So vampires or the conclusion for the exiled knight?
Preference to the conclusion of the exiled knight, but the writer’s preference had priority. Or both?
Vampires it is! I’ll finnish up the Exiled Knight afterward.
I feel like I’m forgetting someone, but this should be it for the introduction chapters.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
Chapter 6: Two faced, no face
Mael looked at the orcs gathering in the Great hall and sighed. His brother Tael walked up to him and studied the newcomers as well. He followed Mael’s example and sighed tiredly.
‘What’s Baoc the Axe doing here?’ Tael asks.
‘Your guess is as good as mine.’ Mael says.
‘Another skirmish for Firewell?’
‘Probably, yes. It’s not like those damned Wilds would just come by for a friendly visit. And if they needed supplies they would’ve taken ‘em by now.’
Mael, chief of the Sheepsdust tribe, scratches his head. Tael, the agricultural supervisor and Mael’s twin brother, follows his lead. If it weren’t for their vastly different outfits, it would’ve seemed like either of the two brothers was a reflection in a mirror.
Mael, dressed in the traditional chieftain’s outfit with lots of red and yellow to signify his status and with the Sheepdust’s greyish face paint covering his whole face, looked imposing despite his tired and disinterested expression.
Tael, who seemed like a simple farmer in his woollen cloths and with only some face paint under his eyes and on his lips, was in no regard as imposing. If an outsider were to see him, they wouldn’t even spot them being twins despite Mael and Tael having the exact same expression right now.
And that same outsider would’ve never guessed that Tael was just as powerful around here as Mael, as he was the one in charge of all the shepherds, sheep and even part of their massive wool trade. Pretty much the entire economy and livelihood of the tribe was his responsibility.
‘I think I recognise the runt over there, pretty sure he’s a Yellowdust.’ Tael says.
‘As I feared then. Baoc is making rounds through the villages again asking for ‘volunteers’ for another pointless battle. I wonder how many he’ll demand this time.’ Mael says.
‘There are a few farmhands I can spare, but if he asks for more than a dozen like last time I’m going to have a shortage of people. If only the Wilds would realise their responsibility rather than complaining about the results of the next harvest.’ Tael says.
‘It’s curious as to why he would even be here though. The festival is almost over, so there’s no point in conquering the well. All the pilgrims will be gone by the time we get it anyhow.’ Mael says.
‘I’ve heard the humans have a garrison there of over a hundred men strong.’ Tael says. ‘Mr. Tin helmet is probably demanding such outrageous numbers that it takes a while longer for him to visit all the villages.’ Tael says.
‘A hundred men or more?’ Mael says. ‘Considering their garrisons tend to be real soldiers rather than the militia cannon-fodder Amon usually sends to conquer it… Damn, Baoc is probably going to ask for at least 30 grunts.’
‘Tell him what I told you, that it would screw up the harvest.’ Tael says. ‘Even Wilds understand profits. Complain enough and he’ll fill the numbers with Nihilists instead. I bet that’s what the other tribes did.’
‘Easy said, you know how self-righteous the Wilds see themselves. Even if it’s just some farce battle over a pool they don’t care about, they’ll be outraged when we say we don’t want to waste our blood over it.’ Mael says.
‘It’s your duty as chieftain to protect your tribe from situations like these.’ Tael says.
‘I know, I know. I don’t suppose you want to do it instead?’ Mael asks.
‘I’m not Mael for another week, and thank goodness for that. I was clenching my butt cheeks expecting Tin helmet to appear when it was my turn. So sorry brother, but you drew the shortest straw here.’ Tael says.
‘Fine.’ Mael says. ‘And why are you still referring to Baoc as Tin helmet?’
‘Because he’s not Baoc and you know it.’ Tael says. ‘That barbarian is rotting away somewhere in a shallow grave as we speak.’
‘Come on, Baoc the Axe falls in battle and two weeks later a guy of the same size wearing a helmet at all times is promoted to Commander? It’s just some ruse Thallal is planning to use on the humans.’ Mael says. ‘Face-blind as they are, even human scouts recognise Baoc by the triangular scars on his face. Scars that are conveniently being covered by that helmet.’
‘Because Thallal would just give the humans a win like that, and then not use this trick for a whole year.’ Tael says. ‘No, this is just a poor attempt to make it seem as if Baoc is still alive so the Dusts and Nihilists won’t know one of the Wilds strongest warriors has been slain.’
‘He’s dedicated to the bit, though.’ Both brothers say in unison.
‘Aw crap, he spotted me.’ Mael says.
‘Good luck, brother.’ Tael says.
Tael walks away as Baoc(?) approaches Mael. The large orc stops just a second short of bumping into Mael, making sure his massive muscular frame lumbers over the middle-aged chieftain.
As Baoc stands still and says nothing for a few seconds to make full use of his intimidating size, all Mael can think of is:
Did he have that scar before?
Mael says nothing as he studies the scar pattern on Baoc’s chest, looking for proof that this is indeed the same jerk as last year. But unlike the three characteristic scars on his face forming a triangle, he couldn’t for the life of him remember what the scars on Baoc’s body looked like.
’50 grunts, I want them gathered here ready to depart tomorrow morning.’ Baoc says.
‘Just 5 grunts? Not a very big demand this time. Good, good.’ Mael says.
‘I said fifty.’
‘Yes, yes. I know. 5 grunts. I heard ya.’
‘Don’t worry. You’ve got a strange way of pronouncing five, must be the helmet muffling your voice. But I heard you regardless.’
‘I SAID FIFTY, YOU MONGREL!’
‘Why thank you. No one ever compared me to Monegral* before, such a compliment.’
*A famous troll commander from the first blight war.
‘You insolent… Forty.’ Baoc says.
