The Devil's Tears
A platoon of horseback soldiers galloping steadfastly in a rush. The soldiers were shocked and confused but nevertheless, they marched onwards. The air smelt like burnt cinders and there was ash falling from the sky. The soldiers galloped through the plain field of ashes where once tall grass covered the entire field in abundance.
The ashes fell like snowflakes from the sky. There was not a speck of life to be seen anywhere.
It was just like a big black and white canvas of destruction painted around them.
Soon the platoon of horseback soldiers got back on the road after crossing the field and marched on towards the capital.
Along the way, they happened to pass by a carriage stood on the road. The horse was half burnt and there were corpses of human beings that were popping out of the windows. Poor souls were burned alive inside the carriage like a big oven.
The platoon of horseback soldiers just glanced at the sorry site and went past by them without slowing down.
Some soldiers averted their eyes away from the corpses in nauseousness while others looked at them with a state of fear and shock. They kept marching onwards nevertheless.
A few minutes later the small town of Copeia came in sight which was one of the nearest towns to the capital.
"Listen up soldiers!" shrieked out the leading soldier who was the commander of the platoon, "We must get back to the capital as quickly as possible and we still have a little longer to go. I would rather prefer all of us would release some of our dead weight. I don't think our horses can run much longer."
His platoon had been marching for almost a full day on their horses for nonstop. It will also be harder to get them some water to cool down the horses in the current situation.
Soon one by one the soldiers started to drop their armor and helmets on the road. The soldier's maintained their steady pace while throwing their armaments, except for their swords.
'A wolf without its teeth was nothing more than a harmless dog.' is what the saying goes among the soldiers of Esther.
The platoon soon enters the town of Copeia.
"Soldiers! it's better if you keep your eyes in front of your reins." advised the commander out loud.
They all gritted their teeth and entered the town.
To their horror, they could only find what was charred human corpses and old rustic buildings in the town.
There was death all over the place.
Piles of dead bodies lying on the street.
It wasn't surprising as this town was one of the busiest towns in this province after the capital city.
Some corpses laid on the footpath, while some on the market stalls.
Some people with children in their arms who tried to protect them, while some died a lonesome death.
But the matter of the fact is that there were no survivors left in the town.
There was no sound except the hooves of the horses echoing within the remains of the charred buildings of the town.
The soldiers glanced at this pitiful sad scene and couldn't stop their tears from flowing. Not long ago did their platoon stop in the town to get some booze before heading to their duty at the border.
The sadness and fear whirled within the soldiers that shook them to their core.
"Don't lose your heads, men! The capital is right around the corner. Whoever did this, we will surely make them pay with blood. Even if it means to lay down our lives as the soldiers of Esther." he said out loud angrily, although tears flowed through his eyes as well.
Soon they left the town and marched towards the capital.
Now to reach the capital, they had to cross the hills.
The capital city, Mabrar was on the other side of this hill.
Instead of taking the normal route that is, going on the road laid around the hill, the soldiers instead opted to cut through the hill.
The horseback soldiers raced their way uphill.
There was a thick smog blanket of smog covering the entirety of the hill. The soldiers could barely see anything. Still, they followed their commander from behind who lead his men.
The hill wasn't much steep but soon the soldier's horses started collapsing on the ground one by one. It seemed they had reached their limits.
The smog was quite thick and it was also getting harder to breathe. The horses were already exhausted but the lack of oxygen in the air put a halt on their long marathon.
But there were still a few soldier's horses that could run a little longer.
"Everyone whose horses have collapsed, reach the capital on foot. The remaining soldiers follow me."
Meanwhile, the remaining horseback soldiers followed their commander and raced uphill.
Shortly, they reached the summit of the hill but couldn't see the capital as the thicket of smog was even thicker on the other side of the hill.
After failing to get a view of the capital city they once again marched down the hill.
"Be on guard! There still a chance our enemies have captured the capital city and we might have to engage in battle any second now.", said out the commander.
But soon one of the soldiers sped his way going ahead of the commander.
"Randal!" shrieked out one of the horseback soldiers, "Don't break our formation."
Randal was in a complete state of panic.
"Slow down Randal!" scowled the commander.
"My wife… " said Randal, "I received a message that she was admitted to a hospital in the capital. She told me she was pregnant and that I will soon become a father. I had promised her that I will take leave from a soldier's duty and look after her."
Saying so Randal sped his way further ahead.
