing downwards Krasus quickly dispatches his new foe with ease just in time to hear a yell of defiance from Tunlor. Turning in search Krasus spots the half-giant entangled with three individuals, a spear jammed deep into his thigh. Without a second thought Krasus throw himself into one knocking them clean off their feet, slamming into the now tar-like mud with a yelp.
Tunlor reacts immediately before Krasus’ eyes annihilating the skull of the off-balanced opponent before dragging the spear from the recess of his own leg and launching it off to the still oncoming horde. The last of the three tries to make himself scarce from the brute and accomplice but the speed of Krasus’ blade now matched by the speed of his mind plunges into his back as he flees.
Looking around its clear the elves had the initial shock advantage, but overall the surrounding soldiers display too much skill to be beaten easily. However, the sheer numbers of adversaries pouring into the battle creating havoc as Krasus watches one of his comrades overwhelmed by four of the savage elves, guilt striking at his heart only realising now he’d abandoned his position in the line to help his friend causing the man’s eventual death as he bravely stood the ground he was, by default, commanded to hold.
Without time to regret a booming war horn rattles, the unique tone of the dwarven craftsmanship a tell-tale sign of his own commander’s call. All the men now surrounding Krasus change stance and start to give ground backwards, the foolish elves follow with savage expressions only to be swallowed by a counter tide of soldiers, although none of them recognisable to Krasus’ eyes. Joining his squad on the fighting retreat the battle scars are truly starting to show. All evidence of the still ensuing chaos suggesting the elves were assaulting the marching column from both sides, a grave omen for the brave men and women holding the lines in the name of Kaastark.
“Order up!” The captains belting voice calls out, shrouded from sight by the rain and anarchy. All the same the troops of the Ninth Squadron manage to jostle each other into some semblance of rank and file.
Heart pounding in his chest, sweat slapped against his brow, Krasus eyed the men and women dying so his squadron could advance. The whole column had split into two to defend both sides leaving a gap down the centre wide enough for them match at full military marching speed without impediment. He tried to focus his thoughts, trying to discern what was really going on and adrenaline fighting him all the way; there seemed to be no reason for this tactic, they were marching like lambs to the slaughter and for some reason his commander wanted his squadron to have a front row seat. In the despair his mind turns to Amilé, the life he so desperately wanted with her, the promises he had made but most strangely the softness of her skin to his touch, almost alien to think of in his current circumstance.
A cry to his right as another arrow strikes home, this time just wounding its victim. Without even breaking stride the man keeps pace with Krasus and in that instant his mind refocused, his sense alert for danger. Any moment could be his last and he’d be damned sure to make it worth something.
As if out of nowhere the silhouette of a mountain, not 100 ft. away, arrived in Krasus’ eyes. How could something this large possibly be concealed by mere weather? Something was amiss and he could feel the unease in his blood. The end of the column was short by a good 10 yards from the foot of the mountain, and the commander showed no sign of stopping. As if to confirm his suspicions the Ninth accelerated into a flat out battle charge. The collision was monumental and the Andhakara were immediately driven back as if a tsunami itself had come crashing into them. Slashing left and right wildly Krasus began killing his enemy indiscriminately. The enemies here seemed even fiercer which was almost beyond comprehension just a few moments ago, and yet he pressed on. The familiar shape of Tunlor keeping his back safe Krasus began ducking and weaving, cutting through the battlefield like a hot knife in the snow. The earlier shock had completely worn off now and Krasus went into a trance allowing his mind, which had been sharpened to battle as much as any blade, guide the sword that now felt an extension of his own arm.
Cut. Parry. Dodge. Thrust. These were the simple commands that drove him now, a killing machine. It was as if the fox had been unleashed with the chickens and the sharp animosity of the enemy paled in comparison to the true display of skill. Krasus went on for what felt like forever, ducking weaving and slashing.
Almost abruptly he was suddenly in the open, a path of decimated enemies lying in his wake. Krasus could see the rest of the Ninth were still trying to cut through and a moment of confusion struck. Should he go on alone? Where should he even go? As if calling out telepathically the commanders’ eyes met his, directing his gaze upwards.
“To the top.” The commander mouthed out to Krasus with his silent voice in the chaos.
