A prisoner among the masses recalls memories of past glories and fells a chimera.
|Awakening to a absence of light, my pulse racing, a plethora of irrational thought rised up to greet me.
I rested my head on the rough concrete floors of the holding cell before slowly pushing myself to a sloppily leaning sit, my clothes dried of blood from an earlier skirmish.
Wrists were shackled together and grazed from the metal scraping across the skin, its tight fitting manacles baring into bone as I looked on in a lifeless stupor.
My posture weakened as I stood up and fell to the side of the small room before vomiting into the corner, arms tucked together overhead, bearing against the brick and mortar as the short chain dangled and clinked as I spat out the remains.
"Eh... damn, the poison is still working on me... there has to be a way out of this, it cant end, after everything that's happened."
Sighing greatly, "...certainly not in a cess pit of inner corruption that has obviously taken hold of the once sacred grounds." Whatever that thing was it wasnt natural thats for sure, an other worldly essence eminated from that place that my comrades were right not to ignore.
As I leaned against the wall and slid down to the floor my vision started to adjust to the ill lit room, I could hardly remember anything from the previous days and my head felt as if it were splitting open from an endless stream of past occurrences and bad memories that made me feel weak to my stomach.
Grasping at my unkempt onyx hair with one hand I clasped the top of my skull in an attempt to ease the pulsating ache that had seemed to strike out of nowhere, as if a thousand tiny pin needles were speckling the outer layers of my brain.
Lost in a forgotten daze from a lapsed return journey, one moment I had been in the temple where me and my men had fought valiantly to reach and the next at the very foot of the kingdoms center 4 days ride out.
Wipping my hair back from the sides I lowered my hand to feel where my right eye had once been, still tender and crusted over, I figured I mustve looked a deathly sight but my only thoughts were still of my fallen brothers in arms... and Eli.
Tucking my head down, rubbing the back of my neck I looked to the ceiling before peering through the unbending bars of a slim window that showed only a small glimpse of the night sky, the earlier storm seeming to have faded to a moist drizzle as I began to ponder the not so distant past.
Distinct shouting and the clashing of swords rang in my ears, smoldering ruins of once human dwellings now infested the air with the scent of blood and burning flesh.
The indistinguishable fishing huts aside the port on the west end remained untouched while the richer dwellings toward the center crawled with darkly clothed figures, their movements in between the jagged nooks and alleyways ominous and ill meaning.
Peering from the low mountainside while horseback, on the outskirts of the battlefield, the Bandit Seige was gradually being pressed out of the territory.
Wielding a wooden banner, the sergeant worked his way to the 3rd battalion waiting in the front to be sent into the fray.
Leaning on the post as it swayed, the banners violet and white tailed phoenix flung prominently into the wind as he came within earshot.
"Commander, the horde is dwindling, now is our chance to push them back out of the territory!"
Looking to the sergeant as he stood lessened in stature, , "No... they still pose a threat."
Pointing toward the south edge of the village, pitiable remains of collapsed cottages bled into the sky, hazing into the bronzing horizon as the well established townsfolk had been drug from their homes by sleeve and collar. Thugs that march under a false flag thats only used an excuse to pillage and conquer, their hands all the too eager to steal the purse from your corpse.
Once a livened barter town full of artisans in fanciful robes and numerous peddlers lining the streets, eager to strike a deal or discuss political matters yet now only stands as testiment of to where times of peace can lead you astray.
A creature of legend lets out a furious roar as it was wheeled toward the towns main entry, caged and screeching with hunger it growled in anticipation. Its broad head of a lion, course hair of a goat, tail of a snake slithering between the bars.
Its slitted eyes of crimson glaring to the pit of a your very soul, enough to crumble even the mightiest resolve.
The cage rollers pause for a moment to catch their breath before raising the hatch, veering away from the edges of the barge while the creature attempted to gnaw its way through the glorified transport.
A nameless soldier stumbled in fear, his words quaking, "what in the name of Euloria is it?! surely such a lowly band of miscreants wouldnt be able to tame such an abomination."
Jole a fellow knight in arms spoke out, "Are you blind to death itself staring you in the face private!? It seems even the bandits are not without their advantages in this war."
"A Chimera in this age... I thought them extinct."
Paying no mind to the worthless banter I shouted the order, .
"Sergeant Nikaloi, have the archers fall back to higher ground and prepare to strike from the sky now that the cage is opened." The Sergeant salutes as I turned to Knight Captain Jole.
"Captain, rally whatever infantry is free and have them assemble at the base of town. I will have you circle round to the rear of the creature and cut the tail, rendering the beast without balance."
A look of questioning judgement is shot by the ironclad defenders waiting in the ranks as Jole nods in acknowledgement, recruiting in haste, he singles them out one by one with a firm gesture that struck each of them with a reluctant surge.
(Under siege by a band of foolhardy miscreants, thinking to tame a beast straight from the darkest depths of the abyss. This will not end well... for either side.)
"Alright you pigeon-livered sacks, you heard the order, lets move!"
Bearing the royal families crest on their back cloaks, soldiers of every race lined up to fight, fear being far from most of them as they instinctively removed their javelins. Bringing them down to extend northward, towards the fight as their blades sung a uniformed hue.
