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The Queen was quiet as she read over the report in her gloved hand, given to her by a courier from the Reikland kingdom. The report she'd requested from Altenach of the loss of General George Fisher from long ago, back when the Kurfurst Karl von Amador ruled. She looked up from the parchment and leaned back in her seat, pondering what events had occurred that evening of the Heilig fisherman's demise.
It was a day of exquisite beauty. A day where the sun shone brightly over the endless fields of growing wheat and hay, which shimmered like polished gold and reflected the light so brightly it threatened to blind any who beheld its glory.
It was on this day that General George Fisher looked out over this farmland, whilst on horseback. Taking it all in with the same attitude of pride and awe that he had always felt for it. He had come this way through the eastern parts of the Reiklands many times before, but the sight of the golden sea still amazed him.
This particular time he was journeying with fifty men on horseback, escorting a caravan that was due in the lumber villages near the north-east border. They had been rebuilding for several menses now after the peace treaty with Verseiva had been signed and enacted. And as the acting Lord of Altenach, the closest fiefdom to the border, it was George’s responsibility to help in what ways he could.
At the start of the journey, George had taken the beautiful day as a good omen, a sign of luck that this mission was to succeed. But in the distance, a single thread of black smoke had caused doubt to rise in his heart.
The line rose thick and black and disturbed the perfect blue sky in an almost painful manner, as if a crack had appeared in a painting. From where they were, he could tell very little of what caused it, but what he could see was that it was in their path… a possible threat to the caravan, which would need to be investigated.
“Lieutenant Zimmerman,” he said turning to the young horse rider to his left, speaking in the calm yet authoritative tone he always used with his soldiers. “You and twenty men will follow after me to investigate that smoke ahead… and help in what ways we can, if it be a disaster of some sort.” As the man nodded, the General turned to his right where another Lieutenant rode.
“And you and the remaining men will stay here and defend the caravan. I will send a rider back in an hour time. If none come, return this caravan safely to Altenach, and come find us with more men.” The Lieutenant nodded and simply replied “Yes Sir.” The General nodded to him, then kicked on his horse who began a quick gallop forward along the road.
He could hear the sound of following horsemen, but did not look to see who or how many. He knew his men, and trusted that his orders were being followed immediately and completely.
They rode on for a full twenty minutes before they came in view of the fire, which seemed to be coming from the windows and thatch roofing of several cottages in a small village. People were moving about frantically, but not in a way to suggest an effort to quench the fires… an odd thing.
As they came closer, George saw that there were strangely dressed men rounding the villagers in groups. They were wearing armor, ragged wretched armor, but they also wielded axes and swords.
“Bandits!” The General called aloud to the soldiers behind him, and hastened his horse’s pace, his men doing the same.
But as they did so, the bandits saw and heard them coming. They started to scatter into the tall wheat fields, leaving only three behind to guard the prisoners who were now being tied and gagged.
“Capture the three in the village, kill the rest. Let none of the criminal degenerates escape.” The General called as he unsheathed the long back-sword on his right, the sounds of other swords being drawn ringing behind him. “Split, five groups. Hunt them down.”
He didn’t need to look to know that the twenty men had done just that, and were now moving off in groups towards the scattering bandits- only visible by the dark shapes moving quickly through the golden fields.The Lieutenant followed closely behind the General, the two of them being plenty a comparison of five men in might and skill.
But as they approached one scattered group of bandits, close enough to see their faces through the bright light of the day, he saw that they were exchanging the swords and axes they carried for bows and arrows from off their backs. Without hesitation the General sheathed his back-sword and brought the hefty scutum shield, which he kept strapped to his back at an angle, to his front, awkwardly holding it out as to give him cover from the arrow but not in a way to disrupt the horse’s stride.
Then came a quick thud, and to his horror it was not in his shield nor in him, but in the beast that carried him. The arrow pierced deep to the heart, causing the horse to trip over its own legs and fall forward in a heap of chaotic death. George fell, rolling over and away from the beast, using his shield to break his fall.