‘Oh, fourteen? Hm, that might be a bit tougher. We’re already a bit short-handed for the next harvest. I don’t suppose you’d be willing to go down to eight?’
‘WEAK OLD FOOL! I’M HERE ON DIRECT AUTHORITY OF THALLAL, DO NOT DISOBEY HIM YOU…!’
Teal shuts out Tin helmet’s shouting as he walks into the great hall. Those Wilds sure know how to shout, good thing it’s not against him this time.
There were thirty orcs gathered here. Young ones, each one of them. And few of them with a lot of muscle mass or actual courage in their eyes. Only four of them seemed excited about the mission, the rest knew the futility of their sacrifice.
We orcs love the battle, we yearn for the thrill and dream of the glory. But in the outskirt we were taught from when we were young that there was no glory to be had in these parts. Mothers would not tell their children tales of legendary heroes, and fathers would not boast about their skirmishes. Instead, mothers would tell their children that the commander would one day come asking for soldiers and that you should pray that you would not be chosen, and fathers would either have no tales to tell or be dead in a grave.
Yes, it pained Tael to say, but the Wilds for whom none wanted to die had extinguished the flame of passion that drove the orcs. They had taken battle and turned it into something that not even the most starry-eyed youngling could fool themselves to believe in.
There were a few, those who were part of the collective armies that didn’t participate in the Firewell conflict, who could be called warriors. But compared to their brethren elsewhere in the world, the Dusts were no longer the warrior race they once were. Them, the lot of sheep herders, being the most powerful Dust tribe around here said as much.
Tael studied the faces of the runts, his gaze passing from one nervous child to the next, looking for a specific trait. He only saw youth, so young that they hadn’t even gotten a chance at living but also too young to leave a family behind.
It was a sad fact, but the Sheepdusts too would select a few runts who would only be missed by their mothers. The Wilds wanted them to select the orcs who had passed on their genes and could now die as men, but both Mael and Tael knew that an orc with a family was less likely to rebel than a youngster. It was easier to keep the Wild’s paranoia from acting up this way.
‘You are from the Silverdusts, aren’t you?’ Tael asks a runt as he finally finds the trait he’s looking for. Hands without callus on them.
‘Uhm, yes? What’s it to you?’ The runt asks.
‘How has the festival sale been going? Have we been getting good trade from the pilgrims this year?’
‘I dunno. Me and Ricko over there were recruited two weeks before the festival began. Barely any newcomers had arrived when we left.’
‘Ah, that’s a shame. We haven’t been getting any recent reports about the wool sale, so I don’t know whether we should be working harder or don’t need to make over-hours at all.’
‘Who cares? Those pilgrims aren’t carrying much coin these last years as it is. Not when the blight is raging everywhere driving taxes up like crazy and forcing everyone to fight.’
‘True, true. Sales have been disappointing these last few years.’ Tael says.
‘What would you know about that, old man?’ The runt sneers. ‘We Silvers are the merchants around here, you’re just some shepherd. I bet you don’t even know how to count to ten.’
Teal chuckles. ‘I’m not the one marching into battle despite not having worked a day of hard labour in my life, am I?’
The runt flinches. ‘What do you mean? They demanded me to go, I didn’t volunteer.’
‘I know. But your chieftain chose you, which means you must have been at the bottom of your class. The one they could miss the most. The one who they deemed the least likely to become a good merchant.’
The runt swallows. It’s mean, but Tael loved to put youngsters in their place when they didn’t respect their elders. And it wasn’t as if this kid knew anything of importance anyway. Before the runt can reply with something skating, Tael leaves.
A dead desert. A landscape that is constantly moving but with no life to explain this change. An inhospitable hell of wind, sand and salt. The endless salt desert changed not when the immortals claimed it, nor was the blight even noticeable in the ground around here.
Maybe not even the blight can survive in these lands? An amusing thought.
Just like the desert, the encampment changed little since death claimed it. The slaves walked the same, the average intelligence level remained unchanged, and everyone looked just as decrepit as before. Only the smell got worse, while the noise got less.
Scar looked at the sea of death beneath him with an absent interest, the same way one studies a fly buzzing around or a raindrop sliding down a surface. A few of the undead were slowly wandering in his direction, but their gait did not mix well with walking up uphill through this loose sand. It would take them a while before they’d reach him.
So for just a while longer, he’d like to take in the view. A horde of undead, seven thousand heads strong, all moving slowly into a single direction. The slaves that were once moaning and whimpering as whips were cracked at their backs were now moving in unison with their slavers without complaint. They all knew what to do and they all did it.
There was a strange poetic justice to it. Those who had died when they arrived here were now claimed to become the slave army they were destined to be. But that slave army was marching towards the very people who had enslaved them, and would be the Wilds’ undoing.
That, and their own arrogance. The Wilds were relying on the advantages of having no weapons in the encampment, when a single blighted one wandered in from the Endless salt desert, they had no way of stopping him. There were only whips and chains to stop them here, and when the blight spread those soon proved to be worthless.
There was a lot of shouting and screaming the first day. A lot of chewing and some screaming the second. Scar was the last survivor on the third day. The other 7500 inhabitants of the encampment were now all on a march towards Thugs wall. Well, all but a few who wandered off elsewhere or were buried by the sands. But the ones who marched before him outnumbered even the three tribes combined.
Scar wondered what his nephew Thallal would do about this. No Machiavellian schemes or unhonourable assassinations could save him from this army, nor could the other two tribes to act as a cushion this time.
Would Thallal rise up and become an actually respectable commander in the tribe’s most dire hour?
Scar laughed. No, that would never happen. In the end Thallal was nothing but a spoiled coward, and even if he were a great commander he couldn’t do much about an army of 7000 marching at the gates where only 600 were stationed. Not now all of those 7000 would survive the trek there and none of them needed swords or bows to fend for themselves. The outskirt was done for.
