The Unstoppable Force Comes
Prompt Submission for Ironage Media: The TrekM.C. Deltat
“He is coming.” my aid said. He was vaguely behind me, as we both stood on a balcony somewhere near the top of my tower.
I didn’t respond. In fact, I was barely listening to begin with. Instead, my entire being was entirely focused on watching a certain figure many miles below and away from my position in the tower. Traveling the path that led down from the mountains into the valley which housed my tower, was a Son of Man. Yet even as far away as he was, I could immediately tell certain things about him purely due to his gait. The careful mix of surety, patience, and aloofness meant he was a warrior of conviction and seniority. After all, are many not warned to beware of experience in the profession where life expectancy is low? However, shockingly enough, his armor was clean of the gore and blood that one might expect of a man on a killing spree. There were some scars coating the armor, but they were clearly ancient, having rusted over with time. Nothing new had touched this Son of Man’s armor in a long time. His sword seemed to be the only exception, which was being dragged behind him, tip carving a great gouge in the earth. From just its outer appearance and condition, I could tell that sword had been used to kill a great many demon-kind; my kind. So much so, the leftover blight on the sword’s blade was poisoning whatever vegetation that came into contact with it.
But above all, his approach was slow. There was zero trace of rush or fear or hesitance in the Son of Man’s approach. Why should there have been, I supposed? With what I had heard, there was no antagonist that could stop him. Much as one may have confidence in the sun rising each morning, so is it certain to say that he will come as well. “Tomorrow will come, and so will this man.” I mumbled.
“What?” my aid asked. He shook his head. “M’Lord,” He once again attempted to capture my attention. “Did you hear me?” He put a hand on my shoulder, normally something he would never get away with.
“Although, maybe tomorrow is a goal far beyond what we can reach with him after us,” I finished my thought before finally addressing my underling. “What Farkas?”
He pointed a hand out, directly at the man approaching from the mountain top. “The Son of Man is coming. Casimir the Faker is coming,” The sweat on his brow was obvious; panic was clearing beginning to creep into him. In order to distract himself, even for a moment, he left the balcony and headed to the grand table in the room; the one with the grand map of the Empire on it.
I sighed. “The Faker… Is that a new title for him?” I chuckled. “It is unbecoming of beings such us to use a title to describe him.” I attempted to present some strength, although I do not know how successful I was. Rather than consider it, I followed my aid back into the room. “And yes, I can tell that he is coming. In case you missed it, you were standing right besides me on that balcony.”
Farkas decided to ignore the quip. Instead, he carefully inspected the map, gaze constantly alternating between the table and the Son of Man, doing his best to divine a point of origin. After a few seconds, he spoke up. “It looks like,” he regretfully said, “over that mountain was Lord Showman.”
“Then Sonngard is dead,” I nodded, closeing my eyes to say goodbye to a fallen comrade. “Another of the Divine has passed over, and now it seems that we are next.”
Farkas looked up. “And we do you suppose he is coming here?” he asked. “There are other members of the Divine still alive. Why would he target us next.”
I shrugged my shoulders. “We are the closest.” Unconsciously, I also found myself looking back at the man steadily descending the mountain. The surety of his movement was like nothing I had ever seen before. There was not a single wasted or extraneous beat to his deathmarch. As I watched, I could almost feel a strange, unknown emotion starting to well up inside my chest. ‘Was this what normal beings felt when they faced the Highlords of the Divine?’ I thought. ‘How did they deal with it?’ I coughed, clearing my thought and my mind. “Farkas.” I turned back to my aid. “Call in the Captain-General. I wish to speak to him.”
There was something strange on Farkas’s face as he considered my order. “M’lord?” He asked.
‘Ah.’ I thought. It was all to clear. The fear had paralyzed him. You could tell from the near constant twitches in most of his muscles. He had been given an order to move, but he just plain couldn’t. Instead, all he did was waste time. “We do not have long,” I eventually growled. “Run.”
That he did. He pivoted on the heels of his feet and sprinted out the door, screaming for the Captain-General. I meanwhile, walked over to my armor, on the far corner of my room. It was proudly displayed on a withered husk of a Son of Man; its face full of terror magically preserved to survive forever. Carefully, I began to take pieces off the living stand and put them on my body. There was an attempt to be formulaic with the process, yet despite myself, I found my gaze wandering back to balcony, back to him, every so often. He only had about half of the path left before he made it to my Tower. Despite the deliberate pace, he somehow seemed to be descending far faster than… “Ahhh.” I hissed. I looked back at my forearms. There was a small cut caused by an improperly clasped gauntlet. In rage, I threw an erratic punch at the living stand’s unprotected face. Immediately, the Son of Man’s whole jaw dislocated, along with some heavy bleeding on the slashed face. However, in mere seconds, I watched as the stands’s curse painfully snapped the jaw back into place, and stitched the cuts closed.