The pain and disorientation of the fall left him momentarily unable to think, to move… but he forced himself to rise from the ground, and to cast the now shattered and splintered shield to the side. He looked towards it, a sad expression on his face while he forced himself to breathe. But before he had a chance to look up and around, he felt a sudden pressure in his right arm that caused him to stagger forward a single step.
He looked to his right where a distant pressure seemed to throb, and there an arrowhead protruded from his right shoulder. There was no real pain there… and after a moment of shock, George remembered why. An old wound was there, from a war long since passed and nearly forgotten. It had maimed his shoulder for a long time, and left a nasty scar over destroyed nerves. He could still move his arm, but only after many years of training himself to do so. But he couldn’t quite feel anything in his shoulder, and now it seemed an odd blessing.
Suddenly realizing the danger he was in, he spun about to face the now charging bandit that had shot him. Within a breath of time he unsheathed his left side back-sword, and held it low in his left hand. Just as the bandit was nearly atop him, his own sword raised high, the General quickly sidestepped the man and stabbed him harshly in the side. The man fell gasping for air.
Without taking a chance to look down at the dying man, George rushed off towards the village. Before he had gone far, he saw through the rows of wheat the Lieutenant fighting another bandit of whom had obviously unhorsed him, the poor beast lying dead a few meters away. The officer’s right arm was bent to his side at an odd angle, his sword in his left hand. He fought and parried the bandit skillfully, but he was becoming sluggish with each move, and the General could see the life fading from his face. He was about to fail and pass out.
And so George rushed forward towards the Bandit’s back, and plunged his blade into it before the thief could turn and see who was coming. Sliding and pulling the blade out as he went passed him, the bandit fell hard to the ground dead. The General then turned to look to the Lieutenant, who stood wavering with a weak smile forming on his face, and then fell to the ground in a heap.
The General made for the Lieutenant at first, but a scream from the village stopped him. He looked and examined the young man’s face, and saw that life yet resided there. And with that as a sign, he turned and bolted for the village. There was no time to help the officer… not yet, not until the villagers were safe.
As soon as he reached the clearing where the cottages had been built, he saw the villagers lined up on their knees. The three bandits each held one hostage with a sword to their neck.
The General slowed his pace, and cautiously approached, his face expressionless. He stopped then meters away when one bandit tightened his grip, the blade almost cutting into the throat of the woman he held. And then the General spoke.
“By the power of the Holy Kurfurst, Karl von Amador, and the authority which I wield in his name, surrender now to be tried for the crimes you have committed this day.” His voice was cracked, and sudden pain burst from his lungs where he suddenly realized he had likely broken several ribs. But his voice still held command and power in it, and for a moment a flicker of fear passed over the bandit’s faces.
But then as it passed, their expressions turned to sour grins. To his fury, they even laughed aloud- a cold heartless laughter that revealed their blackened souls.
One of the bandits let go of his hostage and moved around the line until he was between them and George. “You have no power here, scum. Now either get on your knees or die… either way I’m going to take that fancy armor of yours.”
The man was Heilig in accent and now that George had a longer moment to study him, it was obvious. It filled the General with both heartache and anger… and despite the rising pain, he raised the mated black-swords which he held in each hand and then without response or even making a sound, he charged. He moved at and incredible speed, his years and years of running every morning and night fueled his movement. And so surprised was the bandit, that he clumsily outstretched his blade like a spear, almost dropping the weapon.
With one quick slide, he moved to the right of the bandit and cut into his neck with his left sword and let the blade slide through and about the cervical spine. The man fell to the ground, his wound sputtering with blood.
Immediately the other two abandoned the hostages and charged the General in line, hoping to catch him while he stabilized himself. But the General was faster, and dodged down under the swipe of the closer bandit’s blade, moving all the while in a crouched position. As the man tried to turn and look down, George swept his back-sword across the unarmored legs of the bandit, cutting deep wounds that caused him to fall in agony.
With no time to finish off the first, he lifted up his blades and blocked the incoming slash of an axe, catching it between his blades. With a great and powerful heave, he threw the second bandit back and then moved forward with a near leap, his blades aimed straight towards the man’s chest. Deep they plunged in, and as the bandit gasped and slowly fell, sliding off the blades, the General sighed deeply and bowed his head.