Scar absentmindedly nibbled on the salted meat. Troll meat tasted terrible and there were still grains of sand mixed in with the salt despite his best efforts. But it was edible and he could eat anything as long as it wouldn’t kill him. One does not have a refined palette after eighteen years in the encampment, not after three revolts and the starvation that came after them.
The battered orc looked quite imposing as he stood up and casted his shadow over the hill he adorned. While Baddac Wild, once known as the Scar Lord, was no longer dressed in fine garments and the malnutrition had taken from him his muscular build, the trials he had been through made him only more impressive to behold.
His once green skin sunburned yellow, his right ear torn, his fingernails grown into talons after years without maintaining them, his tattered clothes of scrapped together origins and the many scars that adorned every inch of his skin. Every other orc would look like a broken spirit or a savage animal like this, but not Scar.
Scar looked like power. Like the personification of an unbendable will. Like a survivor who would stop at nothing to keep on living. The club made out of a troll’s leg bone and the many Goblin-bone shivs only added to that image.
Scar hopped a bit to test the binds around him. The whips he used as ropes weren’t comfortable and grinded into his shoulders, but they would hold. He’d hate having sand get onto the elven corpse he was carrying on his back.
Because unlike troll meat, or any meat for that matter, elven meat didn’t perish as quickly. Sure, it would rot eventually, but much slower. Especially after Scar drained the blood from the elf, something that was a piece of cake when the elf’s heart was still pumping. He’d never eat it all before it would go bad, but unlike the poorly salted troll meat it would last long enough.
Scar looked at the remainders of his rations. He had plenty of meat, but as always water was the problem. The elf blood would have to be a last resort. The water he did have, taken from the stash the slavers buried a few miles from the encampment to survive the way back to the Gate, was enough to survive under normal conditions. But this time he’d have to travel through the scorching sun for at least a week, probably more.
He looked at the invisible destination of the horde. Thugs wall. Should he take his chances there after all? He could outrun the horde, but there were bound to be a few undead goblins who left the encampment prematurely already being a nuisance to the guards. It wasn’t impossible that he could slip by in the confusion.
No, the gate was a no-go. No one ever managed to get by there without sheer luck, and now that the place was teeming with the undead he couldn’t even be patiently wait for an opening. He had to stick to the original plan.
Travel to Li, follow the mountain tops on the horizon to Lo, and find this legendary hidden passage in the mountains. He knew that there was no such passage near Li, the Wilds had searched and sealed all of those, but a normal slave couldn’t survive all the way to Lo.
And where the normal slaves could only talk about such a way out vaguely, Scar still remembered the rumour that started it. A dwarf whose family once lived in Lo had told him some pretty credible descriptions of what the passage looked like. And now that the dwarf and all other slaves who knew the tale were either sold or died, only Scar remembered these descriptions.
Scar began walking downhill. He had a long trek ahead of him.
I read some of it Mammon but I’ll give you my full review tomorrow!
Love the picture!
Also for my vampire thing, there will be a link to Exiled Knight (despite it taking place 100 years later), some reasons why the Vampires are attacking Alundria aaaand…more evil dwarves. Why?
Because it’s about time the mortal races faced some artillery headed their way
Just read it all Mammon and I have to say it was a joy to read.
Your strength as always is the inner clan conflict and showcasing how they are all woefully ill prepared for the blight to come.
I love the idea of identity you introduced in this. How they swap masks sort to speak and how in one case with the brothers it works while with Baoc its not even fooling anyone.
Also its refreshing to have some orc clan realizing how futile their constant need for combat is. I like characters that go against stereotypes like that.
Also a evil uncle called Scar…I saw what you did there
Very messed up to having a cannibal as a protagonist. I like it. Keep it up.
The dark sun rises over Oasis.
Chapter 2 of the Vampire Lords of Transylvan.
It was supposed to be sunny that day, with few clouds and a gentle breeze that would make the leaves dance on the summer wind. Elves would go to the human city of Lowervail where they would celebrate the midsummer festival with them filled with games, drinks and food. A day full of joy and merry making.
And yet Queen Thorondal of the elven people of the island of Oasis was staring at a darkened sky. The sun’s ray penetrated the dark storm pregnant clouds but only barely as a cold wind tugged at her skin. The city of Lowervail still stood, but it was a darker reflection of itself. It’s white walls turned dark by evil magicks, the flag of the Dukedom of Fleming was pulled down and replaced with that of a black sun.
It’s people, those who were not so lucky enough to flee to her woods in time, now served the aggressor.
The swordsmen who once served her friend the Duke now bore darker armour and the black sun livery. In front of them were the undead. Not those slow lumbering creatures the Blight created but more…swift. Like a darker power kept feeding them.
She saw knights in pitch black armour behind them all as large bats flew around the city like ravens searching for carrion on a battlefield. She heard the distant wolf calls, but unlike those wolves whom she called brother these did not call the forest home and their cries were a mix of rage and pain.
The Queen surveyed her enemy and for the first time since her first battle against the Blight in Sanctuary a century ago she felt the first fluttering’s of fear. She did not show it, her people did not need to see their Queen being afraid of the coming battle.
“Mother.” a elven princess rode up on her elk next to the Queen." The Ents have joined us and the men are ready to attack.“
Thorondil did not move at first as she still oversaw the enemy ranks. “And Prince Val’den and the orcs?” She did not need to see her child to know she shook her head.
The Queen turned to her daughter. She was like a spitting image of herself a century ago. Young, authorative and prepared to uphold elven honour. She would fight to the death if she had to. She did not expect any less of her own blood.
Thorondil nodded.” Very well, we will have to start without them. Sound the advance in a moment. The children of the wilds will not allow this blemish to last on this isle any longer." She took her daughter by her shoulder." Send out the signal, Athen. Unleash the fury of the forest upon them."
