Chapter 6:

Chapter 6. A Mournful Departure

Legacy of the Forgotten

Alcides looks at Avorion with great anger in his heart, before clenching his fist tightly. He then raised his arm as if to strike Avorion, because he believed that if Avorion had acted immediately then maybe his brothers wouldn’t have become monsters. The Prince saw this and ran between them to face the angry lion, looking Alcides in the eyes.

Alcides clenched his eyes tightly as the memories of the life he gave up flooded his head, where he and his brothers hunted all day and night looking for the perfect game to satisfy their need to conflict. They didn’t have much but it was enough for the four of them, hunting in the cold lands in the day, while feasting together and looking into the starry skies at night. Those were the times he felt truly free. Alcides’s mind then thought about the day where he traded all those good times for a life of servitude. When the King found him and his brothers tied up and beaten badly by Avorion for stepping into the King’s private hunting grounds. The ruler of Fortis Gelu walked over to the Alcides and kneeled down to look at him, so that he may take a better look at the beaten man. Alcides had taken one look at the King, his eyes meeting up with the King’s, and for the first time in his life he felt a crushing pressure. The King then spoke to Alcides in a relaxed tone in order to ease the tension the man must’ve felt.

“Tell me, young man. Are the guys the ones that have hunted the Geluian Lions to near extinction?”

Alcides smirked at the King’s words and let out a boastful laugh

“Haha! You're damn right I did! You live here as well oh lord on mount high. You and I both know in this frozen wasteland only the strong deserve to thrive and the weak will be trampled u-”

The King watch has Avorion kicked Alcides across the face, before shouting at him knocking him.

“How dare speak to his majesty like that! I should gut you all now and let his lordship be done with this!”

Alcides smirks as the kick didn't hurt so much with some blood escaping from his bottom him. This adolescent man’s smug look pissed Avorion off even further, causing him to kick Alcides’s face to the ground with his brothers calling out to him. Alcides responded in a loud tone, as if to try and intimidate his siblings.

“Pipe it down you three! This is between me and the old man.”

The King gently raised his hand to signal Avorion that what he did was enough and that he will take it from here. Avorion nodded and stepped back as the King walked up to Alcides, once he was in front of the brothers he simply said to Alcides.

“If what you say really is true, and only the strong deserve to survive? Then tell me what's stopping me from killing your younger siblings? Wouldn’t that be nature at work?”

The king looked at the three younger siblings, instantly being able to tell that they were triplets as they looked exactly alike. The only difference being that they all had different colored eyes, Alcides shouted at the King to regain his attention.

“Hey! Wait, don’t do anything to them! If you’re looking for someone to hurt, I’m willing to take it all but please just don’t hurt them!”

The king looked at Alcides and asked with a serious tone.

“Tell me who are you four, and who was your father? Knowing that will determine all three of your fates.”

Alcides sighs and takes a deep breath, and slowly exhales as his warm breath makes a small mist appear in front of him upon meeting the cold temperature outside.

“My name is Alcides Ischiyrós. I am the oldest brother as I’m sure you can tell. As for the three behind me, they’re triplets so you can only really tell by their eyes. The one with green eyes his name is Achillose. The blue eyed brother of mine is Percion. Finally the last one with brown eyes is name Asclepius. As for our father, his name was Sir Davis h-”

The King raised his hand after the name Alcides spoke as he recognized the name of their father. The King then ordered Avorion to release then from their bindings, which surprised his loyal knight. This made him question the King, as he was just shocked that even after the way Alcides had spoken to him. His majesty was still willing to let them forgive their transgression and blatant disrespect towards him.

“M-my lord?! Are you sure about this? These four have hunted a species that held keep the balance of the Fortis Gelu near extinction! Why should w-”

The King raised his hand and glared at Avorion, silently telling him to not question his decision to set them free.

“I see, so that’s your guy’s father. Well then I suppose that I should punish you for your transgressions against the balance of Fortis Gelu. At least that’s what I would’ve said before. Avorion untie them, they are the sons of a very man that I deemed a friend.”

Avorion was surprised but walked over to the tied up teens, going to set Alcides free but before he could Alcides snapped the bindings with his muscle alone. Alcides looked at Avorion and glanced at him with a smirk. Avorion shakes his head and sighs as he unties the other siblings, taking notice that their robe was a bit worn showing that they were definitely trying their best to escape like Alcides.

“You lads really are a bunch of brutes.”

Alcides laughed, letting out a mighty roar that even impressed the king and joined in the fun. After a few minutes of laughter the King offered Alcides a hand and offered him an even better opportunity.

