Samuel Edward Eggleston
All rights reserved.
Antede smiled at the crowd that had gathered
before him, his rotten teeth stained yellow and green. It was always more
profitable for a storyteller when he saw the numbers gathering before
him, as Antede did now. The blue veins of the old storyteller contrasted
with his yellowing skin. His smell wafted in the slight breeze and swirled
around the crowd, causing some to shoot wicked glares at the filthy man,
for his stench was almost thick enough to taste in the air. It was obvious
to most in the town that the man had not bathed in months, for his smell
resembled that of one of the putrid gut piles near the slaughterhouse
outside the castle. His skin was cracked and flaking in places, his hair
beginning to clump from the sediment and residue that had gathered there.
Antede had visited Leonia in the past, back before the fall of King Vandetto
and the rise of his younger brother Millcor. The king's death had been
tragic for Leonia's citizens, but tragedy was what made storytellers very
"The story that I am about to tell
you is one of a king," he began, with a gleam in his eye as he pushed
his long graying hair behind his left ear, "a once great and powerful
king." People's eyes were fixed on him, on his every movement. Their
ears were perked to every word that raced from his lips and into the bright
air of the midday around them. Antede's eyes met a young soldier's as
the storyteller jumped to his feet; the soldier's dull gray eyes followed
him intently as though he were waiting for the right moment to strike.
"Vandetto was a great man, one who
brought not only prosperity to Leonia, but respect as well. He brought
a respect to his kingdom that had not been seen in these castle walls
since the days of the Slayers. But prosperity and respect do not protect
you from deceit and lies. Millcor wanted the throne. He knew Vandetto
would reign king for season after season and he could not wait. He took
his brother's throne and had him thrown from the kingdom that Vandetto
himself had returned to greatness."
The crowd stood hushed as they watched
the storyteller pace back and forth before them, his dirty bare feet rustling
up dust from the dry earth beneath them. Vandetto had indeed brought them
from poverty to prosperity, but none dared to say that within earshot
of the king or his royal guards. To do so meant death, a horrible death
that no one cared to think of. Rumors of men being fed to Millcor's vicious
hounds were well known throughout the kingdom, and it was even rumored
that Millcor had fed on the flesh of one of his open opponents. It was
not known what kind of man King Millcor was for he did not make many appearances
to the public, nor did he seem to have any want to do such a thing.
"I saw what happened to the king;
I watched as he screamed in the night as his flesh was torn from his body
in blood-soaked strips." The menacing looks that shot from the crowd
made the hair stand up on the back of Antede's neck as he quickly recovered
from mistakenly spoken words. He should have known better than to make
it sound as though he just sat idly by as Leonia's king dies in massive
amounts of pain and suffering.
"I could have intervened, yes, probably
should have. I could have also been on that torture rack next to him if
I had. It was best to stay hidden like the coward I am and be able to
pass the story of your king's last moments in life onto you." The
tension and grumbling in the crowd lessened, but not very much.
"The demon creatures, the Horde, tortured
him for information, but he would speak nothing to them. They peeled his
body of its flesh, revealing his age-weakened muscles as they did! They
tore at him; burned his eyes with hot pikes! They cut his fingers from
his hands to make him speak of his people and their warriors. But he would
not. No, for Vandetto was a noble man, a man of no regrets and a man who
did not betray his people. The Horde made his screams echo into the night
air, made him almost lose his mind as they tortured him. Vandetto would
not break, though; he would not die."
As Antede spoke he danced around in front
of the crowd, watching as their eyes lit up at the mention of their late
king's heroism, of his strengths. Dancing back to his mule's packs Antede
produced a wooden bowl that he tossed on the ground before the ever-growing
crowd before he began his story again. Words danced from his lips just
as the hollow sound of the bowl striking the well-worn earth echoed into
"I waited and watched as they tortured
him," he continued, "until the exact moment camethe exact
moment to STRIKE!" He leaped toward the crowd as he unsheathed a
small dagger that he kept at his side. The crowd jumped back in surprise,
some gasping for air as they calmed themselves. The young soldier had
revealed a length of his sword at the storyteller's action and then slowly
slid it back into its scabbard.
"I crept up on one of the torturers
as his companion headed into the dark forest, no doubt to gather more
devices to torture the great Vandetto. With this very dagger I drew blood
from his throat, watching in satisfaction as he drowned in his own lifeblood."
Enacting the scene again, he showed the crowd his heroic slaying of the
Horde beast. "I approached the bloodied and beaten Vandetto. His
gasps for air rattled in my ears as he spoke to me, his one eye staring
at me as his last words escaped his lips. 'Take this ring,' he told me."
Antede reached in his pocked and revealed a golden ring bearing the mark
of Leonia and the crest of Vandetto. Gasps arose from the crowd as he
showed them, a crooked smile forming on his filthy face as he did. If
they only knew that this was indeed the true ring of Vandetto himself.