Her daughter placed her hand on her mother’ shoulder. Each held another for a small moment before they parted and rallied the army.
Elven archers, Woodland Assassins, Tree Whisperers, Eagle Riders, Tree Friends, Ents and their human and gnomish allies rallied to their banners.
One of her people handed her helmet as another offered her sword and bow. She donned her helmet before she took her weaponry. The signal came from horns from the eagle riders overhead as Thorondil mounted her own elk.
She was a warrior queen, she like others before her swore that no threat to Alundria would ever pass Oasis again. Be it Orc, Immortal or these Vampire Lords.
She drew her sword and called for the attack in her elven tongue.
The children of the forest answered their queen with their own battle cry as they charged forward towards the enemy.
The eagle riders peppered the front line with arrows. They had trained for many human generations in case of a Blight and it showed as their arrows found their place in many skulls. They unleashed one more volley when the counter attack came. Large bats swooped upon the eagles, their screeches deafened those around them and made some elven riders nearly lose their footing. The bats latched on to some eagles and chomped their teeth on either the rider or the neck of the eagle. Blood rained down from the dark sky as the frontline of the elven host met the vampire’s.
Although the undead raised by the vampires were faster than those raised by the Blight, they were no match for elven steel or arrow.
Thorondil fired a quick arrow into a bat, the creature was still screeching it’s last blood curdling cry as she switched to her blade and began to turn the undead into mincework.
Woodland Assassins turned their blades to the undead and the corrupted human swordsmen as Gnomish scythes and cackling laughter joined in.
Any doubts about her human allies being unwilling to kill their own went out the window the moment she saw Marshall Vernon severed a corrupted’s head and called for the advance.
Thorondil raised her bloodied blade in the air." FOR THE WOODS!" she cried and urged for the advance." ATHEN! Right flank!" She cut down a man, his last gasp of breath left his mouth as his torso fell from his waist." RIGHT FLANK!“
Her daughter’s Glade Knights charged at the right flank, followed by human knights as they made their way through the right flank.
She was to caught up in the bloodshed before she noticed the Black Knights did not move their position as Ents were about to break through the right flank. As if they were waiting for something.
“My Queen.” one of the Gnomes shook her arm.” You hear that?"
She opened her ears as a whistling sound slowly became louder. A familiar sound. Memories poured in as her brain connected the sound to the memory. She remembered fighting alongside the dwarves, holding the line against the Blight as the distant sound of whistling came ever close. Her eyes widened.
She opened her mouth to cry out her warning as the world turned to fire.
Vlad smiled as he saw the elven host being obliterated by dwarven shells. Explosions ruled the earth as pieces of debris, ground and body parts rained down from the sky in a glorious cacophony of slaughter and mayhem.
Far behind him, positioned just outside of the elves’ sight were his Dragoncanons. Massive canons with the muzzle shaped like a dragon’s mouth as dark runes were inscribed along the muzzle. Vlad saw the Dragoncanons in action for the first time a few years ago when a goblin armada attacked a lone dwarven stronghold on Arabiana. The stronghold was populated by Dark Dwarves, those exiled by their kin from Alundria for reasons they were not willing to share. The canons were a upgrade from their Alundrian counterparts as the hatred the dark dwarves had for their kin was inscribed in runes on every shell and muzzle. That hatred powered the runes which turned even the mightiest of goblin ships into wrecks. When Vlad approached the dark dwarves and offered them a chance to slay their cousins in Alundria they all to eagerly accepted his invitation.
He could imagine pale dwarves with dark tattoos on their white skin run hectically as they operated their machines, shoving their black powder in the gun’s muzzles before throwing in a shell shaped like a dragon’s tooth. He could hear the distant dwarven cries before another loud BOOM went off and the whistling began anew, only to stop when another explosion rocked the earth.
Radun smiled along with his brother, they only ones to do so in their company.
The Black Knights were all vampires and nobility, they hid their emotions behind their dark visors. Even Elvira, Vlad’ second in command next to Radun, did not comment.
“Your dwarves are doing a excellent job, brother. I hope they leave some for us.” Radun gave a wicked smile.
“Agreed, brother…” Vlad placed his own helmet on his head." My people need fresh blood to feast on." He motioned to one of his undead warriors. The skeleton raised a white flag and waved it towards the artillery line. A few more shots later the explosions stopped as a deathly silence took hold over the battlefield.
The few survivors, both elven and corrupted human struggled to their feet. An uneasy armistice took hold as either side did not attack the other…until the Black Knights rode down any that stood in their way.
The Count Drakul’s blade was awash in elf blood as he and his Knights cut through them. The sweet coppery taste and smell of copper blood danced on his tongue. His bloodlust made him feel like a god on the battlefield. His need to feed on elven blood made him fight even harder than before. He didn’t even feel the arrow embedded in his shoulder. He didn’t even think twice when he slew the archer that tried to kill them. He jabbed his sword through her gut and lifted her towards him. She gurgled on her own blood as he plummeted his fangs into her neck and tore bloody chunks out as he drank her blood, a wailing cry on his lips.
He tossed the carcass to the side and saw his knights to enjoyed the carnage and feasted on whatever warm blooded creature that did not serve the black sun that was unlucky enough to come across them.
Only two people could wrestle Count Drakul away from his blood haze. The first was the reason why he came to Alundria and it’s many mana pools. The second was the only human brave enough to ride with a group of vampire knights.
“BROTHER!” Radun shouted." Look who I found!"
The bloodhaze lifted as Vlad heard Radun’s voice. The lord of the vampire rode his black steed to his brother who had dismounted and held his sword to a downed foe.
Vlad also dismounted as he took a glance at the prisoner in question. It was a female elf in regal battle attire. Well, what was left of her. The dragon shells had burned the left side of her face, her arm was broken in several places and the dents in her armour protected her from the shrapnel but she no doubt suffered internal injuries.
