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  1. Edaneseus

    The Church of Death

    This is a short story that was written by myself for Survive Stormont, it details a narrative event that some players and staff were a part of, though was later written out of the core lore. - Emily The Church of Death Late last night an ominous letter was set from the infamous Puppeteer. He called all who were brave enough to attend The Church of Death for a service that was like no other. Laid in wait were the Shadow-Walkers; their corruption controlling their every move. The people of this land sort to capture and cleanse the minions, but they decided to bring the fight to the Andorrans. Two warriors marched into the snowy tundra, to the darkness that hummed behind the church doors. A Queen of the Andorran people and tamer of beasts, and her mighty Nordic brother, known for his prowess on the battlefield – Raven and Raen Azar. Adorned in fur and fighting off the bitter cold, the pair crossed the bridge to The Church of Death, ready to face whatever monstrosities their old friends had become. First was Limos, the embodiment of Famine, once known as Shea White. Though small in stature, a dwarf of course, the red headed corruption challenged Raven to combat. The two danced with their sword and axe bared, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. Raven was the first to cut flesh, striking Limos twice before the dance continued. However, Limos did not falter. She rushed the Nord and struck with immeasurable force, slicing right through the furs that protected him from the cold. Raven was now bare fleshed in the snow, on one of the coldest nights this land had seen for some time. He didn’t concede however, fighting through the icy winds that licked his chest as he rushed the dwarf once more. Limos, cocky in her ways, did not expect the towering man to recover so quickly and was caught with a winding blow to the chest. She crumpled instantly, hitting the ground with a tremendous thud. One down, three to go. Next was Nergal, the embodiment of Pestilence, once known as Bhalmar Silverfist. Nergal was a frightening creature, always cackling like the madness inside him would boil over at any point. Allowing Raven to recover, the Nordic Queen took to her axe, swinging it through the air as if it was but an extension of her arm. Nergal cackled as he too raised his sword, burning with a bright white light, unlike Limos’ black blade. The two met toe to toe, but honour was not something Nergal knew of, much more used to playing with his poisonous toys. He slashed at Lady Raen wildly, cutting away at the thick pelt that protected her from the chilling cold. But Raen didn’t falter, her training some of the finest. She kicked out with her leg, knocking Nergal flat on his ass. Without a second thought she brought her axe down, hitting the blunted side against his temple. Nergal let out a wild growl, his eyesight blackened from the blow. If it had not been for his sickly habit of all things narcotic, he would have been knocked unconscious from the attack. Nergal took his dagger, coated in malice, from his hip and thrust upward. Fortunately for Raen the blow to his head meant he missed; his vision starry. She recoiled from his attack and hastily kicked her boot at his head, rendering him useless. Two down, two to go. Third was War, the embodiment of himself, once known as Grufyd Rocksmith. He exited the large wooden doors to The Church of Death, a soft green glow and demonic humming coming from within. His fiery red form was illuminated by the warmth of the torches at the entrance as he met the Azars on the icy battlefield. Once close friends, now War would seek to destroy the two of them in honourable combat, worthy of such heroic warriors. Still reeling, the Nordic siblings stood side by side, a blockade of immeasurable strength. Raven attacked first, laying down his axe to retrieve a bola. Raen came at War with all her strength, slashing her battleaxe down against War. It caught, slicing through his shoulder as Raven threw the bola at his feet. War was struck again, but this time his red blade lifted to meet the blow and knocked Raen aside. He may have been immobilised, but War was no easy opponent. Raen cried out as she hit the ground, jerked like a doll in the snow. Filled with protective rage, Raven drew his Viking axe from the ground, the blade glinting under the moonlight. He ran at War, with no intention of stopping. The two collided with an impact that shook for miles, knocking the air from both their lungs. Even immortal, War was only as strong as his host. The butt of Raven’s axe came down then, striking War in the face repeatedly. Again and again, crimson blood flowing from War’s nose. Raven was fuelled with rage, becoming an immovable object of pure fury, with War pinned under him, who had one goal – save them. But the blows did nothing to deter War from his victory; he must win the battle the others had failed to. His arm came up, blocking Raven’s attack before grabbing at his throat with a vise-like grip. With no air, Raven’s face became withdrawn and pale, his eyes glazing over with every second that passed. This was his end. Only War forgot one thing. Her fury. Raen, protecting the brother she loved so dear, slammed her weapon against War’s head, the snow beneath now pink with blood. Suddenly War’s grip faltered, and Raven could breath once again. War had been defeated. Three down, one to go. As the pair hobbled into the warmth of The Church of Death, they were met by glowing green eyes and a voice so chilling it caused the hairs on their arms to stand proud. The Puppeteer, the embodiment of Death, stood at the altar, as if in greeting. “Such a shame,” his voice echoed in the expanse of the church, a knowing glint in his glowing eyes. Raen Azar went to draw her axe once again, unsteady on her feet. Raven did the same, though he too looked inches from death. “Now is not your time, but…” The Puppeteer laughed, the room filled with a thick green fog, as he disappeared into the night, his voice echoing his goodbye. “I am inevitable.”
