”Study the sword to study the mind, you fool...an evil mind makes an evil sword.”
They came in the heat of the day.
There, in the center of the square, in the tiny hamlet of Millstone, I, along with a congregation of a handful of citizens, met to raise morale. To my left, as I stood on the pedestal, my daimyo stood. Evindal, the snow elf, who had recently suffered at the hands of the Sons of Malin, had written a speech for me to announce. I spoke with dignity, ushering in an air of confidence and inspiration to the people. Words that I did not realize would be needed in the hours to come.
After I had finished, the group of citizens moved into the tavern, to consume food and drink. Evindal, seeming to be grim, did not stay long, and decided to wander the premises of his small estate. I would follow, along with another citizen. A sense of doom seemed to follow my daimyo wherever he went, and soon, he came to find himself sitting upon a bench, clutching his staff tightly, worry being evident on his features.
“FIRE!” Shouted a guttural voice, which ushered in a volley of arrows to hit multiple buildings, and the tree in the center of town. Evindal rose to his feet, and drew his Aurrum blade, and I did the same with my katana. As I did, I felt the warmth leave my hands, and a chill set in. This must have been what was bothering him.
From the tavern, a group of citizens exited, with weapons drawn. Among them, a Sage of Asimu’lei, and a good friend, Tantalus, as well as the Orenian fugitive, Kalius Denovan. Both were adorned in their respective armor, and ready to fight if need be. But it would be too late.
The opponents, who we found out to be Cheloveks, seemed to pop from the woodwork, and encircle us. Bowmen and swordmasters, with weapons primed to kill. We were completely surrounded. Their leader stepped forth, and accused my leader of trying to enslave his own people. How ridiculous! I mused to myself. But what if they held some truth to them…?
But then the situation grew even more dire. An arrow was loosed upon the defensive position we took, and Evindal was struck! His arm was hit by a loosed arrow, and the invaders clarified that their intentions were nefarious. If not just for that, the leader of them, poured alcohol over himself, and lit himself on fire like some sort of ritualistic form of self harm.
I knew that we would not survive a battle in the state we were in, and so collectively, it appeared that the residents of Millstone came together to one conclusion: retreat to the tavern.
And so we did, and with us, we brought a female that had previously been neutral, but made her intentions known that she was indeed a Chelovek herself.
My friend Tantalus remained outside, to try and quell any dastardly acts from reaching their fruition. The arguing went on for some time, while Kalius tended to Evindal’s wounds, and a few other men from Millstone would skirmish. One man succeeded in making them fight themselves, but he was dispatched after being shot in the skull by an arrow.
Inside the tavern, the woman we had taken seemed to be up to something, and when Evindal returned from the cellar, with his wound freshly packed, she jumped at the chance. A kitchen knife taken from the bar would be her comfort, as she slashed at the snow elf, and cut him on his other arm. For this, she would be severely beaten, and rendered unable to stand for a time.
As Tantalus’s arguments began to peter out, the Cheloveks became quite agitated. If not for Evindal’s reckless actions, I might not have been here to tell this story. Thrusting the doors open, he pushed past the armed warriors outside, and marched his way to the man standing in the center of it all, the one who set himself alight.
After some tense moments, the snow elf turned back to me, and beckoned. I followed, as my loyalty to him outweighs that of my friends, though, after all that had been said, I was not so sure. I shook that thought from my mind, and hurried on, reaching the hillside. From this vantage point, I could see the enemy breaching the doorway, and cornering my friends. My heart ached to return to the fight, but in the meantime, we were both stopped by a wandering Chelovek, who’s name I could not remember. He expressed great worry, and while Evindal left me to speak with him alone, he confided that he felt the Cheloveks were the evildoers, not the innocent men and women of the hamlet.
I urged the man to return to battle with me, but he abstained, and wandered off into the wilderness, leaving behind the coming battle. I quickly made my way back to the village, and took up a spot on the roof of the building that faced the tavern. From here, I could witness Evindal taking a few Cheloveks in combat, as well as three entering the tavern to fight Tantalus and Kalius. I quickly called for my messenger falcon, and wrote a message in the meantime, explaining the situation clearly, and where we could be found. I then sent my bird of prey into the sky, to hopefully bring some aid.
I used interconnecting wires and cloth to sneak my way to another rooftop, and hide out while I deliberated my next move. While I did so, a fire was started in the bushes outside the tavern, and the smoke began to fill the area. I could hear the sound of battle, and the crashing of some wood, and peaked over the roof to catch a glimpse of the Chelovek woman sneaking out from the building. She exchanged words with the enemy, and ran to the outskirts. It became apparent later that she would be changing into armor, and she strode back into town dressed to kill.
In the interim of my time remaining on the rooftops, it became apparent that the tide of battle changed inside the tavern. The Chelovek leader overestimated his fireproof armor, and burnt himself to nothing but ash!
The other man with him would be stabbed in the back, and shot with a crossbow by Kalius and Tantalus, and he would soon die after. The third man ran out of the tavern, out of fear or some tactical advantage. This would be when the tide of the day changed entirely.
Two Chelovek agents split off from the main force, leaving three to deal with three. It appeared that a man who mostly travelled unarmed, would be the center of an assault. Janus Seadane did battle with the agents, who apparently were leading a pregnant woman they had captured out of the city.
This was my opportunity.
I jumped from the building, and ran around the outskirts of town. To my surprise, the pregnant woman, who I would come to know as Faye Payne, and Janus were fighting two on two. I added a third to the fight, and as soon as the first Chelovek agent saw me, he dropped his weapon out of fear for his life. Pleading with me, I would not hear his cries, and I beheaded him cleanly, while the other man would be overwhelmed behind me, his skull stomped in and his neck massacred by Sarah Payne’s axe.
From the courtyard, I heard the calls for retreat from the Cheloveks, but I would not let this go lightly. I rushed down the alleyway, and looped around the big tree. I planted myself firm, as the foes would attempt to leave.
I would not let them.
“You’re going to take on all three of us?” They questioned.
“No.” I responded. “We are.” And from the alleyways came Faye Payne and Janus Seadane, and from the outskirts of the town came our aid: The Al-Faiz, the charge being led by Ameen Al-Nabeel, on horseback.
What happened next would be considered nothing short of a bloodbath. One of the other Chelovek females was gutted by Evindal, who then went on to assault the last remaining Chelovek male. That man would be butchered by three people that day.
The Chelovek Female who we had taken into the tavern had surrendered herself to me. By instruction, I was told to execute her, and I did as I was told, though something about it felt wrong in my heart. I tried to make her death as quick and clean as possible.
It was only then, that the small congregation of Millstone would know peace, after all the Cheloveks were dispatched and dealt with.
We collected their heads, and put them into a bag, in order for Kalius to clear his name, and put out the fire in the tavern.
We were unsure of what to do after that, so much violence only caused grief, and many of us secluded ourselves in our homes, despite feeling a great swell of victory.
This day will be known as the day Millstone fought for its independence, and won, only losing one man in the process.
A total victory, but at what cost.
[[ All credit goes to NOZGOD for hosting the event! It did not go the way we had planned, but I think the end result was more fun than we had anticipated!