Her breathing was short and wheezy. Her remaining eye was filled with hatred…and a single hint of fear.
Vlad smiled again." Well, well…whom do we have here,?“
The she-elf growled.” You will…never take me alive, monster."
Vlad waved his hand at Radun who put his sword away and stepped back. “Oh, I did not plan to.“
His hand wrapped around her neck rapidly as he lifted her from the ground without effort. She struggled much like a deer struggled before a wolf went in for the kill.
She gasped as she took one final look around. Black Knights and werewolves put down the last hearths of resistance as bats feasted on the dead. Those who fell began to rise and began to form battlelines as a vampire shouted orders to pursue the elven host. The nearby woods began to catch on fire as a whining sound came from it. The woods burst open as a Ent ran to the clearing, flames licking the creature as it made a noise that would bring tears to any who had a heart. Except the vampyre laughed at the creature as it ran passed, looking in vain for a means to stop the pain.
A single tear came from her eyes as one word came from her lips in a gasp.” Why…?”
“Because I wish it.” The Count replied. She did not even have strength to cry out when the fangs came down.
The cry to retreat sounded as what was left of the elven host ran away from the vampires back towards the woods.
She leant on a Tree Friend who helped her walk. She did not know where or how she did it, but she kept walking.
The whistling sound still rang through her ears as the world moved in a daze.
She saw her people not run but fall back, providing cover where possible which allowed the wounded to be carried to safety. This gave her pride, even in loss they still had their dignity. It felt like she was in a dream. A myriad of voices and questions were asking and where asked to her. Where is she, she is supposed to be leading… where is…
Time was illusive and hard to track. She did not know how long it had been between the battle and the moment she saw her own face in the puddle of blood. Soot, scars and mud caked most of her face as a large bit of her right ear was gone. She lifted her head and realized she was in a camp in the forest.
Healers went around the wounded, curing their wounds or in most cases eased their passing.
Satyrs were patrolling the area as the elves took their rest. She looked everywhere but she did not see whom she wanted to see.
She took one soldier by his arm." Where is Prince Val’den? Or Lord Gorvar?“
Before the soldier could reply, a female voice spoke up.” Dead, your majesty."
A human Enchantress waddled over to her, leaning on a staff, before she sat down in front of her. The female’s blue eyes, which were supposed to shine a eerie light blue, were instead very dim. Wrinkles cracked all over her forehead as gray streaks coloured her hair despite the fact that her voice belonged to someone much younger. As if someone drained the life out of her.
The elven royal did not recognise this human spellcaster. She took great care in knowing all spellcaster on Oasis, even humans who only stayed for a few weeks on the isle. “Who are you?” she asked.
“I am Enchantress Isolde of the Citadel, at your service.” she bowed her head. " I was part of a underground expedition with some dwarves when I got captured by the vampyre."
Isolde coughed.” Aye. The Citadel wanted to find more mana pools, some are running dry because of their constant need against the Blight. Me and some dwarven miners were looking for some when those creatures took me.”
Subconsciously the Enchantress rubbed her neck. The elf peered in despite the little light that was there in the forest and saw bite marks along her neck." You were…"
“Bitten, yes.” Isolde finished the sentence angrily." And no I am not infected."
“Careful, human. We both had a bad day today. Were it not for my respect of your kind you would lay dead right now” the elf warned.
The enchantress looked like she was biting her tongue before she replied." Apologies your majesty…“
After a moment the elven royal rubbed her eyes.” No, I Apologise…I’ve lost many of my people today and I have no idea where…" she did not complete that sentence. She mustn’t seem weak in front of the human." How did you escape?"
“I was rescued by some Gnomes who mined in the tunnels closer to the surface. They jumped on the guards, all brainless undead, and freed me.” she motioned to some Gnomes up ahead." That clan over there, I think. I don’t know…it’s from them I heard your prince is dead."
“Val’den. Yes. How?”
“Betrayal!” A high pitched voice shouted." Betrayal from the highest order!"
A Gnome with a sash around his chest walked over angrily, followed by a female who was penning down everything he said on a piece of parchment. Mayor Torvin she recalled, of the Frog Leaper clan. His clan had offered sanctuary to the satyrs ever since the first Blight. They were the only gnomish clan on the isle, the result of a failed dwarven naval expedition many, many years ago before even the First Blight.
“Betrayal?” the elf blinked.
“Yeah! Betrayal! The big B. Val’den and his troops were on his way to help you when the big B happened.” the mayor said." The damn orcs went turncoat!“
The elf’s face went pale.” …Gorvar betrayed us?"
“Bellflower, Cigar!” the Gnome shouted. Instantly the female gnome put the parchment away and took out a cigar from her pouch and offered it to the mayor. He took it in his mouth and waited for her to light it with a small metal box that ignited fire. After a big inhale he exhaled gray smoke before he continued.“Bastard attacked Val’den’s camp in the middle of the night with that slave army of his, those who survived ran to my town.”
"Why?! Why would he do this?!“
The gnome shrugged. “I dunno, vamps gave him a better offer I guess.“
The elven royal glared.” Not for long. When my daughter gets here I will take vengeance on that orc. Make him an example.” She stood up.” And then we’ll go back to Lowervail and drive those undead bastard back into the sea where they belong!“
Queen Thorondil clenched her fist as she felt the pain from standing up to fast. But she had to bite through it, her people were watching.
When he looked around she saw the Echantress, the gnomes and those around her looked away sadly.
”… Mayor Torvin, where is my daughter?“
The gnome puffed his cigar and had to look away when he said it.” She fell…"
The sound of a elf crying was not the same as that of an ent. For ents are ancient beings whose years of kindness and wisdom made its suffering heartbreaking. But those who had children would’ve felt the same pain the Queen felt that day. The pain felt by a parent who lost their child, the pain felt by a parent who had failed their child.