For what seemed a long moment, the General simply breathed in and out, forcing himself to overcome the rush of battle. Then he remembered the man behind him still alive, and then for the first time he heard the man’s cries of pain.
George turned about and looked to the bandit who was laying bent upon the ground, his left hand grasping for his left leg as it poured out blood, the right in no better condition. He had cut to the bone once again, and the man obviously was unable to cope with the pain and the feeling of his blood draining through his open veins.
The General slowly moved forward, and simply aimed his blade to the man’s neck and pushed down until it had reached and broken his neck. The sounds of pain ended, and he fell limp, dead.
He let out long sigh and closed his eyes, sheathing both of his swords before feeling the wound on his own shoulder. As he did so and thought over the irony of how the old wound had allowed him to continue fighting, he suddenly heard a foul yet deep chuckling behind him.
And so he turned, not yet unsheathing his swords, and looked to whom had come into the clearing. A single man stood there, wearing worn but sturdy gambeson with a coat of mail over it. In his hands he held a hefty arbalest of the old Imperial design. It was George’s arbalest… he recognized it, and suddenly he realized that the old relic that he carried with him always had been with his horse, and thus left in the fields with the beast’s corpse.
“I recognize the symbols on this… how quaint, you must be one of the old traditionalists that came over during the void war.” The man took several steps forward, and George knew that he was also Heilig, perhaps even from the old world. “Makes sense, I know a General’s marks when I see one. Who else would the Kurfurst trust… too much trust.” The weapon fired, and so quick was the bolt that George had no time to react.
The steel went straight through his leather plating and sash, breaking through the gambeson and into his flesh. He felt himself flying from the force of the shot, stumbling backward into the cobbled stones and hard dirt of the village path. His vision blurred, and he tasted blood in his mouth… his breathing became impossible, and painful with each attempt.
Yet, he forced himself forward, off his back and onto his knees. He bent forward a moment, coughing and gagging before he looked up only to see the face of the bandit staring into his eyes. His smile revealing broken teeth and rotted gums, his scars marring his features.
In that moment, George’s thoughts were oddly not about the bandit, but his own features. His own scarred face, though not nearly as disfiguring as the scars on the bandit. He thought of the many scars and ancient wounds on his body. The stories that each one told…
“I’ll be keeping this I think, call it General Slayer or something like that.” The man said chuckling as he stood and stepped a few paces away from the kneeling General. He said something else as well, started cheerily rambling about his victory… but George wasn’t paying attention any more.
His thoughts had turned from the present… his thoughts drifted here and there, as if- or perhaps it was this, that his life was flashing before him. The idea thrilled and terrified him, but he knew the inevitable… his eyes blurred, the edges going darker and darker. He wasn’t breathing, he had given up on that.
But before it all gave way, he turned to look to the now setting sun, and saw in amazement the glimmer of gold as the fields became an sea illuminated by the red and oranges of the golden sun. And the wind blew, and the wheat and corn became waves of the vast ocean he once knew before the world of his birth was lost. A ship great in size and power suddenly broke over the waves, and settled in a graceful flow, the flags of the Heilig Empire displayed proudly as the golden clouds- no, sails, pulled the ship in a gentle yet strong glide. A smile grew on the General’s face as he watched that ship approach, and tears flowed down his cheeks.
From hell and heaven he had followed his path in life… and yet, it had all began at the seashore. His father’s sloop sailing by the great Imperial Warships, whilst he the humble fisher did his work. He was indeed a Fisher, and now despite dying in a field a thousand miles from the sea… the sea had come to him… no, it had come for him. It was all to end with golden waves, and the cold steel forgotten within his chest. It was time to go home.
She sighed softly and turned her reptilian eyes to the window nearby, watching as the sun began to disappear over the horizon of trees outside the Palace. "How unfortunate..."
[OOC: This was written by Phoenixstar117 before he had been banned and wasn't able to be published. It is the death of George Fisher back when Karl von Amador was still Kurfurst and George was the General of Altenach, ruling in his name. He requested I posted this and yeah, here ya go.]