  2. Edaneseus

    Tavern Tales

    I have recently been looking through old files of mine and discovered some short stories I had written, and have decided to post them here on Ember. This was the second short story I wrote for a old friend's larp game, it was supposed to be a memory for one of her players, but I like it as a standalone too. Enjoy. - Emily Tavern Tales The amber liquid burnt as it slid down my throat, warming me to the core. I chugged the drink in one, needing the dull buzz that the whiskey permitted. It was my fifth… or eighth, I had forgotten the number by this point. Well, my drink number... There was one number I could never forget; their faces, their names. That number. “Another?” The bartender gazed across at me from the end of the bar, shining the same glass he had been most of the night. He was standing as far away from me as plausible. His posture was tort, defensive. I could see the tension ripple in his muscles through the thin cloth of his shirt. He was built like a soldier, all brawn and testerone. But I saw something in the look he gave me, something unsaid. Fear. He must have heard the stories, could probably smell the inconsistency in my DNA. Splicers were hated. The ‘normies’ were terrified of us; of our power, and ultimately, the destruction we were so capable of unleashing. “Is there any point in askin’,” I slurred back, trying my best to throw as much venom in my words as I could; whilst fighting off the dizzying sensation that was creeping at the back of my mind. The man didn’t move for a second, hesitating as he had all night. I had the unbridled urge to leap forward and shout ‘boo’, just to see this mountain of a man shit his pants. But then again, such momentum would probably have me vomiting all over myself. “Last one,” he declared, crossing the distance to fill my glass with a cheap, vinegarette of a whiskey. It was as potent as I could afford after being kicked from the military. I shrugged his words off, snatching the glass tumbler from his grip with ease. He stumbled back, knocked off balance by my unnaturally fast reflexes. A grin spread across my face then, creasing the corners of my eyes with joy at the man’s discomfort. He scuttled away as I took the glass to my pastel lips, grimy fingerprints evident to my superior senses. This place is a pigsty, I grumbled inwardly whilst pouring the cheap liquor down my gullet. I detected motion out the corner of my eye. Two large shadows towering over a smaller one. I blinked once, then twice. Trying to clear the black spots from my vision, only to realise that there was indeed something happening off to my left. Two drunkard men were surrounding a feeble woman, their potbellies evident under straining outer garments. The woman cried softly, a pathetic noise to my inhuman ears, pinned between the monstrosities in the darkness of the corner booth. I was off my stool in an instant. My body working on auto-pilot. Before my numbed mind had a chance to catch up, I had crossed the tavern’s expanse, foot extended to the rear of the right-most pig. It connected with a loud crack, breaking a bone or two.The man was thrown into the nearest wall with a deafening thud, his large figure collapsing in on itself. I turned then, catching the other by the throat, claws extended. He rasped beneath my iron-grip, batting at my hold with feeble, intoxicated blows. His efforts did little to deter me, as I lifted him up off of the ground. The man was almost double my size, but felt as light as a feather in my inhuman grip. His hazel eyes bulged at me, from both a lack of oxygen and the terror I saw etched on his greasy features. He tried to talk, beg me to let him go most likely, but I tightened my grip further, causing a wispy wail to leave him. The man had a balding head of black hair, streaked with greying strands. He was on the heavier side, his cheeks bloated and red. His nose was too small for his face, getting lost under his pudgy flesh. How easy it would be to end your pathetic existence, my inner darkness cooed. “You will die tonight,” I growled between gritted teeth, slightly spitting the words at the man. He was about to do something terrible to a girl who couldn’t defend herself. I felt it in my bones. Could read it in their looming postures. It was disgusting, vile even. To think they could take what they wanted no matter what. It brought forth a darkness that I had been accustomed to since that fateful night that led to my excommunication from the military. “Never again will anyone take what they can’t have.” My voice became a heated rumble inside my chest, a low growl leaving my pursed lips as my lycant side took over. With a swift twist of the wrist, the man’s neck was broken, and he was no more. I let go then, his lifeless body landing with a heavy thump onto the sticky wooden floorboards. Another body to add to my number.