The cart from the ship made it’s way to the mana pool. It’s cargo was a black coffin emblazoned with the silver black sun. It shook gently back and forward as the cart slowly reached it’s destination.
It was under escort by nearly all the Black Knights under Count Vlad Drakul’s command as a large perimeter of his forces surrounded it. Elvira shouted instructions to the cart driver and the men around it as they prepared to take the coffin out.
The Count paced around nervously as the black coffin on the cart was slowly lowered down. Radun looked to his brother and inhaled to speak. One glance from the Count, a glance that could kill if he wanted, shut him up.
The men, for Vlad did not trust the undead in this task, carefully carried the black casket towards the pool.
The bubbling mana river was bright blue despite the late hour and illuminated the surrounding area.
“Carefully lower the coffin in.” Elvira instructed." If anyone drops it I will personally see to it you will become a mindless thrall until the end of time."
She said the last with no emotion but it still had the required result.
The coffin was lowered by rope into the mana pool. The moment the coffin was completely submerged, the pool began to churn violently. It began to flash as a high pitched sound nearly deafened those nearby. Radun wordlessly shouted at Vlad when the sound became louder and louder. Vlad shouted back until the churning stopped…and the pool exploded.
A large beam of ethereal light went skyward as screaming made the warm blooded buckle to their knees.
As Radun was on his knees, screaming as well in abject horror Vlad ran into the beam of light.
How long the light lasted, Radum could not tell. All he knew was when it vanished, all the water in the pool was gone and the glade was thrown into darkness.
In the pale moonlight however, Radun did see his brother again…and beautiful woman he was holding in a loving embrace.
Like Vlad she to wore a dress befitting a noble lady, her skin was as white as snow and her eyes and lips as red as blood. Her lips were around Vlad’s arm as she was biting him, a feral glare on her eyes.
Elvira nearly jumped forward but was stopped by Radun. When she glared at him Radun merely motioned his head back to the scene.
As Elvira turned her head again, she saw the woman now was kissing Vlad who eagerly returned it.
They kissed like a man and a woman who had not seen each other for many years, for whom love transcended death.
A bloodied smile was on both their lips when they parted.
“My love…” she smiled." You came back."
“My fair Isabella…” he held her hand gently." I will always come back for you. No matter what heaven or hell that stands between us.“
You know this mana pool will not give me much time…”
“Do not fret, my love…” Vlad gave a smile." I know of a place that will make you mortal again. And I will butcher the whole world for you to get there."
Isabella smiled and kissed her lover again as the black sun rose high above them.
Oasis now belonged to the Vampyr.
Dark dwarves: clearly the predecessors of Predator. Look at them dreadlocks. Now I want the dark dwarves in my story to have those cannons as well, but it would be too overpowered and beat the undead too easily. O well.
Also, why Gorvar? (Referring to the orc.) Why did you betray the elve… Oh, I understand. Elves and humans. Jup.
The pictures up there are Chaos Dwarves from Warhammer. I admit Warhammer fantasy, Mark Heitz Dwarves series and Lord of the Rings did influince most of my writing.
Thank you very much for reading Mammon. Hope you enjoyed it.
As for Gorvar and his betrayal…stay tuned
Although I just noticed that you guys don’t have Premium yet, so I gave you both lifetimes! Thanks again for your dedication to the game!
Thank you so, so, so, so, so, so, soooo much!
I don’t know what to say but thank you so very much for giving both of us a Premium Lifetime subscription. You are very, very kind. Thank you.
I hope our writing tickled your artistic side and complimented it. Were it not for your lovely art I never would’ve been inspired to write all this fluff.
Thank you very much.
I know I used this before but…
Same! Thank you so much! I feel bad that I didn’t have premium already, but I have yet to figure out how to digital money, and I fear that once I find that out it will be a slippery slope to an empt bank account.
Thanks guys. We appreciate all the time you put into writing interesting and creative stories for the game!
Unfortunately, I can’t claim credit for the artwork. I’m a designer/programmer. We had various artists working on the game, including Devin Platts, Alex Reis, Grant Griffin, and few others that worked on some of the cards.
Still you did a magnificant job with the game, Penny. Were it not for the good gameplay and your programming I dont think we could’ve come up with the fluff for some stories.
Big shout out to the artists, love your work guys!
Okay so two choices.
Finale Exiled Knight or…the naked ambition of a Orcish slavemaster and why he would join with the vampires?
I’ll try to post something next week.
May or may not be dwarf/orc related…
She fought down the urge to run as the orc guards brought her up the stairs. They were not rough with her like they were at first when she first arrived at the Oasis isle but treated her more like a guest, a unwilling one but still a guest.
Her black tattered robes she wore ever since the goblin pirates captured her were replaced with fine elven silk, a few days before she was brought out of the dungeons she received good food and drink, it was not much and she still felt hunger but still she no longer starved or ate crusty bread and drank funny tasting water.
Either this orc tried to butter her up, which was her up for those gullible could be fooled…or this was part of a sick game and death awaited her. Death was not something she feared, becoming a Undying meant letting go of the mortal coil and be prepared to embrace the greater good. However where most of her kind would’ve tried to kill themselves in the hopes they would turn into Immortals and cause pain upon their captures, something else kept her from doing so. Curiosity. The same kind that put her on the path from a student at the Citadel to the Necromancer she was today.
The guards brought her to a large door where another large orc awaited. The brute looked her up and down before he opened the door. He extended her hand and wordlessly motioned her to enter. Seeing no choice she went inside…and was surprised the guards did not follow. This slavedriver was a true fool indeed.