“Come join me and Avorion, become my laughing lion. Join us and live a life of purpose instead of a life of wondering what your purpose is. Your siblings will be able to join you but in return you’ll pledge yourself to me and my family and be provided with the armor of a man deserving of your talents.”

Alcides didn’t know what to think when he heard the man’s words. Was this some kind of sick joke, to get him to trade his free spirit for a life of mediocrity? The adolescent teen thought about it and then looked back at his brothers who were covered in the marks of past glories. Injuries that have yet to heal and at the rate they were going, they’d be more likely to keel over then recover. So a choice was made on their behalf, something that any older sibling would do.

Alcides soon snapped out of his memories as he slowly retracted his fist from its striking position, before turning around so that his back was facing the Prince and Avorion.

“I wished that my actions would’ve led to better results for us. Yet such wishful thinking gets us nowhere huh? After all, I stand at the ready to claim whatever retribution I can reap while preserving your honor. Achillose, Percion and Asclepius. I am here now, so no need to fret any longer, I shall fulfill my last responsibility as your brother and release you from your torment.”

He finally opened his eyes, no longer willing to hide the ferocity of a wild animal finally being released from its confines. He looked at the three harbingers that were once everything he had, but now had been taken by the darkness. What enraged him the most was there was no recompense to have been had yet. His heart had always danced in the heat of battle, but this situation made his break as he would have to use the ace up his sleeve. It was the least he could do to honor the memory of his brothers, finally with a single tear escaping his right eye, he closed his helmet to hide the shame of one killing his own kin.

Alcides then threw his arms wide open and ordered the other knights who finished their enemies to keep his brothers busy for a moment. Jeremy, now covered in blood, had seen the man giving the order and was shocked to see the Laughing Lion on the battlefield.

Jeremy scanned the battlefield to see what was up and saw the situation and immediately recognized the threat that Alcides had demanded them to hold off. He looked at another knight that had the bottom half of his helmet broken, revealing the scruffy blonde beard underneath. Jeremy then called out to the man to get his attention.

“Hey Baxter!”

Baxter had looked at him and nodded as if he knew that this could go really well or terrible depending on their luck. The three Dark Harbingers cracked their necks and began to have a dark aura around them with the sky turning dark, making heavy snow begin to fall. Achillose, let out a loud screech with Percion and Asclepius taking off and charging towards Alcides.

Alcides slowly took his great bow off, and tossed it to the side along with the quiver of arrows. Alcides then closed his eyes and began to chant.

“I who shall awaken, I am the white lion who has stolen the principle of life from the light! I care not for the infinite, and fret over the dream. I shall become the beast of enlightenment, I will sink my fangs into you, and drag you into the depths of frozen purgatory. Pale Regulus!”

The moment he uttered those words from his lips, it was either do or die with a thick white aura that began to flood out of him. His armor began to shift and change into something more akin to Alcides’s beastual nature. The twisted siblings were about to lunge at Alicdies, however Baxter and Jermey threw their spears that had chains attached to them into a building in front of the two dark beings. This bought Alicides time as his two former siblings took off; they were immediately close lines and fell on their backs.

The final twisted brother watched as his cleaver appendage began to seemingly shrink with the black pustule substance being absorbed back into Achillose’s body with him standing at the ready.

Finally Alcides opened his eyes and let out a single powerful scream as the shockwave from his powerful roar cleared the aura around him. The exposed knight stood there with the prince looking in shock at what he saw.

What stood before the Prince with the pinnacle of physical prowess and ferocity. Alcides' armor was completely different now with his hair growing till it almost reached the ground, as it exploded from the back of his helmet. The next noticeable changes were his shoulders, they were now a lion's roaring face with thick scarlet hair around it, acting as a sort of main for it. His helmet, once being able to open, now perfectly matched a lion’s own. His chest piece was warped as with it having a huge patch of scarlet fur in the center of it now. Leaving the final change to his armor being his hands and feet, as they both were changed to resemble the thick and powerful claws of the geluian lion.

Avorion and the Prince looked at the lion knight as they both could feel the overwhelming power of Alcides as it radiated from him. Alcides said nothing as he began to lunge towards his brothers, ready to embrace them, not as their kin but as the King’s lion. The Prince looked at his mentor with a saddens expression and spoke his mind on the situation.

“Avorion, is this what it means to be strong?”

Avorion took a deep breath and thought about his response carefully as he thought back to his son and how the darkness teased at his deepest emotions. Avorion looked away; he had to because underneath his helmet there was a man who was shedding tears for his son who had yet connected with. How could a man who’d given up everything answer that when his efforts were ultimately in vain.