‘I told Nascour to leave him alone.’ I thought despite myself. ‘Casimir was out; he had put his former life behind him. Of course, it had nothing to do with any Demons or Rivals, but never-the-less, circumstance and time had forced him to drop his blade in favor of a gardening hoe.’ I closed my eyes. “But revenge is all consuming after all. What Demon lord of the Divine High Blood could so nobly stomach the dishonor of being banished by the hands of not just a mortal, but a Son of Man? Unforgivable. And now…”
The doors to my room bring slamming open broke my thought process. I turned my head, and saw my Captain-General strutting into my room, followed by a panicked and apologetic Farkas. “Hello Lenros.” I nodded my head, before going back to dressing my armor.
“I just head M’lord,” Lenros said at a level just below screaming. “Lord Showman is dead.” He bowed before marching straight towards my balcony. “Was it that Son of Man?” He asked after finding the marching figure in the distance.
“Yes. Someone from our past; Its name is Casimir” I mumbled. After both gauntlets were clasped, properly, I turned up to look at Lenros. “Knight-Captain, please evacuate all personal and absolute grade – critical research materials from the tower. Farkas …” I began to order, before being interrupted.
“Evacuate? You wish us to flee?” Lenros snapped. “From a mere Son of Man? Have you lost your head?”
My eyes twitched upon hearing the utter lack of respect in my Captain-General’s voice. If this was any other situation, I would have had his head for that. Luckily for him, it wasn’t any other situation. Instead, I turned to Farkas, who was still shaking near the door. “Aid!” I intoned. His posture immediately corrected itself upon hearing me, but I hesitated before speaking. What was the best way to explain my point? “Aid,” I continued after a few seconds of thought, “Please inform my esteemed Captain-General as to the fates of other Divine. Tell him what happened to Maliph, Mae, and Arfen.” I ordered.
His mouth quivered initially, as if his whole body wished to resist the order, but ultimately, my word still was the law to some. “Uh...” he stammered as he looked down into that notepad he carried around with him everywhere. “Uh, The Rider was eviscerated before a crowd of thousands. The Beloved was immolated, along with her entire harem. And The Soldier was dismembered,” his face closed in on the notes, as if he didn’t quite believe what he was reading. “Inch by inch, limb by limb” he eventually added.
I nodded. “Narribel?” I asked. “Remind us what happened to Mother?”
This time, Farkas’s face did completely lock up; with breath itself refusing to leave his body. My heavy glare did eventually prod him into sharing Narribel’s fate however. “The Mother had a pike shoved through her…” he hesitated a moment, hyperventilating before regaining control of himself, “She had a truesilver pike shoved through her … bottom… and up along her spine before it finally came out of her mouth.” He gulped. “She survived the longest.”
“And Feus was cast into the ocean, limbs trapped in lead, doomed to sink into the blackest pit; Body cursed to never encounter sunlight again.” I added myself; wishing to quicken the conversation.
“Yes.” Farkas confirmed.
He said nothing else. The shakes had grown too severe. I couldn’t blame him. More than half of the Divine gone, and in methods most brutal; inhumane even. That irony almost got a chuckle out of me. I began to put on my pauldrons and chest armor, as a way to suppress the urge. ‘More than half of us are dead,’ The thought echoed in my mind of its own will. “And we now find the perpetrator at our doorstep.’
“The Mother, The Tyrant, The Beloved, The Showman, The Soldier, and The Rider are all dead.” Lenros counted off. His voice was shallow as he spoke, as if even lying about such a claim would have been too much to stomach. “All due to a Son of Man?” He stepped back into the room, “And now we find this Casimir, before us, time rife for retribution…” Lenros was mere steps away from me at this point. “And you would have us run? To flee like rabbits?” He turned to the table, staring at the massive map displaying the limits of our empire. “As your most valuable Captain General, I say we should fight. We should put the Son of Man down like the filth he is. The fallen Divine deserve the revenge. We could not inflict all the punishment Casimir had inflicted upon his victims, but on my blade, I guarantee that I could try.”
I rolled my eyes. It seemed like the more he spoke, the more he believed in his own posturing. I temporarily paused the attention I gave my armor. “You wish to fight for the Empire? You have some notion of a final battle to the death for vengeance?” I lifted my arm and pointed at the man who only had a quarter of the path left to go. “Go ahead. If you want to die for the cause, I am sure he will oblige you.”
My powerful Knight-Captain hesitated. His body leaned towards the balcony, but he failed to make a single step. Instead his head pivoted, and looked once more at Casimir, marching less like a Son of Man, and more like a certain force of nature. “Uh,” Lenros stammered.
