He exhaled deeply into the frosty air, his breath rising slowly before him. The stillness of the air which surrounded him bore false witness to the maelstrom which raged overhead. A tangled mass of blue-purple clouds roiled overhead, bringing with them an unnatural dusk to what should have been a sunny afternoon. Another cloudy breath escaped his lips as arcs of lightning raked across the clouds overhead, and a quiet rumble of thunder echoed across the landscape. The frigid air around him reeked of death. He barely noticed the abrupt change in temperature from his perch atop the hill. As his almost crystalline blue-green eyes scanned the flatlands ahead, his angular jaw set itself into a dark scowl. Before him lay the ruined wastes of a small town. It's blackened walls were shattered in innumerable places. Behind the broken shell of the wall that was meant to protect the people inside from harm he could see the battered remains of houses, shops, small parks and inns. Some had their roofs torn off, others had gaping holes through them. Fire gutted many of the sturdier structures, while others had clearly been obliterated.
He knew this foe. He had little doubt the occupants of the structure were still inside when it was destroyed. It looked as if a great battle had taken place here. He knew all to well it was little more than a slaughter. There was a time when a scene like this would have torn at his heart, or driven him to a vengeful rage. Back then, he would have wept for the lives lost here. Now there was only a cold indifference to the event. Most emotion had left him long ago. Only the guilt remained.
There was a rustle in the bushes behind him. He breathed in deeply, the leather and mail of his armour creaking with the strain being placed on them by his large and well defined muscles. "You can come out of the bushes now Farah. I know you've been following me since I left camp this morning", he said calmly.
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"Damn it! How do you do that?" came the replied from the now violently shaking bush. Before long, a scruffy looking girl burst forth from the hedge line, enthusiastically brushing the few scattered leaves that clung to her rough clothing off. "I thought I was really careful this time!"
He rose slowly and turned towards her as she strode forward. A small smile cracked out of the corner of his lips as her fierce emerald green eyes locked on his. She smoothed out the locks of her curly dark chocolate brown hair. Coupled with her tanned skin, her bright eyes took on an almost haunting quality. She was still young, but he had little doubt her innate beauty would eventually blossom into something truly angelic. In a way, he felt sorry for all the awkward young boys at camp around her age. With a personality as fiery as the light which burned in her eyes, and a wit as sharp as the point of any sword, she was more than a handful even if she couldn't physically defend herself. He would sometimes laugh when he watched a boy who thought a little more of himself than he should have be taken down by a girl half their size when he would try to put her in her 'proper place as a woman'. He was usually the one helping the boy back to their feet and helping to clean and bandage their bruises.
She stormed up to him and punched him in the stomach as hard as she could. While he was sure she hurt her hand when it made contact with the plate armour that covered his abdomen, she didn't show it. "I'm telling you mister! You had better tell me how you did that, or there is more where that came from!". She grunted and folded her arms in front of her, then stared at him with a disapproving frown. If the situation wasn't so grave, he would have laughed.
"Why are you here Farah?" he replied in a serious tone.
"I should be asking you that question! Why did you come all the way out here? Chi said no was was supposed to leave the protection of the camp! Not for any reason So why did you? Did you tell anyone you were leaving? Since you didn't tell me, I'm guess that answer is a no. And why is it so cold here?" She rubbed her arms in and vain effort to warm them.
He knelt down in front of her so their eyes were at the same level and put his large hands around her upper arms, offering her some of his warmth. "Do you remember....when we fled the capital city 6 months ago...do you remember why we fled?" he asked in an even tone. Some of the colour drained from her face.
"Yes", was her only reply.
There was another flash of lightning that lit up the sky, followed by a loud clap of thunder. Farah jumped as the thunder rolled past, despite his reassuring grip on her arms. There was a brief silence as the thunder died out before an inhuman growl roared forth from the ruins of the town in the valley. The guttural sound was filled with hunger, and rage. The fire that once burned in Farah's eyes now flashed with fear, and the horror of the memories of her flight from the capital city.
"The..thing...that we ran from that day. It's down there. Now." What colour she clung to until now drained completely from her face.
"It's been tracking us...me...For months now. I was hoping I could hide, that we could run and be safe. But even there I was wrong, and the people in that town...like all the others...paid for that mistake" he said in a somber tone.
"What? What do you mean? What are you talki..." she tried to reply before she was cut off by another, louder growl and the sound of wood and stone being shattered. His grip tightened around her arms and he shook her slightly to refocus her attentions to him.
"Farah, it is time for you to go back to camp." The deadly seriousness of his tone was something she had never heard or seen before. Her lower lip began to quiver as tears began to form in her frightened green eyes. He reached up and snapped off the chain around his neck. Attached to it was a scarred silver medallion. He took the medallion and pressed it into her hands and closed her fingers around it. "Now listen to me carefully. Give Chi this medallion and tell him to immediately take the camp, and move them North to the Sanctuary. He'll know what it means. You need to go. Now."
"What? What is going on? What do you mean go? Aren't you coming?" she stammered. He looked deeply into her eyes as he gently shook his head no. "Why" was the only word she could choke out as the tears burst forth and ran down her cheek. She was so young, but already she understood so much. She knew in her heart that he wasn't coming back with her.
He cupped her cheek with his hand and wiped away one of the tears with his thumb. "I'm sorry Farah. I have to do this. It will buy you and the others the time you need to escape." he whispered. He bent forward and kissed her on her forehead. The tears were running freely now. His jaw muscled flexed and he swallowed hard at seeing her like this. He didn't want to see her like this. "Tell Evalynn....Tell her....Everything is going to be ok. Tell her to trust in Chi." He swallowed hard again.
Another inhuman growl echoed out across the plain. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end and he left go of Farah and spun around. He grunted as the large rock which was hurled towards them from the remains of the town exploded in a shower of dust and pebbles before his armoured fist. Farah screamed as she crouched and threw her arms up to protect her head from the flying debris. "Go now Farah! Run!" he urged.
After it was evident that the rock didn't kill it's intended victims, a howl of rage erupted from the town with such ferocity as to make ones blood curdle. Farah stood there paralyzed in fear. He turned back towards her and screamed "FARAH! RUN!" A sob burst from her lungs as their eyes met, for what they both knew would be the last time. She turned and bolted back the way she came, towards the camp. Her anguished cries haunted the plains as she ran further and further away. It was over now. His last ties to this world severed.
He turned towards the town and drew the sword from it's resting place on his back. As the blade cleared the scabbard, the ring of metal was answered by a blinding flash of lightning from the roiling clouds overhead. The roar of the thunder was almost deafening. He steeled his gaze on the ruined town before him, and drew the blade up in front of him in challenge to the beast below. He knew it could see him, and it roared it's delight at the battle it knew was to come. Teeth barred, he charged down the hill towards the town.
"It ends here....." -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ok..you are probably asking yourself "So yeah..What makes this so epic? You suck!". Well my dear friend, what makes this story so epic is that YOU, yes you will write part two. Here is how this works: The first person who posts 'Dibbs' in the comments section is agreeing to write part two. The rules for writing part two? Well, since this is a DM1 thing, you should try to incorporate DM1 characters and events into the story as you can. Beyond that, anything goes. And I mean ANYTHING. Take the story in whatever direction YOU want. Add characters. Kill some off. Add flying saucers, Greg, aliens, zombies, hugglesauce...whatever you want. Even Ukie! After part two is posted, the same set of rules will apply and someone can write part three. Fun right?
So, get to it! XD