"In a clearing in the woods a hundred soldiers rushed at two individuals on the orders of a grinning mad man. One of the individuals prepared his chants and his spells to unleash a deadly power that would burn his foes to the bone. The other gripped her sword tightly with two hands as she pounced forward ready to slash through the waves of enemies before her. Together they would valiantly serve as a bulwark against the Empire's foes. They should've been scared watching the hundreds rush at them, no matter how powerful they were they could still bleed and die. And yet, they both had a smile plastered on their face, a smile oh so similar to the mad man they fought."
"To some the sound of battle was a song, a song of metal and blood, of pain and death, of the insane and sane. Perhaps they were all insane in a way, in the end, don't the sane seem insane to the insane like how the insane seem insane to the sane, who's to say who the sane one really is..."
I hear my heart beating loudly. Even as I slash through the scarfed soldiers before me I can only hear the thump of my heart beat.
My entire body is drenched with blood, my silver armor and white hair had long since lost their recognizable colors.
I dash quickly around the battlefield as they chase me and try to surround me. I'm experienced in battle, I know that against these numbers if I'm surrounded I'll die, so I always keep moving, always. Even when they catch up and begin to surround me I always break through while the encirclement is weak.
Slicing, cutting, stabbing, bashing, kicking, punching.
I attack with all of my being sparing no effort for dazzling attacks or superficial movements. I understand I have to kill them quickly, there is no room for battlefield dancing here, and I doubt they would be able to appreciate it.
I could move quickly thanks to the enhancement spells from my contract which was allowing me to stay alive for now, but what about Bruckus? He couldn't move quickly, was he still alive?
I was encircled again. I can't afford to think about anyone else in this circumstance. They encircled me good this time, there's not any specific weak points.
My grin deepens.
Good, good. I quickly ram into the closest wall of scarfed soldiers. It's rash but I trust in my armor. My charge sends them tumbling but even then more jump in to take their place, quickly stabbing at me.
Slash. Slash. Slash. Slash. Slash.
Quickly limbs and heads are severed from their bodies, sliced through like butter as I push through the encirclement. Once again I escape the clutches of the masses, albeit a bit more difficult this time.
No time to rest though, not against these numbers. As I run I have to constantly slash out, every time I strike it has to be fatal or else I would run out of energy long before the enemy runs out of soldiers.
Suddenly a beam of hot fire flashes out in front of me disintegrating a few soldiers and lighting some on fire. They don't seem to care about the fire as they run at me.
As I run and slash I look over to where the flame came from and see I've gotten near to where Bruckus is fighting, he hadn't moved but surrounding him was a ring of charred bodies. It seems that he had activated a high level spell 'Consecrated Ground' which turns the area near the caster into an extremely high heat zone, the air becomes literally hot enough to burn your lungs and char your skin, as a draw back, the caster cannot move out of its range while its active. Bruckus stood in the center constantly sending out bursts of flame all around him, the enemies couldn't get close enough to strike him. Any arrows that came his way also burned up.
Seems like he would be fine then, I just had to worry about myself. Time to go on the offensive, I had to kill Pravus. I could see his figure in the distance, still with an insane smile plastered on his face.
I clenched my teeth forming a grim smile as I changed my direction to run towards Pravus. I had to brute force my way through the soldiers. I stomp my feet against the ground as I ram through forcing every ounce of strength out of my legs to not lose momentum.
Enemy soldiers bounce off my armored shoulder but nonetheless eventually I begin to slow. Fine then, If I can't push my way though, I'll cut my way through.
With every step I slash down the soldier in front of me. I have to move quickly otherwise my sides and back will be attacked. Already I've felt some, but I don't care.
I can see Pravus clearly now staring at the battlefield madly. What was he looking at? Doesn't matter, your mine scum! Just a few more soldiers to cut down and I'll break through.
Finally I swing at the last layer of soldiers and then I hear it.
Frowning I feel a vibration shoot up into my arm from my sword. I had just hit something really hard. My eyes narrowed, the last layer of soldiers were all holding shields! They were still the same scarfed soldiers but they all had scrappy metal shields.
Tsk. I quickly swing again to cut off the shield bearers head but he moves his shield to protect his head. Hah, fell for the faint you scum, as his shield went up I quickly cut his exposed lower body and he fell down.
This wasn't good though, even if I could kill them it took too long. As soon as the man fell another two shield bearers were there to take his place.
Not good, I couldn't waste time here or I would get surrounded from behind. I quickly turned to strike the nearest enemies and as they fell I was prepared to see a large number of gathered enemies but I didn't. What I saw was a few scarfed soldiers running at me but not as much as there should be.
Where did they all go?
"Confused little bird?"
I hear Pravus call out to me.
