The warrior class?! That class sucks!”
“Why? I get to fight with swords and use a bow.”
“Yeah, that’s really helpful against hell spawns. I told you, try a wizard or at least a thief.”
“You said you played as those already. Don’t you want to see something new?”
“Look bruh, you won’t even beat the tutorial area with this tin can looser.”
“Come on, I’m picking this class. Think of it as a challenge.”
Men wore helmets, few had on breastplates, all dawned riveted mail underneath. Expensive to make and well-crafted, it offered protection from missile fire, but not at point-blank range, and superior swordplay would find gaps to stab through. A few crossbowmen in the front row, flanked by spearmen, wearing the same armor. A row of halberd wielding soldiers, formed in the back. All had swords as a sidearm. Trained to fight without shields, veteran soldiers who took part in skirmishes for lords. Some even survived great wars, from which they emerged prosperous.
Miles wore a full suit of plate armor and wielded a massive sword. Randolph, Waryn, and Denstone had the same type of armor, a full suit of plates, each crafted to their individual preferences. They were knights, trained to wield the spear, longsword, the crossbow, ride on horseback and deal death.
“Tighten up, shoulder to shoulder.”
“Can't wait to see the surprise on their faces when they reach that hilltop.”
All share a laugh. Waryn came from the front row, a giant siege crossbow in hands.
“Why are you laughing?”
Miles answered him
“You plan on shooting that thing at the first bastard that pokes his head over the ridge? Think you can hit two at once?”
“I shot that guy and stuck his leg through the horse.”
He did. A knight shot through the calf from a few meters, bolt pierced him, and stuck his mount in the ribs. The lot came crashing down, pinning the knight under his horse.
“The hard part was prying his helmet back, he wouldn't stop squirming. Had to soften him up a bit with the mace, and then stab his throat through the gap.”
“Who was he? Maybe he would have fetched a nice ransom?” Miles asked his fellow soldier.
“I have gold. Killing that shiny fucker was worth it. Bringing down the big game is always satisfying. All soldiers enjoy killing, that's why we signed up in the first place.”
“And for the honor, and our kingdom,” Randolph added.
All broke out in laughter. Denstone eyed a foot soldier that was glaring at them.
“What the fuck are you looking at?”
The soldier remained silent, eyeing Denstone. Waryn moved close, crossbow laid on the ground, and stood inches from the soldier's face. Randolph and Denstone flanked him immediately. Panic hit, and the soldier lowered his head, at which point Waryn said
“Hold him down.”
Almost immediately, his servants tackled and brought him down, one holding arms and another grabbing foot. Waryn stood on top of him, dagger raised. The man squealed, his head jerked wildly. Nobody dared move. Miles wasn’t excited, but he wanted to see where this was going. He didn't care what happened to that man.
Waryn lifted the victim's visor and plunged his dagger downwards, stopping only inches away. A few seconds passed by in total silence. Men stared petrified. Denstone broke out laughing
“He pissed himself.”
The other three laughed as well. They got the poor bastard up and hit his chest with a gauntleted hand.
“I was just fucking with you, don't pout. Such a strong man, a brave man,” Waryn said, then added “you will get a bonus today brave man, no joke.”
He joined his friends, letting the pissed soldier take his position in the spear wall. The four broke out in laughter again, while soldiers cringed and wished they fought the enemy soon.
The first group appeared on the ridge. Before they could look downhill over the cusp, from 100 meters away bolts shot. Many got stung in the groin and thigh; some poor bastard got hit in the face. Not an instant kill, they did have some protection. But not enough to stop a bolt from a heavy crossbow.
That woke up the rest of them who just charged downhill, shields forward, towards the spear formation. Crossbowmen retreated behind spears, loading bolts. Miles stood in the middle and issued orders. Forces clashed, spear wall held, halberds came crashing down on heads and shields.
The enemy line started to break, fear crept upon them, and they began to back up. More and more men got pulled forward by halberds, knocked down only to be stabbed to death by spears. Then they turned and fled. Bolts shot and hit backs. Swords in hand, Miles’s troops charged the enemy, hacking and tearing at horrified and exhausted men, men that tried to run uphill on wet grassland.