“I don’t know my lord, I’ve done my best to teach. This is something you’ll simply have to learn because right now, even I’m at a loss.”

The Prince looked down at the ground with the answer being a difficult one to swallow as he went silent and became lost in his thoughts. Avorion meanwhile watched what unfolded in front of them as it was now just the four entities still fighting. Jeremy and Baxter jumped back a few feet as the twisted siblings of Alcides slowly got up, growling in a low pitch tone.

Alcides bulldozed through the chains, catching the necks of Percion and Asclepius in his biceps before spinning around to chuck them back one at time towards the wall where the warped Achillose stood. Achillose simply dodged the incoming brothers by simply tilting his head to the left and then to the right, letting the two brothers crash into the wall. The impact left two big creators in the wall, as Alcides and Achillose stared down each other, with Alcides being able to to clearly see the lifeless pupils of his brother. The Dark Harbinger began to roar as his form changed yet again, this time covering his head in the black substance and shaped it to match that of a of black catlike creature as the arms grew a bit thicker and more muscular. Alcides grit his teeth as he charged at the warped Achillose, letting out a powerful roar as he yelled.

“You abomination! First you take my brothers and now you mock their dreams to be like me?!”

Achillose charges at Alcides and meets him in hand to hand combat, with the hands begin locked with each other. Alcides then bashed his head against Achillose’s several times, not even facing the warped sibling. Achillose returned the favor by letting go of Alcides right hand, before pulling him in with his left arm and delivered a solid punch to Alcides metal covered jaw. This caught Alcides off guard for a moment as he looked at Achillose attempting to roundhouse kick him. Alcides however uses this opportunity to grab his brother’s leg and pulls it into his right side before he grabs his brother’s neck and choke slammed him into the ground. Achillose’s body hit the ground with such force it made a huge crater upon impact with the frozen earth.

Alcides looked down at the beaten body of his brother, and simply scoffed at the idea of what had happened.

“How utterly tragic, you tried to beat me with strength, when you can’t even use my brothers’ body correctly. At the end of it all, this was akin to putting a child who's throwing a temper tantrum in their place.”

Alcides then took a deep breath, as he continued to speak.

Alcides clenched his fist as his corrupted brother slowly reached out to him, with the darkness still spurring the worn out body to fight. Alcides looked down at his beaten brother and saw that a part of Achillose’s human face was exposed with a single tear spilling from its eyes. Alcides’s heart sank when he saw this, as even in death his brother couldn’t find peace. He then brought down his fist into Achillose’s head, and instantly crushes it with the raw power behind his punch being enough to turn it into fine jelly. It was a good thing that it was snowing hard at that time, he didn’t want many to know that he had to commit that shameful act of killing his kin, it didn’t matter whether they were corrupted or not. The darkness that was attached to Achillose’s body slowly dissipated until there was nothing but a corpse that had a hole in its gut with the blood still oozing from it, and a nasty red mesh that was once Achillose’s head. Alcides had to harden his heart for a short while longer, as he heard the rubble being moved behind him where Percion and Asclepius were, as the two younger siblings emerged from the pile of stones.

The two twisted siblings would assume a slumped over position, as the darkness that infested their bodies made them more feral like. Alcides looked at their postures and sighed deeply as he could tell the darkness was being pushed back into a corner and began to panic, or at least that’s what it appeared to be. Asclepius roars in frustration before immediately ripping his arm off. He then stomped in front the severed arm, as it transformed into a snake and slithered away. lcides was shocked that this dark entity would desecrate another one of his young sibling’s body even more and proceeded to charge at two of them. Percion’s body began to bulk and charge towards Alcides in an attempt to hold off Alcide, as they locked hands once they met face to face with Percion trying to snap and bite Alcides’s face.

Alcides quickly grabs Percion’s face with his hand, before the twisting sibling could react, and while feeling no mercy, closes his palm to crush his brother’s head. Alcides watched with no expression as the grip of Percion began to loosen from their hand lock before the body of his sibling slumped to the ground and fell over like a sack that was over stuffed with golden coins.

Alcides looked over at the body, and knew that he couldn’t keep this stone wall up for long as his heart sank even further. Alcides' heart sank with each sibling he had to strike down, but he grit his teeth and clenched his fists before stepping over Percion’s body. Alcides looked over at the one armed Asclepius, this may have been the biggest gut wrencher of Alcides because unlike Achillose and Percion. Asclepius' dream was to be a doctor and use his strength to acquire difficult medicines for the people of the kingdom, at first this dream was just for the four of them, but as they were enlisted his dream was now for Fortis Gelu. Alcides took a deep breath and began to speak one last to his brother despite his words being fruitless, but none the less Alcides thought they needed to be spoken.

