Thread: [Original] Eighteen Days
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Old 03-27-2012, 06:59 PM
Sólsetur Sólsetur is a male Iceland Sólsetur is offline
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Re: Eighteen Days

Spoiler: "The Day Before, P.1  

Eighteen Days

The Day Before, P.1

“Evaline… are you really sure you’d like to do this?” The pale man sat down, petting the large mastiff at his side. He looked around the room with pale blue eyes, observing how the walls shimmered. Everything seemed so out of place in this world, but it felt natural to him, as if this was where he belonged. He knew he didn’t have a place that “belonged” to him, but this world just felt right. He didn’t know how to explain it.

Evaline looked up, surprise showing on her face. “I have to do this,” she said, “if I don’t…”


“Then he could be lost?” The pale man paused, thinking for a moment. “Is it that you don’t want him to live any longer?”


“No! That’s not it, I just-“


“Just what? Can’t bring yourself to stop meddling in the affairs of the living world?” The man stood and took two steps toward the woman known as Evaline. “Look, if you really feel this is best for him, then I’ll help you. If you are wrong, though, and he doesn’t change…”


“I know the risks. You don’t need to remind me.” She shook her head at him, pale blonde hair shimmering due to the movement, and sighed. “You really don’t understand do you?”


“Fine,” the man said, all business once again. “I’ll teach you how to do what you want, but only if you do something for me.” He stepped back and straightened out his clothes, a white tunic with long, billowing sleeves. It was a rather odd match, but he felt that it was just right for the time he was about to go back to. It would serve to make him a little less conspicuous, at any rate.


“What would you have me do?” She looked at him with those white eyes of hers. The eyes were the only thing that bothered him about this world. No one seemed to have any eyes, and he found it quite unnerving. If there was one thing he could fix about this place it would be the eyes.


Bending down, the man placed a hand on her shoulder. Seconds later she gasped, eyes – or what passed for eyes – open in shock.


“You’d really ask me to do this?”

Death nodded, with a dark twinkle in his blue eyes, and took Evaline's ghostly hand in his much larger one. Leading her out of the room he smiled, pleased with the events he’d just set into motion.


Spoiler: "The Day Before, P.2  
The Day Before, P.2

Sylvius stood, looking at the span of the army as if for the hundredth time that day. They'd been camped here for weeks, waiting for a sign, waiting to see what their opponent would do. Frankly, he was sick of it. He didn't want to be a sellsword to sit around, an army at his back, and feast every other night. While he enjoyed the women, and he enjoyed the food, that's not he was after. He was after the thrill of battle, adrenaline pumping through his veins, the sound of steel on steel, the shouts of men...

"What is it Sylvius? Thinking about which women you're going to take tonight?" Albre chuckled and slapped Sylvius on the back, and looked off into the horizon. "Don't think about it too much. Just pick the best looking one of the bunch and take her!"

"That's not what I was thinking about," came Sylvius's reply. He was irritated at being interrupted, wanting to continue his day dream. If he couldn't fight, at least let him THINK about it.

"Then what? Thinking about the battle that will be coming to us soon?"

"No... I'm thinking about why it hasn't come sooner. This fight should have been over with long ago. Our force diminishes daily, and all the while they," he jerked his head towards the fortress towering a mere league away and spat. "It's time we get this over with before all we're left with is you, me, and the king."

"Hey, let our men have their fun. People die in battles, you know." Albre had come to a stop next to Sylvius, and stood staring at the horizon as well. It was morning, the camp just beginning to awake. Cookfires began to create smoke and the shouts of men getting ready for another boring day filled the air. The smell of cooked sausage also filled the air, but Sylvius ignored it. He hadn't eaten breakfast in years, and cared nothing for the fried eggs and sausage that people seemed to hold so dear to them. It was as if no one could go without breaking their fast.

"Anyways, Sylvius, that's not what I've come to talk to you about." Albre paused and shuffled his feet, glancing nervously in the direction of the castle. "His Highness means to attack tonight, and that won't bode well for any of us. We've been too idle this past fortnight; we don't even have any siege engines ready. An assault now... well, you said it yourself. We're losing men every day. A straight assault now, without our whole force at our back and no way to get across the wall..." Albre trailed off, still looking at the castle. It was big enough, now that they were far away from it. Sylvius couldn't imagine what it would be like up close.

"It would be disastrous," Sylvius finished for Albre after a short pause. Maybe if they still had all their men they could do it, but they'd lost at least 40,000 good men in the last two weeks. Whether it be raiders or deserters, it had happened, and they were going to pay for it.

