Hello, Heretics, today I have something that isn't a fanfiction, but a story written in an original setting that I came up with, just an excerpt around 2,000 words. Hope you like it :D. This is a scene I decided was not going to work with what I was writing. So instead of deleting it, I thought I'd share it here.
EDIT: Also, I changed names around for obvious reasons ;).
How could a dozen men raze an entire settlement? Idris realized that the answer would soon become clear.
Ashen smoke mushroomed from the ruined village of Segovia and into the grey shroud that cloaked the skies above. The neighboring citizens had clamored about the battle there for the last several days. They claimed that Segovia was a beautiful marvel built between two rivers and was afforded the rare honor of possessing a castle. Idris could not disagree as she studied the remaining temples and structures built of alabaster marble. The structural maze of wooden buildings that had once surrounded those charred remnants were nothing more than kindling in a smoldering firestorm.
Evania neighed gently and attempted to race in the opposite direction. Idris pulled on the reigns and whispered soothing words into her white stallion’s ear. The war horse circled uncertainly, jingled in its heavy plate barding, but did not bolt. Idris nudged her steed back toward the burning village and set off in a steady gallop.
The Kingdom of Numeria was the southernmost country on the mainland of Khios as one could possibly go without crossing the Void Sea. Once, Idris would have expected god rays and a summer heat that would have her cooking alive in her silver scaled armor and leather trousers. Instead her emerald eyes were forever in search of pockets of ice as she led Evania through a foot-deep blanket of snow. Hairs stood on her dark olive skin and her flowing plaits of dirty blonde hair were tucked beneath her wolf cloak.
An age of decay was upon the world. There were none who could escape it.
“Whoa…” Idris tugged on Evania’s reins as they neared a stone bridge that led into Segovia. “Take it slow now.” Evania slowed into a steady trot across the bridge.
The narrow roads that snaked through the village were littered with the bodies of the fallen. Bronze skinned human men, women, old and infirm dressed in clothes tattered and worn from overuse: no one was spared. Thick blood trails were slathered in the dirt from where they arced from the victims. More than one of the corpses were broken open or torn apart by what appeared to be mortal force. Many of them had attempted to flee in their last moments. The chaos must have been immense, for no one to have survived.
“Vicious and merciless.” Idris cautiously trotted through the streets, undeterred by the ashen clouds that pervaded her. Evania halted in her tracks and Idris quickly dismounted in the midst of the ruined maze. Her fingers brushed through Evania’s mane as she whispered, “Looks like the work of the Samayans or the Cheruscal.”
“Go,” Idris’s voice was hushed. “Get the others.” She slapped Evania’s rear end and the war horse bolted toward the bridge. She waited until the mount was out of sight before she collected her thoughts and set off into the ruins of Segovia.
Samayans. Cheruscal. They were only a fraction of the migrating barbarian hordes arriving from the northern fringes of the world. The dire winter had made their ancestral lands infertile, killed their crops, and their kindred without prejudice. The fractured tribes had little choice but to band together in mass exodus toward the Southern Kingdoms. Idris knew of their brutal and primitive sense of honor. It was the only thing that kept the word peace from every mouth as the barbarian hordes penetrated deeper and deeper into Humanity’s countries.
The coppery scent of blood intermingled with that of smoke and flames crackled from burning wood. The citizens that had been slain in Segovia had been killed within the last few hours. Idris unslung her bow and proceeded through the claustrophobic roads of the village. She passed through shattered blockades where phalanxes of brave men—at—arms had attempted to stave off the barbarian threat. She knew from their scattered and broken shields that it was not enough.
Idris’s pointed ears perked. “Well, well, what is that noise?”
Idris’s approached at the sound of children weeping in the near distance, somewhere further into the heart of the village. She fell into a feline crouch and began to stalk through the ruined roads that reeked of death. Peasant huts crumpled with deafening impacts on occasion, fans of flame sprayed from the wreckage in one final gasp before it was winked out by dust and debris. She forced herself to ignore the decrepit ruin tumbling down around her and slipped from one destroyed fortification to the next. Eventually, her gaze settled on the source of her curiosity.
Young children were gathered in the village forum, their hands bound and linked tightly with rope. Idris could only sense fear and confusion in their eyes as their captors milled about the forum. She had heard the tales about the half—giants that called themselves Cheruscal. Yet to gaze upon them for the first time… They possessed the appearances of humans, but stood three heads over the tallest elf. Lives spent on the northern fringes had made them gaunt with densely corded with muscle. The barbarians were dark of hair and eyes, tattooed with runic carvings across their naked torsos. They favored animal cloaks and leather trousers, from jawless bear heads to fox tails. In their hands was finely honed steel coated in dark and coagulated blood.
Idris melded into the shadows behind a debris stack of crumpled and burnt wood. Her emerald eyes flicked back and forth across the open plaza. Two guard the children. A scarred one of them wears a bear pelt with a jawless head pulled over his hair and barks orders from a lonely well. Four others voices betray others scattered across the clearing. They are hidden within hamlets yet to be burned. Their guttural tongue can be heard over the pleading of innocents. Harsh screams tore loose from primitive throats. Idris heard the sounds of blades cleaving through flesh.
Idris gritted her teeth. Too many.
Idris surmised the odds and decided that fate did not favor her. She carefully made to retrace her steps back into the winding streets of Segovia. Crack.
She felt tattered wood snap beneath her boot heel, loud enough that two or three of the cheruscal immediately looked up from their idle tasks. Idris threw herself behind the debris pile and made no further movements. Her breathing was calm. The muscles inside her body seemed to tense just right.
