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Wednesday, 14 January 2009
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My Brother, My Killer
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Chapter Six: And The Wind Cries

Betrayal is never a spur of the moment. It’s a slippery slope on which one hesitantly has to descend as footholds crumble underneath. Both Simon and Agnés desperately fought the desire that lurked deep inside their hearts: the lessons were at an end and they would meet each other only with other people present to quell their lusting tide. It was a true hell to see her holding the hand of his former master but for now loyalty to the man he respected and loved, kept the malignant floods of desire as a dam made of stone at bay. She belongs to him and he to her. What right do I even have to interfere? What curse has driven me towards lust bordering near insanity? 

Luckily for Simon the events of the Old World transpired to occupy his mind. The defeat of the Imperial fleet spread throughout Bretonnia like wildfire on a scorching summer day. Apparently as a flotilla had been amassed to patrol the waters north of the realm, a combined fleet of corrupted men, dwarves and elves cut their way through the entire command. Ships burned under the relentless fire of the fleet of tainted while survivors drowned in the poisoned waters. Only a few managed to escape the maelstrom of fire and magic, their crew were scarred by what they’ve seen and heard. A chosen one has arisen once more, a new lord of the end time. Once again the forces of good had to rally their armies and fleets against a force that knew no sleep nor peace. The combined ships of the free men and elves engaged the gigantic raider fleet in many skirmishes but their descent upon the lands of men seemed unstoppable. By the end of summer smaller armies has already started to plunder the shorelines of the northern neighbours. In such desperate times the king -though old, still guided by a divine wisdom- called forth all able knights and their retinues to form an army under the banner of the king. An errantry war was declared against the marauding forces of chaos thus rallying every righteous soul in the land. The capital became a huge, coloured mass of banners and pavilions as one of the greatest armies in history amassed. But knowing the king’s weakness, the main question on the lip of the dukes was who to lead it.

The royal envoy made due haste along the road between Couronne and Entresville. Autumn was reaching for the door, promising rain and wind. Surely the forces of corruption would attempt a landfall before the continuous storms would scatter them? Simon and Nicolas hadn’t left their keep to join the army yet, preferring to complete any arrangements for their absence. After all their land was home to the sea and might be threatened while they would have been gone. The courier arrived to disturb the preparations with news they both anticipated. Lord Nicolas Pinsson was to leave at once for the king’s court at Couronne to assist the king in the choice of a general. He bid a long farewell to his beloved wife, a kiss that lasted for ages, and left the remainder of the preperations in the hands of Simon. Two lone souls witnessed as the small party of knights headed towards the south. 


The next day the young knight would leave, travelling past the brotherhood to gather the knights there. They would be prepared as well, armour shining and wills indomitable. Yet his mind was restless and still awake late at night. The soft knock on his door did not surprise him one bit. Simon prayed for it to go away but when he heard the third knock, he rose from his bed to open the door. In a white night gown there stood a haunting memory which had been plaguing his mind ever since. In a flickering light of torches he could see the glistening of tears. Solemnly he wiped them off her cheeks and wrapped her in his arms.
“I’m scared, Simon. For Nicolas, for you. Scared I might not see the two of you ever again. I am bereft of a last night of solace in the arms of my lover yet I’m too weak to sleep alone. What will I do if the both of you die on that field? The knowledge of you two not returning home, has weakened my already battered resolve. I can’t stand the doubt anymore. Please silence my anxiety.” Tears now welled up again and poured unhindered down her cheeks.

Simon merely nodded while gently stroking her hair. At least I can give her one last night of comfort and die with a satisfied smile. There won’t be any guilt on the other side. Slowly he kicked his door shut and guided her into his arms towards his bed.


The sea was alive with thousands of ships, small and big, unleashing veritable wave after wave of corrupted kin upon the shores. The armies of men, dwarves and elves waited patiently as the chaos spawn formed up for battle. The combined fleet of the forces of light meanwhile was trying to intercept as many of the boats crammed with their warriors as they could but they took heavy losses in exposing themselves that way. Yet every cursed man, dwarf or elf that didn’t reach the shore was a blessing for the army for the enemy was beyond count anyway. The thundering rattle of broadsides pierced hulls of wood and steel who in return fired their malignant weaponry on the gallant ships of the royal navy. The deadly display of fire and black powder was an awesome sight to behold so close to the shore. Wreckage and bodies already littered the seas and moved listlessly to and from the beach in the backwash.