"I can't say I entirely blame the king," Sylvius said after a moment. He turned around and took a few steps from the cliff overlooking the army. "He knows what kind of situation we're in. If we built siege engines we'd just lose more men. If we attack now, we have the advantage of more men, but no siege engines. Better to build them hurriedly during the battle, or just use ladders, than suffer the consequences of a badly outnumbered army."

"But think about how many lives it would cost us!"

"...No more than it would cost us if we had siege engines. The only difference is that the battle will take longer, whether we win or lose. I'd rather take our chances now then wait later." With that, Sylvius walked off. He didn't intend to speak about this any longer than he had to, and the knowledge that they would attack soon... well, that brought more than a smile to his face.

Sylvius calculated the possibilities the battle could offer as he walked down the path that had been cleared three days back. It almost seemed as if this had become a permanent settlement, to him. Another extension of the town that rested outside of Michael Tawyl's keep, just not as friendly to Lord Michael as the other half of town. Shrugging, Sylvius continued to walk down to his own tent.

He took a moment to get ready. Strapping his sword about him, putting on his chainmail and metal hauberk. Within minutes he was ready, and was already starting to saddle his horse. He saw men doing the same and realized that people were actually beginning to pack up camp. He'd been getting ready to make his rounds around camp, he didn't think that they'd be leaving so soon.

After saddling his horse he went around his camp, checking with his men. Though he was just a low-born sellsword, he still had a small following among the camp. Fifty men, all sworn to him, wore the shining black armor that marked his fighters in battle. Each of them had a black warhorse as well, but that was more of a thing they'd decided on their own rather than a requirement. Each of them had a longsword and a plain black shield strapped to their hip and back respectively. After making sure everything was to his liking, he took them around to the front of the army. They'd been appointed the king's guard for the day and he meant no harm to come to him. He had a reputation on the line.

After the army had begun its slow approach, 50,000 men lumbering slowly across a grassy plain riddled with bumps and holes for their horses to falter in, Sylvius spurred his horse and caught up with the king.

"Sylvius! I'd expected you to be long gone by now. How have you been?" The king was a rather plump, jolly fellow. He wasn't fit for war, so he left most of his planning to other, better suited, individuals. He was mostly there for show, which meant that Sylvius would need to keep a close watch on the man.

"Aye, and I'd almost gone off too." Sylvius stared at the large keep before them, steadily glowing closer, and felt a shiver of anticipation come down his spine. He'd been too long without a battle, too long without the rush he longed for. "You should have done this much earlier. You do realize we've lost almost half our force since we first set up camp?" Sylvius was still irked at the way the king, King Roan, had decided to wait. They'd crushed everything in their path until now, and Sylvius knew that this battle wouldn't bear the same fruits as the other.

"Yes, I know. I figured that we'd let our men have a little fun before we went and killed them all, though."

"And now those men are gone."

"Indeed."

The rest of the ride was strangely quiet. Sylvius's men had formed a ring around Roan and Sylvius. They had gone in their usual formation: Three rings of 15 men each encircling five men and Sylvius with whoever they were guarding. When they weren't guarding people they lined up however they wanted to. Sylvius so no need to make an organization of who goes wear unless they were at the head of an army. The formation would break sooner or later, so he just let the men do as they pleased.

Once they reached the keep, Sylvius stood in his stirrups and glanced at the walls they faced. They were high, about thirty feet, and every inch of it was covered. This wouldn't be easy. For a while, both forces looked at each other. Occasionally and arrow would fly from the battlements, or a soldier would race along them to give some message, but everything was oddly serene. The still before a battle... yes, Sylvius knew this feeling. He knew it well.

In seconds, the trap was sprung. Whilst their main force waited at the front, standing still, a smaller force had swung around to the back. The commanders knew that Tawyl was a coward. He wouldn't order his archers to fire until the very last second for fear of something that would backfire. Along with this, he had a habit of moving his entire force into one place. Within seconds, the calm had been broken.

The gates of the keep open and a large force charged from the keep engaging with his men. Sylvius drew his sword and shouted a wordless battle cry and leaped into the fray. Hundreds of men swarmed around him, and he just continued to hack away at each new man he saw. Before long, most of his companions lay dead and Roan had retreated to the back of their army.

A game of fools, this is. One fat, not capable of fighting, and the other a coward. A pity that strong men like Mace, Sylvius spared a glance to his fallen comrade and blocked a blow from a huge longsword. He jumped to the side and slashed at the man - a huge thing, towering many hands over Sylvius with bulging muscles - before turning swiftly to hack at another who'd come from the side. Have to die for these fools... He took another in leg, but received a blow from a mace in his side. He fell to the ground and dodged left, a blow catching him on the leg.