He never got to swing. Waryn was in the first line working his sword methodically; as was Randolph and Denstone in full armor, feeling invincible. As the blows deflected from armor, no warrior was able to kill them; these men just slaughter their way forward, filled with bloodlust, nearly every wound inflicted being fatal. Some poor bastards decided to surrender. Two men, one wounded and one in mint condition, laid their weapons on the ground and kneeled in front of the mercenaries who defeated their group so effortlessly. Miles said
“Tie them up.”
“Keep them alive, I need them,” Waryn added.
“For interrogation? We know all the details.”
“They are mine! Or do u have a problem with that?” A low growl came from Waryn, his disciples eyeing Miles.
“Fine, I don't care. I was just curious. We’ll return to camp, take a few men for guard duty, and-”
“No need, we won't be far, no enemy left to surprise us.”
“Right. Men, move out.”
Miles issued orders to his troops. He and all his soldiers marched back to camp. Not one man was lost. A few got injured, but no dead. Lord Andre would be pleased. Not that he cared too much about pleasing his lord, but he was going to receive a nice sum of gold for his effort. And Miles liked gold.
Inside the clearing with hands and feet secured, the two captured soldiers were deposited one next to the other, clot bag over their heads. They heard scraping sounds on the ground, the crackling of a fire. But nobody was talking. Then one soldier was picked up and lead to the circle, stretched and secured with rope to wooden stakes in the ground. He saw one of his kidnappers standing, and the other two in armor, kneeling next to him, dangers in hand. He was not gagged and wildly begged for his life. To no effect. He was sacrificed, blood soaking the ground beneath him. Same went for the other. Waryn was leading the ritual, chanting in a trance, invoking evil powers to manifest themselves. The fire was burning bright, then it changed from red to a green flame, growing higher and higher. It formed a cone; mighty wind and terrible howling noises came from inside.
“Yes! Yes! Come forward, beast! I summon you to this realm. I give you flesh and blood. Come to me!”
Randolph and Denstone stood quite, sweating, and watched petrified as that thing exited the cone. It stood on two legs, bulging muscles under red oily skin; its head was a mix of two beasts like a boar fucked a stag. The body was similar to a man: arms, legs, and torso. A man that carried crates in the harbor all day. It stood three meters tall. In its hand lay a giant flail with spikes on end.
“You have summoned me. Speak,” it said with a voice like the roar of a lion.
Waryn took a moment to collect himself and come up with something to say to this beast.
“Kill all in the camp near this clearing.”
“It shall be done.”
In a squeaky tone, Waryn added
“Leave none alive, kill the knight known as Miles. Tear his soul apart.”
They saw the monster make its way through the trees. The three men got on their horses and galloped away from camp. Waryn was still shaking with excitement, knowing the summoning worked. What he accomplished that night was powerful magic; new powers would soon be given to him for his devotion to darkness. Randolph and Denstone rode behind, neither speaking. Magic manifested before them, and both knew serving Waryn would bring powers to them as well. They no longer cared for anyone else but their master and would continue serving him any way he would ask them to.
Miles was a knight in Lord Andre's service. He rose to that status fighting on battlefields, always with courage, never afraid to die. He was a very skilled, capable fighter, had little to no mercy, and was feared by allies and enemies alike. A massive fortune and estate were given to him for his services to Lord Andre. He had no wife; no living family members and the only people that tolerated his presence were the noble knights who fought beside him, all maniacs and murderers.
In the past,Waryn had asked Miles, Denstone, and Randolph to accompany him one night. They planned on having fun, a visit to a nearby house where a commoner had disrespected the wizard. He refused to give him his two grown daughters.
So all four would sneak inside their home when no light was shining. Taking care not to be seen, Waryn and Denstone entered through the window, in the parent’s chamber but managed to wake them up. Miles and Randolph were quick to follow and climbed through the same window. They saw Waryn holding the wife's head, detached from her body. He made sure the husband got a good look at it. After a little speech, he dragged the two girls out of bed and ordered the others to secure them. Waryn stabbed one girl in the chest, immune to the father’s pleas and cries. Her sister managed to slip out of Denstone’s grasp and dashed for the door, but Miles grabbed her hair, pulled her back, and drove his knife clean through.
