THROUGH THE EYES OF
T H E N E P H I L I M;
One thing that is certain: death knells for mankind.
A man’s life is worth every sacrifice I have made.
Life is fleeting; duty is eternal.
Since I was but a mere whelp I was told— I am death deliverance; evil’s last sight before my hammer struck. So much may be true, yet the more I fraternise among the condemned, the more I aspire to save them from an untimely fate. Much, there is, that a mere man can do, so much I have seen in my time, and so much I remember from times of yore to be true.
By the Father, I hammered down justice, enduring their petty squabbles, the mere inconsequence of their day-to-day lives filled me with hatred, patience ran like sand until there was naught. I recall the time there was such an incident, that poor young man— how I took him by the collar, and told him how insignificant he was. You are nothing, merely another head destined to rot, while I am to watch you wither and degenerate in all my youth. Yet, I knew that I would die to save you.
Better me than you. The thought echoed in my mind, yet I did not speak it. I let the boy scramble away, leaving me standing on the street in bewildered silence, a cold breeze blowing through my young scales. For this façade— I realised my purpose.
The die is cast. A crackling spear lunged, parry— masterful tackle from the side. I always knew the thralls would be ever-loyal to me. For now, I feign. Yet, even the booming voice of a drake cannot command steel, despite being the father of his master, it has yet to recognize me all these years. Doubtful if my lineage would ever hold precedence in Warlock’s programming, doubtfully so from what little I know about the machine. The Paladin is hauled off, my hammer was still drawn, at the ready. My hatred boiled in such ferocity, such as I have not felt in years. Once again, I invite the feeling of my boiling blood, how ardent it is.
Near the tavern, stopping by whatever commotion occurred inside. Dear Gaspard was being tended to, yet I could only focus on the Paladin— before whispers began in the back of my mind. It agitated me, distracted me from my mission— stoked the very coals that fueled my flaming heart. Like an itch that I could never be rid of. Eventually, I lunged with failure towards the Paladin. An impulsive move, in hindsight. My senses were all too unreliable. Those whispers, I finally placed them.
The armour, oh the fate of that armour. Never have I incurred such pity, I was wholly overtaken by it. The pale-white elf that bore it, I knew him, yet so did I know that armour and its whispers— it was a call to action, no questions asked. I was summoned by the flames, and thus I raced to meet them.
It was a holy hour, the malignant chanting I heard overtook me, booming in my ears and helm as I marched ever-closer to the gates of the keep, drowning out the sounds of the city.
There was naught but the chants, the boiling blood flowing through my veins, running hot through my ears and fore;
VAH ZI OTH.
VAH ZI OTH.
VAH ZI OTH.
Defiance is swiftly rewarded with death, such was met, and such was dealt with; I hammered the impudent whelp who stood in my way until he fell— I barely heard how he crawled to me, in some pathetic attempt to stop my death’s march. I applaud his spirit. The chaos that ensued frankly filled me with a burning passion. Never have I charged with such certainty, nor truth in my swings, and never has my fire burned so bright. The flames were roiling, I subdued the next man, the honourable Sir Ethan next, before I eagerly strode into the palace.
Yet again— I meet defiance from the hunk of steel. My flames met his steel construction until his very frame glowed with a red-hot glare before I was interrupted. We traded, until more and more onlookers poured in. In all my glory, I unveil what true power is, what life eternal grants thee; the unwavering flame, and the great horns of the Prime Mover.
Fear is what I recalled smelling, striking such into the deviants. I relished it. Every waking moment that I moved, ash and fire flaked from my blackened, burning armour. True chaos enwreathed the entire room, loyal retainers who did not know who the true enemy was, smoking fog which one only finds in the midst of a traitorous war. Sides were to be had, yet the masses were indecisive, as nature made them to be without shepherds. It took two men and a machine to stop my death’s march. Too many blows came, overwhelming me, the sullen Boomsteel of the Mareno struck me, launching me back.
Ashes settled in my wake, I rose to yet again render flesh— still, they stood in the path of my very calling, the chanting growing quieter as the battle went on. Silence befell me when Gaspard entered, battered, broken and bruised from the preceding fight against the undead. I witnessed that wild soul duel a heretic by his own in the rear flank, truly, he was cut from a different cloth than the rest. Perhaps the only man I truly respect in this town.
“STOP THIS MADNESS AT ONCE. LAY DOWN YOUR ARMS.”
For once— doom slowly settled in the deepest depths of my flaming hearth. No longer did I hear the chanting. There was an eerie silence that befell the throne room. He cut his way through the crowd, approaching me near the dais as I dispelled my weapon. The masses that crowded the rowdy room lowered their arms as well, once the one-eyed man had spoken.
He and I traded words, entailing the very philosophy of what grand opera was playing out in his palace, of purging evil, of destiny, and of sacrifice; now the silence that had befallen, and the crowd that was to witness this discussion came to see me. Towering over them, standing at my full height above all their heads— I relished once again in the fear that struck a few of them in the crowd. Mouths were agape, looking for something to excuse and to rely on, now that they saw what I truly was. All was good and well, by now the doom had washed away from my calming flames, perhaps contention with what was to come.
In the silence, I called out over to the Paladin in the corner, nestled by the fireplace, surrounded by the leafy apparel of his compatriots; lone druids and the folk who took pity. Leisurely surrounded, his wounds tended and coddled so delicately. My burning challenge went unanswered— a blatant refusal to settle it once and for all between us. Hatred stoked my flames yet again, audibly hearing my blood beginning to boil through my veins. A small part of my chivalrous soul died, then and there.
“Do you yield?”
Those words from Gaspard struck me like a hammer. The burning helmet hid my astonishment at the very proposal, yet the question brought me contemplation, meanwhile waiting for the irony of this proposal. A mere man before me, begged I yield to stop the onslaught, yet once again the liturgical, deeply groaning chanting set in once again. He will soon know I do not yield.
So it was. He and I were to settle this matter instead. How pitiful. The room was cleared, and space was made for the ensuing duel between Man and Dragon. As our blades clashed and struck, I recalled that boy. How I smeared him for being but a mortal, as if such was his fault. Gaspard and I’s gazes met through our visors, sparks flying between us. Better me than you.
The wooden floor cracked as my body fell, the Knight tripping me with a devious sweep from the side. My tired and bloodied gaze met him once again as he now towered over me, my burning gaze shooting through the visor, body and armour encrusted with ash with a frightful chuckle— most pleased with the outcome.
“Thy hand is justice, thy hand is mercy,” Gaspard wheezed out. His sling was undone, his broken arm dangling from the side of his torso. His right hand twitched, the left kept firm. “... And tolerance betrothes the Evils.” He thrusted the blade forward, into the chest of me. Another wheeze reverberated through the visor of a bloodied and dented helm. “Here endeth thy lesson.”
A cacophony of vitreous canticles enraptured my ears, before I fell dormant, there were ringing of words. The essence of a nearby drake shrieked, and words most beautiful met my ears, soothing me unto an ashen slumber; my prowess most notable. Then, to ash I returned.