Dropping from my horse into a double footed clomp I snatch the sword reaching out from its leather holster, swinging its length around to rest on my shoulder as my visor falls with motion of my finger.
The beast forced out a will shattering roar as it leaped onto the blood spattered soil, sending a few of the foot soldiers into panic as they scattered helplessly into oncoming adversaries.
"Cowards!" Knight Torik yells as they meet their end by the bandits standing their ground, their swift retreat whipping trailmarks of dust into the air as their breast plates and throats are pierced by the offenders, slinging them to the ground.
"Do not mock, honor them for giving their lives in service to a noble goal.", Torik peered off for a moment before resuming his stance, looking on into the massacre.
"Be wary of stray arrows men, this beast will fall despite its advantages."
The first of the arrows launched without success, only to further enrage the beast as they deflect from its rough hide.
We spring into action, striking while keeping our distance to not be devoured, few blows land as the beast steps back and swipes, its golden mane rippling as it wipes out four of my recruits in an instant.
Thrusting its back legs, the 3 headed menace jolts forward, kicking up a trail of dust before leaping on top of Torik as he stands like a stone.
Kicking and screaming the beast shoves him down its gullet to the waist before, with a snap of its gaping maw, his legs snap in two. The steel extremities dropping to the ground like a stick of mutton.
"Where the hell is he?", spouting as I scoured the surroundings for Jole, his yearning for battle only met by the expense of his own choosing for the proper moment.
Firmly grasping my broadsword I lunged inward barely scraping the side of its face, the beast hardly flinching as its bite just missed my arm. Going in for another it succeeded in breaking my sword in half, cutting the corner of its mouth slightly.
Bolting across from us in one powerful leap as it turns into a drifting halt, it roars once more as if to display its prowess.
The next flurry fell catches the beast off guard as it howls in dread, causing it to pause while it ducked its head against the barrage.
Seizing the instance I quickly leaped toward the beast once more, plunging the edge of my fractured weapon into its eye. Pulling back into a snarl I was raised off my feet, dangling as I jerked adamantly to remove the blade.
The beast rearing on hind legs into a frenzy of pain as it comes down snarling rushing its head into my chest armor, forcing me to the ground with a drop of its thickly furred mitt, sharp claws clenching, nearly puncturing through my helmet it pins me under its crushing weight.
"Commander!, push you sorry shit's, this isnt a midday stroll", Knight Torik yelled as my command was muffled into the beasts paw.
Most of the others fell without much effort from the creature, screaming as one's guts fell to the dry earth after being sliced open, his fluids pooling beside me as I fling my leg up against the beasts body, attempting to gain leverage.
A cry of valor could be heard nearby, the corner of my sight spots Jole rushing in between the abomination's legs, slicing the tail clean with a single downward strike.
Stumbling and rolling over his shoulder into a kneeling stance he readies his weapon.
(Never misses a chance to impress the newbies, that gumptious rebel will wind up at the end of his rope one of these days.)
Falling to its side I'm free'd from its grasp, its razor claws slicing through metal and across my face as it tumbles. The taste of iron flowed into my mouth as I clung to my feet and grasped the nearest blade.
"Now, strike without mercy!", some of the others still remained hesitant as I look back to the beast, keeping clear of its paws as the steel like talons scrape and burrow through the dirt in an attempt to get back to its feet.
Jole and myself manage to pierce the stout outer skin, slicing wildly at its neck until it was severed with a last breath of life, gravelly and hoarse as its cat like eye widened and it's luster faded.
Gasping and staggering the bandits eyes reflected disbelief in having just felled their last hope - most flee as others... were easily dealt with.
Removing the helmet to my side, hot sweaty metal gave way to a subtle breeze, caressing my senses as the sounds of battle fell on deaf ears, various clashes subtly die down while the enemies reserves make a swift retreat.
Jole walked up beside me as I turn, placing his hand on my shoulder as he gleamed with amusement, "Hahaha, despite the rough going id say that scar will suit you quite well Commander."
"Hmph, dont be so easy going, we've lost many good souls this day." Tossing the sword to the ground I glanced at the numerous men that lie at my feet, sighing before turning my gaze back to the beast and then to the unseemly carnage that riddled the barren streets.
The bodies of the fallen were steadily packed, single file onto wooden carts, the newest recruits usually being tasked with respectively searching for valuables among the dead before wheeling them to the other end to assist in the burial.
A small detachment was sent to quell the village fires and scout for survivors among the crumbling foundations and blood soaked dirt grounds, search groups crawling in from broken windows, wielding axe and mace to bust through barricaded doors as the afflicted were then guided through the wreckage.
Two groups of five composed of long range archers on horseback led the shock stricken unfortunates to the river ferry a few miles down, carrying what keepsakes they could manage, stashing their belongings in bedsheets and ripped tapestry before being moved over the still waters to the nearest allied settlement for fresh clothing/food.
So many lives at that moment, gone in an instant, celebrating our victory afterwards as if it were an acceptable cost.
We were all living on borrowed time, we just hadnt realized it yet.
As I contemplated my own fate as well as that of my fellow brothers in arms my thoughts began to come rushing back once more.