Metagore, The Battle For

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: House of Ghosts

Darius believes if he seeks favor from the gods, his army will be blessed and they will win the war. So to obtain the gods' favor, Sentries has to sacrifice a tribute to their god, Libras.

Chapter 9 (v.2) - Feeding Libras

Submitted: November 03, 2015

Reads: 291

Comments: 4

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Submitted: November 03, 2015

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It had been a week since the grand dukes had met up with their newly crowned lord and his viscounts---since Darius decided to rebel against Lord Cornelius' authority and bring upon the first civil war amongst the land in centuries---and since Darius had crowned himself as the lord over Sentries. The morrow came and he had finally arrived to his kingdom riding upon his fiery nightmare steed. Upon reaching the city walls, a young succubus rode up beside him on her own nightmare.

Her name was Ky, the duchess of Sentries. Her green eyes vibrant, and her skin glazed by the sun. Her hair, black as the night, laid straight to her shoulders with golden beads decorating the tips. Her back housed a pair of wings with feathers matching her hair. She wore a tight dress---black and blue in color. It was open in the front, exposing her sculpted abdomen, but was modest enough to cover her rounded breasts. Her boots complementing the dress. Her dark complexion was accented with golden armlets and earrings.

"Ky, what are you doing out here?" Darius asked as she approached him.

"I am just seeing you a safe return to the kingdom, my Lord," she spoke, her voice soft and heavenly. She was one of the few who knew about Darius' past, and one of the few who he had let get close enough to his heart.

"Aye, I am safe." Darius stared into her seductive, green eyes. "So tell me, Ky, why are you really out here? You would find me just as safe at the manor."

"Yeah, I could," she responded, her face turning to one of concern. "Is it true that we are at war?"

"It is true, but how did you hear so fast?" Darius questioned her.

"We received a letter from the kingdom of Talean last night." Ky pulled out a rolled up sheet of parchment out of her dress from beneath her left breast. She unrolled the parchment, and read:

"Dear Lord Darius,

The kingdom of Talean wishes not to be at war with the Senturians, but rather at war with the Helanians instead. If you accept this letter as a peace treaty with us, the Taleanics, we will gladly provide you with all that you could ask for, to take down Lord Cornelius and overthrow the throne. Once we are successful, we will step aside and bow to you as our gracious lord. Please send word back soon.

Lord Azreal and Duchess Anina."

"Who knows of this letter?" Darius asked, as Ky rolled it back up and tucked it away.

"Just me and Marquess Lucius, my Lord," Ky responded.

"Burn the letter, then summon Lucius to join you at the manor. I will join you after I check on the dungeons," Darius said as he looked out over the rough desolated landscape of Thieves Hill.

"Will do, my Lord." Ky rode off, heading back into the stoned city.

Darius sat at the wall, continuing to look out over the land for a few brief moments, then he too, rode on into town towards his manor.

***

A few hours later, Darius sat at a table in the hall of his manor, writing a letter, when Ky walked in accompanied by an elder demon, Lucius.

Lucius was much shorter than his lord. His horns were small spikes, no longer than his thumbs. He was clothed with chainmail on his left side, and leather straps on the right. He wore thick, leathery pants and boots. His skin was like dark ash, and his eyes burned a fiery red.

"You summoned thee, my Lord?" Lucius asked as he pulled out a chair for Ky, then seated himself.

"Aye," Darius responded, then continued with a snarled voice. "As you know, we have received word from Azreal to form a peace alliance."

"Aye, I am aware, my Lord."

Darius grabbed the letter he was writing, rolled it up, and handed it to Ky. "Send this back to Azreal as my response."

"Right away, my Lord." Ky took the letter from Darius, stuck it in her dress, got up and left the manor.

Darius stood up and walked up to a giant map of the six kingdoms that had been hanging on one of the walls in the hall. The tapestry was tore in spots---loose strands of fabric dangled from the rest of the map. The ink had faded, but the colors of each region still noticeable enough to stand out from the tanned background.

"I want you to form two armies of just calvary." Darius pointed towards the bottom of the map, at the land that connected Sentries to Ringwood---Black Rain Forest. "I want one army to travel into Ringwood, then up to BrightHelm. Then the other, I want to head to the kingdom Talean." Darius moved his gigantic finger from the south of the map toward the north, right over Sentries. "Once they reach Talean, I want them to obtain every bit of resources that they can muster up. Once they have supplied themselves with what they need, I want them to travel west into BrightHelm, where we can then flank Cornelius and his puny army. Once we have taken the throne from that elf, the six kingdoms will be ours to rule over."

Darius paused for a moment, staring at the map, then turned back to his marquess. "Go summon all the citizens that are without family."

"For a tribute, my Lord?" Lucius asked with a quiet, yet broken, voice.

"Aye, it's been ages since one was needed, but in times like these, we do not need to anger the gods."