  3. Edaneseus

    The Escape

    I have recently been looking through old files of mine and discovered some short stories I had written, and have decided to post them here on Ember. This first was a short story I wrote for a old friend's larp game, it was supposed to be a memory for one of her players, but I like it as a standalone too. Enjoy. - Emily The Escape “Get up!” A stern voice shouted, hitting the bars of my cell with a wooden baton. The noise ringing out in the empty space of my hole. I awoke suddenly, thrust from the warmth of my dreams. I sprung to my feet, keeping my posture low, in a defensive position. My body ached, the cold, hard floor of my cell taking a toll on my aging muscles. My neck was crinked, my calves cramped, and my left arm was numb from sleeping on the stone. I could feel my heart hammer in my chest, my breath lodged in my throat. “Morning Little Doll,” the voice leered at me. His tongue slipping from the confines of his mouth to lap at his dry lips. I knew that voice. Recognised it as soon as I heard it. That was the voice of my torturer; the one man who was allowed to do as he wished, with no consequences from the Cult Leaders. He was my keeper. My guard. My living nightmare. His stare haunted me when I closed my eyes, cold and unforgiving were those blue irises. Those same eyes looked upon me now, peering between the metal bars of the cell in which I called home. I was kept here during the night. Shackled to the ground like a dog, and treated worse than such. The weight of the iron cuff on my ankle was more noticeable in that moment, the flesh raw and bloody underneath the constraints. I tried not to look down, to pull at my lead, but I couldn’t help it. He was here, and I had to do anything I could to get away. “Now, now Little Doll…” the voice cooed, jiggling heavy, iron keys in his left hand. I stared at them, almost hypnotised by the allure of freedom. Instinctively I bowed my head, lowering my body to the ground, on all fours, as if praising the man who could grant me my freedom. “That’s a good Little Doll.” I kept my eyes low, staring at the marbled stone, my life of imprisonment teaching me not to stare into the eyes of my Master if I wanted to ever be let out of the hole. That was what my ‘room’ was, a hole at the bottom of a building I barely knew existed. 3 solid walls of stone, encasing me like a tomb, with one barred gate at the front, the only light and interaction I have ever received. It was cold in the cell, below freezing really. If it had not been for my hot blooded nature I would surely have frozen to death many years ago. “They want to see you. Who’s a lucky Little Doll?” His familiar voice leered, a slimey kind of noise that crept into my soul and unnerved me to the core. “But first… I need to teach my Little Doll some manners, don’t I?” Those words chilled me to the bone, no matter how hot my skin was to the touch. Fear crept in, my eyes darting from the floor to his aging face, a thick beard framing his pale, flaky lips. “No…” My voice was small, child-like, not that I had ever seen one, just heard stories of them. I sounded as powerless as I felt. Chained up like a beast in a cell that would be my prison until it became my tomb. Panic settled in me then. I tried to suck in a deep breath, but choked on the stale air I needed to calm my racing heart. No, no, no. The voice inside my head mumbled over and over, a mantra of sorts. Must run, it urged, must be free, free from this man, from this place. I clenched my fists until my knuckles went white, the pressure calming the nerves that had boiled up from the depths of my desperation. Must run, the voice urged again, more firmly this time. Must run now. I didn’t know what I was thinking. How could I even escape this Hell that my life had always been? But I had to try, or I feared I’d be lost to those four walls for the rest of my miserable existence. “No!” My voice was still small, but it had a defiance to it that was new to my ears and his. I sprung to my feet then, yanking at the iron shackles on my ankles in the process. It hurt, a lot, but I was determined to be free now, or die trying. “Never again will I be your Little Doll,” I spit the words at my captor, forcing what might I could muster into my defiance. The air around me shifted then, taking form as I willed it so. Something I had learnt all those years ago. “Little Doll wants a beating, does she?” My captor warned, moving forward to ram the key into lock that held the bars closed between the two of us. He was trying to keep me contained, beat the disobedience out of