“I’m sorry Asclepius. Your dream was truly something beautiful and it was definitely worth pursuing. You were the most compassionate out of the four of us, and that it made your soul was the most beautiful as you were the heart of our family that brought us together when it got rough. I only thst I could’ve been there to protect you and your dream, and the dreams of Achilose and Percion when I was needed most. Goodbye, and sleep well baby brother, may your soul roam wild and free along with those of our family.”

What the Prince and other knights saw through the stormy blizzard was something that would be ingrained in their minds for the rest of their lives. Alcides roars loudly, sounding like one of the few remaining Geluian Lions and lunged at Asclepius and began to release a fury of ferocious attacks thst were so fast even Avorion had a hard time keeping up. Within moments Alcides turned around in silence as his claw-like hands and gauntlets were completely coated in blood. Chunks of what was once Asclepius where splattered all over the wall, with all that remained of his brother's body was his lower half and the spine.

The few knights that survived the battle remained silent as they saw during Alcides fight thst behind all that glory that Avorion spoke of, these were still their friends, lovers and ever family that they had to put down. Sure they knew what they were asking for but when you have to kill someone precious to you, it messes you up deep inside. Jeremy walks over to the Prince from the right, and before the adolescent lord had a chance to look over at the knight, Jeremy gives his Prince a strong punch to the right side of his face. Avorion and some of the other knights were caught off guard by this as the Prince fell to the ground with Jeremy standing over him.

“If your going to be our next lord then we’re all doomed! You costed several men their lives, men that I knew! Men that I cared for! T-they were family to me and you tossed their lives away to pursue a single enemy. What sort of excuse do you have?”

Jeremy got on one knee and used his left arm to grab the Prince by his tunic to pull him up towards him. Oh tell me my liege.

“ What was your excuse..”

The Prince’s heart sank a bit had there been no excuse for him, he was just so focused on the target that he didn’t even think about what would happen. Jeremy went into wail on the young lord again before his arm was held back by Avorion mid wind up, this made Jeremy turn his head back in shock that his friend would even still protect the Prince despite knowing his recklessness got many of their brothers in arms killed. Jeremy tried tugging his arm away from Avorion but his friend held onto his arm firmly, showing his resolve to protect their future lord.

“Let go Avorion, I’m giving this “Lord” of ours a taste of failure!”

“I can’t let you do that Jeremy, despite what transpired in this conflict he's still our lord, and I my responsibility is to the crown first, and then the people second.”

Avorion said as he still firmly held his friend's arm back from hitting the Prince.

Jeremy scoffs at his friend’s reply and begins to run his mouth like he always did when upset.

“Avorion I swear! I sometimes I doubt that you even care for us lesser folk. In fact I doubt you’d even care if your own son died in this con-”

Before Jeremy had a chance to finish, Avorion used his messed up arm and grabbed his friend’s head and slammed him to the ground. This was enough to shatter the helmet his friend wore, revealing the dark haired pale male with green eyes with the shattered helmet cutting his chin a bit. Jeremy looked at Avorion shocked as his friend was so calm, this was the least expected response that he thought Avorion would give.

“Don’t you speak of my son Jeremy, I only knew him for a few moments before his life was taken, on this very battlefield. Just like everyone else, his life was another innocent loss due to my carelessness. So don’t label my duties to the crown as “Not Caring” because I blame myself more than anyone else. I over estimated my skills, not thinking of the unpredictable nature of the enemy, and my lack of strength to be of more use!”

Avorion took a deep breath, and looked at Jeremy with an expression so cold, it may as well rival the frozen lands themselves. Avorion took a moment to think of his words before speaking.

“So I will give you this one warning, if you continue to flap your lips then I’ll show you your place in the bigger picture.”

Jeremy looks the other way showing thst hr is yielding to his friend.

The Prince had slowly got up during Avorion’s talk with Jeremy and placed his hand on Avorion’s shoulder. Avorion look at his lord and took a deep breath, with the Prince looking at Alcides who was standing over the collect corpses of his siblings. Avorion then looked to where the Prince was, seeing the same thing, and looked down.

“I think he needs a friend”

Said the Prince, with his expression resembled that of a look of worry.

“Are you sure? What about Jeremy?”

Avorion asked with a slightly concerned tone.

“I think he gets it, besides I have something to say to him, and Alcides really needs you.”

