Bromaric, fort Barad Colmi, northwest of Lochcrest, winter (1604 a.L)
It’s a cold winter night and Tias Pegason leans against the stone brick wall of the watchtower. He looks at the stars above him that sparkle slightly in the dark night while the full moon spreads a soft glow over the fort. As the man looks over the vast plain he hears the howling of a wolf. Tias is one of the head guard of fort Barad Colmi, the residence of king Ichas Barde. The king has ruled Bromaric over 45 years and is loved by its people. During his long regency Ichas made a peace treaty with the other six realms. It was the king that provided the people of Unevia to live their quite lives in peace. This is the reason the people of Bromaric love him so dearly. Once every year there was a giant festival in honor of king Ichas, during which he receives gifts from every realm in Unevia. The people are given food and drinks until they can have no more. The streets are filled with music and joy until the sun comes up. Tias once had the pleasure of meeting the king and he was kinder than he could ever imagine. The head guard loves his job and his king. Once more the sound of a howling wolf echoes across the field. He turns towards the church clock. One more hour until his shift ends. Tias yawns when his gaze returns to the plain. He waits impatiently until he can return home, where he can kiss his two children goodnight before crawling next to his wife in their bed.
Soft rustling of the tall grass awoke his suspicions. Tias places his hands on the wall and leans forward in order to see more, but the dark night hides every sign of life. The guard focuses as he peers over the plain, but he finds nothing that might confirm his suspicions. Slowly he relaxes and rubs his eyes. The man has been guarding the fort for over six hours, it must be his imagination playing tricks on him. He gazes in the distance when he can just see Lochcrest, the capital of Bromaric. There must be a feast going on because if his eyes do not deceive him, he sees the light of a big campfire. His thoughts wander off to the upcoming festival in honor of King Ichas. He can already see the flags fluttering over the streets, the giant campfire on the square, people dancing until the break of dawn. Tias met his wife on the festival long ago. It was love at first sight. Which is why, only a couple of years later, he asked her to marry him. The festival meant a lot to Tias. The rustling wakes him from his fantasy and grabs his attention. This time he swears he heard something. The guard peers through the darkness that is only lit by the faint glow of the moon, but is unable to find anything.
Suddenly he notices a spark in the dark that spreads to a small flame, floating in the air. Tias looks as the floating flame slowly raises above the grass until it approaches the fort with great speed. It zooms through the air and hits the wall of the tower behind him with a scraping sound. He turns to look at what it is that hit the wall.
“An arrow..” he says in a whisper.
Quickly, his gaze returns to the field where he finds thousands of small flickering flames that shoot high in the sky. His eyes widen and he gasps.
“Oh no..” The arrows start coming down, increasing in speed.
Tias drops to the floor and crawls agains the stone wall in order to take cover for the rain of fiery arrows that fall onto the fort. Most of the arrows hit the walls or scatter onto the streets, others cause more damage when they hit the hay in the stables or fly through windows of houses. When the rain of arrows ceases and Tias overcomes the sudden fear, he jumps up and runs towards the tower behind him. A rope dangles from a hole in the wall of the watchtower. The head guard grabs the rope and pulls it with all of his strength. As he pulls, the bell at the top of the tower starts to slowly move to the right. Tias relaxes his muscles and lets the bell swing back before pulling the rope once more when it starts swinging to the right again. He repeats his movements until finally the sound of the bell echoes loudly through the fort.
While Tias warns the fort of the coming danger, he sees Lochcrest in his mind’s eye with its giant campfire. He turns his head towards the city and when he looks closer he notices something horrifying. The giant fire he saw earlier wasn’t that of a campfire. It was the city itself that was burning!
“Fire!” he hears someone yelling.
When he turns to look he sees a man looking devastated at his stables that was set aflame. Suddenly the man looks up before running back into his house as he screams “Take cover!”.
Tias looks up, only to find the sky filled with thousands of the fiery arrows approaching the fort rapidly. He quickly grabs his shield and raises it above his head in order to cover himself for the danger raining down on him. He feels two arrows hit his shield before falling to the floor next to him. He hears the command to open the gates of Barad Colmi.
When the second attack is over he runs towards the wall to look down on the square where the king’s army is gathering. Knights prepare themselves for battle, they pull their swords and scream loudly. Their screams are filled with both anger and fear. He looks up only to see the most terrifying sight. The expanding fire throws its light across the field, revealing the army that had been hiding in the tall grass. He sees creatures he couldn’t dream in his worst nightmares. Ghastly beasts with their hideous heads on their strong firm bodies. They seemed like demons from the deepest pits of hell. From the forest he sees enormous creatures running towards the fort, dragging a boulder attached to a rope behind them.
“No!” he yells “Close the gates!”. But it’s too late.