me, as he always did. But not today. Not today, the voice muttered, and never again. “Not today,” I mirrored the words I heard inside my head, knowing that the time was now. My eyelids flutter closed as I began to concentrate, controlling the air around me. I gathered it around me, nestling myself in its protection. I heard him gasp then, the iron keys clattering to the floor as the air around him became unbreathable. I didn’t open my eyes, too scared that I would see those blues eyes and crumple under them. Instead I held the air close to me, as tight as I could, before I pushed it forward, releasing a shockwave of energy that burst through the walls around me. Everything exploded in an instant, the power of the energy blowing the walls of my cell outward with ease; my captor too. I heard a loud crash, followed by a chilling crack and wet squelch, my eyes still screwed shut. I hesitated then, not knowing what would be revealed to me as I opened my eyes, but wanting dearly to be finally released from this nightmare. My eyes didn’t defy me. The walls of my once complete cell were crumbled into rumble, a circle of debris surrounding me. The metal bars too had been blown from their hinges, thrown at the far wall, under which was a bloodied figure that my gaze averted, refusing to acknowledge. “I did it!” I exclaimed, squealing happily. In that moment I heard the rushing footsteps of people above. Oh no, the voice croaked, they’re coming for me. Must run. I did as it said. I took the keys from the floor, using them to release me from my shackles before I turned and ran through the wall that once stood in my way. I ran and ran, as far as my feet could carry me, and then further still. “I’m free.”
  4. Ben Burns

    On Supernatural

    It's no revelation to suggest that TV has achieved a level of respect that we never thought possible. There have been some great shows over the years, but let's face it, until fairly recently, television was bargain bin compared to the level of production in films. For me, I think the first time I realised how incredible a serious TV show could be was my first viewing of Supernatural. I was stuck alone, in a house, for the whole summer of 2010 and I was feeling both isolated and bored. I needed something to occupy my mind and, being a huge horror fan, I stumbled across this spooky serial about a couple of brothers who hunt monsters and ghosts. It sounded like a lot of dumb fun so I 'acquired' the first season and started watching. I was immediately hooked and, seeing that there were five whole seasons already, I binged the whole thing over the next two months. Warning: spoilers ahead. Season 5 of Supernatural is probably the best single season of a TV show I've ever seen. It still illicits the feels from me on a level that few other shows can. The episode where they go over the history of their car, a prop that has been in pretty much every episode of the show, has basically been integral to their success on more than one occasion, but one which you barely pay attention to, is absolutely genius. They actually made me feel emotions about a car! I remember the first time around, my enthusiasm for the show slowly died after season 5. I think I limped on into season 8 and then gave up. Re-watching it, I realise why now. It's no secret that the creators of Supernatural never intended it to go past 5 seasons. But the narrative decisions made in season 6 feel like a betrayal of what made the show so great. Castiel, probably my favourite character, was shown on multiple occasions throughout season 5 to be a stalwart, loyal friend to the WInshesters. In fact, there’s even an episode where they travel to a future in which Dean and a band of survivors struggle against Lucifer in a blasted, post-apocalyptic wasteland. Castiel is still there, working with them. For this reason, I’ll never be able to accept his betrayal in season 6 and I think that was the start of what I saw as the show’s decline. I’m about to embark on season 7. I vaguely remember something about a virus called Leviathan and I know Bobby Singer, the other big ally to our heroes, is going to die. But the memories from my viewing past season 5 are hazy because the quality just wasn’t there anymore and the best characters kept getting axed. It’s sad what became of Supernatural, but it just goes to show that you can have too much of a good thing. It should have ended after five seasons and I think, for me, it probably always will have. Still, they’re now onto their 15th season, so there must be something worth sticking around for. I’ll keep an open mind.