The Prince said, before Avorion left Jeremy on the ground and walked over to Alcides. After Avorion walked away, the Prince kneeled down to offer Jeremy a hand off the ground and simply asked on a kind tone.

“Need a hand?”

Jeremy shook his head and slowly got up from the ground, before looking away from the adolescent lord and simply asked in an irritated tone.

“What did you want to say to me?”

The Prince slowly hit up from his kneeling position, and took a deep breath before he began to speak.

“I’m sorry I let you down Jeremy. I wasn’t thinking throughout the battle, and ended up getting good men killed because of that. I can’t tell you how awful I feel, because I truly value the lives of the people of this kingdom. So I wish to show you that I’ll be worthy of you and every other knight in this kingdom as a lord.”

Jeremy was surprised to hear such an apology from the person he just assaulted, and looked at him to see the Prince had a straight expression on his face but had shed a single tear. This caught him off guard and said in a slightly warmer tone.

“I hope you do, but remember I’m not the one you should be apologizing too. After all, I’m still here.”

Jeremy then walked away with Baxter walking beside him to the infirmary, meanwhile Avorion walked up to the right side of Alcides and looked down at corpses of Alcides siblings. Avorion then began to speak in a regretful tone.

“Alcides I’m s-“

Alcides then cut him off, raising his right hand to signal Avorion to stop speaking.

“Don’t Avorion. While fighting my siblings I realized that none would have predicted this, not even you. I have to accept that in this life, I’ll lose things I love, but I don’t know what else I have to lose. Everything I did, it was for my brothers in order to save them. However, now that they’re all dead, what more can I lose?”

The two elite knights looked towards the fire while they stood in the middle of the street, and watched as some of the survivors of the battle, started to throw the corpses of their fallen comrades on top of the bodies of Alcides’s brothers. before covering them in a special fluid that's commonly used to light things. This burning of the dead was how the kingdom took care of its fallen, for it’s said that when the flesh is destroyed, only then you’ll know that a person's soul is free. It’s also spoken amongst the people of this land that if your bonds were strong with the individuals or if you were related to those that were being set free, that you’d be able to see them leave for Paradisus Lapsorum. A place of folklore where those who’ve fallen in battle go to be rewarded by light with eternal splendure or so they say at least. Once all the bodies were collected Avorion offered the torch to Alcides. It was the least Avorion could do after all, they were his family, and he should be the one to light the flames that’ll release their souls, not Avorion. Alcides took the torch and silently put the torch to the pile, watching in silence as the flames quickly rose and set his brother’s bodies and those of their comrades ablaze.

Avorion slowly opened his helmet, showing the unsure face that laid behind the metallic beastual helmet. Alcides saw this and looked at the burning pile with a sliver of thankfulness in his eyes. He then looked at Avorion and asked a simple question before the rest of the knights gathered around to pay their dues.

“Hey Avorion, do you really think that my brothers are now finally free? Free from duty, responsibility, but more importantly do you think that this will save their souls?”

Avorion was initially caught off guard by this, Alcides was more like Jeremy. Mostly due to the fact that in times where deep emotions would be stirred up, he like Jeremy would often try to preoccupy himself to find some good “tail” to distract himself. However, since this was the first time Alicides ever asked deep questions like this, Avorion looked his friend in the eyes and nodded as he spoke.

“I’m sure that wherever your brothers may be, they’re enjoying the rewards of a duty well served.”

The knights that didn’t go to the infirmary after the battle gathered around the burning pile. Sure not all of them believed in Paradisus Lapsorum, but they stayed as a sign of respect to the fallen. The Prince saw this display and watched from a distance as he thought him being the very reason why some of them died made him feel dejected. He didn’t know them, so what right did he have to see their send off? So he sat down on top of a wooden crate that was a little bit always, and looked down at the street, while listening to the crackling of the fire.

However unaware to everyone in the kingdom this tragedy was far from over. While everyone was mourning the dead, the serpentine creature that was once the arm of Asclepius, slithered throughout the castle and soon found its target to make it whole again right inside the Queen’s resting chamber. The Queen herself laid in her bed still comatose like a state, looking peaceful as ever. This serpentine creature grew excited as it slithering up the bed, and got closer to the Queen. This is where the nightmare begins as the creature opened its mouth and bit the side of the Queen’s neck, pouring it’s corruption into her. Her eyes then shot open before she reached for the serpentine creature and yanks it out of her neck before brought it to her face with it hissing at her, this didn’t deter her as she opens her mouth a bites the creature’s head off, before she began to devour the rest it.