As she walked inside the room she saw plenty of fruit, meat and other foodstuffs laying around on tables, much like a banquet. Her eyes fell upon the food and were it not for her training she would’ve fallen for the food and eaten half what was on the tables, although the honey glaced pork did give her pause.
She did pick up something from the table however, a knife meant to cut the meat. It wasn’t to sharp but it would serve her purposes.
She placed the knife in her long sleeves and followed the rest of the room where she found her host…and his entourage.
He was sat on a large coach, fanned by a large troll female, as a few other orcs and a human (nobility she noticed by his attire) were seated with him as they watched something below them. The room she was in led to a balcony where the entourage and her host were seated. As she looked down she saw they were watching a play that was being performed on a platform with many other people down below them who watched as well on the lower level.
The orc slavedriver, a orc dressed bizarrely in human-esque noble attire, turned to see her and smiled." Ah, our guest has arrived. I’ve meant to speak with you." He motioned her closer while his head turned to his troll servant and his entourage." Leave us, please."
At once she, the orcs and the human stood up and left. They moved passed the Necromancer, none of them even looked at her except the human noble. The human was unlike her however. His skin was very pale, paler than hers and she was kept in a dungeon for many weeks. Red eyes stared at…no, through her and she saw the faintest hint of a smile on his lips. She felt fear before but never the kind of fear that would turn legs into trees and root them to the spot.
The way how the man moved was strange. He was fast, to fast even and not once did she see his chest move at all like he didn’t even breathe.
The moment their eyes met couldn’t have been longer than a heartbeat but it felt like a small eternity.
It was only when the audience down below cheered that shook her from her sudden stupor.
She moved to sit next to the orc, who was still intently watching the play, and held her dagger at the ready.
The orc did not speak as a smile fell upon him. He was still watching the play. Curiosity took the Necromancer once more as she followed the play. The scene was that of a man on his knees as he loudly proclaimed " My soul, my soul, I shall give away my soul to gain the ultimate knowledge, the ultimate power! For what God has given to me I shall give to any who give what I desire most!". The moment he said that the lights around the platform went out as a thrumming noise took over.
She knew that line. The line that spoke to her so much when she first saw the play being played when she was a child.
The orc chuckled." I love this bit…"
Suddenly the lights spat on as dark smoke erupted from the stage as the actor shielded his face from it. From below the stage a creature rose, covered in smoke still as it loudly growled.
“YOU HAVE CALLED TO ANY WHOM WOULD GIVE YOU POWER AND I HAVE BEEN SEND TO YOU, FAUST OF THE CITADEL!”
“Oh god have mercy!” the actor who played Faust looked away." What in heaven’s name are you?!“
The Necromancer mouthed along with the beast as it spoke.” I am the knowledge God has forbidden you, I am the power you desire. In the name of heaven I am the dark truth that drives men mad. To you, Faust of the Citadel, I am Mephistopheles…“
She looked to the orc and said in awe.” You put on Faust."
“I did indeed.” the orc replied." I assumed it would be your liking."
The Necromancer frowned." You put this play on…for me?“
The Orc laughed.” Of course not…well partially. I have not seen Faust in such a long time so I asked the local theatre to play it for me and my people.“
She held the knife in her dress sleeve close.” I see…“
The orc took his goblet of wine and took a sip.” It also serves as a nice backdrop for our talk, my dear…" He turned to her." You know who I am?“
Her temper took over and replied hastily.” You are the monster the goblin sold me to.“
The orc laughed.” A monster? Truly? Says the woman who would’ve turned hundreds of dwarves into Immortals and destroy the Iron Crown province with the Blight. Some people would call you a monster, my dear."
“Some people’s monsters are either people’s heroes.” she said. As she said that she saw something strange about her host.
It was the eyes she noticed, there was something about those eyes. She met orcs before and knew that look in their eyes. Their brains were working but most were brutish thugs who waved clubs around like savages with little other thinking than the basic eating, fighting, sleeping and fornicating. This orc had blue eyes that had a certain intelligence about them. A cunning that was dangerous.
He smiled with mirth after her reply and gave a nod." Indeed. Tell me, what is your name?“
She held her dagger close, ready to strike. She felt a trap but where was it coming from…” You first.“
He nodded.” Seems only fair. I am Gorvar, I lead most of the Orc clans on Oasis."
“Never heard of you.” she replied.
“I do not blame you. So, who are you?“
She quickly thought of a name.” Lucy Koning.” This was met with another laugh." What?"
“Oh nothing, I just expected the Duchess of Park to be less…” he waved his hand." Nevermind, it is of no concern. Lucy it is then.“
This Orc knew a lot of what happened outside of Oasis, the Necromancer who called herself Lucy thought. He not only dressed like a human noble but acted like it to. This was troubling. He poured in wine from his bottle to a empty glass and offered it to her.” Some Red Wine? Fresh of the vineyards of the Fountain of Wisdom.“
She frowned.” I pass.“
This time he returned the frown. Good, she thought, he still had a orcish temper.” It is not poison. Besides if it was you would be quick enough to lunge that dagger into my chest." He must’ve seen her expression." Yes, I left the dagger out there for you. And I know the only reason why you haven’t used it yet is the same reason why I haven’t killed you yet either.“
She sat up.” What’s that?“
He placed the bottle and empty glass near her and took up his own goblet again.” Curiosity." he drank." I want to know more about the Undying and you…want to know why I haven’t killed you despite your profession."
Her stomach growled at the sight of the food and the smell of the wine nearly made her shake but she kept herself strong. "Which is?“
He sighed.” Come now, must we dance around this? You are a Necromancer. Gifted by the darker magicks to control the undead. Any fool can make a vial of potion to raise the dead but it takes a strong mind to make them do as you say. That is why I am speaking to you and not your other brothers and sisters my associate captured."