The army of demons rises and runs towards the fort. Tias recognizes the giant creatures behind the army as mountain ogres. They pull their ropes and spin the boulders around their bodies before throwing them in the direction of the fort. The boulders fly through the air before hitting the fort on several places. Some bring down entire towers which, on their turn, crush the homes beneath.
Shocked, Tias watches as the baffled knights are attacked by the front of the army of demons. He hears the clatter of swords against the street and the cries of dying knights that don’t have a chance against the much bigger, faster and stronger demons. The fort is filled with chaos. Buildings are burning or crumbled, panicked peasants run through the streets screaming, mothers carrying their newborns while dragging their children behind them as their husbands arm themselves with pitchforks and charge at the approaching threat. Others stay together and pray to the gods. The demons wreak death and destruction amongst the army of the king. Blood flows over the cobblestones of the street. Helpless, Tias must watch how the demons drive the knights back and slowly fight their way further into the fort. Demons run through the streets mercilessly, cutting down one victim after the other with their swords.
A door, leading to the staircase, swings open behind the head guard. When Tias turns to look he finds one of the demons in the doorway. It has a dark, nearly black skin and holds a coarse primitive sword in one of its claws. The demon is dressed in nothing but a cloth around its waist. Stunned by fear, Tias gazes into the crimson eyes of the creature. On its ugly head it has three horns and a long curved nose. It grins when it slowly approaches Tias. Recovered from his fear, Tias holds his shield firmly before pulling his sword and taking his defensive position. The demon raises its sword and slams it down with force on Tias who raises his shield just in time to block the attack. The force of the attack causes Tias’s shield to vibrate and he must bend his knees to fully take the blow. But the demon doesn’t give him a second of rest as he keeps swinging his sword, landing one hit after the other on the shield. Tias is forced further back against the wall and after a few blasts the sword suddenly hits the side of the shield, taking Tias by surprise and causing him to let go of the shield. It clatters onto the floor of the tower and slides further and further out of his reach before coming to a stop. Tias quickly mounted an attack, thrusting his sword straight towards the beast. But the demon foresees his attack and blocks it with alarming ease and smacks its elbow roughly in the face of the guard. Tias stumbles backwards against the wall of the watchtower and grabs his bloodied face.
He spits some blood over the edge of the tower into the battlefield. Although his nose feels numb, the man quickly recovers and grabs his sword firmly with his two hands. He knows he doesn’t stand a chance, but he refuses to go down without putting up a fight. He would gladly give his life for his family, his king and his country. With a scream of anger and despair he throws himself onto the monster. Tias swings his sword as hard as he can towards the head of his opponent. The demon blocks his attack without much effort, but Tias isn’t done. He puts his entire weight into his attack when their swords collide and forces his opponents sword against the floor. Tias kicks his boot hard against the claw of the demon, causing it to let go of its weapon. The demon growls and takes a step forward, but Tias continues with his next attack. His sword shoots up from below towards the ugly head of the demon. But just before he can complete his deadly attack, the demon grabs the sword with his bare claw. Yellow blood flows down the shaft of the sword as the demon turns its other claw in a fist and punches it roughly in Tias’s face. The body of the head guard slams down hard on the cold stone floor. The blow forces his air out of his lunges in the form of a groan. When Tias opens his eyes he sees the demon holding his sword at the hilt and slowly approaches him. The guard wants to crawl away but he feels the wall pressing against his back. The creature places the tip of the sword carefully through a small gap in his armor. Tias feels his own sword penetrating his skin through his clothes.
“Die, human.” He hears the low creaky voice of the demon when it puts more pressure on the sword and pushes it slowly inside his body.
Tias screams in pain before he feels blood filling his mouth. The demon laughs hoarsely when it pulls the sword out of Tias’s body. Blood gushes from the wound and imbues his clothes. Heedless, the demon throws away the sword and returns to his allies, leaving the guard to his fate.
Tias puts pressure on his gaping wound, but his precious lifeblood keeps flowing through his fingers. His vision becomes blurred, his breathing irregular. Tias knows his end is near. His mind wander to the people he loves. His wife and children, could they have survived? The king, could he have escaped in time? Tias suddenly notices the deep silence that reigns over the square. He groans as he turns around and slowly raises himself against the wall. When he looks down to the square he finds it filled with the bodies of the brave knights he knew, their wives and children. He closes his eyes and sighs when he is unable to find the bodies of his own wife and children. There is still hope. Suddenly he realizes why it’s so quit. The demons have gathered just outside the gates and kneel towards a tall slim person in a dark cloak, who walks onto the square. Tias thinks he recognizes the former priest Baragor, but it’s too dark to know for sure. The man speaks to the demons, in a language the guard doesn’t understand. Before he could confirm his suspicions, Tias feels his muscles weaken and he lays down on the cold floor. He feels how he slowly loses consciousness as his eyes fall shut. He prays to the gods for the wellbeing of his family, his king and the future of Unevia, until finally death relieves him of his pain.
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