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Shield of Honor, Part One (standard:fantasy, 3808 words)
Author: Vincent ColleveraAdded: Apr 04 2010Views/Reads: 2377/1845Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
In an empire powered by slavery, a man's worth can be counted in coin. When a man's honor is revealed, will it bring benediction, or persecution? This is the story of Daryn Veil.
 



The shield wall of interlocked tower shields stretched for nearly a
half-mile in each direction from the center, before which sat the 
commander atop his war horse.  He gazed out upon his enemy with 
something that might once have been pity.  The barbarian horde milled 
about in their thousands across the hills.  Their war chants and shouts 
could be heard, but not distinguished from each other.  There was no 
order or cohesion to their masses.  They were untrained savages and 
they were about to be slaughtered by the Royal Legion.  Any emotion the 
commander may have had in relation to this had long been stamped out in 
his service to the Crown.  An enemy was an enemy, no matter how 
pitiful. 

He turned back to his men and studied them.  Not a single shield or
spear wavered.  They stood stock still awaiting his orders to be 
relayed down the chain of command so the killing and dying could begin. 
 With a nod to his Lieutenants, he rode forward to the mid-point 
between the two armies.  A representative of the barbarians stood 
alone, leaning on his spear and looking upon the Legion with absolutely 
no expression on his face.  The only thing his posture suggested was 
boredom.  He trotted his horse up to the man and halted a handful of 
yards from him before dismounting.  The reigns lying on the horses neck 
would keep it in place until the commander lifted them again.  It would 
stand there until it dropped dead of thirst no matter if an entire 
battle was going on around it. 

He walked up to within lunging distance and stopped, saluting.  "I am
Commander Daryn Veil of the Seventeenth Royal Legion of the Empire of 
Eradon.  You are hereby ordered by Royal Decree to remove your soldiers 
from the field of battle or they will be killed until terms of 
surrender are reached.  You have one hour." 

The man stood looking at the shields glinting in the sunlight for
several heartbeats more before his eyes came to rest on those of 
Commander Veil.  His eyes were a shockingly bright blue, almost seeming 
to glow from within.  His hair was long and ornately braided with 
intricately knotted strings dangling from the ends.  His tartan was 
clean and exquisitely made.  He wore boots of thick sturdy leather and 
the spear he leaned on was made entirely of wood, including the blade.  
Sigils were engraved on the entire length of the shaft and it seemed 
that blood had soaked into the wood, giving it a mottled crimson and 
honey coloration.  The breeze moaned around them and sounded like the 
passing of countless souls through Death's Gate.  The commander 
suppressed a shudder. 

"I think this can be settled simply, lowlander.  You will fight me and
when I kill you, your people will remove your corpse from the field and 
give you whatever burial honors are befitting a War leader who has died 
in battle.  Does this meet with your approval, Commander Daryn Veil?" 

The commander was taken aback.  He blinked at the man for several
seconds.  "What is your name, sir?" 

"You refuse to fight a man who's name you  do not know?  You would not
be a very good soldier if that was true, I think.  You may call me 
Kai'Dan.  In my language it means 'Holder of the Spear'.  That will be 
sufficient." 

"The laws of my people would not allow such a thing to take place.  If
you killed me, the responsibility for this battle would fall to my 
second in command and so on down the line.  Unfortunately, wars can not 
be settled between rulers.  Shall I take your response to be a refusal 
of our conditions?"  Commander Veil asked calmly. 

The Kai'Dan of the barbarians spoke the common tongue of Eradon almost
flawlessly, with barely a hint of an accent.   He had clearly studied 
his enemy well.  "You may take it as that, yes.  And when I meet you on 
the field of battle, I will take pride in stabbing you to death with my 
spear."  And with that, he gave a feral grin, turned and strode 
nonchalantly back across the killing ground to his people. 

When Commander Veil returned to his men, he was frowning and appeared to
be deep in thought.  "What word from the savages, Commander?"  His 
Second asked.  He looked over at the Lieutenant.  "I think that very 
many of them are going to die, Sam.  Send word to ready formations and 
send the squad leaders out to their men.  We'll hold the shield wall 


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