"He told me to bring it here, to Leonia,
and show his people that he fought to the end. That he died not in vain,
but for the people that he loved." Antede managed to wipe a tear
from the corner of his eye before he began again. "That is when I
ended his life," he spoke as he watched tears flow freely from members
of the gathered crowd. "I ended his misery with a single, painless
Weeping mixed in with murmurs from the
crowd as people stepped forward, dropping various coins into the wooden
bowl before them. The satisfying clinks of metal against metal made it
difficult for the storyteller to keep from smiling. He watched as the
sunlight danced off the gold and silver coins as they fell into the aged
"Hold," a voice called from behind
the amassed crowd of people, causing most to stop in the act of paying
the storyteller. "I would like to look at that ring."
Antede's eyes narrowed as the crowd slowly
began to part to let the speaker through.
"Who dares speak to me in such a manner?
You must be the son of a local whore; only a bastard would have such attitude,"
the storyteller squealed in rage. "You speak to me as though I were
a thief. I, who ended your king's suffering! He no doubt glares at you
from the heavens above!"
"I doubt he would object to my intervention,"
the man said as he stepped into view. Antede's gasp echoed in his own
ears as his eyes scanned the face of the warrior before him. The blue
eyes were cold, dismissing everything but the warrior's duty. The scar
that ran from the eyebrow to chin of the left side of the man's face was
as wide as a man's fingernail and half as deep. Amazingly, it seemed to
have had done no damage to the eye itself when it was inflicted. The short-cropped
brown hair was complemented by a thin beard that ran down the warrior's
face, meeting at the tip of his chin. The man wore leather garb decorated
with the burned crest of Leonia over chainmail armor, topped off with
a blood-red cape that flowed freely in the wind that suddenly picked up
in the square. The sword strapped to his back was half as tall as the
man. As the warrior's blue eyes met Antede's gray eyes, they flashed in
"W-what do you need, kind sir?"
Antede asked as he stepped back from the man, dropping the ring as he
"That arrogance in your voice is gone,
Antede," the man said as he pulled his sword from his back. The grips
were of leather, bound tightly around the metal beneath them. The blade
was marvelous, its entirety covered in engravings of battles and words
that were long lost to the lips of common men. The blood groove that ran
half the blade of the weapon was deep and wide, designed for the thicker
blood of the demons that made the Horde and not the thin blood of humans.
Antede suddenly felt very afraid, for this man was no ordinary manhe
was a Slayer.
"Don't you remember me, Antede?"
"Yes, Samisin," Antede said in
a suddenly deep, rumbling voice as his eyes grew into a deep red, "I
see you have not lost that scar I gave you so long ago. But I seem to
remember feasting on your eye when I took it. Looks as if the gods gave
"I took it from your wench of a mother
when I slit her from navel to neck. Speaking of feasting; she had the
sweetest loin that I can ever remember tasting. And my eyeI won't
let you get that close again, demon." Samisin grinned as he spoke.
"I was young then, a mere student of the Slayer," he said as
he buried his blade deep into the storyteller. The slurp of metal sliding
through intestines spat into the air as green pus oozed onto Samisin's
hand. "Now I am all that is left, thanks to spawn like you! Spawn
that I am going to personally see wiped off this planet!"
The commotion of the crowd behind Samisin
was no distraction as people began to run from the horrific scene before
them. Samisin stood face-to-face with the aged storyteller, his blade
buried to the hilt in the old man's stomach. He stood so close that when
Antede exhaled, his breath was as thick and sticky as hot tar that seemed
to stick to Samisin's face and neck. With a moan, Antede grabbed Samisin's
neck, thumbs trying to press into the Slayer's muscular throat. Samisin's
muscles strained as he lifted the man into the air, still impaled on the
great blade. Suddenly Antede floated, his body ripping to shreds before
everyone's eyes and his flesh melting away as though it was mere water
flowing off rock. The creature that replaced him bore no resemblance to
the man that once was. Its eyes glowed a deep red with thin black stripes
running horizontally across them. Sprouts of hair grew in sparse patches
over the wart-covered gray skin that seemed covered in a slime that reflected
the sun's light. Its leathery wings flapped at the air as it tried to
pull itself from Samisin's blade, but to no avail.
"You will die, Slayer," it said,
baring sharp fangs stained red. The demon's triple-forked tongue shot
out as though tasting the air. The drool that dripped off its grotesque
chin was thick and oily, greenish in color and thick like a well-floured
stew. Samisin pulled back slightly as Antede spat at him, the greenish
goop sliding off his face and neck.
"Not before you," Samisin said
with a smile as he twisted his sword sideways and pulled it upward. The
crack of the creature's back echoed in the now-deserted square. "Tell
Nehemiah, that demon bastard, that I send my regards, when you see him
in the underworld!" With a yank of his bloodied blade, Samisin tore
the demon in two. Its legs erupted into blazing inferno before they hit
the ground. The top of the creature floated eerily as its wings slowly
flapped, the smell of rotten intestines drifting into the air around it.
