Chapter 1:

Volume 1: Prologue: Nightmare

All Roads Lead To Ruin


The rain fell hard with impunity as the dying ground writhed in pain underneath the feet of thousands of soldiers as they clashed in this single moment. The very nature of its cause is clouded with frustration, rage and lies that all mortals have catered to in their homes and halls for all time since they have existed and those that no longer do. Overdue on the taxation of mans blood was gods message, so palpable was their fear they soon had forgotten their lines had been broken by the tide as those who stood with half plate armor pushed against the bare-chested brutes who wore chainmail.


There was no hope for the hundreds of onlookers who stood by and watched with the one man that amassed this massive army to fight against the untamed horde, yet as the man stood his eyes underneath his winged helm was serene as he gripped his sheathed longsword and iron kite shield. What he saw unlike the others was a sliver of hope that radiated as the light that passed through the dark clouds glimmered off the armor of those that fought. Even though the horizon carried untold numbers that amounted into thousands of barbarians, horsemen and wild folk that stood idle waiting for their turn to strike, he was yet focused. The words that he heard were familiar to him and as he stood waiting and ready, he watched a man he knew fight on with his heart.


In the middle of the battle taking place, a man fighting with pride known as the lord of Falcon's Peak who wore an ornate helm with a large red feathered plume with half plate armor stood against the chief of the Hallowed Ground who carried a massive hammer and was adorned in a bear pelt. Their fight was born of an intense hatred of each other, so much so that the order to battle was never given to them and the rash heart within them would collide in the first few minutes of this wars existence.


As they clashed the Falcon raised his broadsword and lowered his wooden kite shield as his words pierced the battlefield.


"You will burn with all your people fiend and with time you will be forgotten just like your father!"


In reply to the poor choice of words the chief swung his massive hammer with all his strength and fury, thus shattering the wooden kite shield. His gnarled and unkempt face twisted in a wry smile as the Falcon lay on the ground from the impact; in satisfaction from his blow he spoke with contempt as if those he faced were not worthy of his words.


"There is no escape, soon we all shall be set free from your tyranny and know peace!"


As the words carried on the wind and into the ears of his fellow warriors he lifted his hammer as high as he could muster and within an instant his joy lapsed as his heart was pierced by a blade from the back. From it he fell like a rock tossed in a lake on a child's whim.
Like a bellowing elephant the man who killed the chief yelled as loud as he could while he pulled the lord of Falcons Peak up.


"We must pull back and reform our formation sir, our lines are broken, the left flank is being
overrun and the captain is dead!"


"No we cant turn back now were committed!" The Falcons words echoed off the cries of men dying and fighting all around them.


"For the love of god sir have.....!"


The words the man was about to utter was cut short by a sound so terrifying it sent tremors of fear even through the ranks of barbarians who stood as allies. It was a sound that resembled a screaming child whose flesh was being ripped off like paper.


It was the horn of the Great Kahn, Lord Of The Sarada Hills, Conqueror Of Horses, King Of Pain, He Who Would Ride The Red Horse. All these titles epitomized one eastern mans existence as the undisputed lord of the manslayer's. The black armor that covered their entire body was of eastern make and the esoteric mask they wore was pale white in contrast to the armor that held to an exaggerated face of anguish. Through the darkened day covered by endless rain and mud the horsemen pushed forward with unrelenting force. Their bleeding horses resounded the battlefield like thunder and with their momentum they intended to crash into the opposing and allied forces alike while being led by their trusted ruler the Great Kahn who wore a prominent helm with a single elongated red feather on his helm with two serpents meeting in the middle of his green ornate armor.


As they charged the hundreds of men who held themselves in reserve watched from the other side of the battle as their comrades faced off against one of the greatest terrors of man. Those that stood idle remained so even when unwilling for the man in the winged helm rose his right hand and in response a towering man in gilded, gold full plate armor while carrying a great sword with a dragons head shaped pommel stepped forward and bellowed.


"Archers! Nock arrows! Loose!"


Like an anvil his hand broke the rain drops as it went up and down between commands. Within sheer seconds of his first command company's of longbowmen rushed forward, nocked their arrows, and let them fly into the dark clouded sky filled with rain.


