In the aftermath of a skirmish between the Margothan Empire and the Northern Territories, the Jarl of the Volsundar Clan is hunted down by enemy soldiers seeking to claim his head. Instead, the dark knight and his men meet resistance in the form of a lone warrior...
The shout rang out from behind as Annar scrambled up the rocks, hands and feet finding quick purchase in the terrain that his ancestors had conquered all those decades ago from the hated Margothans. Hated even more now that they had resorted to further treachery on the battlefield he had escaped from...
The Empire truly held no manner of honor whatsoever, all those traitors and spies of theirs!
Instead of dying a honorable death like his father had before him, Annur had been forced to withdraw from the field, even as his beloved battle brothers had perished against the vile slaves of Halitash, giving their lives to cover the retreat of their Wolf Lord.
Shame filled his heart at the thought of those brave souls, willing to sacrifice their lives in exchange for their lord's own, especially when he knew the truth of the matter was that it was their lives that were worth so much more than his own! He would escape, would return to the lands of his fathers and come back with others to avenge them, to make Margoth pay for the catastrophe that had befallen the men of the Volsundar Clan!
Anger burned through his veins as Annar scrambled over the last of the rocks, pushing himself up onto his feet to run once more.
Into the waiting spears of Margothan soldiers. The cage had been shut, the hunters sure of themselves. Glee apparent on their faces, the soldiers advanced in front of him, as yet more climbed from behind. He was trapped and he knew it. Accepting it, however, was something else entirely. Gripping his great axe tightly, Annur raised his weapon in front of him, making his last stand here and then. He would not return, after all.
But he would not shame himself by surrendering to the wretches. No, if they wished to capture him, they would have to pay with their lives!
"Margothan bastards, hear me! You cannot cage the wolf!"
Annar charged forward, bringing his axe down into a powerful smash against his enemies... Only to have his strike halted.
"Worry not," The voice was cold, every bit as cold as the steel of the blade that held his axe at bay. "Only death will find you."
Annar growled as he stared back at the harsh eyes of the Margothan in front of him, one of Halitash's own, a dark knight of the dreaded Empire! One of the miserable monsters that had brought about the deaths of his men! Pushing back away from the dark knight, Annar kept his axe poised in front of him, watching only the dark knight before him...
A loud howl came from above as a blur crashed down into several of the soldiers, sending them sprawling into the snow, mighty spears skewering yet more as a young man crouched before the dark knight. Standing up, the warrior jerked his two spears out of the dying Margothans and stood still, a look of fury on his face.
"Oh, how quaint... Another one of you filthy Durmgar, come to die at my hand." The dark knight sneered as he turned to the side, keeping his sword in front of Annar as he glanced back at the newcomer. "You savages are so quick to hurl yourself at my sword... Still, so brave, to face me just to save your lord-"
A growl escaped the man as he lifted a spear, pointing the head at the dark knight. "I don't give a damn about him! I came to kill you!"
The sneer only grew wider as the Margothan butcher returned his attention to Annar. "Hatred, such a sweet taste, wouldn't you say, Durmgar? This is why the Empire will tame you savages, you can't even stay united! So hellbent on killing each others, on killing anyone in your way..." Shifting his attention back to the man, the dark knight grinned as he motioned for the newcomer to speak, "And why, pray tell, have you come to kill me?"
"My mother and father, my sisters, my whole village... All dead, because of you!" The warrior shouted out as he leaped into action, stabbing a spear at the dark knight, who spun around quickly and parried the weapon with his own blade, only to have the second spear swing around at him, propelled forth by the warrior's body. The dark knight slammed his blade into the second strike, driving it aside as he smirked at his new opponent.
Still... Something was wrong, and he could feel it deep inside himself. His hands were stinging already from the powerful exertions it had taken to maintain his hold on his own sword, trembling lightly now. Only a dark knight should have had that much strength, honestly! And yet... He glanced quickly at his sword, noticing that it was slightly crooked under the blow of the lone warrior's spear. Such power in that one strike... Simply by using the body as a fulcrum couldn't have enabled a fighter to put so much strength into the attack, he knew. And yet, this Durmgar managed it somehow!
With a sudden realization, the Margothan knew just what he was feeling, that wrongness he felt within himself, striking all the way to the very core of his being.
It was fear!
The likes of which he had never felt since his days as an initiate in the dark order of Ebonarcheus, His instructors had beaten out any weaknesses they could find in their pupils, making them powerful beyond measure. Doubt, mercy, and fear... These things were worthless! The only things they were permitted to feel... Hatred, malice, rage. These things made dark knights strong, made them brutal. Made them feared by all!
For a dark knight to feel fear once more, this was an insult to Halitash himself. The dark god would surely bring doom upon him now for daring to be weak now! The only thing he could do now was... remove this insolent savage that dared to shame him in the eyes of his god!