"Damn, I'm done here." The enemy had overwhelmed them, it didn't even look like they would get inside the city. Sylvius turned to face his opponents and was surprised to find three of his guard battling to save him, each holding their own against the superior force. With the archers on the walls picking off the men in back, with the army out here holding the men at the front... It was disastrous. He could only hope that the attack from behind had done better.

~ ~ ~

Albre stood to attention, the light catching off his helm as he walked in front of his men. 5,000 was what he'd been given and he was determined to come out of this with at least 3,000. More, if the gods were good to him.

"Men! This is our day today; the day for victory! Our host marches on the front of the fortress at this very moment, and no one is left to defend their rear. It's time we show them this folly! It's time we fight!" A roar erupted from his men. Men carrying large ladders ran towards the walls, mounting them quickly and beginning the climb. In seconds, much of the force was already on its way inside.

Our mission is to seize their Great Hall. Nothing more, nothing less. Albre reached the top of the battlements and climbed up, sending two-hundred men to each side of the wall. They were charged with taking out the archers and, hopefully, provide some aid for the men at the gates. Taking the bulk of the force with him, he started heading back down the wall. His first objective was to take the southern guard tower which was done swiftly. Only twenty men were left to guard it and the were quickly overwhelmed. He positioned some men to hold the area and went down.

Once in the outer keep his men fanned out. By now the battle would have started and the people be on high alert for things like this. This was a large fortress, too, and would have eyes everywhere. He'd need to be careful and not leave any alive to spread word of his arrival.

Sooner or later they did reach opposition; a force that was, to his disappointment, much larger than his own... and right outside of the Great Hall. In the heart of the stone fortress by now, he had no way to escape. With little options but to attack, he did.

His force held firmly for a while, neither side giving ground. His men seemed to be winning for a while, but something seemed off. He told his commanders to push harder. Something was coming.

And something did come, and it was fierce. From behind, two-thousand armed soldiers came and caught them in a trap. He turned his rear guard on them and started the battle from both sides. Albre received wounds in his right leg and fell off his horse, but kept fighting. He blocked a blow from an axe and swung left to catch a man's horse. He dodged right and caught another on the ear. It seemed as if the enemy would never stop coming and when it did, he looked about him in confusion.

Only about two hundred of his five-thousand remained, but that was more than he could have asked for. Sitting down, Albre began to laugh like a mad man. And truly, he was mad. For only a mad man could have thought to come out of this alive.

"Sir?" One of his men asked as he sat there, back to his men, laughing at the sky. "Is everything okay?"

"Okay? Is anything ever okay?" And just as he said that, more hoofbeats were heard in the distance, and with them came more men to kill.

~ ~ ~

Sylvius was exhausted. His men has managed to get him out of the battle, but only barely. It was just ten of them now; ten ragged warriors in need of a rest. He lay there, thinking of how everything went wrong. First the king had decided to rest, then he decided to attack. Then the archers came and soldiers poured from the gates... Sylvius shuddered from the memory and pressed his hands against his eyes, as if that could prevent the image from appearing in his head.

"Have you received word of the battle yet?"

"Yes sir. It seems that Roan was forced to retreat with only a fifth of what he went in with."

"And Albre?"

"His men got in alright and even managed to hold the Great Hall and the southernmost guardtower. They lost the hall, but now Albre is holed up inside the tower with around a hundred men."

"That fool. He should have escaped when he had the chance."

"He had a mission, sir."

"So did we, and look where we are now." He swept his hand out, taking in the great plain. Fires burned in the distance and smoke came from the castle. It seemed that Albre had caused more damage than he thought to do. It didn't matter now, though, the war was lost. The sun was sweeping over the horizon now, taking with it the colors of the night. The field before them turned grey, the fortress disappeared, and the fires became their only source of light for a time. Even they diminished, however.

"What are we going to do now?" It was Hayden, a boy of only sixteen. Scarce old enough to shave more than twice a week, but he was a good boy. Strong, loyal. All the qualities a good soldier needed.

"We're going to find another to take into service with. And, after that, we'll go into another. That's the life of a sellsword, boy."

The small group grew quiet at that, and Sylvius lay back. His leg ached, his side ached, but most of all his head ached. He loved the rush of battle, and now that he had departed it's sweet embrace he felt alone. He just wanted to live in the heat of the moment... that's all he wanted...




A woman... her hair as golden as the sunlight... Sylvius smiled, remembering who she had been. She'd been his entire life until that man hired him... until that man hired him...

She shimmered dimly in the moonlight, and appeared to waver before his eyes. A hand rested lightly on his brow, and she whispered to him. Sleep, the voice said. Her touch was gentle, her hand smooth as silk... but somehow not there. He couldn't get the words in his mind at the moment. He couldn't think. All he could do is remember what happened to her, why it happened, and who did it. Then, as sudden as she appeared, she was gone. Sylvius's body went limp, and he slept as if he hadn't slept in years.