Continuous streams of arrows flew and when they landed dozens of manslayer's fell in the wake of the aftermath while some lost their steeds. But the Great Kahn did not stop and like a hurricane his men followed him to the end and crashed into the blob of fighting that was the broken lines. Within moments the Great Kahn found his target as he charged and planted his lance within the skull of the Falcon Lord while crushing the man who slew the chief of the Hallowed Ground with his horse at the same time. In doing so he lost his steed like his fellow warriors and cut a swath of blood and gore with his scimitar.


There was no longer anymore room to wait. The other barbarians and wild folk rushed in the thousands  from the cry of their single leader in a blood frenzy. Through that singular action a man who stood left of the winged helmed commander nudged him with his shield that carried the symbol of Christ. His armor was of full plate and his great helm had a red cross painted on it from top to bottom while carrying a javelin and a broad sword at his side. He then spoke as if to encourage the commander through his own impatience.


"We can no longer wait, I can no longer wait. Give the order and let us march."


At a loss for what action to take now knowing that strategy alone would not be able to best insurmountable numbers with a few thousand men; he then spoke in a hushed, withered tone that only a few beside him could hear.


"So be it."


He took five steps forward and unlike anything any man had ever heard in their lifetime he shouted with tremendous fury as he faced his few thousand brave who were terrified at the outcome of this battle knowing that they would surely die if committed.


"Our enemy barks and hounds at our door and they remain in numbers that would blot out the sun if they were arrows! They believe you cowards as they rape and slaughter women, children and innocent men! They believe victory belongs to them as they butcher your kin! Yet they have forgotten that the men who stand here have risked tooth, nails, eyes, arms, legs and their very lives and those of their brothers! Let them hear you this day, on this red day, your day, let them hear youuu! Deaaaath! With me brothers of man and god! Deaaaathhh!"


As the sound carried through the ranks every man resounded in kind to his speech and chant by uttering death five times as they marched, jogged and then ran with a fury of inspiration they believed only god could bring to the table of war. The longbowmen had stopped firing as soon as their arrows had depleted as the distance closed when the mass of enemy bodies came forward like a heaving dragon and joined the charge. With the man of Christ and the towering man in gilded/gold armor at either side they crashed into the enemy and became lost to the battle like every other man.


Halberds, broadswords, shields and scimitars crashed and clanged against each other. The lines barely holding against the pressure emitted from the horde began to crumble as the Great Kahn pushed forward with his men, cleaving his way through the wall of bodies. Soon the Great Kahn spotted the man of Christ beside the winged helm commander and with three of his men they launched into an immediate assault through the broken line. They rushed forward with such inhuman ease that made them appear as ghosts on the battlefield while only the manslayers masks were visible through the darkness. With a guttural howl the Great Kahn spoke in a ghastly tone.


"The commander is mine! Pick the monk apart at your leisure!"


As the three manslayers heard his voice they broke apart into the dark and reformed to surround the winged helmed commanders companion. The Great Kahn unlike his men decided on no strategy, but to launch himself into the commanders shield and strike. With his action the commander was thrown off balance, yet the Great Kahn did not stop, his strikes became relentless sending the commander to his knees. The very taste of victory and glory was hot upon his lips, but it was cut short.


In the distance the man of Christ was surrounded and his chances of surviving the challenge was nil, but there was hope. Believing god had preordained him to win he planted his javelin in the ground and unsheathed his broadsword. With his sword and shield at the ready he urged them to come forward as he spoke.


"Come men, let us dance and see if being shit from a whore is all you are!"


Receiving his taunt the manslayers pushed forward in unison, uniting their strikes together with their defense, they became impregnable; to the man of Christ, however, it was nothing more than a charade presented by court jesters. As they came forward with striking ease the attacks were dodged and discarded by the man of Christ with sword, shield and quick footed movements. while dodging to the side he managed to hack at the neck of one of the manslayers and sent him to limbo. Again the man of Christ spoke.


"You willingly present ass for fucking, must I teach you how to fight!"


When the two manslayers pressed again the man of Christ used their own momentum against them and pierced the eye socket of the mask the manslayer was wearing and proceeded to sheath his blade into his skull. As the second manslayer fell there was now but one that was left in shock.  The man who stood before his last opponent became more relaxed as he unsheathed his sword from the corpses skull while taking a deep breath and exhaling. When he did so he looked around at the scattered battlefield and saw the ruin of dead bodies and his commander on his knees before the Great Kahn. As he guessed the distance between his javelin and the Great Kahn he egged the last manslayer on.


