Sunday, June 20, 2010

Legacy of the Hero: The Last Meets the First-3

The Sack of the Black Tower

Great and Holy Ilker, his brilliant blond hair streaked with shimmering white, stood before the army with the rising sun of morning at his back. Already he wore the glimmering golden plate that had become iconic, the Panoply of Heaven’s Glory, and his blade of war—Heaven’s Radiant Sword—drawn. The men at his command, the armies of the Solar Nation as well as those of the Wood Brothers, the Sons of Ken and the Sea Princes, had assembled before the small hill that he’d taken for his command post. As he’d decreed, they appeared in good order with their arms polished and in good repair.

“Zebulon!” Ilker bellowed, “We are ready?”

“Ready, master.” Zebulon replied, and he turned to the army before them, “Men of the Solar Nation, friends of the Wood Brothers, mighty Sons of Ken and honorable allies of the Sea Princes, Great and Holy Ilker now speaks!”

“Glory to Holy Ilker!” they cried out, “Glory to the Spear of the Sun Forever!”

“And the tip of that spear I shall be once more, fellow free men of the world!” Ilker said, “A spear that you, my people—my friends, my allies, my brothers in arms—shall wield against the very tower yonder!”

Ilker gripped his sword, pointing to the Dark Tower of the Necromancer Lord behind them.

“Our great struggle has, at last, led to the very edge of this vile hold. We’ve sacrificed many of our brothers to see this day, many of whom died as heroes—as martyrs, blessed and sanctified—to see us through to this place at this time! Yet it is not over, for now comes the worst of it, my brothers. No, now we shall see the terrible, hideous strength of the Necromancer Lord first-hand for this is no more a struggle suitable for subtlety. As no monster is more dangerous than when backed into its lair, so is it that no villain more blatant than when the righteous heroes of the world finally tear down his walls and invade his sanctum. There is no doubt that the Necromancer Lord and his remaining minions have yet to exhaust their foul and demonic powers.”

Ilker now moved down the hill, walking into the array army. “Yet long have we come to know their ways, their deceits, their fatal frauds and more. No my brothers, no more whispered words to weaken wills. Now, now that we have this inhuman ally of all that would enslave and consume Mankind backed into its stronghold of power, we must be prepared to witness the fullest extent of his horrible and all-destroying power used to its most ruthless extent.”

Ilker continued to move through the army. “Monsters heretofore unseen by Man’s eyes shall be cut loose to wreak havoc upon our host. Fanatics, free of any need to survive, shall throw themselves at us uncaring so long as they slay more of us than we do them. All that die today you may be certain to need to slay at least twice, if not more so, for we are in the heart of the enemy’s domain and it is heavy with its power.
Steel your heart, brothers, for fear is the enemy’s ally.”

The white-and-gold steed for which Ilker is justly know—Heaven’s Charger—appeared before Ilker as he emerged from the midst of the army. Mounting it with ease, he took up the Great Banner of the Sun and held it high. Turning again to the men that followed him to the proverbial gates of Hell, he smiled.

“On this day, the Black Tower shall fall! Follow me, my brothers! Follow me, for freedom eternal and liberty ever-after!”

“Glory Forever for Ilker Heaven’s Spear!” the army said, as one, and they followed.

Zebulon Red-Hand, himself mounted on his own charger, rode to meet his master as they approached the edge of the Black Tower’s defenses.

“Master, all is prepared. The Circle is ready and the Square is prepared.”

“Excellent. Take your men and maneuver into position. We’re counting on you, old friend.”

“Master, when have I let you down?” Zebulon said, laughing.

Ilker smiled, and then he too laughed. Dismissing his former student with a gesture, Ilker continued his march upon the gates of the Black Tower. As they approached, the gates opened and a great and vast, vile army of the dead and abominations of the flesh arrayed itself. Some poured out of the gates, and some pulled themselves out of the ground. As they closed the distance, some noticed in the ranks seemingly mortal men amongst them- thralls and sycophants, surely, for by this time naught but the blackest of hearts and meanest of souls would dare think that service to a Lord of Darkness be a wise decision.

No parley. With a wave of his arm, Ilker led the charge against the monstrous army. The men followed, and the Army of the Sun smashed into the Army of Death and Decay before the latter was finished, its impact throwing the foul foe into disarray. Now the rising sun rose well into the sky, and its rays broke through the gloom surrounding the Black Tower, clearing away the obscuring darkness for the full light of a summer’s day. This further hindered the Necromancer Lord’s forces, but Ilker knew that his foe did not care; Ilker knew that the army wasn’t the hammer to smash he and his brothers to death, but instead the anvil to fix them in place for the hammer to fall upon and strike good and true.

The Army of the Sun, hardened and disciplined, kept its order and ripped apart their foes at the gates. Ilker led from the front, banner in one hand while fighting in the other, loyal followers on his flanks. Riding in formation, they crashed through and through, wheeled around and charged again- and did so repeatedly. This kept the Necromancer Lord’s minions from forming a cohesive front, allowing his own men to defeat and destroy in detail, and do so swiftly.

Then Ilker felt the pull of poisoned, polluted power pooling at the apex of the Black Tower. This he knew to be the precursor to some horrific blasphemy against the lawful order of Creation. Time now became precious to him, for he did not know his enemy’s specific intent- only that some work of sorcery soon would spew forth upon the land outside the gates, and he wanted no part of that for himself or his men.

This is the very sign that his own magical men awaited, and the Circle unleashed its power upon the Black Tower. A scintillating screw of ritual wrought wholly to end evil endeavors of supernatural sorts soared through the sky and struck the gathering power at the apex of the Black Tower. Violence of light and color exploded as the powers positive and poisonous contacted and combusted. What magical means meant for intervention most malevolent that the Necromancer Lord desired got destroyed instead, but that is not all that Ilker’s allies cast down. The scourging shield that sheltered the Tower also shattered and crashed, and that is the other sign that Ilker’s allies awaited.

Zebulon, now in position with his riders and raiders, rode riotous upon the Black Tower’s gates, but from another position ill-conceived for proper security. They quickly overwhelmed the defenders and gained the walls. Rushing along the parapets, they cleared the walls from their breach point to the gates before Ilker and the army. They had to hurry, as already the Necromancer Lord reinforced his very vulnerable position by awakening hidden minions under the earth inside the gates and sending those dead against Zebulon and his men. They hurried with twice-slaying those living that they encountered, as they did with their own slain.

Zebulon gained the gates before his old master, and threw them open. Ilker and the Army flew inside the Black Tower’s courtyard and swept aside the onrushing horde of risen corpses and flimsy flesh constructs in an onrushing tidal wave of blood, steel, will and passion. The defenders held for naught, and soon the outer wall of the Tower fell before the might of the Army’s artificers and alchemists. Inside the Black Tower they broke, and within uncounted moments Zebulon joined a steady flow of men struck down by one of the Tower’s many defenses. Rushed out of the battle, he ended his day of battle before the hospital under the keen eyes of the woman known as Keela Steady-Hands.

Ilker did sack the tower, and cast down the Necromancer Lord, but Zebulon did not see that and neither did Keela. Their time in that struggle concluded away from the front, away from Ilker, away from the ever-present pressure to be warriors or healers and instead find time for the very things that Ilker waged war to make possible.

But that is another story.

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