...And perhaps he hadn't.

Quote:
Day One


2:13 AM - Sylvius

A whisper on the wind, faint, wavering... unable to be heard or felt, but not entirely invisible. It's presence shown in the movement of the grass, the cooling of air, and even the movement of the birds. That's how he felt right now. He felt as if he were an insignificant piece, some small thing of something much larger. Unable to be detected, but his presence undeniable.

That's why Sylvius was laughing. He couldn't take the questions anymore. Was it really the man who'd hired him who killed her, or was it just something he'd come up with to pin the blame on someone else? He couldn't really be sure. One thing was certain though: He was falling into despair.

And falling he was. Falling... falling... falling into an endless pit of blackness, swallowed up in the lies. Consumed. Was it really the man who'd hired him who had killed all those people? Was it really not Sylvius's fault? The questions burned inside his mind, seared his brain, and became a part of his soul. At first glance it was nothing. Just something that had happened in his past; it should be forgotten. He should move on.

But I can't... she meant too much to me to do that...

"Then why did you kill me?" It was her voice. The voice he feared most. The voice of his most beloved, the voice of the person he refused to name.

The world spun, everything seeming to twist in every direction possible. The pieces of his life were pulled apart and he forgot who he even was anymore. All he could focus on was her, the woman who plagued his dreams every night.

Suddenly, everything stopped. The pit of darkness ended, and he ended up in somewhere grey. It was colorless, nothing moving. When he looked out into the distance, all he saw was... nothing. It was as if everything had been swallowed up by some angry god. Maybe that was for the best.

"Sylvius?" It was her voice again. The voice he was so scared of. He didn't want to fact it, to acknowledge who it belonged to, and to accept what he'd done. No. He wouldn't - he could not do this. He wouldn't be forced to do something he didn't want to. He shut his mind, closed it off to the voice, but somehow it still broke through. He couldn't escape.

The nothingness was broken. Before him floated the form of a woman. She had long, curly blonde hair. He features were delicate, as if she were a doll, and a pale blue dress hung about her like she was, indeed, a doll. She shimmered in the air, as if she could disappear at any moment.

"I do not have much time," she spoke fast, sharp, and to the point. This was no meeting of friends. "I have given you eighteen days to either live, or die. I cannot bear to see you continue on like this, so I have placed a curse on you. Unless I deem you worthy by the end of this period, you will die. You can resist if you'd like, but you will join me if you do not change."

Her voice wavered, her existence flickered, and then she was more stable again. "I will not tell you how to change. Nor the change I want to see. I just want you to try."

As the woman said this, sudden as she appeared, she was gone. The world of grey disappeared with her as well, and the world turned into darkness. The questions burned in his mind once more. He hung in the darkness, suspended in eternity. Then, somewhere in the back of his mind, he began to contemplate the words he'd been told.


~ ~ ~



Time Unknown - Death

"So it's done then, is it?" Death slowly paced around the room, his two mastiff's sitting in the corner watching him. Evaline sat in a chair a little to his left, still trying to comprehend what she'd just done. When Death never received the answer he was waiting for, he continued the rather one-sided conversation.

"How was it, seeing the man you'd once loved and almost certainly dooming him to me?" He received no answer, like before, but he hadn't expected to receive one. He was just teasing her at this point.

"Oh well, it can't be helped can it. Cat got your tongue?" He laughed and looked away from her for a minute. He came to a stop by the window and looked out at the land beyond. Everything outside of this room was devoid of color; nothing was able to escape that fact. This world just wasn't meant to be seen that way. He looked from the peach-colored walls to the vast expanse of grey, black, and white outside and marveled at how everything just seemed so out of place here. He looked to his small feet and large hands, then remembered his long, thin neck. He supposed he fit in here.

"Anyways, Evaline... We can't continue to speak like this. In order for my task to be completed, we need to talk."

"I know," she said hesitantly. She wanted to say more, he knew, but something was keeping her from doing so. What was it? Shrugging it off for some part of her that wished to remain human, he decided to get straight to the point.

"In order to bring about the change we seek, I need you to cooperate with me. If you don't, then Sylvius will die and everything will got ♣♣♣♣. You know this."

He waited a few minutes. Nothing. Death continued to stare outside at the world beyond. He wanted to bring life to this place. He wanted this place to be beautiful. It was rather ironic given the nature of the world they were in, but he didn't care. He just wanted perfection. Nothing moved outside of these walls. Nothing spoke, nothing saw, nothing happened. He was sick of it.