Seeing Randal in such a state, the commander went after him,
"Calm down Randal!" he screamed out loud, but it fell on deaf ears.
After chasing him for a few minutes, they finally had reached down the hill. Still, Randal didn't slow down and went ahead without waiting for his fellow comrades.
The smog seemed to get even denser near the direction of the capital city.
The commander continued his chase after Randal but slowly the commander's horse had finally started to reach its limits. He still tried to chase after the silhouette of Randal from behind which was slowly disappearing amidst the thick smog.
But suddenly the commander had an eerie feeling as the presence of Randal's horse in the front completely disappeared.
Before he could do anything, the commander quickly pulled the reins of his horse with all his strength.
"What the hell is going on!" he said out to himself with utter confusion, "Where the hell did this come from?"
To his surprise, the commander was standing just at the edge of a cliff that appeared out of nowhere.
He glanced down the cliff but he couldn't see the end of the bottom because it was pitch dark.
"No… Randal…" he said to himself in a low tone in dismay.
Suddenly he heard the steps of horse hooves that were approaching in his direction from behind.
The commander suddenly came back to his senses and ran towards the direction of the sound,
"STOP! Hold your horses!!" he screamed on top of his lungs with all his might.
The thick smog was coming underneath this deep hole in the ground. It was almost impossible to spot this rift in the ground that appeared out of nowhere, amidst this thick smog.
The soldiers were quite familiar with the capital city's structure but this huge rift in the ground never existed before. If nothing is done, the horseback soldiers would meet the same fate as Randal.
The commander waved his arms and screamed on top of his lungs with all his might, "Stop! Here's one deep cliff here!"
The soldiers recognized their commander's voice and halted their horses. Thankfully the other horses were all exhausted and unlike Randal, they were riding the horse at a moderate speed. Hence, the commander was able to avert a big accident.
The soldiers soon noticed the cliff and were quite puzzled as well.
"What is this! Where are we?!" exclaimed out loud one of the soldiers.
"Where the hell did this rift on the ground came from? Did we go in the wrong direction or what?" said one of the other soldiers.
"But there are no huge rifts in the Capital province! Not at least, of this scale" added another soldier.
So many such questions started arising between his men.
"This is the capital if that thing there isn't to fool us." said the commander as he pointed to a signboard with the capital city, 'Mabrar' engraved on it.
A widespread panic arose among his men. Some fell on their knees in despair.
"Stir clear away from the cliff!" the commander commanded and he unsheathed his sword, "Let me clear this all smog away."
The soldiers did as told and backed away from the cliff.
The blade that the commander carried was quite an exquisite looking one.
The long beautiful sword had a green jewel embedded in between the crossguard. This wasn't any ordinary sword, it was one of the precious weapons handcrafted by mages which were also called 'Enchanted Relic'.
The commander then began the incantation,
"Defrord, release all restrains~final configuration" he took a double-handed sword stance.
The jewel on the sword started to glow brightly along with the blade of the sword when said those words.
"Swift cutthroat Overload!" he cried out loud while launching powerful mana charged attack with his sword towards the air.
The sword's strike was powerful enough that it cleared all the smog in front of them with one fell swoop.
A sudden gush of wind pushed away his soldiers aback that was caused by the impact.
After a few seconds of that deadly attack, the wind breeze finally calmed down. The air around them was once again breathable and even the cloudy skies stirred cleared.
The commander was breathing a little heavily which was the drawbacks of using a powerful mana charged attack.
The soldiers once again came near the edge of the cliff to look around.
But to their dismay, even a greater shock was waiting for them.
The commander fell on his knees,
"What in the lord's name..." he uttered in a state of shock.
This was not a small rift on the ground. It was rather a big gigantic hole in the earth.
A big bottomless hole where once the fortified capital city of Kingdom Esther, once stood.
There was no trace left of the city.
On May 28th, 578.
A huge explosion occurred at Mabrar, the capital of Esther kingdom. This explosion was powerful enough to eradicate the entire city of the map. How and what caused the explosion was a big mystery.
Along with the city, the royal family that ruled the kingdom was also counted among the casualties. Soon without a leader, the kingdom started crumbling and militia groups emerged within the country.
This also created a golden opportunity for the other nations to seize control of the lands of the Esther kingdom.
The long reign of a century-old kingdom came to an end.
Now it was just a race among the countries to nibble on the remains of the Esther kingdom.
The great tragedy of Mabrar ended a civilization but it also made way to a new era.