  5. STORMONT. A SECOND AGE NARRATIVE The Age of Heroes The Last General and The First Ghul Mercer drew his Viking ax, taking a half step forward even as the rest of the entourage shifted away slightly. “You’re an embarrassment. A traitor to a great man and a disappointment to everything Kiánard Logan stood for.” The sentiment was clear in his words. He fully intended on killing Wulf where he stood. It looked as if Wulf wasn't going to respond at all at first. Except he was darting forward in the next moment. Pike at the ready. Mercer met him part way. They clashed. Mercer deflected the pike. Sidestepped. Wulf dogged him closely. Didn't let him get the space he needed. The other man (creature, beast - the people of Andorra had no adequate word to describe the being they did not yet know was a Ghul) stood watching the pair as they exchanged blows. It, he, seemed patient at first. That was until he smiled, wide and gleeful, and readied his own pike. There was barely a moment's notice before he attacked the remaining commanders with a wide swing of his arm. While not particularly fast, the Ghul's sheer strength leant him a certain unexpected speed. Bert and Sindarin were both within his reach and were caught off guard as the Ghul struck them both down with a single blow. Caught more by the Ghul's fist than the pike Bert hit the sodden ground hard. He bounced and rolled, coming to rest in the shallow waters on the bank with a pained groan. His sword went flying from his grip and lodged in the sand a few feet away. Sindarin took the brunt of the blow from the pike where there was slightly less power and while he landed in the deeper waters, cushioning his fall a little, he was winded and immediately struggled to sit up to avoid drowning. A ripple of distress and anger ran through the men and women watching on the far bank and it seemed as though they were about to surge forward in defence of their leaders. “Hold your positions!” Korbin ordered sharply. The movement had been minute from the corner of his eye, but he knew the hearts of those standing with them and had to stop them from charging in recklessly. They would just get themselves killed if they charged en-mass without thought. He continued to watch the scene closely, mind turning over strategies and trying to analyse this new addition to the enemy forces. The soldiers shifted uncomfortably, but resumed their ranks and settled again. Many now held their weapons at the ready, eager to intervene. Korbin drew his battle ax, glancing to one side to meet Aserah and Elia’s gazes and receiving a nod from each. They needed to be careful here, but they’d grant him sanction to act as he thought he needed. Looking to his other side, he nodded to Rubik and Gregorious as the other two men landed their Argentavis to join him, drawn by the unexpected commotion. The Dark Lord was nowhere to be seen so it was safe for Gregorious to fight in close quarters. The Ghul was moving again, rounding on Oghren as he took a ready stance. Oghren retreated a step or two as the Ghul advanced step by patient step, grin still in place. He looked pleased with himself, having taken out half of those that had stood before them in just one blow. This time the attack came as an over-head swing of his pike, that same speed forcing the dwarf to quickly lift his battle ax and brace to catch it before it hit him. Hurried footsteps running through the water caught his attention. Oghren almost faltered on pure instinct as they closed in right behind him. The pike came down from above in a blur. A splash and clash of metal on metal - sparks flew as the blades struck one another. The scene seemed to freeze in place. Pressed in close and braced at Oghren’s side now, Korbin grit his teeth as he took some of the weight off of his friend. The trio were at an impasse for but two seconds. Metal ground and screeched against metal and the dwarves shifted. Deflected the pike down to the side. Stepped around each other and swung their axes almost in union. Growling now, the Ghul sidestepped. Dodged one and intercepted the other against his free arm. Oghren’s eyes widened as the Ghul took hold of the haft of his ax. It was dislodged from its arm and firmly pulled out of Oghren’s grasp. Gregorious rushed forward to try and help. Korbin corrected his stance. Tried to anticipate the Ghul’s next attack. A gunshot sounded - struck the Ghul in the already-wounded arm. He barely blinked and within