"I understand, my Lord. I will get on that right away."

***

Later that day, just as the sky started to dimpse and night started to spread over the sky, Lord Darius, Duchess Ky, and Marquess Lucius gathered in the hall to meet the potential sacrifices. Before the tributes were allowed entry, ten of Lord Darius' best knights entered the large hall first, and lined the walls. Following the armored knights, thirty-eight potential sacrifices entered the hall, along with another ten knights.

The citizens were filled with different emotions. A few of them were angry, didn't think that they should be offered to the gods just because they didn't having any living relatives. The majority were frightened for their lives---one was so nervous that he fainted upon entering the hall. A few tried to resist from entering the hall---hoping to escape their possible fate of being picked---but the knights quickly wrestled them to the ground, and force them to comply as the others have done.

"Welcome," Darius spoke, after everyone had entered and gathered in the front half of the hall. "A war is amongst us. And to have the gods mercy on us, we must offer up a tribute." Darius raised his jubbe of mead, and continued. "This is where all of you come into the picture. You are all here because none of you have a family that will be burdened with your death."

Lucius continued where Darius left off, as his lord took a swig of his mead. "One of ye will have the honor to be a hero for ye kingdom. If there is any of ye who wants to volunteer to be the tribute, please speak up now." Lucius paused, waiting for a response from someone. "If no one steps up and volunteers, we will randomly select one of ye." Lucius paused once again. "No one?"

"I will be thy tribute," said a voice coming from the back of the crowd.

"Who said that?" Lucius asked, as he looked around trying to find the willing individual.

"I did," said a venerable minotaur knight, as he waved his hand in the air.

"Parellus?" Darius asked, not believing what he saw. "But you were not selected to be a tribute. You are a knight---a protector of this realm. Plus you have a son, live and well."

"I understand, m'Lord," Parellus responded. "But I am reachin' the end of m'life, so why should I live while any of these young'uns be sacrificed? I signed up to be a warrior willin' to give m'life for this kingdom. What's a bet'r honor than doin' just that, givin' m'life for the glory of thy gods? So if thou will have me, m'Lord, I will take on that responsibility."

Darius nodded his head. "If you wish to be the tribute, then the tribute you shall be."

The rest of Darius' knights ushered everyone out of the manor. The group, along with some citizens that were not invited into the manor previously, all followed Darius and his knights through Thieves Hill and up Mount Dumas' narrow, rocky ledge. After a couple of hours of walking, they finally reached the break of the volcano's crater where it met the river of lava that flowed down through the Keep Of Ashes and into the Sea Of The Sun.

"We have arrived," Darius announced as he turned to face the crowd. "Come forth knights, with the ritual items."

Three knights, dressed in black suits of armor, stepped forward and stood beside their lord. One carried a chalice filled with mead, the second held a bowl of chrism, and the last had a bundle of anthurium leaves that he had picked up on their way to the top of the volcano.

"Bring forth the tribute," Darius commanded.

Two more knights stepped forward, escorting Parellus. Instead of bringing him to Darius, they walked up to two large stone pillars with a chain hanging from each. They first removed his black armor, leaving him stripped bare before the crowd. They latched Parellus' hands in each of the pillars' chains, so that he would be facing the crowd, then his feet in a clamp that was attached to the ground between the two pillars.

Darius turned to the fiery lava filled crater, and lifted his hands up as in a worshiping manner. He then began to chant, "Libras! Nya! Taac!...Libras! Nya! Taac!...Libras! Nya! Taac!" He paused for a brief moment, then proceeded with the rest of the ritual. "Libras, we know that you are within us, and we acknowledge the blessings of strength that you bring us. All hail Libras!"

The crowd repeated, "All hail Libras! All hail Libras!"

Darius turned around and took the chalice of mead from his knight. He then turned to face the crater, then lifted up the chalice. "Libras, share in the drinking of this mighty mead! Give us guidance in this war, and share your strength to all those who have assembled here on this night. Take this mead from man, as we have taken it from the land."

Darius turned and held the chalice up for Parellus to consume its liquids.

"Stop! Stop!" a young voice shouted amongst the crowd.

Darius turned and gasped shock, as a young minotaur was making his way through the large audience.

"Why have you interrupted us?" Darius asked angrily.

"Don't go through with this. Lord Cornelius wouldn't approve of it," said the minotaur.

"Lord Cornelius? He is no longer your lord, I am!" Darius shouted, as he was infuriated that someone would bring Cornelius' name up in a time like this.

"Son, 'tis alright. I wished this upon m'self," Parellus said as he started to weep.

"I won't let you go through with this," his son said as he ran up to his father, and tried to pull open the shackles.

"Knights, apprehend him immediately!" Darius shouted loudly.

As he had ordered, two of his knights ran up and retained the young boy as he was screaming and flailing.