Death continued to wait, but his impatience got the better of him. "Look, Evaline," he rounded on her, and to his surprise she was in tears. Her thin frame was racked with movement as the sobs erupted out of her, and she began to gasp for breath as if trying to speak. "No, don't say anything," he said. "Wait until you feel better about this. Then we'll speak. Come, Seikatsu." The girl ceased her gasping and just sat there, head in her hands. He felt sorry for her, but she did bring this about herself. It was her fault this was happening.

One of his mastiffs, Seikatsu, rose. He was a muscular thing: Strong, filled with vigor. Two boar's tusks sprouted from his snout as well, acting as teeth. He was a fearsome thing if you weren't used to him. The dog bounded toward Death, changing his form into something more suitable for the outside world. Shi rose to follow, but Death motioned for him to stay down. The ghost-image of a mastiff did so, looking longingly at his twin. It was a shame they couldn't both go, but only Seikatsu would fit into the next world.

"I'm heading out," he told Evaline. He strode towards the door, Seikatsu at his heels. He reached out a large, bony hand and turned the doorknob. When he stepped out of the room, it was as if he were in an entirely different world.

~ ~ ~



6:32 AM - Death

Death stood in the street, dust swirling around him. Seikatsu sniffed at something in the mud a few feet away from, moving in a circle around it with his tail wagging enthusiastically. Death sighed and looked around. The sun was just beginning to rise, shining a light on the Earth that hadn't been seen in hours. People begin to rise, coming out of their houses to greet neighbors and grab water from the local well. Death almost wished he could be like them: A simple Human who didn't have a care in the world other than survival. He sighed again.

"Seikatsu, here." He clapped one of his abnormally large hands to his thigh and started walking. The dog's footsteps could be heard behind him, but he ignored them. He had a purpose.

Darice was a desert town, located in the east of the Rashallen Dynasty; it was rather prosperous for a desert town, but still suffered limitations. These were namely agricultural, since all their water had to be drawn from wells. Even these wells, however, were a pain to find; they were sparse, and one well often served for up to seven blocks of the city. This made it almost impossible to have any successful farm besides the papyrus they grew outside the city. Still, it was a rather impressive sight.

The city stretched out for miles, encircled by a high stone wall. The city had actually built itself on top of a large oasis, which is the reason the city prospered as much as it did. A large hill resided in the oasis, and the city gradually stretched up the hill. At the peak rested the palace of the lord who owned this city - Mathis. Mathis was the reason Death had come to this world.

Most people dressed in white tunics with long, billowing sleeves. Since their garments were white, they often became a brownish color. Due to the sparsity of water in the land they couldn't wash them as often as the women would like, so they remained the color they were. Death's tunic was oddly bright amongst the people that filled the streets as the city woke up.

Before long, hawkers and merchants ran around the streets crying out about their goods. One man had set up shop in front of a house and got in a fight with the owner. Death idled there a moment, watching the scene play out. When he was bored, he moved on.

Now about halfway up the hill, life was everywhere. People milled about, talking with friends, hurrying to jobs - it was complete chaos. Fortunately, it allowed him to blend in rather nicely. As he continued to walk, glancing around at the people with mild detest, he ran into a giant carrying wooden boards to... somewhere.

"Watch yourself, man," the guy had said as he hurried on. Death continued to walk unabashed. Eventually, he did reach his destination. What should I say to him, I wonder? 'Call up your arms and march on the western nations?' No, that would never do. I need to convince him somehow. Maybe pretend to be a messenger from Queen Lisa? The door opened, interrupting his thoughts.

"Who would interrupt my lord at such an ungodly hour?" It was a woman, dressed in a white gown that reached down to her knees. She had the same brown skin as everyone else here, with a slightly worn look to her. Under different circumstances, Death thought, she could have been pretty.

"Ahem, let me introduce myself. I am Vladmire of House Taran, a minor noble who serves under your liege-lord. I request an audience with him." Simple enough, right? A man who has some issues regarding bandits, or a petition for lower taxes?

The woman regarded him suspiciously a moment, but she finally acceded to his request and let him in.

"Wait here," she told him. She left the room, so he just stood there. The room was furnished well; a burgundy couch before a fireplace, sandstone walls decorated with painting, and several tables with various sizes of brown pottery adorning them. I was right. This was the man to come to. Death would have looked around longer, but the girl came back.

"This way. Lord Mathis will see you now." He followed her through a series of hallways before finding himself in a small room, Mathis sitting in a large chair at the front. He motioned for the girl to leave the room.

"Hello, Vladmire. You're looking a bit paler these days. Please, sit down." Death followed suit and sat.

"Yes, well, my health is not an issue I'd like to discuss right now. I have pressing news."

"News of what nature?"

"War."