seconds the two commanders and Gregorious were throwing up dust and water as they hit the ground. Oghren had been bodily thrown into the feral while Korbin was hit with a solid blow to the center of his chest. Mercer and Wulf paused in their fight as Korbin skidded through the sodden sand nearby them. Both on par, for the moment at least, neither had taken any significant wounds. Blood slipped down the side of Wulf’s face beneath his helm and Mercer sported a split lip. Mercer’s desert gear had taken some damage and there was blood showing through some of the tears. Wulf’s under armour was in a similar state, but his armour had offered him much better protection. “Yer alright there, brother?” Mercer asked, side-eyeing his friend without fully taking his attention from his opponent. Korbin coughed as he fought for breath for a moment. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m good.” He coughed again, pushing up to his feet as quickly as he could. --To Be Continued-- Word Count: 955
  6. Shadow Bound An original story still in writing So, for several years now I've had a story idea circling around in my head. I've not often come back to actually work on it, but I feel that my writing technique has improved greatly since I first conceived the idea. It may take me several more years to finish this project, however I'd like to at least make these first steps in doing so. Here's the synopsis I wrote for myself, along with a short world-state concept. Please bear in mind I'm still figuring out a lot of the main plot, but any thoughts and points of discussion are appreciated. There is a reason that so many of us crave the daylight, living in the ‘day’ rather than the ‘night.’ There is a reason why we fear the dark as children. Some grow out of that fear. Most don’t, not really. Not deep down in the psyche where things such as a trivial fear of the dark can be denied and hidden away. As for those that do, well, that’s because they’re not like the rest of us. They’re not human. They’re nothing but shadows in disguise. Daemons sent to sow discord and strife throughout the world. Or so I used to believe. Before I was bound to protect one. The story of Shadow Bound is set in the modern world, England, in a thriving city hub where our MC, [WIP NAME] lives and works. Due to moving around a lot in recent years I have yet to decide on a city to base him but it will most likely be Birmingham, Manchester or Liverpool. The main concept of the story is that there are several realms to the world; the mundane, which is perceived by all, and which is the only realm most humans can see and interact with. Then there are two other realms which the MC will interact with during the narrative, though only one will become a commonality for him; the Shadow realm and the realm of the Sidhe (Or the Fairy's realm). The sticking point for those of other realms is that they exist in one space - what happens in one realm (deforestation, the building of towns and cities, earthquakes and other natural disasters) happens in all of them, and the mundane realm (including those in it) overlaps the others where they do not overlap each other. I.e. those of the Shadow and Sidhe realms can see and influence mundane humans from their own realms, but cannot see and/or influence each other. Humans once made a pact with those we know as "Supernatural" beings (those who reside on/come from any but the mundane realm), and several bloodlines became known as "Realm Guardians" in order to protect the peace between the races and police the realms against those that would destroy or twist the nature of the barriers between realms. And more recently, to protect the other realms from the increasingly aware humans that would do them harm simply because they are different. Our MC is the last of a bloodline sworn to a more specific duty - protecting the true royal line of the shadow realm. Only the eldest born, and therefore the current monarch, of the royal family is bound to one of the MC's bloodline. At the death of the shadow monarch, the next in line activates the now-latent magic to bind them to the most suitable guardian available. Unfortunately for our MC, that's him. Unfortunately for the shadow monarch, our MC was a mundane human unaware of anything beyond the human realm and the only one with the latent pact magic still alive. Unfortunately for both, there are rogue shadow-dwellers trying to wipe out the shadow monarchs.
