SEEKER OF THE BLADE
War was upon these people, and they knew it.
Dusk had long settled on the city of Lalthan, where men had been killing these Jackals for two days past. The Jackals had fought back—brutally, even—but the skill of this army was giving the people of Lalthan somewhat of an advantage. These brutes, however, had numbers on their side. Even though one man could kill ten of these beasts, limitless numbers seemed to have come.
They came on that afternoon two days back, a dark form on the horizon for this city had been constructed on the boarder of a treacherous wasteland. After night fell, the battle began when the Jackals’ inhuman calls sounded in the midst of the soft thud of their footfalls. Every minute brought the small drum pulse louder; every minute brought these creatures closer.
And so they fought for two, painstaking days, where archery fired volley after volley off of their position along the ramparts. The Jackals’ fell too quickly for the men’s liking for there was no honor in a massacre. And these beasts did not—could not—fight back for they used only their brawny hands that held only four fingers each.
What seemed like two days that lasted for eternity, where these creatures beat the outlying towns to rubble and surrounded the city of Lalthan, they finally broke through the East Strongate. Their thin bodies were clad in only their tough skin, but their heavy fists did quick work to knock a human cold to the ground.
The battle kept on, and all were up in arms. Luckily, only one entrance was broken through and after they had entered the Strongate, Lalthan was only surrounded by the carcasses of the Jackals for they diverted their attention to the only entrance available. Rank upon ranks charged forward; these creatures seemed to have infinite stamina.
While battle raged at local town squares, which had been commonplace for trade and event, women and children had been ushered into the stone manor of Lalthan. These were the dwellings of Lalthan’s greatest man; Marshal Kenthlad. He was the most skilled swordsman the history of Lalthan had ever seen, which was why he was appointed leader of this city. Of course, he was on the battlefront with his men, instructing rather than battling. Not only was he a grand swordsman, his tactics seemed flawless.
The slash of swords hitting flesh and the puncture of that same tissue on pike never stopped as pikemen held their position in front while swordsmen met their foe in battle. Archery was position in the back and on roofs, in the depths of alleys, and, if battle was met near fortifications, along the battlements. Cavalry hadn’t been effective whatsoever. Jackals had a way with speed and they took down horses before the men could ready themselves. Heavily armored men marched past Kenthlad.
“Reload front!” he called to the bowmen. He turned as a large battalion seemed eager for battle, but was unable to fight because of their comrades before them. “Take the streets to your left and attack from that direction!” His voice was strained since the din was overwhelming. He nodded toward them and they departed off as instructed. Finally noticing that light was failing quickly, he turned toward the ranks just beside the men who were running off down the streets. “Make sure no man takes down the right road,” he told the captain that he recognized under his fully plated helm as Jhamir.
He turned to the front, and was surprised that his men were pressing the Jackals back. “Press forth, men! Hold to barrage!” he called to the archers, which entailed he wanted them to not cease fire. Adrenaline coursed through his body as he ran forward with the men that he had long trained in those grounds for months; even years. Running beside the infantry that had sworn under his name, he drew his sword in mid-step. His actions appeared instant and yet so fluent. That was the sole purpose of the proclaiming of his title.
Slicing at one of the Jackals, he found that it was like cutting butter—but his sword had been forged by the Ghaenin, a great community of men who are born as warriors; much like the culture Kenthlad himself led. Whirling, striking, countering and parrying, it was like a blur that he led; a dance. The dance, of course, was with his sword as a partner, and he competed against the Jackals to see who would be the better dancer. But his thoughts were not on the dance. The dance, used properly, evolved into instinct—his instinct. His mind was blank, a cold void that he led in his mind.
Time seemed to go so slowly, and yet it flew by immediately. After what seemed like an hour of fighting, he withdrew himself back behind his ranks. Checking himself for any wounds, he only found that he was exhausted. Breathing heavily in his position, he kept the call of orders going, drawing the men from that left side of the street over to along the right cobblestone pathways.
Making sure his sword was secure in his iron scabbard; he stayed his ground and continued calling orders to his army.
The battle continued, Kenthlad’s men began pressing their foe back to the entrance. The men under Kenthlad never appeared to finish marching past him in numbers of tens of thousands. But he knew there was a limit, and it was soon to come.
Abruptly, Kenthlad looked to the skies, for the battle seemed to have grown rather dark, and it was at this time that Kenthlad noticed the moon was the only thing giving off light. But the form that was now blocking it was not a cloud, but a bird, though it seemed unreasonable to see a bird at that time. Kenthlad cleared his eyes, or at least tried to. The shape of the bird seemed far too large to be a bird and he knew it was distant in the dark heavens—and the form seemed to grow larger by the moment.
He was brought back to awareness by the yells of his men and the sound of battle and, with a last glance at the large creature in the sky. While some of his warriors—rather most of them—looked to that black obstruction, the Jackals also seem to stop fighting. They seemed to flee, rather than fight on, but with the little intellect they had, they were on the ground tripping each other over more than getting farther away.
As the form began to come into actual detail, there came shouts of two more of them that were coming. The creature had quite the large wingspan, its translucence giving some light from the moon down along where the battle once took place.
No one really knew what happened that instant later, for they all seemed to vanish as a light greater than any the sun could give off flooded the night sky. It was as white as snow, but a very harsh white that could be unbearable to look at, and immediately after it was, it was no longer. What was left, however, was nothing. Buildings which stood directly beneath the beast had completely vanished, leaving a dark char upon the urban soil. The roads were covered in what seemed like ash, or silky black sand, a remnant of what once stood. The stone walls gave way beneath themselves, tumbling and joining the ruining of a formerly grand city.
The manor that stood as a refuge in times of war, that had held women and their children had been turned into the foundations it stood on. No one could have withstood that blast, living or dead. The carcasses that previously littered the blood stained ground had gone as well. Even the heavens vanish, at least for a time.
The only remnant, in fact, was one that stood alone, a dark solemn shape that could hardly be distinguish by the surrounding gloom.
And so what became of Lalthan and its history was forever erased from the Archives of Time. Its prosperous trade and a guard against those Jackals would be forgotten in the winds. Nothing could stop what horror was brought to those people. Nothing.