"This is... dire indeed." Mathis had blonde hair, with a slightly lighter skin tone then others. His skin wasn't as worn as well; he was softer than the people outside these walls. That's what came with nobility, though. He wore a red robe with black lining, and Death could see slippers of the same color covering his feet. Clearly, this man had either just woken or did not care for formality.

"You do know of King Roan, yes? His forces were repelled at Blackwatch."

"How would this affect us, though? We're an entire ocean away from him. He can't harm us."

"No? Then why does he have a fleet sailing for this land right now? He means to take the eastern lands, thinking them weaker than the one he'd just been repelled from."

"And how would you know this?" Mathis sipped on a cup of tea, analyzing Death's face with quiet, calculating eyes.

"My lands border the sea. It's my business to know these things." Mathis looked away, grabbing a cup from the table next to him. He handed it to Death, telling him to pour himself a glass. Death did so - not because he was thirsty, but out of courtesy. He had no need to eat or drink in this world. Seikatsu sat to Death's lift, lifting his head when he heard the liquid hit the cup. He took a sip, noting the bitterness of the tea, but said nothing.

"Very well. How would you propose I deal with this, then?"

"Call your banners. March for the sea. Attack first." Death was trying to keep things simple at this point. It was nearly noon, and he had other business to attend to.

"Yes... That may work..."

"If it would please you, my Lord, I'd like to leave you to contemplate these matters."

"Yes. And get that mutt out of here too. He gives makes me nervous." Seikatsu whimpered at the man, but left alongside Death.


1:07 PM - Death

Death ran quickly, blood on his hands. He'd needed to act fast, but he did it; his target was dead. He was one - no, two - steps closer to his plan being completed. Well, if Mathis agreed then it was two, but Death was almost certain he'd consent.

Shouts arose from behind him, men chasing him. Seikatsu turned, and screams erupted from the crowd. Death felt blood spray on his back, but he continued to run. Seconds later, Seikatsu returned to his side.

The two turned right, left, then right again. They hit a dead end. Death looked up and laughed, taunting the guards on. The best was that, when they finally did round the corner, they found nothing. Not even footprints.

In the distance, they heard laughing. The same laughing that had led them to this place. Seconds later, blood coated the walls and nothing remained of their bodies but a few bones and the footprints of two large dogs.

~ ~ ~

7:07 AM - Sylvius

"Sir, we need to move," it was Heron, one of his veterans. Turning, Sylvius groaned. He rolled onto his stomach and opened his eyes, smelling fried bacon. His men had already eaten; that was good.

"Hey, Sylver, want some food!?" It was Roy, the mouth of the group. He liked to talk.

"I keep telling you not to call me that," Sylvius sat up and rubbed his hair. It was jet black, medium length, and very messy. He still wore his black armor from the battle earlier - he'd change once they got into a city. The other men also wore their armor.

"Man," Roy said, mouth full of bacon, "I can't see how you never break your fast. I couldn't go a day without this stuff."

"I'd like to see you survive a siege then." A couple of the men chuckled at that, but Roy just continued to eat his meal. The horses had been saddled, most of their camp packed up, and a lot of the men were ready to go. The last of them finished getting ready, and then Syrius tried to get up.

He couldn't. He winced in pain; his leg was on fire. He had bandages around his thigh and abdomen from last night. He'd been hurt badly. A couple of his men had slings around their arms, but most appeared to be in better shape than him. Hayden and Heron helped him to his feet, and Hayden helped him onto a horse. Minutes later they were on their way to a distant city.

The battle of Blackwatch had been brutal. Sylvius had only managed to come out with ten of his men, so now they were just a part of eleven. He regretted signing up with King Roan, but it wasn't all bad. They'd come out of that with a good hundred-thousand crowns. They'd be able to find a good inn the next city, a girl or two, and a hot meal. They'd rest for a couple days before looking for some noble to buy their loyalty. Then again, with this much money it would be hard.

Splitting the money was easy. Each man got a thousand crowns for personal use, the rest were kept in a chest on the back of Sylvius's horse. They would be used for food and board, new armor and clothes, and new weapons. Things a sellsword would need.

Before long they were quite a ways away from Blackwatch. It was around noon from what Sylvius could tell, and a couple of the men had taken out dried jerky to eat. Sylvius had no such feelings of hunger, and instead thought of what he'd seen last night.

That woman... She was the most familiar person in the world to him, and it surprised him that she would come to him in a dream. What surprised him more was the message she brought. When he woke up in the morning he was well-rested, but he couldn't get some lingering feeling to depart from him.

A glance at his arm told him all he needed to know. Eighteen "X" symbols had been branded there overnight. He couldn't know what it was from, but he could only assume that it had something to do with the dream.