  7. A/N: Before we get started with the narrative, I'd like to point out that these updates won't conform to any proper schedule. I write when I'm able to and forcing it usually leads to pages being scrapped when I reread something. These chapters won't really differ in length to those found on the server website but the old chapters posted here will more thoroughly beta read for continuity and grammatical errors. STORMONT. A SECOND AGE NARRATIVE The Age of Heroes The March The sun blazed over head as they rode out to the arid badlands. They had pushed through a wind storm earlier that morning and thankfully it had cleared by the time the rearguard had crossed into the badlands. Forced to abandon their strongest mounts due to the wyverns' strange behaviour, most were utilising Equus, Argentavis, and even Unicorns. A Brontosaurus strode among the horde of creatures, followed by riderless Equus that would act as replacement mounts for those predicted to be lost in the fighting. The Brontosaurus was easily the largest creature present among the masses and it was to serve as the mobile command center, its platform saddle built up as a small but well stocked supply unit. A look out with a radio and spyglass sat atop the small structure and kept their sights on the horizon while a small team of Argentavis and Gryphon riders circled the army. The journey had been more difficult than anticipated without their wyverns, but they had planned long and hard for this coming battle. They wouldn't let something like this stop them now. While the date had only been set for about a month, it seemed as if the whole of Andorra had been anticipating this fight for over a year. The so-called prophet Azir had set them on this path when they had first learned of the Dark Lord and his plans. Now, they had gathered the peoples of the land that could (and would) fight and their numbers were immense. There were commanders present from most of the prevailing Kingdoms of the continent, each leading their own peoples. Even a few from the smaller settlements and tribes that had worked hard against the Dark Lord took pride of place among the strong-standing Kingdoms. The still newly dubbed Kingdom of Gaelach, though extremely small in total numbers, made up the majority of the command structure. Queen Elia Thrace and Lord Protector Oliver Mercer rode at the very front of the column, alongside Lady Aserah, Queen of the White Walkers, Sindarin the Pathfinder, Tribe Master Oghren of the Chargers, and Bertsson of Blackrock Trading (who wielded the late Kiánard Logan’s sword in tribute to his friend). Though the journey through the badlands was harsh, they knew where they were going and experience lead them through the crags and hills between Elyria and the sands. Several bridges were quickly erected for crossing the deep canyon there, allowing the army time to rest before proceeding. Dust rose around them, filling the air and obscuring the full extent of the army’s size as their feet pounded against the scorched earth. Eventually, the vanguard reached the river that bisected the dry, barren hills from the sandy dunes of the desert as the sun reached its zenith. The waters were at their shallowest here, and even those without mounts could cross with little difficulty. Mercer called a halt to their advance and surveyed their surroundings. A small boat came to a stop just downriver of the bridge, and the Golem known as Kal gave a grumble as she shifted on the now-grounded boat. Korbin carefully lead her ashore, and the general of the Gaelicans joined his brothers- and sisters-in-arms at the fore of the army. They were greeted warmly, however briefly, before everyone’s attention turned to the matter at hand. It had been the intention to set up camp at the old House of Wolves outpost where a war camp had first been constructed. However it seemed they were beaten to the punch, for across the shallow expanse of water stood two figures clad in black armour. With a few words spoken between the commanders and Queens, several of their number dismounted and stepped forward. First Mercer, and then Oghren, Sindarin and Bert began to cross the waters. “So the weak have come at last to meet their deaths.” Wulf looked over them, a pleased expression on his face as he leaned his pike against his shoulder. “Just as I foretold.” “Getting real tired of all this prophecy bullshit, Wulf,” Mercer responded, nonchalant as they came to a stop at a safe enough distance for melee combat. While they could see that Wulf carried a rifle, it was the pike he held at the ready. “It can’t be called prophecy if it’s stating the truth,” the feral grinned, goading. He shifted subtly, head tilting to drop the face guard of his helmet into place, readying for a fight. Word Count: 742
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