A commotion to the side draws the attention of Eirnholt back to the fray as Tunlor has decided to catch up with his friend sending ally and foe alike tumbling into the next like a line of dominos as the much stronger man bowls them aside. Krasus thinks to himself that the half-giant surely is a monster to behold and turns to start scaling the mountain knowing full well the athletic prowess of Tunlor will quickly see them to each other’s sides before long.
Chapter 3 – Deliverance
What could be keeping him? Krasus thought to himself. So far the climb had been an isolated affair, the only company the crushing rain. Visibility was all but non-existent now, holding out one hand at full extension was enough to lose sight of all his digits. But up and up he went, water rubbing his face raw and hands starting to freeze from the cold heights. The impossibility of keeping track of time an almost alien concept to Krasus at this point; all he knew was it had been hours since he started the ascent, this derived from the burning sensation in his muscles that felt like it had started forever ago.
Without warning or reason the weather stopped. Krasus had to blink the remaining water out of his eyes before he could believe that such a thing could ever end. But there he was, standing in the mouth of a vast cave, the entrance alone would be able to fit an entire town. Two Andhakara lay sleeping to the side, one snoring loudly.
With barely a sound Krasus tip-toed over to the slumbering guards, coming to stand over them with a new found hatred burning in his eyes. With practised precision he dispatches one and then the other without a hint of retaliation from the now corpse or his own remorse. These dark elves were the enemy, and that was it. After a quick search around the entrance for more guards, and finding none, Krasus rolled the bodies off the edge of the protruding cliff and watches them vanish into the rain and darkness.
Diving into the cave Krasus’ eyes took a moment to adjust; it was not complete darkness like he had expected but instead a sickly pale purple light illuminates the entire cavity in the mountain. The walls looked like they were melting, a strange tar-like substance coating them from top to bottom, faintly glowing with a purple hue. Long shadows were dancing across them highlighting to Krasus the swath of activity that lay beyond.
Rounding the corner all is revealed; a glorious violet orb sat atop an obelisk at least 30ft high is the centre of activity, clearly the source of the light in the cave, as it spins at inconceivable speeds in place. One figure appears giving a rousing speech in Elven to a last guard of Andhakara from a platform just below the central orb. With the little Elven he knows Krasus can only decipher a few of the words as he remains hidden in the shadows. ‘Sacrifice… Good…. Magic…’ he mouths to himself trying to understand some semblance of the enemy’s purpose. Krasus knew of stories that the Elves were trying to reach for magic but he didn’t understand the connection to any of the events leading up to now. The confusion that wracked his mind was distracting him from his surroundings, peering around the rock that was his current refuge Krasus saw six Andhakaran warriors stood poised, ready for battle.
A roar echoed round the cavern, shaking the rocks and people alike. It was a savage, primal sound that would curdle the blood of even the fiercest of men. Instantly the tension within the space rose and Krasus could sense the despair broiling inside. As for himself, Krasus knew only one creature to make a sound like that, Tunlor had finally caught up.
Shouted commands from the pedestal spurred the Elven force into action and as suddenly as not Krasus was free to venture deeper. Within moments all the enemies has moved towards the new apparent threat save one, the man on the pedestal. Creeping slowly around the outside Krasus brow started to sweat, who knows what kind of thing this opponent could be capable of. A surprise attack may be his only chance to claim victory.
Arms burning from the long day Krasus clambers up the central obelisk, each foot an agonizing reminder of the strain his body has endured. The figure seems to be focusing on the entrance giving Krasus that precious time to get elevation over it.
Heart pounding and adrenaline driving him forwards Krasus felt a rock below his foot come loose and tumble down the tower. Less than a heartbeat later the figure was already turning, a spectral whip emitting the same sickly glow as the orb unfurling in its hands. His eyes just had time to recognize the form was actually of a human female, whether it was the surprise of this or a simple reaction his arms let go of the stone column and he slid downwards barely avoiding the snapping of the ethereal whip.
Tumbling down to the floor with acrobatic roll from Krasus has narrowly avoiding another blow from the figure. More blows reigned down upon him but his nimble form able to reflexively dodge each one, all the while donning his shield and unsheathing his blade. Krasus can clearly see the frustration building in the woman’s eyes as her blows grew in strength and speed. Left and right he threw himself to avoid the spectral weapon, he knew keeping this up would only secure his demise. Going on the offensive was the only way.