"What are those X's you keep lookin' at, Sylius?" It was Hayden. He'd taken the liberty to ride up alongside Sylvius, in case he'd need aid.

"It's nothing, really." Sylvius didn't want to tell people what he had seen. If he did, then things would be... tense, to say the least. If his men knew he had a chance of dying, then they would try to stop it from happening. He was all they had left in this world. Especially now that they'd left their homeland.

After a while curiosity got the better of him, and Sylvius asked Hayden something. "Do you think dreams are a good source of information?"

"Depends," came the reply. "What kind of dream was it?"

"Y'know. One of those omens people always go crazy over." He'd taken out some of his own beef by now and was gnawing on it. The sun burned overhead, beating down on the small group as the headed westward.

Hayden grew quiet at that. "Listen, Sylvius. I dunno what to say about no omen, but if I were you I'd be wary. You never know what'll happen these days."

He spoke of the incidents out east, across the Balesh Sea. Word was that the dead rose from their graves, eating out entire towns. It caused chaos out here in the west; people didn't want that thing coming over here. Protests in some of the major cities had been the reaction to this, but most of them had been put down by the kings who operated there. They couldn't afford to lose trade with the east.

As the day wore on, Sylvius continued to think about what that dream could mean. He couldn't come to any conclusion but that it was real. What Hayden said seemed to confirm that; with the X's appearing on his arm, the dead rising in the east, and superstition everywhere... He'd be a fool to not believe.

Then, a feeling that he hadn't felt in years rose up within him.

Fear.

~ ~ ~


12:14 PM - Albre

"The door's holding, sir!" Albre paced up and down the stairs, glancing out of the arrow slit-windows from time to time. They were under siege, and they didn't have the forces or the supplies to survive. Sooner or later, they would die.

A steady bang continued on down stairs as the enemies attempts to break down the door wore on. Most resulted in failure, but they'd broken through once. That had been nasty; he'd last sixteen men before the door had been barred again. If his calculations were correct, he'd only last another three days in here. Five at the most.

"Do you have an escape plan, sir?" His men were relying on him. Word had not reached him of the battle at the gates, but he could only assume that it had not been good. If it had been, then he would be in this damned position. The gods be damned! He wanted to get out!

"No," he said sharply. He didn't mean to be this way with his men, he really didn't, but tensions were increasing among his soldiers. And when tension appeared among soldiers it was ten times worse for the commander. And the commander was home. Go figure.

"Sir, we just had another breach." A man ran up next to him as he continued up the stairs, to the top of the tower.

"How many men this time?"

"Twenty."

"Gods, that's way too many for my liking. Have four extra men watch the door, and make sure the barricade is twice as strong this time." He continued up. The man ran down to give his orders.

Eventually, he reached the top. Walking over to one of the windows, he looked out. Hundreds of men surrounded the tower - too many for his force to handle. With the recent losses, the ‘army’, if indeed it could be called an army, numbered around 160 strong. That would never be able to take on this horde. He had to find another way out.

Damn you, Sylvius, what happened? He'd never know if he didn't get out of this hell hole. As he stared out at the world beyond, and idea hit him. A quick look around the room confirmed his suspicions. This was a storage tower - a storage tower for tools. If he could get a decent team working on...

"No, that'll never work. We don't have the time."

"Time for what, sir?"

Albre jumped, turning quickly, hand on his sword.

"Sorry, sir. I came to get something. I heard you speaking to yourself."

"Oh. I was just mulling over some escape plans."

"Care to tell me? I'm willing to help you figure something out."

"What’s your name, soldier?"

"Sergeant Williams, sir."

"Well, Sergeant, let's get to work."


7:22 PM - Albre

Albre stood at the base of the tower, watching the rumbling door with anticipation. Most of his men were already out, so it was just him and a few others. This would be a close call; a few seconds could determine whether he keeps his life or not.

The escape plan had been a simple one: Take as many men, and as many shovels as possible and start digging. The ground floor was dirt, and with a bit of water they'd managed to break through easily. The men had worked for the greater part of the day, but they had done it. The escape had begun quickly, with ten men going at a time. He'd chosen to supervise the escape, which meant he'd be leaving with the last ten.


"That's everyone, sir," Williams was a stout man. Two hands shorter than Albre, but he had a good amount of muscle to counter-act this. He wasn't too bright, though. Albre was surprised he spoke the way he did; it was impressive, given his illiteracy and inability to plan a battle. How he'd risen so far he'd never know. Probably his personality, the way he could lead men fearlessly. Albre kind of envied him in that department.


In retrospect, Albre was rather tall; definitely one of the tallest men among the group. He wore the standard steel mail, uncolored, and had a plain shield to go along with his sword. He didn't like to adorn himself like most other leaders. While he WAS bright, he lacked any real fighting skill. Most of what he could do was on horseback, and even then it was hard for him. He relied on the other men to fight for him. He'd be dead if it weren't for them.