Pravus:"I knew you would run at me little bird so I waited until you were close to me and far from the fine Inquisitor over there before I sent my troops after him."
I looked over to Bruckus and saw he had been surrounded by a huge swarm of scarfed soldiers, but they still couldn't get through his Consecrated Ground, it was pointless.
Pravus:"That Consecrated Ground spell around the Inquisitor is quite troublesome as nothing can get close enough to attack him. As soon as you enter you can only stumble a few steps before turning into a charred body."
I saw a few scarfed soldiers near the back of the encirclement drop their weapons and begin sprinting.
A cold chill flows through my body as I see the crazy smile on his face get wider.
"But even a body can be a weapon."
Those sprinting scarfed soldiers ran straight into Bruckus's Consecrated Ground and quickly began to char and burn.
However they still had momentum!
I stared blankly as the dead charred bodies propelled by their momentum reached Bruckus and bumped him. It just made him stumble a bit, no real damage but it had reached him, the first real hit on him since he had set up Consecrated Ground.
Was this a weakness of Consecrated Ground?
Perhaps, but what caster would expect soldiers to run into their death just to bump them? You wouldn't achieve anything with that, unless....
I stared in horror as I saw more and more scarfed soldiers drop their weapons and begin to sprint into the Consecrated Ground. They made it to Bruckus as they died and some bumped him while others fell close to his feat. Quickly a pile of charred bodies was building up around Bruckus.
"I told you didn't I Little bird? Fighting us you would be buried alive..."
The smile on Bruckus's face was gone, It was replaced by a panicked look, he realized it too, he was going to be buried alive in bodies. He couldn't move far because of the spell and to release it would mean being swarmed. He called out to me.
"Holy Knight Luna, you imbecile what are you standing around for, come help me quickly!"
I need to help him!
I stepped forward but two shield bearers stepped in my way. Shit! I had been surrounded by these shield bearers, they don't attack but they are a pain to get through. I tried to cut my way through but it would take time.
More and more scarfed soldiers ran into Consecrated Ground, they continued to bump Bruckus and eventually due to the amount of bodies on the ground near him he tripped eventually and fell to the ground.
But the scarfed soldiers didn't stop running in. They ran in and kept piling on top of the bodies, before Bruckus could even get up he was piled down by four more charred bodies. He desperately tried to push their charred bodies away screaming.
"What the hell is this!?! Grah- Holy Knight Luna you trash what are you doing over there, tsk! Damn that Border Master telling me to keep the soldiers lax, minimal casualties my ass! GRAH, get off me you trash!"
What was that?
The Border Master told you to do what? Slowly my thumping heart stops cold as my swings become weaker.
Someone, ordered you to do that?
Pravus who was looking at me saw me become weaker and began to laugh even harder.
"Bwah! Inquisitor you shouldn't have said that, Little Bird is still quite young, her mind cant comprehend War Quotas."
"Grah- imbecile, idiot, stupid Holy Knight, snap out of it quickly-,heavy, too heavy, grahhhhhhhhhh-"
The pile of charred bodies on top of Bruckus was growing rapidly, I could hardly see his body any more, but I could hear it.
Bones cracking, blood gurgling. Bruckus was getting crushed alive. He spoke in a raspy voice, you couldn't see his body any more but I heard it weakly.
All I could see of Bruckus was a grasping hand sticking out from the pile of bodies and a single bloodshot eye staring out from the pile.
"Cough, Cough- crushed alive by those I've killed, heh- praise the Empir- crack, gurgle"
Praise the Empire.
Those were the last word of Inquisitor Bruckus before his lungs gave out as he was buried alive by a huge pile of charred bodies.
Those last words were supposed to embody our loyalty to the Empire and yet he had spat out those words mockingly.
I heard clapping and saw that Pravus had begun clapping his hands.
"Bravo, bravo! Truly a fitting death and last words for such a noble Empire Inquisitor. Little bird, you don't know anything about the Empire and what they do for power but alas..."
The remaining forces of scarfed soldiers had turned away from Bruckus's location and were running towards me. Pravus's insane smile turned towards me and I felt a chill go down my spine.
"I'm afraid you won't live to find out. Fret not, death is a gift we should all rejoice in receiving!"
I stared blankly at Pravus's smile and back at the charred mountain of bodies. I couldn't fathom what I was hearing, my image of the Empire I served was crumbling. I couldn't begin to rouse that battle state I was in before.
I really should've ran before.... I closed my eyes as the remaining soldiers rushed towards me.
Perhaps death would be simpler than unveiling the truth...
I heard someone call out to me and opened my eyes just in time to see a lightning strike zap into the oncoming soldiers sending them sprawling to the ground. I looked to where the strike came from and there I saw Zera backed by the remaining border guard.