"It is you and I that remain! Show me what you can do against me without the need of aid heathen!"


Upon hearing his challenge the manslayer growled with anger and pressed for advantage, but the man of Christ made a short unexpected dash and slid across the wet ground slicing at the hamstring of the pale masked warrior. He then launched himself back up as he dropped his broadsword, plucked the javelin from the ground, heaved it backwards and let it loose towards his target that was in brief distance.


The Javelin soared through the rain soaked air and punctured the chest of the Great Kahn, thus staggering his entire body before he could deal the final blow to the commander. With his body shocked from the impact he could only utter a single word before his immediate end.


"What!"


The commander saw and seized the opportunity before him. From his knees he lifted himself from the ground with his longsword at hand. His eyes burned with hope and desperation that his strike would land unimpeded lest he be the one to die. With all his strength he thrust his blade home and perforated the Great Kahn's neck and skull with purpose. In the distance the man of Christ was spotted finishing the manslayer that was brought to his knees.


His stride was impatient as he rushed forward while struggling through the casualty of the rain. From the slit of his helmet he noticed all around that there were bodies upon bodies that lay in ruin with their blood tainting the puddles and mixing in the mud. Upon the arrival to his comrade the toll of the tactic he employed became evident; from the ragged heaving breath to the shaking legs he was hunched over trying to stay upright. As he tapped the shoulder of the man, he lurched backwards while turning to swing his blade, yet stopped halfway when he noticed it was his comrade. The man of Christ still heaving from exhaustion uttered a few words of mockery.


"For a moment there....(Heaving)... I thought you gone for good....(heaving)... like a whores child!"


The commander shot back with haste."This is no place for jokes, you should catch your breath!"


Yet the man of Christ would not have it. He knew this was his end and would rather die in joy than with no feeling at all. He then spoke with little remorse as he recollected some semblance of knightly posture and breath.


"you see it don't you! It didn't matter at all whether we swung a sword in retaliation or not! Strategy, numbers, not even hope can save us! But I do not blame you, all of this and more is for mankind! God preordained us from heaven to succeed and if what we do now is enough then I can die happy with the completion of my labor! I go now to victory!"


There was no time for the commander to speak as his comrade pushed forward in exhaustion while hacking the barbarians that came towards him. The very sound of battle was as loud as the crackling of thunder and lightening. Lines that were drawn were in shambles and the death of the Great Kahn and that of the chief of The Hallowed Ground had no effect on the enemies moral. Every man that stood here on this day would mean nothing if the beast himself were not slain.


The commander rushed forward towards the man of Christ and within their field of vision they beheld their enemy in all his glory. The man in gilded, gold full plate armor cut down three opponents each in turn and stood against their true leader. His massive size was shaded by darkness and rain with only a few strands of light that pierced through the clouds revealing his true demeanor. Confidence was evident on both sides; sacrifices were made, family destroyed, friends vanquished, yet neither would yield to the other and would rather die than not claim victory after coming this far.


Like an untamed bull the tall man wearing gilded, gold full plate armor cut through the rain and mud with little difficulty. The heaving mass covered by armor came crashing down against the imposing figure. Each stride added momentum to his strikes, one after another his opponent was forced to grab his massive blade by the hilt and the other by the edge; however, The assault that was thought endless came to an abrupt end. His opponent had dislodged the great sword from his hand by severing it and with insurmountable might following with intense momentum. Surprisingly he had twisted his body in the opposite direction and landed his blade diagonally leaving a crater in his neck. Again he heaved the blade out of his body and twisted in the opposite direction and from it he cut straight across severing his head from his shoulders. The gilded, gold full plate covered corpse came crashing down leaving an imprint that refilled with water in the mud.


Without hesitation the man of Christ ran forward and met the enemy face to face, yet when he lunged his blade an unnatural swing cut at his leg and brought him down to one knee. With no words to mutter within the span of a second his foe had twirled his huge blade and planted it deep into his shoulder as the light emanated from the lightning reflected the blades elegance.


It was now the commander and the tyrant. As the enemy closed in with a walking stride the large body of the man came into view and stood before him in the heavy rain. He was bald with a grey braided beard that reached down to the middle of his chest. The armor he wore was of full plate that had two large olive branches engraved within it and met each other in a circular formation in the middle; the very blade he carried was meant for killing through sheer force, known as the zweihander. The brilliance of the foes strength was impossibly inhuman with not even a single scratch to decorate his 7ft tall body.