The demon's jaw dropped slightly as its eyes rolled back into its skull.
With a gurgle it began to speak in a long-lost tongue.
"Uter sak mutang. Herath kan retar."
The body lifted slightly before a laugh erupted from the body and it began
to elevate into the sky. Suddenly an arrow pierced the creature's head,
driven between the beast's eyes. The upper body tumbled to the ground,
bursting into flame.
"What was that?" a soldier asked
as he ran to the burning body. Samisin bent down and plucked the ring
from the dust, ignoring the soldier.
"Are you all right, Samisin?"
another asked as she neared the Slayer.
"Fine," Samisin responded, glancing
down at the younger soldier's hands. The long bow that she held had a
second arrow ready, nocked tight on the bowstring. "Good shooting,
Alezandria," Samisin said with a smile. His red cape flowed behind
him as he stepped over to the wooden bowl.
"What was that thing?" Alezandria
asked as Samisin tossed her a gold coin from the bowl. The young woman
caught it with one hand, fingers running over the smooth metal as she
"A messenger," he responded.
"It was a demon from the Horde."
"The Horde? I thought those demons
were fairy tales told to keep children in bed."
"No, Alezandria," Samisin said
as he looked into slightly clouded sky. "Do you recall hearing about
the slain cattle outside of McFarland? Or of the missing carriages carrying
the royal family of Lathrop? That was the Horde. They have been making
their way to us, to our realm. They are coming for Leonia."
"Why would they come here?" the
young woman asked as she watched Samisin kneel near the burned remains
of the demon. "What is so special about Leonia?"
"Does the Book of the Slayer remain
unopened in this day? Have I not told you to read it?" Samisin barked
before calming himself. His outburst had frightened the young woman. He
remembered the day she came to Leonia. Her only request had been to fight
alongside him. She was more capable with a long bow than any man that
Samisin had beneath him and was quite handy with a long sword. He had
taken her under his wing then, teaching her the ways of the Slayers. If
there could be another after he was gone, then Alezandria was the best
"There are three points in the world
that are directly connected to the underworld," he explained. "The
first is in the realm of Plourde, near the city kingdom of Rosewood. Three
centuries ago an earthquake toppled the mountain of Black Peak, burying
the old temple there and preventing anyone passage to the point. Earlier
this year the workers of Rosewood unearthed the temple as they were collecting
stone for the buildings of their city.
"The second point is on the coast
near the kingdom of Vera. It is normally beneath the waves but the water
is low this year, revealing the sunken remains of the temple of the old
gods that was erected there.
"The third point is here, in Leonia.
If the Horde takes Leonia then they will have access to all of the points.
If this happens than they will release their fallen into the world dark
age like we have never seen will rise, giving the entire world to evil."
Alezandria nodded as Samisin pulled a charred
bone from the burned demon. With a grunt, he heaved the bone to a pack
of mangy dogs that had gathered near the courtyard.
"Antede came to scout the castle
and no doubt saw what level of unprepared chaos we are in. Gather the
troops near the southern gate and have the metal sharpened and the longbows
and crossbows restrung. I will meet you there."
Samisin started to walk off, his red cape
billowing in the wind behind him.
"We killed him, though?" Alezandria
asked. "He will utter nothing to anyone now that he is dead?"
"The Horde has a collective conscious,
a greater evil that controls it. It is said that the greater evil resides
in the underworld and that the horde is merely his pawns to do with as
he wishes," Samisin responded, turning. "What one demon sees,
they all see. That is why they are so difficult to defeat. They know your
fighting style and your tricks before they even meet you if you have ever
fought one before."
"How do you know if you have? Can
they all look like a human, as Antede did?"
"Yes," Samisin said with a grimace.
"They can all change into any shape they wish. But they shape must
coincide with their size. A demon that stands six foot cannot change into
a dog or a mouse, but can easily change into a small horse or a human.
Just as a demon that is the size of a child cannot change into a cow or
and adult human. Do you understand?"
"I can tell them apart, though. I
can see them and I can smell them. The power of the Slayer allows me to
detect the demons even in their shifted forms. Not to mention the fact
that all of them smell like a rotten heap of flesh. They smell like death.
You will see when they come for Leonia, and they are coming soon,"
Samisin said as he turned back and made his way out of the square that
was quickly filling up with curious people.
"Where are you going now?" Alezandria
hollered as she rolled the gold piece in her slender fingers, feeling
the cold metal slide on her flesh. Her voice was drowned out in the commotion
of soldiers rushing to the square to see what was to be seen. At first
she thought he had not heard her, his thoughts probably on his killing
of the demon creature that had invaded the kingdom. Her eyes followed
him as he left, her heart pounding she watched him. To be a like him,
she thought to herself. Is being a Slayer a gift or a curse?