Zera pointed at Pravus and yelled out.
"There is the enemy who dares attack the empire. Here's your chance at revenge boys. Kill them all! For Glory! For the Empire!"
"FOR GLORY! FOR THE EMPIRE!!!"
I saw the remaining border guard quickly rush into the opening and cut down the unsuspecting scarfed soldiers.
Limbs and blood flew, for the Empire of course.
The sun was beginning to rise.
Pravus put a hand over his face. Squinting at the oncoming soldiers.
"Hmmm, well I spent a lot of resources on that Inquisitor, best to pull back here. Besides, I got what I came for, the Inquisitor is dead and the other forces will reach the nearest Border Town soon. Remember little bird, the Empire is built on blood and always will be."
I looked on blankly as Pravus flashed me that mad smile then turned and walked back into the forest with his remaining troops. I kept on looking until eventually I felt a hand on my shoulder.
"Luna, are you hurt?"
I looked at Zera and shook my head.
"I rounded up the remaining soldiers and rushed over as fast as I could. Did you find Inquisitor Bruckus?"
I pointed at the pile of charred bodies.
"He's under there."
Zera stared at the pile of charred bodies for a moment as well then asked.
Zera was about to speak up when a soldier came up and saluted.
"Holy Knight Luna and Zera, we've noticed something odd about all the soldiers... they are all smiling under their scarfs."
I walked slowly past the soldier to the nearest scarfed soldier, it was a woman. I bent down and removed her scarf.
Twisted onto her face was a warped smile.
I removed the next one as well and the one after that but they all had that same smile. Then Pravus's words echoed in my mind...
Fret not, Death is a gift we should all rejoice in receiving!
Unnoticed a few soldiers had approached me. I turned to look at them.
"Holy Knight Luna, we heard that you fought with Inquisitor Bruckus when he died. What was his last stand like?"
I stared at them blankly for a moment before responding.
"Why do you want to know?"
The soldiers all looked sad as they asked.
"Inquisitor Bruckus was our role model. We looked up to his power and he was always kind and let us relax in camp. We want to know the last words of such an understanding commander."
Role model? Understanding Commander?
I looked blankly at the charred pile of bodies before responding with an emotionless voice.
"His last words were 'Praise the Empire'. "
The soldiers all gasped and gripped their swords.
"Loyal to the Empire until his last breath... we won't forget him."
I watched them as they wandered off then saw them begin to talk with some of the other soldiers.
Then they all started chanting and clanging their swords together.
"For Inquisitor Bruckus, a true Inquisitor! Praise the Empire! Praise the Empire! Praise the Empire! ..."
'A true Inquisitor.'
I stared blankly at that spectacle as something deep inside me broke. They were chanting, chanting for the man who had killed so many of them.
I looked down at my bloody sword.
Was I any better?
I had told Zera about the other force heading for the nearest Border Town and we would be setting out soon to pursue, but it was too late to be able to catch up before they reached the nearest Border Town.
Zera patted me on the shoulder.
"Hey, Luna, are you okay?"
I slowly shook my head.
No, I most definitely wasn't okay.
I looked at the pile of bodies where Bruckus was buried, how could the Empire allow such a man to command so many lives?
My faith in the Empire was shattered.
I looked at the field of bodies, what good God would allow this?
My faith in the Gods, crumbled.
I thought of the people I've killed and the foes I let get away, how many more will die because of me?
Faith in myself had disappeared.
I dropped my sword as I turned my gaze to the heavens.
If I didn't have faith... What was I fighting for?
Early Fall, 1450 AG (After Gods)
Dear Sir High Inquisitor,
I have just received word that a small army had attacked the Gerf border guard. The enemy army appears to be religiously orientated and consists of a few thousand loosely armed individuals. They appear to wear black and red garbs and all have a scarf around their mouths for uniform.
Besides a few hundred soldier deaths, surprisingly Inquisitor Bruckus also perished. It seems the enemy army fought in a unique way in which they would madly throw away their lives. I have fittingly dubbed them the 'Sacrificial Army' for official records. They sent a small division to purge the nearest Border Town Itzes, the Border Guard is pursuing, no worries though, Itzes is a small loss.
Besides the loss of Inquisitor Bruckus we didn't lose any other Holy Knights and 34 soldiers in the Gerf Border are now ready to advance to Holy Knight trainees.
This should speed up meeting our War Quota by a few weeks, although we should look into filling the empty Inquisitor spot soon.
The girl Holy Knight moved there might be able to advance, she already has a bit of reputation, we should send her on a challenge soon.
As always, Praise the Empire!
The Dependable and Timely,
-Border Manager Farks