A Clear Message

by Casdegere

Splintered and bloody pickets lined the lower fringe of the well trodden, snowy mound. Heads of gaunt faces forever clenched in agony sat atop many of the sharpened pickets that surrounded them. A fast, eastern wind blew large, plumes of pink hued snow across the mound and those who stood there like ghosts. Men, and a few women, Cimmerians with faces painted in the colors of their clan stood in a semi-circle at its edge. Angry shouts and guttural growls came from their darkly painted, soiled, faces. Axes, swords, and hammers shook with rage and lust for killing in their strong, able hands.

It did not matter that they were greatly feared upon the battlefield even if they were outnumbered. What mattered was that they had taken that which was not theirs. The very land they stood belonged to The Black Lotus. Had they ventured to close to their stronghold by accident? Perhaps, but for whatever reason they were there, their purpose would soon become lost into the raging eastern winds as a host of Black Lotus warriors and mages approached the mound. Large black banners flowed violently above them as the entire army stopped in unison. Dark metal armor gleamed in the moonlit dusk as a single form moved forward from their lines.

He had a long, black banner that jutted upward from his back toward the sky. A tall, muscled man all clad in the same, dark metal as those that stood silently behind him. He held in his grasp a great, blackened blade. Tonight, there would be no parlay, no bargains and no quarter. It was O'isin Daragh who stood before them and tonight, there would be no mercy. His voice boomed out against the biting wind and with a gauntleted fist he held his blade high into the air. As one, the men and women behind him shifted and drew forth their weapons from their scabbards. The ranks opened and bows were readied beside each man that now stood further apart from one another. 'Roch!' O'isin screamed from the front. With that, arrows were loosed and something far more devastating. Large balls of flame came from the rear. Several mages let loose large balls of fire that progressively grew as they were lobbed over the mound. Finally, they exploded amongst the Cimmerians. The impact sent several outward toward the pickets and even a few into the air. Screams and cries of pain and furious anger rang out into the snow-filled sky. Enraged, the surviving Cimmerians charged. The Black Lotus archers fired another volley of arrows and as soon as the arrows left their bows, the ranks shifted back once again. Shoulder to shoulder, the front line of Black Lotus soldiers readied themselves for the Cimmerians that nearly frothed at the mouth in anger as they charged at them.

As the slaughter continued, in the distance, cold, emotionless eyes turned from the grizly scene. A beautiful woman dressed in black began to move away. The man next to her had kept his silence up to now though his posture denoted a strong opposition to her decision. 'My lady, was it necessary to send O'isin' Could we not have survivors? Perhaps to take back a message from my lady?' The woman stopped in her tracks, paused and thought a moment upon his words. Without turning to look at him, she replied in a calm voice, 'My dear Archon, the message will be quite clear, when none return.' 'As you wish my lady,' he replied meekly.

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