Suddenly Samisin stopped.
"To see the king, young Alezandria,"
he called back with a wave and then continued on his way. She let a smile
spread as she shook her head. To be Samisin would be the greatest accomplishment
a warrior could ever want.
"What news is so important that you
interrupt my meeting?" Millcor demanded as Samisin burst into the
throne room. The smell of incense was strong on his robes as he stomped
past Samisin, bare feet slapping against the hard floor and dropped into
his throne. The king was known for keeping his bedchambers smelling of
incense so that he could keep the smells of the wretched peasant village
from invading his nostrils as he slept.
The look in the old Slayer's eyes was calm
and collected as Millcor shot a glare at him.
"It is not very often I can escape
from my royal duties to attend to other affairs."
"Shut your mouth," Samisin snapped
as he tossed the ring to Millcor. "That was taken from Antede today
in the square." The look of shock on Millcor's face amused Samisin.
"Tell me how he obtained it."
"If you dare speak to me like that
again I will have"
"You will have nothing! Including
your head if you do not tell me how Vandetto's ring ended up in the hands
of a demon! You know the prophecy as well as I, Millcor. If the Horde
takes this castle, then the world is finished!" Samisin's snarl was
amplified as the warrior's eyes glowed blood red, the heat that they produced
apparent from the ripples in the air that suddenly formed before the Slayer's
face. Millcor shriveled back, trying to disappear into his robes and throne.
He had heard of Samisin's strange abilities when he was a child, but he
had never seen any inkling of them until now. His father had told him
of the abilities Slayers had, but they were just rumors even then. Samisin
was the last of the great warriors that protected the nine kingdoms from
Horde. In the twenty years of Millcor's life Samisin had yet to age a
year, and he had been in service of Leonia for longer that anyone cared
to remember and in the service of kings long forgotten.
"H-h-how should I kn-know?" Millcor
stuttered through chattering teeth. As Millcor cowered in his throne his
personally picked bodyguards stepped forward to assist him. Samisin glared
at the king who quickly stopped their advance with a raise of his hand.
"Vandetto left under the cover of night over three months ago! No-one,
including me, has seen him since!"
"If the Horde manages to take Leonia,"
Samisin spoke, his eyes returning to their cold blue, "All will be
lost. Your kingdom will be nothing! Your money and your gold will be nothing!
Do you understand, Millcor? Vandetto understood the importance of this
land. He was a great king, far from what you will become. The demon spoke
of you as though you were scum. They only speak of men that way if they
are requested to; otherwise they speak of them as though we were nothing.
That is what the Horde thinks of man; they think we are nothing. I don't
like the idea of you and the Horde making any kind of deal for this kingdom.
If I find that you had anything to do with your brother's death, then
you will be found hanging from the rafters of your bedchambers with your
precious gold beside you."
"Guards! Seize him!" Millcor
screamed out, his face red with anger as his fear suddenly rushed from
him. "I will not be spoken to like that!"
Two guards rushed forward to arrest Samisin,
their weapons drawn as they came. Turning on his heel, Samisin drew his
sword and swung it in one fluid motion. Blood spattered across Samisin's
arms, hot on the Slayer's skin. The bodies of the guards crashed forward
into the stone floor of the throne room as their heads rolled in the opposite
direction. The ringing of their metal armor against the marble floor still
echoed in the corners of the throne room as Samisin bent, reaching down
to the sides of the dead guards and pulling a pouch of coins from each.
"I suggest you quit melting down the
armory weapons to make this worthless coin," Samisin hissed as he
threw a handful of money at the cowering king. "The people want to
know where their gold and silver is going. They will overthrow you when
they find out. I suggest you send your chambermaids away and decide how
to cure the money problems you are causing. If I were you I would start
by hiring fewer guards; they seem to be fairly useless, anyway."
"Is that what you came here to say
to me today?" Millcor whimpered. Samisin could hear the sound of
the king's rasping as he struggled to breath normally.
"The demon from the square came with
a message for Leonia," Samisin said as he replaced his sword. "Uter
sak mutang. Herath kan retar."
"What is that nonsense supposed to
mean to me?" Millcor whined, causing Samisin to turn and walk away
from the throne. His footsteps echoed as his boots slammed into the marble
of the floor, causing Millcor's hand to involuntarily begin to shake.
"That nonsense is an ancient tongue,"
he answered and stopped walking. "The translation is the key."
Samisin smiled. He could smell the wet stench of Millcor's sweat. The
king had been prone to breaking into a fierce sweat when he became nervous
even when he was a child.
"Then translate it!" the king
"They are coming," Samisin said,
and began walking again. He finished the translation as he stepped through
the throne room doors. The words left Millcor sobbing, head buried deep
in his robes as Samisin's words echoed over and over in his mind.
"None will survive."