The worst of the group was Waryn. He had sick pleasures, one being killing children and eating bits of them. Of course, he didn't do it inside his lord’s town, because that would cause a fuss among citizens. He did, however, roam the far countryside, stealing children from farms or street urchins, satisfying his sick hunger.
He also took an interest in magic, and often ate human hearts, had orgies ending with blood rituals. He said it made him stronger, faster, and harder to wound or kill. Not many knew about his hobbies, just the other three knights. He even invited the warriors to join him. Randolph and Denstone took part in these rituals and did whatever Waryn told them to do. They became his students and continued to practice magic under him.
Miles had no interest in children. No interest in eating people. No interest in magic. At first, this didn't sit well with the others, but Miles had no fear in his heart; he could not be controlled. Waryn knew the day would come to snuff him out, but until then, he would scheme and plot. He indeed loaded Miles, especially since he turned down his offer, refused to bend the knee and call him “master.” Not of noble birth, but a talented fighter and commander of troops, Miles was regarded with respect by high ranking men of the country. Waryn wasn’t all that brave, strong, skilled in combat. But he learned of a way to obtain power outside the beaten path: magic.
Waryn unsheathed a short dagger with a black jewel pommel, and slit the man’s throat, finally ending his suffering. Filled with energy and vigor, they snuck out of the house, and once they reached Waryn’s manor, dawned on clean noblemen clothes and started drinking and eating. He said
“Let’s drink lads. All that killing made me thirsty.” Waryn added
“Bring out the barrel of ale from the Abbey,” he told his servant.
“Holly beer? “ Miles asked with a smirk on his face. Waryn laughed
“That's right, a gift from the good reverend Rys. To show his gratitude for snuffing out that sun cult in his town. We killed about thirty fuckers that night.”
“I was in Carlisle, with Giles and his troupe,” Miles told his fellow knights. Randolph added,
“You missed a hell of a party. Those sun witches were easy on the eye; we did enjoy ourselves thoroughly.”
Denstone was quiet. The image of Waryn decapitating that woman made his stomach turn. He knew there was a price to pay when invoking magic, but wanted to gain power as Waryn had. He lacked the calm mind of Randolph and his master. Nevertheless, he felt he needed to find courage; more exposure to nasty and twisted acts would toughen him up. Nobody would ever link them to the murders. Life continued as usual for the four companions, forever bonded by the atrocities committed together.
The night was chilly, and a big full moon peeked in the sky. A small campsite had been arranged in a circle pattern, with tents positioned a few meters apart from each other. Men were sleeping, drinking, and some were on guard duty. No one was on edge; their total victory today left no enemy force strong enough to pose a threat to twenty experienced mercenaries.
Then a cacophony of screams started. Soldiers emerged from tents to witness horror slaughtering left and right, swinging its mighty flail. Some tried to attack; others ran away to the cover of the forest.
Miles quickly donned his expertly crafted breastplate and helmet and stormed out his tent. He was ready to face enemy soldiers stupid enough to attack the camp. He wasn’t prepared to face the gigantic demon that decimated everything. Miles stopped in his tracks and took a good look at the thing. It was ugly as shit and covered in blood and gore. The demon stared him down from far away. It knew this is the warrior the wizard spoke of. With a great voice, it addressed Miles
“A contract has been released on your head warrior. Paid for in blood. Betrayed by your ally, I have been summoned to end you.”
Miles didn’t even register what that thing was. His training kicked in, focused on killing his enemy, no fear present in his mind. Miles picked up a spear from a fallen mercenary. He looked around, saw a horse tied to a tree, and waited for the chance to sprint. The beast continued uninterrupted
“Killing a powerful foe as yourself will please my masters.”