Without warning the tyrant pressed forward and raised his blade in the air, thus cutting a swath through the rain. Each strike got closer, closer, and closer until the commander finally got caught by the weapon. His shield barely held as blow after blow pushed him back slightly, yet the strikes had stopped as if the repetition had bored him. The commander through slight interest peered over his shield, with impeccable speed the tyrant had moved to the side and within a split second he disarmed the shield. For a moment the commander tried to back peddle in order to gain some semblance of distance from his blade, yet the tyrant dragged the edge of his zweihander across the ground while taking two steps forward and initiated an uppercut swing with his full strength at blinding speed. The blow briefly scratched his armor, but dug into the helm leaving a gush of blood to spill forth as the helm itself was pulled from his head.


The blow revealed long, thin, grey hair and a small grey beard; a long scar was one of the most prominent features on his face that started from the top right to the bottom left and a new feature now pounded with pain on the left side of his ragged face. He could feel his eye and even briefly move the lid and no matter how hard he tried whether he forced it shut or open he could not see. The tyrant had briefly paused, but not out of kindness so the commander could examine his face. No, it was the helmet that was attached to his sword. No matter how hard he pulled he couldn't detach it, almost as if it was a permanent addition. The commander realizing this, ran forward to seize the moment or lose it forever. He charged with all his might and with each strike he pushed forward slowly edging his way to victory, yet it wasn't enough, without a definitive blow nothing would come of it. With all his strength he pushed down on the zweihander and tried to seize the opening he created.
Still it wasn't enough; from the moment he lunged with the presented opening he made the tyrant stepped forward, hit him in the nose with the pommel and kicked with an inhuman strike that left a small dent in the armor he wore. As the commander tried to regain his composure the tyrant pressed regardless of the attached helmet. His strike landed onto the commanders sword thus pushing it back and before he could react the tyrant aimed for his head. Through sheer instinct he had tilted his head a few inches nearly missing the blade as his right ear was lopped off. The commander struggling, tried to stand, but was immediately smacked by the tyrants iron guarded elbow. From it he tilted to his left and landed in the mud with only his hands holding him from drowning in the blood covered mud. The blow left him not only exhausted, but thoroughly broken.


His nose was broken, an eye gone and a right ear detached, the very vision that was left visible to him was somewhat hazed over from the hit he took. He saw the blackness engulf his surroundings as the rain crashed down, there was no yelling, no fighting of swords, no clanging of metal on metal, there was nothing but the sound of the rain and thunder with only the lightning able to validate his sight with a definitive answer, the war was over. The light perforated the eternally dark clouds and shimmered off the weapons his enemies held with only their eyes actually being visible as they peered beyond the veil. Before him stood the tyrant and with a mighty swing the helmet attached to his sword came crashing down into the mud and sunk into the loose ground. There was no more struggling, no more anger, no more questions, only the sweet embrace of sleep. As the tyrant lifted his zweihander above his head the commander then looked up into his eyes to see if his foe still held any love for him or those he slaughtered one final time. He saw no tears, no sorrow, or grief, yet he accepted it and as the sword split through the rain and shined from the light that pierced the sky two voices resounded within his head simultaneously from the ether for a brief moment when he closed his eye.


One voice was that of a woman that sounded kind and gentle with the taste of honey while the other was that of a man with a raspy, sinister and unkempt voice with bits of coughing.


"Is this all you are?"
"Is the love you held worth nothing now?"
"Can you not fight?"
"All that your worth?"
"Grieving, sad, lonely?"
"Tell me are you done?"


The last sentence cut the commander to pieces, "Tell me are you done. Tell me are you done? Tell me are you done!? TELL ME ARE YOU DONE!?"


His heart pounded slightly and the twitch within his fingers ached his soul. A small tear coalesced from his remaining eye and in his head he spoke the words.


"I'm not done yet, this cant be all there is."


Like a grand chorus the kind and sinister voice merged as one and spoke.


"SO BE IT!"


The blade that came crashing down as he opened his eye sliced into his head as the lightning and thunder broke through the sky. From it he awoke in a small cell with his heart pounding. No more than the age of eight he looked up from his pillow into the barred window and listened to the howling wind with the thunder and lightning erupting in the distance as the rain pelted the outer stone wall.


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