After several moments of tense silence, Idris nocked an arrow and leaned her head into the town plaza. The barbarians could not see through the ashen smoke that choked the village, despite their best efforts to thoroughly search around the clearing. One of the cheruscal warriors guarding the children eventually had the idea to approach Idris’s position. She caught the scent of bear fat and perspire in the air as her stalker neared her hidden haven.
An arrow sang in the same moment the Cherusci rounded the corner and discovered Idris. But not from Idris’s own bow, she had slung her own in favor of a scimitar. The wooden shaft found purchase in the half—giant’s throat and sent him stumbling backwards. He attempted to gurgle a warning, but collapsed and choked on his blood instead.
The children scrambled away from the fighting until they had vanished into the nooks and crevices of their home village. The remaining giants shattered the tranquil silence with their guttural roars as they brandished their lengthy weapons and charged toward the danger. Several other warriors emerged from the surrounding buildings to join the remaining three in the courtyard. Idris joined the invisible archer attempting to strike them down, but these cheruscai were tough bastards. She embedded her third arrow into the slab of muscle with the bear’s head over his skull and watched in horror as it only appeared to make him angrier.
Lyiara’s voice cut through the cacophony of battle cries and raging flames. “Idris, fall back! I’m sounding the horn!”
A cavalcade of hooves stormed through the ruins of Segovia as Lyiara did as she had planned. Idris quickly ducked into a lesser road before a dozen mounted Knights could trample her into the earth. These were a collection of men and elves dressed in a half—plate armor design that left the right side of their chest covered in thick ring mail. The last among them slowed his steed enough to offer Idris a hand. Idris merely smirked as she accepted the offer and leapt onto the back of his steed. They did not share a word with one another as the mysterious knight kicked his steed into a momentous charge.
The Knights of the Glass Dragon crashed into their foes with mortal force, but the Churescal were far cries from mere human men. The barbarians flailed their weapons in brutal arcs as they were charged down. War stallions reared and whined frantically as their limbs were severed and their guts ripped open. Their riders crashed down into the burning earth, broken beneath their own mounts or finished quickly by the northmen. The charge was halted.
“Come on!” Erion shouted at his mount. He spurred his horse through the bloody mound of bodies. His longsword flashed from his person against weapons as nearly tall as himself as he charged past them. As they were distracted, Idris managed to cleave a northman’s head from his shoulders with a powerful swing.
A cheruscai warrior blinded Idris from the left. He snatched her by her wolf cloak and sent her clattering to the ground from her horse with a vicious tug. Several of the Knights of the Glass Dragon were already dismounted and fighting the giants in hand to hand combat. Blair and Vindiaccos charged into the fray to rescue her.
Sixteen-year-old Blair twisted around a straight thrust and slashed his opponent’s non—sword arm across the bicep. His enemy turned his thrust into a sideways swipe. Blair ducked beneath the blow and answered with a sharp uppercut that carved a nasty gash on the northmen’s face from chin to forehead. The cheruscai warrior merely revealed his pain with a grunt, savagely punched Blair off of his feet, and halted Vindiaccos’ war hammer with a fast hand.
Idris rolled to her feet in the chaotic melee, Vindiaccos’ Warhammer barely grazed her cheek as the cheruscai attempted to bring it down on her. Her scimitar sliced through the air like a sliver of quicksilver. Blood sprayed from the gaping cut cleaved into the northman’s midsection. The barbarian roared in agony, his gritted teeth his last act of defiance as Vindiaccos tore his weapon free and pulverized him with the sickle—shaped hammerhead.
“Blair!” Idris ignored the fierce fighting around her. She rushed to the young knight errant’s side. “Are you injured?”
“Fine! I’m fine!” The young human managed a wheeze and a pained smirk as he rolled himself over. He had lost his helmet in that scuffle. Idris took in the sight of him as she searched for wounds. The human boy was weighed down in a heavy crimson quilted leather cuirass and leather trousers. Beneath the armored exterior was a young man, no older than seventeen winters. His muscles were lean, but heavily toned from a childhood spent wielding swords. What little skin shone through his armor was a soft bronze. His facial features were chiseled and sharp: chin thin and pointed, cheeks slightly gaunt, and his matted brown hair stuck to his skull with perspire. His eyes were large hazel pieces that regarded Idris with relief.
Bellenath chastised them both as he waded past them into the battle. “What are you two doing!? On your feet and fight!”
The combat shifted further into the town center as the cheruscal were steadily pushed back. The advance was not without consequences, however, Idris counted several mercenaries of the Glass Dragon fallen on the roadside. The cheruscal had bled just as much, that was a victory in and of itself. Blair picked himself off the floor and joined Idris as the mercenaries continued their assault.
Erion, Bellenath, and Aurellan pushed back two of the half—giants with a whirlwind of swordplay, further towards the well. Idris sheathed her scimitar and unslung her longbow. She quickly nocked an arrow and let loose in the same moment. The bladed arrow tip darted through the air and impacted against the cheruscal’s sternum with enough force to splinter bone. The barbarian yelped as the wooden shaft penetrated his chest and sent him screaming over the lip of the well.
The cheruscal quickly realized that they were facing defeat and sounded their retreat. Of the small raiding party that had brought such horror and destruction to Segovia, merely a handful were left alive to turn tail and flee. The barbarians vanished into the smoke wreathed roads of the village outskirts. The Knights of the Glass Dragon did not deign to pursue. They had taken too many losses to justify the risk.