|Shield of Honor, Part One (standard:fantasy, 3808 words)|
|Author: Vincent Collevera||Added: Apr 04 2010||Views/Reads: 2431/1883||Story 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 Click here to read the rest of this story (301 more lines)
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