Cold steel ringing, unsheathed from its leather holdings. Sweat falls to the tune of eternity as battle stances engage. The last stroke’s blood still flows warm, dulling reflexes and energizing those last second decisions every warrior makes. No matter the outcome, this stare down of death’s intent was to echo in history. Azarel was the last knight of Nataph-El, city of the stars. The last defense against wave after wave of conquering nomads that have come to rain terror on an ancient dwelling place of Kings. This moment lasts forever, Azarel thought to himself, I cannot afford to die before my city, failings exposed. I must defeat these viper hearts.
Three men rush berserker style, axes in the air, bringing all of hell in that downward stroke. Azarel dodges them skillfully, as the college of war taught him, and with one burst of fury, his famous sword that legends sing off, drinks life from their necks. No sweeter wine has steel been intoxicated with than the blood of the heartless and the fallen souls of the wretched ones. Every death projects his grin further upward.
“I WILL NOT DIE TONIGHT, FIENDS!”
Time stops. Eternity pauses. The timeless one enters the battlefield. It is said of her that her beauty can raise and destroy kingdoms. She has lived for centuries, feeding on the souls of the evil and wicked and today there is a buffet of the damned. As breath returns to the atmosphere, everyone stops and revelation pours over them like a waterfall of thoughts. The timeless one. Azarel breathes deep and rejoices that today, honor wins over evil. The nomads do not rejoice. Their breath returns void to vessels who bear no hope and no resemblance of joy.
“You all know me and I you. Today is not your day, nomads. Leave your fallen and return to your wretched desert yurts. I will not eat fresh souls. I have chosen mercy. Though that choice may fade.”
Not one nomad stayed behind. The thunder of their fear remained on the land’s surface. It quaked with the terror of the ones who were to be eaten. Azarel prefers death but understands the value of mercy. This war deserves an end, and if an end is to be reached, mercy should be extended, even if sparingly. The college often taught that violence is a means to an end and the end must be calculated carefully. The timeless one, though, is beyond college instruction. She devours and she spares, as she sees necessary, though often she devours.
“Come Azarel, wisdom awaits your counsel. We must end this war.”
They disappear into the mist of the day, bound for the palace of stars to report to the nobles their victories and strategies. Though Glory wraps around them as thick as the fog they tread through, Azarel senses a terror he has never known. They don’t walk alone. Something is coming.