Godslayer made me take the pen once again and start writing! Thank you for the inspiration, its priceless! Hope you enjoy it =)
By Pavel Popov
The Halodyne city of Vartyr was a peaceful place that never saw armed conflicts before. A small garrison of thirty hoplites was enough to patrol the city, to enforce the law and protect caravans travelling between Vartyr and larger neighboring settlements.
This calamity was what made Vartyr the first target of the Banenrood skirmish, aimed at testing Halodyne defenses in the region. Large packs of expendable mongrels were tasked with clearing out patrols and cutting supply and communication lines for the arrival of larger forces led by Bisotaur Shamans and Gorelords. Vrak, the mongrel leader that was tasked with initial attack on Vartyr, was a veteran of several similar operations aimed at Mortan cities and Wyldfolk villages, and knew all too well how to organize a terror attack. The mongrel was a smart one, and the fact that he was still alive despite the multitude of his combat encounters proved this.
As the sun went down, and evening slowly dimmed the vision of humans, Vrak signaled for attack. The mongrels had less than an hour to finish off the defenders and revel in pillaging and raping until the warlords arrive.
Humans managed to organize a hasty defense, and the first wave of mongrels was mercilessly dispatched by the hoplite phalanx, each man hitting in unison, parrying every hit with shields and piercing throats and bodies of the beasts with spears. The second Banebrood wave lost twelve mongrels, while taking four hoplites down. The third lead personally by Vrak, ripped apart the shield wall and mowed the remaining spearmen in an orgy of bloodshed. With no more major organized forces to protect it, the city was doomed. Mongrels were the first to arrive, and they were going to take as much as possible from this encounter, before the elite soldiers pick the most precious pieces of armor, weapons and gems from the battle field.
One by one, houses were breached and their defenders slaughters. Seven hoplites made their last stand by the city temple, ready to sell their lives dearly. And Banebrood paid a large price, loosing another dozen of mongrels to only kill six men. The remaining hoplite, apparently the leader, was a strong one, but without his battle brothers to support him with an impenetrable wall of shields, and a gaping wound on his chest, he quickly fell under savage strikes of the mongrel leader. Vrak finished the wounded man with slow cuts, made to ensure the most dire pain, bit off a large chunk out of the body and roared at the smoke-covered sky. Licking blood from his lips and savoring its sweetness, the mongrel knocked the door out, ready for carnage. The remaining mongrels remained outside, tearing armor from the still-warm corpses.
The temple was small, and altar room comprised of a little pool and a marble altar. A tall thin woman was standing behind it, and as Vrak busted open the door she turned to him. She was undoubtedly beautiful by human standards, with grace that could only match the womanliness of her body. And yet, her spirit was stronger than that of many men. A being warped by Urghast, Vrak knew a magic-user when he saw one. It was a part of survival instinct that every Beastspawn had. He knew that he had to act fast, if he wanted to see another day.
The monster charged the oracle, lifted her up and slammed her at the wooden wall of the altar room, leaving her breathless. She did not plead or try to defend her, and did not reach for the dagger that she had in a beautifully decorated scabbard at her waist.
With a quick move that he made so many times before, the mongrel made a thrust with his blade, aiming at the human’s lungs and heart, to ensure quick death without fear of retaliation. He flavored the sound with which his blade screeched as it broke the woman’s ribs and nailed her to the wall. The woman screamed as the rusty steel pierced her lung. She knew she was doomed. The feeling that only murder could bring was so exquisite that Vrak closed his eyes, better to feel it.
Reaching out with her thin white arm, steady despite the tremendous pain, the oracle placed her little hand on the face of her killer. Vrak expected everything to happen, a blade of air to tear him apart or a burst of flame to engulf him and turn him into ash. But instead, the hand caressed his cheeks and disfigured forehead with motherly tenderness. He looked at the oracle’s face in wonder, and there was no hate or pain on it, only infinite sadness.
A burst of light flashed through the very fabric of the mongrel’s soul. Vrak fell to his knees and vomited on the blood-covered marble floor. His link to Urhghast was cut by a single touch of the oracle, and the veil of a life-long bloodlust was suddenly lifted. Every year of sin and depravity fell on top of his now-humane heart and consciousness like a pile of rocks. He looked at the oracle impaled before him, tears bursting from his animal eyes and running down his deformed face. She was dead, her eyes finally closed in peace. There was no suffering on that beautiful face, and, strangely, the woman’s still lips, that already started loosing color, were smiling with a special warm smile that a mother reserves for a child that misbehaves. A loving, tender smile.
Sobbing and howling, Vrak fell to the floor, curling into a fetal position in the pool of filth that he himself created. He called for death to come and release him, for gods to smite him, to remove the intolerable pain from his bleeding soul, but no one answered. The mongrel was still lying trembling and moaning, when a towering form slowly entered the altar room.
The Bisotaur Shaman approached the shivering mongrel and said after a long pause: “You no longer belong with us, mongrel” – the voice of the Shaman echoed in Vrak’s ears with pulses of pain. “I relieve you of your service and of Urghast blessings. You no longer tread the true path. Now, you are doomed to find it again, alone”.
Several minutes passed after the shaman left, and Vrak managed to pull himself together. He could not understand why the Shaman left him alive. He got on feet, carefully removed the sword from the woman’s chest and placed her body on the altar. She looked as though she was sleeping. He stepped outside, and was greeted by stench of burning flesh and wood. He inhaled this foul air as deep as he could, to remember it forever.
He slowly turned towards the nearest forest edge and began to walk, tripping and wambling, as though he was drunk. But in his mind, where the new clarity and understanding was taking roots, he felt more in control than he ever was. Whatever would happen, wherever he would tread, he was sure of one thing. With pain, comes forgiveness. And despite what the Shaman said, from that night he would never walk alone.
(This post was last modified: 11-29-2014 12:06 AM by Alchemist.)