The soldiers of Leonia prepared for the
worst that evening. They barricaded the castle gates and heated oil over
open pits and flames. They dressed in armor that had collected dust in
the storerooms from lack of use. Bonfires were lit in the squares. Animals
were tied down so that they would not interfere if the battle made it
past the castle walls. Peasants were urged into their homes before the
night came, and the night came quickly.
Samisin had been alone, praying, when it
happened. The sun was only a third of the way down the sky when darkness
covered it. The entire light was swallowed by the pitch-black evil that
rose from the horizon as it made its way to Leonia.
Samisin made his way to where the soldiers
were preparing and ordered them to their assigned stations. The Horde
would be upon them soon enough.
"Samisin!" Alezandria called
as she spotted the Slayer from across the courtyard. "The swords
in the armory are uselessrusted and dull! What should we do?"
"Bring them to the royal blacksmith,
have him repair them," Samisin answered. His eyes were reddened from
the sting of the smoke in the air. The burning wood was bad, choking the
air from a man's lungs, but it was essential in the dark. "You did
not need to ask me that, Alezandria," he scolded. "What is the
"The royal blacksmith is gone. No
one can find him. Nor his apprentices. I know the peasant blacksmiths
would not accept Millcor's coin in the past, and that is all any of the
"Come with me," Samisin said
and headed for the peasant village just inside the city walls. He cursed
Millcor for his selfishness, for his lack of responsibility for his kingdom.
As they approached the blacksmith, Samisin let Alezandria do the talking,
choosing to observe from out of sight.
"The soldiers of Leonia need these
swords hammered and sharpened before nightfall," Alezandria shouted
above the noise as she hefted the blades onto the blacksmith's table,
dropping them with a clatter. The ringing of the smith's hammer stopped
as he looked up from his work.
"Two silvers for each blade,"
the smith mumbled before going back to the work on his forge, his hammering
almost drowning out Alezandria's next words.
"Will you except the king's currency?"
"The king's wealth is worth little
here, young lady," the smith replied, his eyes unwavering from his
work at hand. "It would be ten Millcor pieces for each then."
"Ten!" she yelped in surprise.
"Do you take me for a fool?"
"Not a fool," the blacksmith
said, "but a lackey of the king!" Looking at the young soldier,
the smith let a burly laugh roar from his stomach, then choked it off
as Samisin suddenly appeared at Alexandria's side. "Lord Samisin!"
"Smith," Samisin said as he pulled
a pouch from his belt. "Will these cover the cost of hammering these
blades?" The smith opened the pouch, dropping well over twenty gold
coins into his hand. The image of the dragon was still as clear as the
day they had been minted.
"These coins of the Keepers would
feed my family for over a year, Lord Samisin."
"Then you'll hammer these blades?"
Samisin asked with a grin, glancing at Alezandria, who stood quietly beside
him. His response was a quick nod from the smith as he threw his current
work onto the dirt floor next to his anvil and grabbed one of the blades
Alezandria had brought with her. "Then eat well this year, friend."
Samisin took Alezandria by the arm, leading her from the smith's shop.
"Why did that man address you as lord?"
she asked, her eyebrow raised.
"I am a Slayer," Samisin answered
and stopped walking. He wrinkled his nose; the smell of manure was strong
in the peasant village, where the king had his stable waste thrown. "When
the Slayers were the guardians of the lands, we were respected and needed.
With the honor of being a Slayer comes the responsibility of protecting
a planet from the forces of the Horde. Forever there has been a struggle
between good and evil with both sides equally balanced. The Slayers became
too much for the Horde to handle; we destroyed them, for the most part.
Chased them from one corner of the planet to the other, from one pole
to the next. We hunted them and slaughtered them like the beasts they
are. Slayers began to die out then. Most quit, became family men. Your
grandfather was a Slayer, Alezandria, one of the best men I have ever
met. The Spirit of the Slayer is what makes us warriors; it is what makes
us fight for what we believe in. I remember when you first came to me
to become a Slayer. You had heard the tales of adventure and you were
so excited. I taught you what I knew, but I never taught you what the
Slayers knew. That comes from inside. For many millennia there have been
Slayers, and for many millennia there have been Slayers who have died.
Never will there be two Slayers in the same lands at once; it is too difficult
to contain the balance of power. Slayers are unique, never quite the same,
but they all fight for one thingpeace and harmony."
"Can peace be achieved through war?
Through fighting?" Alezandria asked skeptically. Samisin had always
known she doubted the ways of the Slayers and he just smiled. She couldn't
be the one. Maybe there were no more.
"It sounds silly, but that can be
the only way. Magic is no more, and the Horde is unaffected by little
else besides weapons of war and destruction."
"Were you ever like me?" she
asked. Samisin looked into her eyes. She was a beautiful woman, her brown
hair falling to her shoulders and usually pulled back. Her brown eyes
drew him in, called to him.