Gritting his teeth in grim determination Krasus pirouetted as one blow came in as he turned towards the platform. Sharp pain dug into his mind as he had minutely misjudged the angle, he could feel the power trying to reach into his very soul and drag himself away. Immediately he dashed for cover, fending off a torrential assault with his shield the time. Placing one hand on his cheek where the blow had struck the skin was still intact, in fact there were no physical signs of contusion at all, but the pain was certainly real. For the first time, possible ever doubt set into his heart. Could he do this? What would be the cost?
A thud from the direction of the obelisk implied that the figure has dismounted. Throwing the doubt aside Kraus twisted his sword in his hand as if performing for an audience. If this is to be the end, let’s make it one hell of a show. With his own screaming battle cry he threw himself at the new enemy shield raised and sword poised for deadly combat. The whip lashed out once more crashing off his raised shield, Krasus then watched as it recoiled to its owner’s hands and somehow molded into a sword. Confusion and disbelief were brushed aside as he pressed on and the woman met him in kind. Sparks flew as they collided, each one throwing their weight into their first blow. Duck, Parry, Dodge, Thrust. Krasus quickly became accustomed to the rhythm of the fight; however, his tremendous skill was matched with this opponent and the cloaked figure smirk as they drew close for some more niche manoeuvres. Just as he felt control wrestling his way the woman stepped back, disappearing instantly into a mist of shadows, reappearing thirty feet away in the same manner. With her offhand raised to the sky and the ethereal sword pointed at Krasus she mumbled some strange words.
From the corner of his eye he saw the bolt unleash from the orb, but there was no time to react. A violent purple screamed towards him and striking him clean in the shoulder and he felt it tear through his armour. Again he felt the core essence of himself attack, this time with unimaginable power. Stumbling to the ground, barely conscious Krasus stared wild eyed at his opponent, his head thundering with pain as it pounded against the inside of his skull. Foul sorcery, I will not fall to some witch!
Again the two rushed each other, this time Krasus tried a clever slide under his opponent’s blade bringing his own down into the shin. But again the woman was able to counter this by lifting her leg out the way of the blow. Using this new opening Krasus pushed hard off his foot and drove the shield into his now unbalanced enemy tipping her over backwards. The smile of victory on Krasus’ face quickly shifting to despair as realisation of what was unfolding. The woman had clasped onto the shield with one arm, the other postulating the sword underneath. As she fell backwards she pulled on the shield sending Krasus’ form over the top of her in a summersault whilst still attached to the shield that wrenches his arm out of the socket. His cry of pain rang out around the cavern as the sword that was in wait was driven into his side, the alien feeling of having his soul wrenched away building the horror of the situation down on him. The world started shrinking and all he could see were the evil eyes of this evil human staring down on him malevolently. She raised the sword again to strike the finishing blow and Krasus braced himself for a dutiful end.
The strike never came. A hulking beast had bolted across the cavern and tackled the devious woman off of him. As his mind unclouded he watched as the hulking for of Tunlor went back and forth with the enemy, neither giving ground. Several elves had trailed him into the cave but none of them were skilled enough combatants to influence this fight. Krasus composed himself for a moment as one Elf was sent flying into a cavern wall to fall motionless to the floor. He noticed the cuts, gashes and holes in his friend were numerous, and it was a marvel the half-giant was still able to stand let alone fight.
The other human was far from defeated however and although Tunlor was a much stronger opponent, her skill was what was dominating this fight. Krasus watched his friend scream in pain as the spectral blade was lashed across him arms and thigh. The half-giant was clearly no match but continued none the less, an admirable feet that drove Krasus back to recognition of his surroundings and the time his friend way buying him. Realisation struck as the orb pulsated with every successful attack the witch achieved.
The rest of the room encapsulated in the fighting was all the signal Krasus needed to sneak off to the obelisk and start his climb again. This time he was laboured, the wounds to his side and shoulder sowing him down considerably. With every cry of pain he winced, unable to look on to his ally fighting the valiant fight.
More voices could be heard from the entrance now and he recognised the tongue, this did not bode well as Krasus saw more Andhakaran figures burst into the cavern. With one final determined push through the wall of pain Krasus yanked himself up on to the platform set into the pillar. Just within striking distance.
