Before A Legion Of ShadowsMature

Heavy hooves sunk into the soft green of the field, and every so often, into the decaying corpses of the fallen. The General rode forward as the opposition continued to posture itself.

The sounds of orders being given to the arriving troops carried down the valley and into the minds of defending forces; chipping away at their morale. Each of the guttural cries escaped from a thick dust that enshrouded the formations of men as the soil was dredged up by thousands of shuffling feet. Finally the orders ceased, and their silhouettes stood firm in the settling cloud as though they were a legion of shadows come to prey on the souls of the Endrian defenders.

General Stahll's party finally reached mid-field and halted amongst the dead. A flag was waved and soon movement could be seen at the head of the enemy formation.

A small group of riders, followed by a flag bearer began their trek toward General Stahll's position.

All was silent but the pounding of the few horses that descended onto the plateau of the battlefield, trails of dust swirling behind each rider.

In the center, they met, their horses no more than ten meters from each other.

General Stahll. I am the Duke of Glenndale, and the Marshall of these forces. Speak only to me.”

Stahll measured the man as though he were judging him for entry into the afterlife. His silence was met by uneasy glances amongst his rivals party.

What are your demands?” Continued the Duke.

Stahll straightened himself in his saddle and spoke slowly. “I have but one demand. Leave me the field, and you will not all die here today.”

The General's party members stirred uneasily in their saddles, a few making sharp glances toward Stahll, their concerned expressions concealed by their face guards.

The Duke was not a fool. He took the words seriously, for he strongly believed that when lives were at stake, all threats must be taken seriously. “Look around you General. Take a good look at the men we are amongst. Not those atop their expensive steeds, adorned in priceless armor but those in fouled wool and punctured soft leather; stripped of a future, void of life, strewn amongst the stone and soil. Look at the colour of their standard. They wear not the gray and brown of the northern clans, but the blue and white of your Endrian flag. I want you to understand that you have failed them, and that with this decision you have failed those still standing yonder. I was ready to give you a chance to surrender the field to me, but-”

The Duke's speech was interrupted by the pounding hooves of a lone rider racing toward them; a steady flicker of sunlight gleaming from a single battered pauldron.

What is the meaning of this?” Asked Stahll, his voice trembling with either fury or fear.

The rider came by the Dukes party and circled them in a trot as he could not slow his horse soon enough to stop. “Good day to you Guillhem Stahll.” said the rider as he pulled back the hood of his cloak. “It seems that this morning's meeting was not to be the last time we were destined to meet. How serendipitous.”

The General bared his teeth and spat the name out as though it were a putrid taste in his mouth. “Melchior.”

The End

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