"Yes," Samisin answered as he
drew near her. "My life was simple once, very simple. I was just
a boy on a farm when the Slayer Joanna came to slay the beasts that had
taken the church near us. That night when she came back, she was hurt,
dying. The wounds were deep, festering and bleeding. I found her behind
our barn; propped against the outside wall. She was praying to a god I
had never heard of. Her eyes told me what she wanted. I can't exactly
remember what happened in that moment. I hefted her blade into the air;
it was heavy for me then. It fell with my young strength guiding it. When
the blade met the woman's neck I was no longer myself. I was a Slayer.
"I came to Leonia because it called
me. Since then I have never had to decide what I would do; I just always
did it. Two days after arriving in Leonia I met Antede, in his demon form,
of course. He clawed out my eye before he escaped. I knew I would find
him one day and pay him back."
"But you have both eyes," Alezandria
"A gift from a Keeper," Samisin
said as he ran his hand over his face. "The last of the Keepers was
a dragon named Raglan. In her last day of life she called me to her. When
I arrived she gave me her gift. Her eye allows me to see the Horde wherever
it hides, even in the form of a human--like Antede in the square today.
And then she gave me the history of the Slayers with the engravings on
"Your sword? I thought those were
your battles etched into that blade." The young woman had drawn close
to Samisin, her warm breath brushing against his skin.
"Not just mine," Samisin said
as he drew it. The blade shimmered in the fading sunlight. "Every
Slayer's battles are on this cold steel, in it." Samisin's words
trailed off, his eyes softening as he ran his fingers over the blood groove.
"Fire in the fields!" someone
suddenly screamed into the courtyard. "The fields are ablaze!"
"The Horde!" Samisin snapped
to the task at hand. "Archers to the wall! Archers to the wall!"
He slid his blade into its resting place. "That means you, Alezandria;
you're the best shot I've got around here."
Nodding, Alezandria bolted up the nearest
ladder, picking up a long bow and a quiver full of arrows from the foot
of the wall. Samisin quickly followed, retrieving a crossbow as he kept
pace behind her.
"There have been a few movements out
there, sir," the captain of the guard called out as Samisin neared
his positions. "Just fleeting glimpses, nothing worth wasting a shot
"We'll have plenty of chances at killing
these creatures," Samisin answered as he scanned the blazing fields.
"They won't attack from there," Samisin said. He pointed to
a dark patch of forest. "There." He pulled and arrow from his
quiver, igniting the end of it with a touch of his finger. Raising the
weapon to his shoulder, he let the shot go. Soldiers watched as it streaked
into the woods, its flame extinguishing the moment it hit the dark area.
"What's going on?" Alezandria
asked as she witnessed the flame's demise.
"Demon sorcerer or mage," Samisin
answered. "Dark spells to hide their numbers. We'll discover how
many there are soon enough. Until then we wait."
The Horde came quickly, and with it came
the thunder. The thundering sound of hooves against the ground and sheer
number of soldiers echoed into the night air. Samisin had fought a small
number of the Horde near Kinross with a battalion of soldiers once, and
even though there had been no cavalry in the area, the sound of horses'
hooves slamming into the earth had rumbled in the air until the last demon
The blazing fields of grain cast an eerie
light onto the upcoming battlefield.
"They will never climb this wall,"
someone muttered over the sound of the charging Horde. Samisin lifted
his reloaded crossbow to his shoulder, quickly followed by the other soldiers
drawing their bows and crossbows. The rumble of the earth intensified
as the moat dissolved in front of the Leonia soldiers' eyes. The ground
rose from under the water, reaching up like a giant hand until it reached
the top of the wall.
"I guess they don't need to climb
the wall," Alezandria called back to the soldier who had spoken up
"Here they come," Samisin barked
as he let a shot fly. The bolt leaped forward, straight into the darkness
that loomed toward them. "FIRE!"
The volley of arrows blackened out the
soft glow of the fire and wrought havoc on the oncoming soldiers. The
darkness suddenly gave away to hundreds of beasts roaring toward them.
One of the younger soldiers gasped as he began to realize the sheer number
of warriors rushing at them.
Samisin reloaded his crossbow as he scanned
the oncoming enemy. Lifting his weapon, he let his arrow dig deeply into
a tall demon that was storming towards them. Alezandria let two shots
go in rapid succession, both shots digging home into the guts of a large
shapeshifter that toppled forward, crushing a duo of demons.
Samisin stood as the first of the creatures
hit the bottom of the earth bridge. Drawing his blade, the Slayer rushed
forward onto the dirt ramp with Alezandria following closely. Samisin
hit the grass outside the wall in a dead run and buried his blade deep
into the stomach of a winged demon. Ripping his sword out of the beast,
he met metal as his blade rang against the war axe of another oncoming
creature that had taken human form. Suddenly an arrow buried itself deep
in the beast's chest and it toppled to its side. Without glancing back,
Samisin gave a mental thanks to Alezandria.