Darius pulled out a dagger from his boot. It was one of six daggers that was made years ago when the six regions of Metagore came together as one. This particular dagger had an ebony hilt, with two diamonds embedded into it, and a twelve inch long platinum, obsidian-tipped blade. Darius walked up to Parellus' back. While holding the dagger in both hands---one on the hilt, and the other on the blade to make his cuts precise---Darius started carving a symbol onto the back of Parellus. The symbol looked like an upside down triangle, with a line coming off of each side, and a circle cut into the center.

As Darius was engraving the image into Parellus' back, he proclaimed, "Strength, powerful and strong. The weak fall, on his back they rest."

Once completing the design, the Parellus' son broke free from the knights that had been trying to retain him. He quickly lunged forward, and grabbed onto Darius' arm to try and pull him away from his father. Darius' strength was too much for the boy, as he whipped the boy around him, causing him to fall to the ground; but as soon as the boy hit the ground, he had jumped back up and lunged at the demon---who stood towering over him---once more. This time however, instead of grabbing Darius' arm, he found himself struck by the mighty dagger.

As Darius pulled the blade from the boy's abdomen, the knights came over and picked his gasping body up off the ground.

"Leave him be," Darius commanded his knights, as he walked over to Parellus again. "I'm sorry you had to witness that."

Parellus was in tears---even though he had been weeping due to the agonizing pain he was going through, now there was something different in his cries.

Darius proceeded the ritual by cutting another symbol, but this one on Parellus' torso. The symbol looked like an X with a diamond for the bottom half.

As before, as he engraved the image into Parellus' chest and abdomen, Darius proclaimed, "War, the sting of a dragon's fang. Blood and sweat, tastes the blade."

Once finishing the engraving, Darius walked over to one of his knights and grabbed the anthurium leaves, then walked up to the one with the bowl, and soaked the leaves in the chrism. Once the leaves were completely soaked, Darius returned back to Parellus; who's body was just hanging lifelessly due to the loss of blood and the searing pain that he was in.

Darius proceeded to rub the chrism soaked leaves across the wounds of Parellus. "Cleanse thy blood, for only thy purest is best for thy gods," Darius proclaimed.

Once he had finished, two of the knights unlatched the chains that were holding Parellus up. The knights then carried him to the edge of the crater and sat him down, as Darius picked up the boy and chained his helpless body to the pillars.

"Please take this additional sacrifice, as we ask for forgiveness on his behalf." Darius then stabbed the boy in the heart, and twisted the dagger around until he could see the life leave the young minotaur's body.

Darius pulled the dagger out and placed it back in its sheath. He then walked up to the edge of the crater beside Parellus and his knights.

"From the gods, to the land, we eat. From us, on the land, to the gods we feed," Darius started proclaiming, while raising his hands up in a worshiping manner. "The gift of life, for the blood of a knife. Come forth ol' great one, come forth in acceptance. Hail to the beast, hail to thy gods. Libras emerge from your slumber, emerge as we fall!"

Darius and all of the crowd bowed down, awaiting for Libras' acceptance of the tributes. For a minute nothing happened, and Darius grew worried that Libras denied the offering due to the interference of the ritual. Then suddenly a strong gust of wind came from the cave that rested on the other side of the crater of the volcano, as a deep rumble emerged from it's depths. Thick smoke started to build up, almost as if the volcano was about to erupt.

It was hard to see anything through the burning smoke billowing into their faces; but almost as one they could see them: two massive, crimson red eyes staring out at them from across the mouth of Mount Dumas. His appearance was so sudden, and his exit so swift, that the spectators could hardly tell what had happened at first. Upon great wings---with a wingspan of over fifteen meters---the dragon took off from the volcano, smoke following in his wake.

He was silent as the night; until, with a tremendous roar he circled around and dove for the sacrifice, grabbing the younger minotaur, and tearing him from the chains that were holding him up, causing the pillars to crumble from its mighty force. They all watched as Libras flew higher and higher into the sky, his black and maroon scales glistening in the sun, suddenly they heard another roar and watched as the body of Parellus' son plummet to the land. The body fell onto one of the knights with so much force, killing the knight in the process, and splattering those nearby with his blood. Libras flew back around and snatched Parellus up off the ground. The force of his wings pushing everyone back. A couple of unfortunate civilians were too close to the edge, and they tumbled down the steep ledges of Mount Dumas.

As fast as he had shown up, Libras, their god of war and strength, vanished back into his home in the mountain. A deep rumble could be heard coming from the depths of Dumas, along with a few screams from Parellus before he was silenced by the dragon's sharp teeth.

Darius stood up and faced the crowd. "Libras has granted our request! Tonight we feast, for tomorrow we will prepare for war!"

The crowd cheered with rejoice, as they followed Darius and his knights back to the manor where they would enjoy a large banquet.



© Copyright 2018 D. L. Stewart. All rights reserved.

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