Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Of Mortals and Gods Part II - Fury and Hellfire

Solid ground.

There was nothing more important in a fight, in a battle.

Solid ground...

It had been a few days since the last rain, but the sky was overcast now. My armor lay on the ground, I was in leather and a breastplate. I was quicker than most, my blade was lighter and shorter, allowing for quick short strikes.

My brother was covered in steel,his axe glistening in the dying light.

He already looked tired.

But he was a beast,a man born for days like today. A swing of his axe,the smell of blood and the monster inside him would rise and wreak havoc.

We needed that monster today.

There were six of us, among these dark hills. We were not soldiers, like the legions we had fought. We were warriors, fortune seekers. We sought fame and glory, to etch our names eternal.

Not today.

Would it rain?That giant oaf would get bogged down and drown in the mud if it rained. Fool, to wear such armor on this day.

I slipped my dagger into its sheath, as the wind gathered pace.Thunder rolled and rumbled as the cauldron threatened to tip over and spill it's fell contents on us all.

There was no glory to be found today. We were a footnote in history, an inconsequential moment beyond the lives of its witnesses. 

The World was rebelling against this unholy moment.

I stole a glance at cavern we were facing and its infinite darkness.The mouth was large enough for three man to stand. That, of course, didn't mean anything.We were not facing men.

The sun was dying, the last of its light leaking away into the dark.

And when it disappears over the crest of the horizon, it would be reborn behind the Veil.


The haunting dark approaches, the porous nature of the hour exposes the worlds beyond for a moment too long.

Today, when the sun sets, the Daemons will send their most foul to this plane. What would happen if we lost?What were we fighting for?The Gods had decided for us, they had made the pact and sent us here to kill or die.

Tough armor,tough to kill.The most damned amongst men were granted eternal bloodlust in service of the Shadow.

Daemon or not, they bleed all the same.

They die,just as much.

I stood up, and the rest of them followed.It was nearly time, we could smell it in the air.The oaf had dumped most of his armor now, he had gone with just the shield instead. He glanced at me and gave me his lopsided, stupid smile.

I drew my sword and my dagger.I faced the cavern, with the sun to my back. The last of its fading light blew its red kiss over the horizon as a purple flash of lightning cut through the sky and the first of the rain pattered against the steel of my armor.

A flash of blue light and everything stops. I cannot move. The world is suspended.The lightning still rips across the sky,like the scar left by a wild beast,a ghostly hand reaching across the dark luminescent sky.The rain is hanging all around us,almost like it is teasing me to reach out and touch it,always beyond my reach.The entire world bathes in a dark blue light.Ahead of me,just beyond the mountain,the sun has begun to rise.Or atleast a dark blue incarnation of it.In our world it inspires happiness and joy,here it was only despair and the ripe smell of fear all around us.Far away,in the distance,a smoky Specter stands watching us.As I stare,I feel a million voices screaming inside my head,even in the dead of this world around.I cannot look away,I cannot break his Gaze.He is in me,He has taken a piece of my soul,ripped it away,corrupted it. I feel his presence clawing it's way into my brain,digging into my very essence. The screams are getting louder and louder.

I cannot break free.

I am trapped inside his hollow eyes, dark and speckled with pricks of light within the infinite darkness, like the night sky. It draws me in deeper, this empty constellation. In my heart, within the last confines of my own will, I know this to be no daemon. This is an older, more malevolent Evil.



We are doomed.

Another flash of light, and as quickly as we were taken, we were ripped away from the spell. My knees gave out from under and I heaved and retched as I tried to clear my head.The others around me were equally staggered but had begun to rise.We were back at the foot of the mountain.

The rain fell, without skipping a beat, and the smell of wet dirt filled my lungs.But underneath it was the dry taste of rotting flesh.

The darkness of the cavern was shifting with shapes.

They were leering, smoldering.

I planted my blade in the ground and rose to my feet.I drew it, and flicked the speckled mud off the end. My brother stepped forward and roared a fearsome and guttural cry of battle.He roared as the beast inside him took his body for its own.


The wind carried the sound of deep, dry laughter towards us from the Mouth.

They roared, as only Death could, as they ran towards.


Tall, dark shadows.

Monstrous, hulking beasts wearing black armor, wielding red blades in the night.

My feet pounded wet dirt as I faced my foe.

He came at me with Fury and Hellfire.

I feinted left and as he swung his hammer, I dove to the right.I rolled off the ground and stood low, with dagger holding the low guard and my sword the high. It spun around...

(Quick but ungainly.Momentum carries it off balance.Commit and attack)

...and followed with hard strikes from above.I side stepped and deflected,rather than keep my sword parallel to the ground and risk it shattering under the weight of these heavy blows.I stayed just out of reach,but it didnt tire or falter.They had no technique,relying on brute force,speed and ferocity.These traits had served them well so far.