The brotherhood stood front and centre, the general at its core. If he had read the guilt and shame in one of his companion’s eyes he did not show. The battle plan was simple: a strong push through the core of their army and throw them back in the boiling sea. Meanwhile the other armies would try the same against the enemies lined further down the line. Hopefully the remainder would break and flee back to their ships. They had awaited their build-up to make the most their first charge which should trample their army in one fell stroke. Finally Nicolas gave the allotted signal and row upon row of bowmen steadily marched to the front. When they would fire volley upon volley of arrows into the massed groups of the enemy, their infantry would also move up, ordered not to engage their flanks until the knights would plunge deep into the rotten heart of the tainted.


Hundreds of horns resonated in the vale as the huge group of thousands of knights spurred their horses into a canter. Finding momentum in the slightly sloped hill down the horses soon reached full gallop, the valley echoing the thundering hooves. Arcane, missiles and other foul weaponry met them head-on as they stormed towards the enemy lines. A foul burst of hot gore splattered near the group knight, fouling the armour of several. Simon saw that the acid burned straight through to their skin, making them endure extreme pains. The wounded had no choice but to follow their peers down into the war: there was no escape from the giant unit. Finally they closed the last yards when they could discern their targets. As one the lances were lowered, aimed for their marks.
A hundred yards. They are cursed men.
Fifty yards left. They gave into temptation.
Twenty yards and closing. They betrayed their kin.
Ten and the slaughter would be upon them. I betrayed my brother.
Three... two... one... We all deserve to die here, scum, so give it your best shot. Simon’s lance imploded into the chest of one of their bigger warriors. The hulking man was dead before he hit the ground and the young knight drew his sword. His warhorse kept on running, trampling all those who were unlucky to stand in its path. Blade drawn, Simon started to cut a bloody path through, not even seeing the faces of the ones that fell beneath his furious blows.  

An hour passed and still the slaughter continued. A knight was fighting some armoured warrior a few feet further until a moment later half his body and armour shattered in pieces. Simon saw the death of the unlucky one and followed the blast to its source, some pale witch of the elven kin. There was nothing but hatred in those cold, blue eyes. Another arcane spell sent a storm of ice shards towards Simon but his armour protected him from razor sharp bits. Now a hint of fear crept in the soulless eyes of the creature. Good to know you fear death just like the rest of us. She raised her staff to deflect the blow but to no avail as his sword cut deep into her shoulders and left her broken body behind.

Weariness meanwhile started to take its toll: a deflected thrust of a spear found its way through a plate, opening a wound below. Then as he the spear was tugged away, a great explosion of fire threw him off his horse. His back sharply connected with the ground as Simon groaned in pain. The shock had numbed his senses but as he regained his composure he found himself alone in a great crater filled with bloody and dismembered bodies. His horse was not to be found anywhere. All along the hole the fighting continued but Simon felt as if he was in the eye of the storm right now. Clambering his way up, he tried to recognise anything but chaos reigned in the swirling mass of steel and flesh and he could discover no other knights. Lacking a better plan he made his way downhill.

Thrust. Parry. Slash. Has the night fallen or will these dark clouds never disappear? Dodge. Counter and kill. Hours or maybe days could have passed and Simon was still battling his way to nowhere. The rush of battle had faded a long time ago, its numbing effects disappearing. A sharp pain reminded him of the wound at his side. Deflect. Thrust. Thrust again. Maybe I died and this is what the afterlife looks like. A man stormed towards him, axe held high. Simon just ran him through. Wouldn’t that be a fitting reward for the warmongerers and the innocent they drag with them?