The creature lifted its flail and attacked. The ground shook beneath its feet. Sticking his spear in the field, Miles sprinted towards the horse. The warrior got on just in time to see the demon a few feet away, swinging the flail. Somehow he was able to get the horse moving and escape the fatal blow. He galloped towards the spear and pulled it from the earth. The demon charged again; Miles did the same, bracing the spear against his breastplate. The two clashed, the hero having an advantage in reach. The spear struck the demon’s armpit. Horse and rider tumbled on impact. The demon staggered and roared its pain; it then smashed the horse in the side with the flail, exploding it to bits.
Miles was a few meters from the animal carcass, recovering from his fall. He staggered to his feet. The demon faced him, but that thrust did affect it. Blood was pouring from a deep and nasty wound, with the white of the ribs showing. Miles was empty-handed, the spear broke on impact. The demon moved sluggishly and swang that massive flail towards the knight, but Miles managed a dodge, closing the distance between them. Before he could act, he got punched in the chest; the mighty blow flung him back and crushed his breastplate.
Sensing victory, it swung the flail at the fallen warrior. Miles rolled onto his stomach and avoided the full weight of the blow, still catching a glancing hit on his back. He turned around to face the demon; at least he was to die with dignity.
Just as the arm was raised, a thin, white lightning bolt struck the top of the demon’s head, collapsing it on its back.
Miles stumbled and taped the ground in front of him. He was blind, also deaf for a moment. He started to come around, stood up, and walked over to the steaming corpse.
What the fuck was this?
He kicked the head and leaned in to glare at those yellow snake eyes. He quickly found a horse and rode like crazy towards town. Miles gradually calmed down and tried putting things together. What he has been through, a fight with a demon. But then it hit him: he needed proof to support his story. Miles decided to turn back and bring with him the head of that beast. When he reached the clearing, the body wasn’t the same. It seemed to have melted away, flesh and bones alike, leaving behind a stinking mass of goo, next to a big metal flail.
Shit. That won't be enough.
He looked around in the hope of finding some evidence of the struggle he had with that monster. Noting, just fire and destruction. He got back on his horse and rode into town, not stopping until he reached the lord's castle and stood in his presence.
“You fool! You let enemies lay waste to my troops and now stand before me with lies. Some men returned from the camp and had the same wild story of demons in the night. You told them to lie as well. Be a man and take responsibility for your poor decision.”
Miles snapped back
“I tell no lies. I fought that thing and stuck a spear in its shoulder-”
“Enough. Be quiet, you coward. You shall be punished, filthy son of-”
“Guards lock him in the dungeon. Execute him tomorrow with the rest of his lying soldiers.”
Miles saw one guard rush at him and jammed his palm forward, pushing back the guard’s head. He immediately got smacked in the back of the head and fell to one knee. Then his face was pounded from all sides until he passed out.
Some time passes…
“Wake up. Wake up!”
Miles grunted and opened swollen eyes. Breathing hurt a lot, and he had a massive headache. He saw a man, a soldier from camp.
“Are you alright, sir knight?”
“Where are we? What happened?”
“Inside the dungeon. Lord Andre didn't believe the camp was attacked by that beast and sentenced us to death.”
He tried to stand up and managed to lean against a wall.
“I killed it! Where were you?”
“I ran, sir, together with this lot. I never thought you would be so bold as to stand up to that thing.”
“Yes, well, now it’s done. And so are we. Fucking Andre! All this time serving him, and this is what I get.”
Miles looked at the few others. They were all soldiers who stood quietly, waiting for death to release them from this dark, damp hell-hole. He stood up and walked to the cage’s door, where two guards were posted outside.
“You there, soldier. Look at me.”
The man turned and saw Miles leaning against the bars, one hand cradling his ribs.
“Tell Lord Andre I’m awake and that I plead an audience with him.”
Miles wasn’t sarcastic; he meant what he said. The guard saw this too; knowing him to be a brave knight who fought for Andre before, he did as he was told.
Moments after, the soldier returned and told Miles
“Lord Andre will see you in his study. He told me to kill you on the spot if you try to escape.”
“Don't worry, I won't cause trouble.”
Miles was let out of his cell, the other soldiers cursing under their breath, knowing tomorrow they will hang.