"Alright," Albre was ready to get the hell out of here. "Let's go."


The group - eleven soldiers, including Albre and Williams - jumped down. The landed with a thud; dirt swirled around them, and a couple men coughed. The tunnel was
dark, too. Albre put his hand to the wall and started to move silently. He could sense others following suit.

They moved quickly, reaching the end of the tunnel right as a loud crash announced their enemies arrival. Albre cursed and grabbed the first rung of the make-shift ladder and started climbing up. Shouts came from the way they'd come, and the other men scrambled behind him. Albre could see the light, here his men; he was almost out. He reached the top rung and hands reached down to pull him up, and he helped pull the others up. Finally, when the last man was up, he ordered for them to start moving.


They were on foot from here on out, so they moved on quickly. He was reluctant to stop the group, but eventually he had to. Hunger, darkness, and the call of sleep compelled them. He called a halt when they could barely see their hands in front of their faces.


There wasn't much food for them, mostly what they'd brought outside of the tower, and that wasn't much. They barely had enough to feed themselves, and Albre certainly wouldn't allow for a fire.


"What are you gonna do about food? The men won't wait forever." It was Williams, who had come to rest beside Albre. Albre had lain down by now, ready to go to sleep. He stared at the sky, blinking occasionally. Being alive... it was almost too much to believe.


"We need to find out what happened at that battle, but you're right. We don't have enough supplies to sustain ourselves."


"So...?"


"I think we should angle to the northwest. There's a forest there, and I think we could do well to hunt there. We can also lose the enemy among the trees. From there, I think we should try to find a city. Replenish our arms, find horses. That kind of thing."


"What of King Roan?"


"♣♣♣♣ him, that's what I say." A couple of snickers rose up around the camp at that, but no one said anything. The majority of the camp was sleeping.


I suppose I should sleep, too...


~ ~ ~


6:01 PM - Sylvius


The city of Muartania was approaching; it’s walls barely visible on the horizon. Hayden had ridden out a head earlier in the day and had come back with hot food for the men. Needless to say, he was the most popular of the group now.


As the eleven men crept slowly up towards the city, a group of soldiers came to meet them. They were armed to the teeth, and they wore blue armor. Their coat of arms appeared to be… a crocodile. Strange.


"Halt. Who are you?"


"Just some passing merchants," Roy said from the back, waving to invisible wagons around them. "We were looking to make a bit o coin in your fine city." Someone kicked him and he grunted, but the smirk never left his face.



"We're sellswords. We need some place to settle down for a while." Sylvius didn't like being questioned like this. Especially not when they were so close to freedom, so close to shelter.



"Sellswords, huh? Pitiful bunch like you couldn't even be bandits." Several of the soldiers laughed, but the leader kept a stern look on his face. He strutted up on down the front of his soldiers, looking at the group with wary eyes.



"Where are you from?" He seemed to be the only one of the group who actually meant business.


"Out east," Hayden said.


"Oi, that areas riddled with war. Has been for years. No wonder you look like that." A smile appeared on his face, causing his forehead to wrinkle. "We could use men like you..."


"We're not interested at the moment. As you can see, we're injured and need rest. We don't want to serve right now."


"What's stopping me from making you?"


"The fact that if you try, we'll kill you. And if we kill you, we're going to die. That's not going to help anyone, will it?" The man looked around, realizing that Sylvius was right. Several of Sylvius's men had drawn swords, and at least three were in reach of the leader. He backed up a step.



"Very well. You may pass." He moved out of the way and shouted something to his men. Sylvius assumed they were continuing their rounds and moved into the city with his group, looking for a tavern to rest up in.


The city was quite large; partially wood, partially stone. Even at this time people filled the streets, yelling to each other as the sun disappeared from the sky and even after. It was chilling to see such a large city. Once they finally found an inn, Sylvius paid the man for a couple nights.


"Alright, men. You can drink, eat, whatever. Just behave yourselves; I won't be losing anyone to a petty bar fight." They saluted him, showing that they would listen... or at least try to. Sylvius sighed and walked up the stairs, heading to his room. He collapsed on the bed and was asleep within minutes.

Took three days to write! xD

I won't be posting the next part for a while. The next post will be revisions, I think. Hope you guys liked it!


Criticism/critique/advice is always welcome, too. So if you have any, post it!
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[11:32:44 PM] jordan: AM I THE WHY OF THE THINGS OR AM THE THINGS THE WHY OF I


Last Edited by Sólsetur; 03-27-2012 at 09:33 PM. Reason: Reply With Quote