The finale was near: whether it was the end of the battle or his own didn’t matter, one of them was bound to come. Simon had passed the corpse of one of brotherhood not a while back, his jaw dislocated by a massive bludgeoning weapon. Slowly his name –Colin- had drifted to the surface of his consciousness but the healthy face to match it did not. Another faceless to join the dead. As if there weren’t enough of them already. The cackling of lightning and the flashing of purple light drew his attention. On a heap of corpses there danced two lone figures, a duel which involved magic and swords. Nicolas! The Lady blessed you this day! His brother clearly was the more skilled of the two, easily deflecting his powerful but inaccurate blows and countering them with well-struck cuts on the corrupted. Sometimes the chaos spawn would throw a cowardly surge of raw magic but the blessing of the Lady soaked it harmlessly. Bleeding from many wounds this duel could only end in one way. 

But then Nicolas tripped over something in the hill of corpses, falling backwards and dropping his weapon. Sprawled between the many bodies he lay, unmoving as he awaited the end. Simon surged forwards, ignoring the pain and protesting limbs, rushing past friend or foe heedlessly. As the foul sword descended upon the general of the royal army, the sharp blade of Simon pierced deep and hard until his hilt met the flesh  into the side of their champion. The hulk of a man dropped his weapon harmlessly and fell sideward down the gruelling stack of bodies. A booming and hackled voice rose over the thunder of the battle. “You dared to slay the anointed on this day of unholy energy? You puny mortal! You have no idea of the energies you unleashed.” A warped humanoid to who the voice belonged floated closer on a cruel disc. “The world of men shall fall and I’m its herald! The end shall come and you will lead its army! You shall bear the gift of the grandfather and return to us one day to fulfil your destiny.” The creature started a foul incantation and for the first time Simon knew true fear. Helplessly he had to watch the shifting creature finish its spell, a ray of dark magic unleashing from its claw. Now it was Nicolas turn to sacrifice himself for his friend. The foul arcane hit the unfortunate knight who heroically threw himself in front of Simon to save him. The dark energies crackled like cinders in a fire and vanished. After hours of constant battle, the sudden silence was deafening. Simon noticed that he was holding his friend in his arms who had been knocked out cold apparently by the blast but was still breathing. Running his hand along his brow, he suspected there to be a slight fever but nothing a few days of rest would not overcome. 

The fever lingered for days alas, rest or no rest. Meanwhile great pyres were lit to burn the bodies of the corrupted. Priests sanctified the earth to bury the fallen knights and lowborn. Many corpses were mangled and mutilated beyond recognition by the fell and evil powers of corruption.  Scores of commoners would never return to their land and family, given their lives to defend them. After that day many a heraldry disappeared from remembrance, its owner having made the ultimate sacrifice. Eleven of the brotherhood would never return to their fort, the corpse of Vincent never too be found. Simon searched high and wide between the many unknown knights who perished on the field of glory but nowhere he saw his familiar face nor the thrice crossed blue lines, spurring a black tower, on a white background. All battles end the same: mixed feeling of euphoria of the victory, the pleasure and guilt of having survived instead some other poor sod and a gradual understanding what the cost will be. It had been a great victory for the world of free men, a bitter and dearly paid but a triumph nonetheless : the enemy’s army routed with most of them left dead on the last shores they would pester. Some had managed to escape inland but were not of any great concern, their number too few and too scattered. Their champion was once again destroyed by the light, just one other chosen whose name would fade in history as a story to scare children into behaving. Their monstrous fleet had retreated to the icy north waters after it witnessed the defeat of the army, harassed by the fleets in pursuit. Their own losses however was a stinging wound on any celebrations. Slowly the royal army dispersed to return to their homelands. The greatest blow struck to the nation of Bretonnia however was lying on a cod in a tent. Nicolas fever didn’t lessen; on the contrary it intensified, burning the poor knight up. His last wish was to die on his ancestral ground so the surviving members of the brotherhood finally broke camp and left the stained field. For years it would remain a barren field where no wholesome plant would grow, the beaches forever defiled by norse blood. 