Her mind often went to the others who were send to rescue her. A ship of them along with a small army of mortals sailed after the goblin pirates to rescue her, or kill her in a attempt to stop the formula of the Blight virus to fall in the wrong hands, but the goblins were to fierce and they to were taken prisoners with their ships and undead send to the bottom of the sea.
Gorvar’s gaze went back to play where the demon still spoke to Faust." I know of the Undying and their plans. Ambitious enough i’m sure if…misguided."
“Misguided?” she glared." What have the others told you?"
“Enough to piece together.” Another drink." You and your cult secretly plant the Blight where you can to keep the Second Blight going, to stop Alundria from fighting one another much like how my ancestor Gorvar the Dragonrider did to the mainland, the War of the Beard between the dwarves and the elves, the Troll Wars, the Children of the Light Crusades on all that is unholy and so on and so forth…“
The Necromancer called Lucy folded her arms.” And what if it is true?"
“Then I have bad news for you. The Blight has become such a main stay that the rallying around the same banner effect barely works anymore. If anything the Children of the Light under Mother Mercy are actively doing their best to stop this cure against the Blight from coming out. Another plan is needed.”
Lucy gave up and poured herself in a glass of wine. She might’ve been in the dungeons for a while but what the slaver said made sense. Even before her mission to the Iron crown she knew that the Blights were failing to make a lasting effort. Civil wars were popping up all over Alundria and the Blights were a band aid at best. A new plan was needed but no-one in the Council could come up with one.
“What are you suggesting?“
The orc took a piece of cheese from his plate.” Tell me, did you see that pale human earlier?” She nodded." That was Lord Moldred. He and his people made landfall a week ago and quickly made work of the Blight infestation you people tried to create. They have their own undead forces who are three times as quick and stronger than your Blight."
“Impossible!” Lucy blurted." No-one can create or control the undead. Only the Necromancers from the First Blight can do that." A thought came to her mind." Unless…the legends are true."
Gorvar raised his brow. “Legends?”
Lucy took a bite of cheese, all pretence over." During the First Blight one of the human kingdoms was besieged from all sides by the Immortals. The king urged the Citadel to lend their mages to help. They did for a time but it became clear that conventional magic wouldn’t help. One by one either the mages fled back to the Citadel or died…those that remained however came up with a idea. A terrible one." Lucy looked at the play as well as the actor who played Faust signed a piece of paper in front of the demon." Fight fire with fire. Use the undead against the undead.“
Gorvar smirked.” Sounds familiar?“
She nodded.” The kingdom managed to send the undead back but when the Grand Alliance was created they were exiled for using the same dark magicks. A whole kingdom send out to sea, never to return to Alundria, the name of the kingdom struck from all records…"
“Untill today.” Gorvar nodded." The Vampires of the Black Sun may or may not be those people but they can control the undead and they spend years perfecting the magic and chemicals."
She turned to him." Why are they here now?“
He shrugged.” I do not know but from their recent actions we can only assume that they seek to conquer everything and all. All I know is that if Alundria is to survive we have to alter the plan of the Undying." He took out a pack of letters and tossed it to her." These are letters belonging to Prince Val’den of the local elves. I managed to intercept them thanks to the effort of my spy there. He plans to align himself with the Black Sun and kill all of Queen Thorondil’s forces if her attack on the Black Sun fails. That can’t be allowed to happen. My forces have joined with them, under the guise of being allies, and on my command will slaughter them in the night.“
She checked over the letters. She couldn’t tell if they were legit or not but then again what use would it be for him to lie to her.” So, why am I here?"
“A alliance. Between me and you. We save Alundria by becoming the shadows. Doing the wrong things for the right reasons.” He placed his hands together." We join with the Black Sun using Val’den’s head as proof that we killed Thorondil’s reinforcements, learn as much of them as we can before we plunge our dagger into their side. That is why I need you, Lucy. I need a Necromancer who can learn how to use their magicks. To use it against them just like you used the Blight before."
“Why me and not the others?“
He smiled.” Because unlike the others you did not break from the torturing I inflicted upon you. You held while they blabbed about all your order’ secrets. Secrets I will not share with others, I swear on my mother’s grave.”
" A loving sentiment I am sure…" She thought for a moment before she asked." What’s in it for you?"
The orc gave a grin." The same respect my ancestor had sans the bloodshed. I want my name and line to be remembered. The orcs will no longer be seen as brutes but as saviours and who knows…maybe I will become king?"
“And me?” Lucy asked.
"You my dear…will be forgotten by most, despised by few and only honoured by some. You didn’t become a Undying to be forever heralded as a hero. Nothing changes there except you might have a chance at becoming the most powerful Necromancer of all time. To be a god among insects. What do you say…partners?“
He raised his goblet of wine in the air and waited for her.
Lucy’s mind went a thousand miles a second. This was her chance. Stab the orc, use her magick to create her first Immortal and take over the city. But on the other hand…she saw the vampire. She sensed the magick in him. To have such power, to control it…it could make her become more powerful then even the high elder on the council. She could become a Lich Master such as the First Necromancer who started the Blights! A legend mothers would tell their children, a hushed whisper in the dark…a legend.
She placed her dagger down and took up her glass of wine and raised it.” Partners."
As the orc and Necromancer brought the wine to their lips and enjoyed the drink, one thought went through Lucy’s head. How could she got rid of this orc as soon as possible, a thought she knew the orc shared with her. But that was a tomorrow’s thing.
Oh ho, whose plotting Mechavellian schemes now, Gorvar?
I have to be honest and say that the grammatical quality of this chapter is less than your previous ones, a lot of typos suggesting you skipped at least one rewrite, but the story itself is good and intriguing. Nice plot twist and nice addition of multiple parties within the factions. Guess the Wilds aren’t the only orcs whose honor and traditions were replaced by cunning and deceit.