The battle raged on around. Every now and then, from the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of red and black barreling with speed, or the flash of steel swinging in the rain. I closed myself off from it all, and focused on the monster in front of me.I felt good, quicker and stronger than usual. I was confident and surefooted in the rain as this heavy beast was getting dragged down into the mud.I had defeated him hours ago, when I made the decision to forsake my armor for speed.

It hacked and slashed and drew its great sword above its head to cleave my body in two, I jumped inside its defense, leading with my sword into its chest and followed with my dagger into the side of its neck.I pushed with all my might, even as my feet slipped in the mud, but some form of twisted, dark farce of life still hung inside its body, in its red eyes.I twisted both blades and tore them out of the side of the Hound, pouring its shadowy innards onto the green grass.

I looked up in time to see one of the Daemons crush the head of a man, helmet and all.There were four of them left and only three of us.My brother was still standing,and by the state of him I assumed he was facing his second foe.Two of them bore down on me, weary and cautious.They were trying to flank me.The last man was known to me.A good and honorable warrior, and a damn good fighter.One of his arms seemed broken and he had a large gash on his leg.He looked around in a daze and his eyes strayed upon me.He was too far for me to help him, and a Daemon was looking to finish him off.

He threw his shield onto the ground, his sword too.He backed away, slowly, towards his knapsack and pulled out a crossbow.The bolt struck the monster in the leg and it fell to its knees.The man ran at it with speed, despite the leg, but he ran only straight into the long sword of his enemy.With sword clean through his belly, a deep roar the Gods must've heard high in their Towers, he pulled out two small curved daggers from his belt and stabbed at his enemy's exposed neck until both collapsed onto each other.

They were almost on me,as I backed away,looking for a favorable position to fight from.The oaf mustve seen my predicament,and with a great blow he knocked his back,and instead of finishing him off,raced to join me.

The Hounds held off, they had the upper hand.They waited for their remaining companion to join them and kept circling us.My brother and I stood back to back, as we had done as children.I sheathed my dagger and picked up a dropped wooden shield.The blood of its previous owner was still being washed away by the rain.The fight had taken us away from the Cavern itself.We were among the rolling hills now, the grass less trampled here.

As the lightning flashed above us, I could almost see their scarred and beaten faces, their bodies tighten, their claws clench at their weapons as they planted their feet into the ground and prepared to strike.It was when the thunder began its deafening roar that they pushed off against the ground and brought their deadly weapons to bear.

Fury and Hellfire.

I had no speed,with my brother against me,but we fought as one.Parrying and striking as we were taught to as children,using each others as much we used our own own weapons.They swirled around us in a cloud of dark smoke and red flame and struck again and again without relenting.A fight of attrition as they tried beat us into the ground.We held them off,though most of it was a blur.I caught a glimpse of my brothers axe striking a Hound and bringing it down and suddenly the smoke began to clear.I cut one its hands off but it didnt seem to feel any pain and gave no respite,even as one of its swords crashed to the ground.It tried to plung it's sword into my chest,even as I stepped aside and manage to trap his remaining arm between my shield and body. I am face to face with him,close enough to my death to smell it emanating from him.The Daemon tries to rip my throat out with its teeth,but I slammed the shield into its mouth with free hands,and as it bit down,I slit its throat.

My brother stumbled and leaned forward,and I fell back as his support gave away.I rolled off his back and onto my feet and without a backward glance or a break in my step,I charged at the last remaining Hellspawn.

Quick,hard and short strikes.They hurt it but didnt bring it down.It grabbed at my shield and trapped me within its reach and brought down its sword in a long and powerful arc.I brought my sword upto protect myself,but the blow shattered it into so many fragments,I felt the power of the strike up into my arm,all the way to my neck and fell to my knees.

I stabbed at its foot and slashed its leg and sprang up as it let go of my shield.I spun around and with all my might I brought the shield around in a tight arc and smashed it to bits against the bowed head of the Hound.As it stumbled,I picked up my brothers fallen axe and brought it down on the Daemons head,splitting it in two.

As the last of them fell, the remains of the Hounds disappeared into shadow and seeped into the ground, forever staining it.

I rushed to my brother,glad to see him still alive.A flesh wound,something that shouldve been covered by his great big armor.I knelt down in front of him and smiled as he laughed.

I then pull out my dagger from its sheathe and bring it to bear down upon his skull, axe begins to hack his head off.

I scream loudly but my lips don't move.The noise is all inside my own head.I feel them curl up into a smile as the blows of the axe jarring against the bone reverberates up my arm.

As the head of my beloved brother is finally freed from his lifeless body, I raise it above my head and let the splatter of blood bathe me.

I am screaming and weeping and raging all at once but all I feel is the curl of my lips.

My head moves and my eyes fall on the still shiny breastplate of my fallen brother and as the lightening lit the world around me, I catch a glimpse of my own facing smiling maniacally up towards me.