Another cry of pain, but this one different. Krasus looked around to see his friend on his knees eyes staring blankly upwards towards him. “Destroy.” Tunlor mouthed to Krasus, his eyes turning blind. No words could explain the horror Krasus felt watching the witch sink her ethereal blade into the skull of his best friend and most trusted ally. Stunned in the moment, mouth agape he simply stared as the lifeless corpse of his friend was devoured by the purple light and dissolved into nothing. The orb seemingly reaching out to collect whatever essence of Tunlor there was. With a cry of anguish Krasus drove his own sword up towards the orb, inches short of smashing into it the pain started again. Without delay the witch had unleashed her whip again and caught his arm mid blow. Now it was a contest of strength, and in his state Krasus knew he could not win. Struggling against the pain and the power he knew what had to be done. The witch had yanked his arm away now and was threatening to pull him into the sea of elven faces gathering below calling out for his blood.
A cruel smile crept onto Krasus’ lips. This was the way of it eh? Friends, together in life. Together in death, fitting really. See you in hell buddy.
Using his shield hand to draw a hand axe Krasus drove the bladed end into the shoulder joint of his caught arm with all his might. It severed immediately, but he felt no pain. The sick smile continued to sweep his face as he looked up at the orb and plunged the axe into its depths. It shattered as if it were made of glass sending a putrid spray of colour in the air. Krasus thought of the city, how many lives his actions may have saved. He thought of Tunlor, the best friend someone could ever ask for, avenged so quickly. Lastly, he thought of Amilé. The love they shared and the life they could have had together. How beautiful their children could have been. The familiar pain washed over his entire body now, he felt the essence that made up his soul torn to pieces.
Chapter 4 - End.
The lifeless body of Krasus plunged down, his golden hair unfurled from its usual braid to dance in the air as he fell, slamming into the ground with a sickening crack that marked the breaking of whatever body remained. But there were no lives to hear it. The cave was a vacuum of silence as the elves and witch were stunned in unison by the power emanating from the orb. Their eyes blank and bodies twitching as their own souls were drawn from them. Each one in turn crumpled to the ground as they gave in to the immeasurable force. The witch resisted the longest, taking a full minute to subside but just like the others, she fell unable to resist the power pulling at her consciousness. Silence echoed round the cave. Then it erupted.
Stories from the few survivors of the battle below vary, but all agree on one thing. Whatever had happened inside that mountain had been catastrophic for both sides. A violet explosion from near the top had eviscerated the mountain scape throwing shrapnel down into the valley below. Even with the rain dispersing there was no way anyone could react. The front lines were decimated, no survivors. Of the six thousand men and women of Kaastark that marched to battle that day hardly a hundred returned. And the survivors were only that in name; most of them had their bodies or minds broken in so many ways it was unfathomable they would ever live real lives again. Nobody understood the reason for the battle, and with all the commanding officers declared dead it was unlikely anyone would ever really know.
The nameless Heroes of Kaastark were given a memorial near the centre of the city, an immortal reminder of those who sacrificed everything. The mists are said to occasionally take the form of a dead warrior, come to pay their own respects to their fallen comrades in arms.
Hardly anyone would even remember Krasus or Tunlor’s names, save one person.
A little girl, perhaps seven or eight, is often seen training on a makeshift dummy in her courtyard. Wooden sword and shield in hand she strikes at the dummy with a shocking amount of power and skill, golden braided locks snapping backwards and forwards with every lunge. The dexterous young girl even incorporates some acrobatics into her moves, using short rolls and physics defying dodges to emulate the action of a real battle. Hours can pass and she maintains a grim determination to eviscerate her foe, the dummy made of straw no match for the talent on display.
Her mother watches on, a glimmer of pride in her eyes, mesmerized by the grace and beauty of her daughters fighting. Alas, dinner is getting cold inside and she must break the spell her girl is under.
“Come on inside for dinner Carmen!” Amilé calls.
Credit - Hossy.
The Iron Circle is a PC Gaming, and Tabletop Roleplaying guild focused on creating a community of mature, intelligent, funny and down to earth folks who are more interested in camaraderie over strict progression. We want the Iron Circle to be a place for adults that can enjoy socializing with friends as much as they enjoy playing the games themselves. Though we are NOT a hardcore group of gamers, we do expect our membership to hone their skills and to make sure that they're able to pull their weight. No matter which branch you choose to join - We expect you to try. We might not be playing for the top position, but we certainly aren't aiming to be last.
2007-2018 The iron circle gaming community | All images are copyrighted AND OWNED by their respective creators.