Forcibly burying his fear under hatred and cruelty, the dark knight pushed on as his sword began weaving in and out, striking again and again at the warrior as he tried to cut the little miserable worm down. Yet, spears met each strike of the blade and parried them aside, the man spinning and sliding out of the way, every step firm and sure despite the snowy and rocky landscape. Despite this, the dark knight kept up the mad assault, now slamming his sword down over and over again, the warrior's spears held together in a cross to prevent the sword from breaking through and rending his flesh.
"If you miss your family and village so much, just go and die already!" The dark knight snarled as he swung his sword to the side, hoping to clip the Durmgar but released only a disappointed grunt as the man slipped out of the way yet again.
"I will see them again one day, Margothan! But that day is not today!" The Durmgar shouted back at his adversary as he spun away once more, drawing the dark knight away from the ledge where Annar now fought for his life as well against more Margothan soldiers who had finally reached the top. "But, before I do... Their killer must pay with blood! The honored dead demands it! And when you are dead, Margothan... Tell your false god..."
The dark knight's face contorted with rage at the mention of his god, rage exploding out of control as he abandoned his quick strikes and instead raised his blade up high, charging at the Durmgar warrior-
Only to be skewered through the stomach with a spear and pushed off the ledge they had been fighting on. The fall was not a tall one but it was painful nonetheless. The broken shaft of the spear remained buried in his armored gut as the dark knight groaned in pain, staring up at the cloudy skies of the Northern Territories, quite surprised by what had occurred.
'Just what happened?'
Then, the sky was blot out by a shadow. A shadow that grew bigger and bigger as it descended. As if the hand of his god was reaching down to pluck him from this world and into the next!
'Halitash, punish me not! He is powerful, much too powerful! I tried my best!'
But it was futile. Halitash did not forgive failure easily, nor did he forgive defeat. No doubt the dark god would torment him something terribly for his three failures. For feeling fear, for being unable to kill the brat, and for dying without his god's permission...
Suddenly, the shadow slammed down onto the ground, angry blue eyes staring down at the dark knight. It was not Halitash after all, but the Durmgar he had been fighting!
"Tell your false god, when you go to meet him... I will see him one day as well and on that day, he will die too!"
Before he could even speak, the Durmgar ran his spear through the dark knight's unprotected throat, cutting off his words and allowing Margothan blood to flow freely. Payment for the honored dead, indeed! As the Margothan laid there, fast dying, the man leaned in close and sneered this time.
"Worry not, I'll send every dark knight I find to join you in the abyss... You pride yourself on inspiring fear in others. Well, all of Margoth will tremble with terror at my coming!"
With this, he stood up and walked away from the dark knight's body, panting heavy with both barely suppressed rage and the exertions of combat. Only once had he calmed down did the warrior begin his climb back up, to see what had transpired of the other Durmgar.
By the time he reached the top, pulling his body up over the ledge, the warrior was met with the sight of nearly a dozen dead Margothans around Annar's feet, the older man cleaning his mighty axe with the torn tatters of a cape. "Well there! Not many could face down a dark knight, much less kill one! Which begs the question... Who are you, boy?"
The warrior turned his head to stare down at where the dark knight laid, snow around his body soaked with blood already. Then he looked back at Annar. "You... You're the Wolf Lord... Jarl Annar of the Volsundar Clan."
"Aye, that I am."
The man stared back at Annar, remembering that this was indeed the lord of the land here, and the lord of his murdered village. "I am Gunnar, son of Ingarn. I am now the last of my village, Jarl."
Annar nodded. He had indeed gotten reports of a Margothan raiding party near where the battle had taken place. He had gone with his men to track them down and destroy them. Instead, they had walked into an ambush where brave warriors of the Volsundar had perished, leaving only... him. So the Margothans had butchered the village. If he remembered correctly, there had been about two thousand souls in that village. Two thousand dead... No wonder the Durmgar had been filled with such rage.
"What will you do now?" The question was simple, but the Jarl was curious as to what the young man before him would do.
"Too many have died... The deaths of a few Margothans is not payment enough for even the smallest of children! I would make Margoth bleed until they've repaid what they've done to my village a thousand times over!"
The Jarl of the Volsundar stood where he was, favoring Gunnar with a measuring stare as he thought privately to himself. A moment of silence passed between the two before Annar began approaching the young Durmgar, his axe resting on his broad shoulder.
"Then... Gunnar, son of Ingarn, serve under me. Fight alongside me and my wolf brothers! And we will make the Empire pay for every life they have taken today, until Halitash himself tremble at the mention of our names!"
Dropping to his knees suddenly, Gunnar knelt before the Wolf Lord, hands flat against the snow. "I am yours to command, Jarl!"
Annar reached down, clasping his hand upon Gunnar's shoulder, and spoke sternly then. "Rise, Gunnar... Rise as a Son of the Volsundar!" He could see it now, the rage of this warrior tempered in the flames of battle and imbued by the wolf's wisdom... Then unleashed on the Empire! They would certainly pay in blood!
'You will become the fury of the North, Gunnar, and show the world the strength of our indomitable spirit! The world will learn this... The wolf cannot be caged!'