Arriving home was a painful moment: Simon didn’t have the heart to warn Agnés of the events. She descended, overjoyed with their return, but then she discovered the truth in his eyes which he could not hide: Nicolas was slowly dying, trapped in a furnace that is his body. Even the king’s personal physician could not subdue the foul temperature, mages had no solution to fight the disease that was slowly incinerating his will and priests could only give him the solace of the last rites. Nicolas was barely conscious those days, barely able to see the many tears in the eyes of his love and the sorrow in the eyes of his brother. Hideous boils filled with black pus and  dark red burn marks began to dot his face and body after a week, further defiling his body but still he fought a desperate battle. Alone on the top of the battlements of his mind he struggled with no reinforcements arriving against the curse that had been bestowed upon him. His will fighting for that last shining parcel of hope which kept him struggling to face the disease: to survive for her and to hold her again. Nicolas clung to that small beacon of hope as the flames burned ever higher. Occasionally the words of familiar but faceless voices would fade in, telling him to fight, to show a sign or to forgive them.  

One night in that desperate time –the shallow breathing of Nicolas had become ever more faint and erratic- Simon visited the castle’s chapel all alone. The morning was on its way but the young knight found no bliss in sleep. And thus he had dressed and slipped into the dark night. I might as well do something useful for my brother. The full moon turned the temple into a twilight world with its eerie light. It had ever been cold in the chapel but that night it seemed to be freezing, his breath turning into unreal clouds of steam that as quickly disappeared. Before the altar, he kneeled and casted his eyes down.
Thrice blessed be She, who strengthens the living, comforts the dead and guides the unborn. Blessed is She who with her divine wisdom shapes the lives of men.
In the central part of the keep another tear-struck soul was maintaining a vigil near the disfigured body of her husband and love. Her head rested against her chest, her tears soaking his clothes. His breathing had ever become the more shallow, the beating of his heart more frantically. No matter where they derived their powers from, the counsellors gave him a few days at most.
Lady, who guards over us and oversees us in the glades and forests, hear me tonight in this time of need.
“Oh, Nicolas, my love. Where does your mind wander now?” She wiped her tears away she tucked her head besides his. “Not knowing whether you listen to my pleas at all, strains my uneasy mind. I ache to speak to you once more.”
Hear me plead to you in your everworld. Let the winds carry my words to you.
“Somewhere deep down there has to be the Nicolas I love and worship, ever struggling against the disease that violates his body. Deep down I know I can reach you.” Agnés was now whispering his swollen ear.
The walls of your favourite son’s mind are crumbling. The cursed kiss of the corrupt invoking an infernal and unholy disease that batters his failing defences.
“The sickness is a curse, my love.” The sad maiden confided to him. “A curse that’ll tear you asunder.”
We stand powerless before its fearsome might over the one we love. The corrupting forces turning his temple into a blight.
“No-one knows how to aid you in your struggle or how to ease the pain for they don’t understand the nature of the curse.”
The torture has gone on too long, how can you let your favourite son suffer so much?
“You  have burned for oh so long in this eternal pit of fire because, it’s a curse to punish.”
He has ever been faithful, ever been a devout son to you and the land. Never once betraying your trust you bestowed unto him instead wearing with pride and honour that which is most holy of all.
A curse to punish me for my betrayal.”
Your first and foremost warrior under this sun: true and unwavering in the face of the greatest evils.
“Me betraying all that was beautiful and sacrosanct between us two. I violated the unique bond we only share.
You’ll be sure to agree he deserves a more rewarding destiny for this years of unceasing loyalty and service then this foul and despicable fate.
“It was a night of my gravest mistake and an insult to you, I shall never forgive myself for it.”
Please, find the love to heal his broken body, to aid his besieged mind and return him to us once more.
“I have to confess to you and pray for your forgiveness before you are torn away from me forever.”
Let him find his way back home.
One night of passion with the one you love best second. Forgive Simon, Nicolas, forgive us. You both mean so much to me, I could not choose and I ended up hurting you in a way that is more lethal than a dagger’s thrust, more painful than to feel your life slip away day by day and more stinging than a viper’s kiss.”
Look kindly upon your son.
“Forgive us.”
The gates were opened and he embraced the corrupting disease. As his hope turned out to be just as rotten as his flesh would be, his trust befouled as this disease would turn into a high blessing by the powers who had never lied to him and his love perverted into all-pervasive hate against those that call themselves the faithful.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 31 January 2009 )
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