Except in my eyes, I saw the Gaze of something older and far more dangerous than any Mortal or God.

Dead eyes,sparked with Fury and Hellfire.

Even Daemons have their Gods.

The face in the reflection mouths a Name.


Saturday, November 15, 2014


The dim quiet was haunting.

In the distance,the noise of a structure crumbling to the ground rumbled,traveled through the deserted megacity of Tretophysis. Most of the public had been evacuated 3 months ago,the remaining had stopped screaming a few weeks ago.

Caught in the crossfire,casualties of war.

The Federation claimed that they were fighting for the people,for democracy.Yet their guns killed civilians just as well as ours.

Democracy.A failed idea,from a fallen civilization.

The artillery fire had stopped.The Fleet had engaged the Federation frigates yesterday,caught them in the gravity of the planet,cut off their retreat.

We were ill prepared.
We didnt understand our enemy.We were fighting for a man and his throne.They were fighting for an idea.

I stepped out of the Forward Command Post.The dry wind swirled around me.All around,infantry men milled about.My armor was stifling.The sweat from my forehead stung my eyes.A single shuttle purred to life at the center of base camp,bulky and ungainly.

My staff stood behind me,quiet and resolute.The plans had been drawn up already for our last action in this forsaken planet.So much blood spilled for so little.This rock had no tactical value,no resources. Yet,here we were.

We came in with a battlecruiser,the IFS Harbinger, and a fighter escort.The planetary shield was sabotaged,brought down quickly and with almost no resistance. A fighter squadron tried to put up a defense but the Harbinger secondary battery made quick work of it.We turned the ships main artillery on the only city and followed it with a bomb run with fighters.We docked at the space port itself with no problems,took it from a handful of fighters and then began deploying troops to the surface in Mark II gunships. I was in the second wave,at the orders of Commander Wilson,as he stayed behind in the CIC to coordinate the attack.At 60% deployment,the space port simply exploded,along with the entire crew of the Harbinger and most of the Command staff.We had 2000 men,some artillery pieces,most of the armored divisions and a handful of gunships.The fighter squadron was engaged by the Federation Navy soon after.A foolhardy squadron leader thought 16 Delta fighters,4 Mark III gunships and 4 Merka Class bombers could take on 3 Federation frigates.

No air cover,no artillery,no supply lines.

We got the force field up and set up our camp and defenses around it.They couldnt get their ships artillery to break through,so they started sending down infantry divisions.We tried to take out their landing crafts but we just didnt have the firepower.We set up a defensive perimeter along our lines,prepared to soak up the pressure.We were trained Imperial soldiers.Veterans of the Xyphoran Invasion wars and insurgencies from the farthest reaches of the nation.We were battle hardened,we had superior arms,tactics and training.With no Commanding Officer,I took over the preparations.We were up against a ragtag militia,with outdated armored divisions.We would persevere.

But they were fighting for an idea.

They sent wave after wave,and we sent them back again and again.We lost 4 tanks and accompanying infantry companies because of an overzealous tank commander decided to counter attack and was cut off,enveloped and destroyed.We had to stay on the defensive,we had to hold them off until the Fleet arrived.They had no fighters,so we had some semblance of air superiority.We used our few gunships,coupled with our armored divisions to hold the stalemate.

We were no match for their overwhelming numbers.

They sent wave after wave,concentrating all their men and machines at 2 points in our lines.As the days passed,our gunships were felled and the stalemate began to crumble.A few hours before Fleet arrived,the patched up force field gave out.The shelling broke our lines and I pulled everything back.Ammunition was almost over.Most of the tanks were smoldering piles of metal while almost all the mech suits had powered down. We used jammers to hide our position from the Federation ships,the firing had been erratic and wild.

The Fleet came,but with the lone battlecruiser.They Holo'd me,told me that Command had made things clear.No Imperial soldier could retreat from a battle,no Imperial soldier could surrender.Wars were won with morale,the Federation had planned this annihilation to recruit other planets to their cause.The Imperial Command would rather see us all die than let the Galaxy know that we would give up.We would become legends and names to rally behind.They would recruit millions in the face of this cruelty by the Federation forces.

The casualties of war.

They were calling me back to be debriefed.The benefits of command.

A Staff Sergeant passed out swords to the men.The scouts had reported the enemy massing 2 clicks south. My plan called for a final charge.Get close and in the middle of them,where their guns would be too dangerous to fire.Take as many of them down with you.

A plan tailored for failure.It seemed perfect.All my other plans had failed,this one was meant to.

A pity I couldn't die with them.

The pilot ignited the repulsor engines.I shook hands with my staff,but I couldnt meet their gaze.The men stopped and stared as I entered the shuttle.Engined whined as it shuddered off the ground.I looked down at my feet as it pitched and began its ascent.

In the distance behind me,the screams of a thousand men.

The casualties of war.