The scream of a battle cry rose into the
smoky air as the castle gates lifted and the Leonia army poured out. The
Horde rushed forward, unaffected by the fierce cry as bodies crashed into
one another like one tidal wave meeting another. The clang of armor against
armor, sword against shield barely drowned out the sound of bones breaking,
flesh being torn from bone, and the sound of skulls cracking like eggshells
under pikes and maces. Samisin let a smile creep onto his face, for he
had not heard the sweet song of battle in many seasons.
"Keep them off the walls!" Samisin
shouted as his blade drove deep into the neck of an enemy, spraying blood
onto the Slayer's face and into the air. Blood flowed in streams down
the Slayer's face. His tongue wiped the metallic taste from his lips as
he stepped forward to engage another demon.
Alezandria hacked at the bony fingers of
a wingless demon that hung on the side of the wall. As the demon gave
an ear-piercing scream, the bones of its hand shattered, sending the creature
plummeting into the dark moat below. Catching sudden movement from the
corner of her eye, Alezandria turned, stepping aside from an enemy's attack,
and swung her sword high with the intention of decapitating her foe. Her
sword drove deep into the shoulder of a massive demon that had half shifted
into the form of a human, its legs still bubbling with warts and veins.
Alezandria cursed, for her blow did little more than lodge itself in the
"Stupid human," the beast growled
as it lifted its mace into the air. The sound of the creature's war cry
deafened Alezandria as she closed her eyes before the sound of a skull
splitting echoed into the air. Samisin had buried his massive blade into
the back of the creature's head, sending it sprawling backward and off
"Hit them in the guts!" Samisin
yelled as he hacked away another defender. Alezandria nodded as she sliced
the wing of a demon as it flew past, sending it into an uncontrolled spiral
and into sharp spikes that had been placed at the bottom of the wall.
She could feel Samisin leading them, giving them power through his actions.
Suddenly something tugged at her brain and she frantically searched for
her hero, for the Slayer. He had been near her a moment ago; but now he
was nowhere to be found.
Samisin felt the stab of the dagger as
it entered his back, the cold steel invading the warmth of his flesh and
muscle as the honed edges cut through him. His eyes closed as he felt
the pain of the blade as it pierced his heart. His ears throbbed with
his failing heart, each beat sending the Slayer further and further toward
oblivion. Turning slowly, he faced his killer.
"They gave me a deal I couldn't refuse,"
Millcor said, his grin shining in the darkness. The king's eyes glowed
fiercely as Samisin gasped for air. With each short breath, Samisin could
feel the pool of blood forming at the base of his lungs. How had Millcor
managed to get into the battle? But of course, Samisin realized. He had
traveled unnoticed by the Leonia guards because he wore the chain mail
armor of a soldier.
"Eternal life," Millcor finished
with a sneer.
"You have to live long enough to get
it!" Samisin gasped as he reached for Millcor, who just laughed as
Samisin fell onto the dirt of the bridge. Cold earth shocked the exposed
flesh of the Slayer's fingers and palms. Samisin almost gagged as the
stench of the king's breath reached his nostrils. The Slayer felt the
cold grip of death glide over his body.
With a grunt, Samisin pulled himself to
his knees. His vision was beginning to darken near the edges. The Slayer
reached to his side, pulling his sword close to him as he slumped forward
and back into the dirt. He could feel the burn in his chest rising into
his throat, threatening to explode from his head.
Millcor's laugh assaulted his ears, taunting
him to his grave. Samisin made a tight fist, his fingernails digging into
the hard earth, peeling backward. The pain gave the Slayer a last burst
of vigor. Rolling onto his back, Samisin squinted as he watched Millcor
pitch the dagger over the side of the bridge as the Horde fought Leonia's
soldiers around them.
"Fool," Millcor said scoffing.
"The last follower of a useless religion. How does it feel to know
you died in a battle against those you are sworn to defeat? Pathetic."
Samisin could not drown the words from
his head as memories flooded his mind. He thought of the day he watched
Joanna die, of the day he became a Slayer. He thought of all the friends
he had once known. He thought of the people he loved, that he lived for,
fought for...died for. Vandetto stood before him as he had many times
before, his strength evident by the way he held himself. Samisin thought
of his friend, of the way he had been killed, of the way his own brother
had him murdered.
Then he saw Millcor. He saw the way he
sneered, he heard the way he laughed at the Slayer and all that he believed,
and he saw that Millcor was not worthy of the throne. Millcor was not
worthy of life.
Glitters of red began to stream through
Samisin's eyes as he whispered to his gods above. His body summoned the
power it had held in reserve for Samisin's long life. His life was over
now, and he had a final use for that power. Samisin screamed as he raised
his hand into the air, his eyes glowing red as he summoned his last bit
"Die, Millcor, and rot in the underworld
with your demon kin. DIE!" Samisin yelled as he closed his fist,
sending bolts of energy spraying into the air.
Millcor suddenly felt the pressure in his
chest, his eyes growing wide as he fell to his knees. His heart stopped
pumping. He felt his life slipping; his eternal age was taunting him as
his last breath whispered from his lungs. Focusing his eyes, he saw before
him the Slayer he had killed, squeezing his heart in his outstretched
With a gasp, the king fell forward.
"Samisin!" Alezandria yelled
as she ran to him. The battle was going badly for Leonia and the Horde
was beginning to gain ground on the bridge. Kneeling at his side she touched
"Don't you leave me, you bastard!"
she screamed as she wept. "I did read the Book of the Slayer, just
as you told me. I've done everything you instructed the soldiers to do
ever since I joined their ranks. I have always done everything you have
ever told me to do. I want to be you, Samisin! I want to be a Slayer.
I don't know how to exist without your guidance, without you!"
"And I you, Alezandria." Samisin's
voice called to her but his lips had not moved. His eyes stared into space
as though seeing his final destination.
"Where are you?" she whispered.
Tears ran down her cheek as she spoke.
"At your side. Where I will always
Alezandria looked to her side, at the sword
that lay there.
"Pick it up." With her hand shaking,
she obeyed. Her fingers brushed the grips, the leather rough and worn
from the years of use. She closed her eyes as the sweet smell of spilled
blood and sweat swirled around her. She reached down, her fingers wrapping
around the grip and she was with him. The flash of light was blinding,
"Welcome," Samisin said as he
stood before her. They were no longer on the field of battle. The smell
of blood was gone, replaced b the thick smell of wood smoke and roasted
meat. The smell of ale chased the other aromas.
"Where are we?" Alezandria stammered.
Her eyes adjusted to the brightness. Samisin stood before her in a great
hall. There were large tables that stretched the length of the room. Along
each table were chairs that were filled with warriors of all types. Humans
stood short and tall, athletic and muscular. They all wore armor that
was scarred, dented and chipped. All were drinking and eating, oblivious
of Alezandria's arrival. "What is this place?"
"It is where the Slayers go when they
die," Samisin answered with a smile. "I am finally here."
"You can't go yet!" Alezandria
screamed, her voice echoing throughout the room and causing everyone to
stop what they are doing and look. "We need you out there. I need
you out there!"
"There is no need for me now,"
Samisin said as a large dragon approached them. "I have been replaced.
There cannot be two Slayers in the same part of the world. One Slayer
is all a realm can hold, for their powers are too great."
"Who is the other Slayer? Does he
know he's the Slayer? Will he stop them before it is too late?" she
begged, dropping to her knees.
"You will have to look inside for
that answer, child," a booming voice replied. Alezandria looked up,
wiping tears from her eyes. A one-eyed dragon stood above her, its green
and blue scales shimmering. The one eye watched her, its deep black radiating
with wisdom. "I am the Keeper Raglan. I was Samisin's Keeper. The
bond between Keeper and Slayer is so strong that one is sometimes lost
without the other. Samisin was strong though. He survived when others
could not, until he had left the Spirit of the Slayer with another. For
there to be another Slayer means something else as well. Somewhere there
is another Keeper. It will be a dragon, too, but the last of the dragons.
You will have to find this Keeper. You are now the last of the Slayers,
Alezandria. Be sure to use your powers well. I once gave Samisin the gift
of true sight," it continued, holding its clenched claws out before
it as it did, "as I will now give you something. Use it wisely. Use
it as Samisin would have." The dragon opened its three-fingered claw,
revealing a bare palm.
"What is it?" Alezandria sobbed
with confusion. " I don't see anything."
"It is what made me realize I was
finally a Slayer," Samisin said, "It will guide you as it guided
me. Be glad that you have not the pain I did when I received it, though,
and that you have the mark without losing the sight. When you finally
come here there will be a place for you right next to me." Samisin
leaned forward and kissed her lips gently, as a father would kiss a child.
She tasted of things Samisin had never known, woman, daughter. "I
love you, Alezandria, as though you were my own child. I will be with
you forever. Go now," Samisin demanded, "and fulfill your destiny."
The light faded. Alezandria found herself
still on her knees next to Samisin's body. She ran her fingers along the
grip of the blade.
"Samisin's dead!" someone screamed.
"We've got to get out of here!"
"NO!" she bellowed, the words
coming from the pit of her stomach before exploding forth. Alezandria
didn't know how long she had been in the sword that was now in her hand
as she stood, but she felt the rays of the sun starting to break through
the night sky to illuminate the battlefield. "We fight and we win
today," she shouted above the commotion to the soldiers. "We
run and we lose forever!"
Something made the warriors of Leonia listen
to her that day. Something made them listen and obey as she led them to
victory even in the face of defeat. It wasn't the sword she thrust into
the sky and let gleam with the power of a thousand suns. It wasn't the
mark that ran from her eyebrow to her chin on the left side of her face
that appeared that day without blood or pain. It was the spirit of Samisin;
the Spirit of the Slayer.
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