“No? I thought not.” I said. “Now please, for the immediate future, keep all thoughts of last stands to yourself and do what I command.” I ordered. I finished putting on the last bits of my armor. “Go. Evacuate.” I turned my head to Farkas. “Open up the reliquary. Grab as much as you can handle before you leave.”
“And what of the slaves?” Farkas asked. “What of all the Sons of Man in the dungeons?”
“Kill them, release them, It matters not.” I shrugged. “Honestly, they are among the least valuable in this whole tower. It would be better to forget about them.” I thought about it. “Yes, just leave them behind.”
“If I may,” Lenros hesitated. “What will you be doing.”
“What else?” I said as I pulled a rune enhanced hood over my head. “I will be buying time. He is here for me, after all.” Slowly, I made my way back to the balcony. However, that answer clearly unsettled my Aid and Captain-General. Both servants launched themselves in my way, using their bodies to stop me in my path.
“Surely our survival matters less than your own, M’lord?” Farkas asked.
“There are only four of the Divine left,” Lenros added. “What of your plans for the future, for the world?”
I pushed both to the side, and walked right through. As I passed them, I answered. “Those plans were over the moment Nascour decided to set fire to all that Casimir has and will ever have.” I explained. “There is no reason for me to run. There is no where I could go. He will find all of us eventually” I hesitated for a moment before adding an extra order. “Speaking of which, do not run to another of the Divine. As I mentioned, there is no future for any of US; after me, they will most assuredly be next.” With a wayward arm, I pointed to the map behind me. “Go into the unknown, far into the unknown. If you flee far enough, and if you keep your heads down, perhaps you may know some peace.” I frowned. “That may be the best you can hope for.”
It was silent for a moment, before I heard both of them speak in-unison. “It has been an honor serving you, M’lord. For the Empire and for the Ruler.”
I did an about face, pivoting on the balls of my feet. Upon enacting the pirouette, I was met with both of my servants, back firm and faces temporarily cleared of doubt, performing a salute in my honor. I returned the respect. Smiles formed on their faces, before they left my chambers, sprinting to follow my orders for the last time.
I watched their backs for a moment, considering what they had said. “For Empire and Ruler?” I mumbled to no one. “Hear that Nascour? They are still praising you. Despite you dooming us entirely though your own lust for vengeance, they are still acting in your name.” I shook my head and finished making my way onto the balcony. As I stepped up onto the ledge, I looked down at Casimir. He was but a stones throw away from my Tower now; delayed by my many guard chimeras. I watched as he almost trivially destroyed the beasts, each of which required massive amounts of focus to form, in mere seconds. The brutality certainly was breathtaking; Bursts of lighting erupting from each singular swing of his massive blade. However, that casualness in which he dispatched the beasts was not the most fear inducing thing about the situation. No, instead, it was the surety in Casimir’s gaze. There was not a single doubt, not a single ounce of fear there. Despite myself, my whole body shook. “We lived too bravely.” I whispered.
I took another step, hurling myself off my tower. Within but a few moments, I crashed onto the tower’s base level, cloaked in a cloud of dust and only a few dozen yards away from Casimir. And as that cloud of dust settled back onto the ground, I took a good look at him. He had finished slaying all the beasts before I had landed, yet he wasn't looking at me. He merely matched forward, head down, muttering something under his breathe. Due to my superior hearing though, I knw what he was saying.
“The Lion, The Wizard, The Poet, The Ruler. The Lion, The Wizard, The Poet, The Ruler,” He chanted. He slowly marched forward until he finally noticed me standing right in-front of the Tower’s entrance. “Wizard.” He monotoned. His sword, which he had been dragging behind him, was brought forward. The stabbed the blade tip into the ground such that the blade stood proud.
“Casimir.” I returned. Now that I was closer, and could see the Son of Man’s blade in all its glory, the size of it actually impressed me. It was massive, larger than most beasts let alone humans. Even I, a superior being, would struggle to use such a weapon. Yet, that there was something more in the blade, something that wasn’t immeditatly obvious. The blade had a certain aura about it, one the promised oblivion to its victims. There was no doubt in my mind that all the blood it had bathed in, had made the weapon something truly unique.
With some great effort, I tore my gaze away from the blade, and back to Casimir. To my surprise, he was not looking at me either. Instead, he seemed to look completely through me, firmly inspecting my tower. His head was tilted, and his eyes were rapidly shifting as he considered the totality of the structure. There was a crazy voice in my mind that almost thought he could see my underlings organizing the evacuation.
But surely that was impossible, right? I didn’t bother asking, for I did not want to know for sure.
Eventually, Casimir’s head bobbed back in forth in considering before nodding in acceptance. His eyes refocused on me, and suddenly it felt like the entire world had faded away. For this moment, and only this moment, the two most important things in the entire Empire were him and I.
He suddenly snapped his sword out of the ground with great effort. As he did so, he prayed, “Blessed are those that stand before the wicked and do not falter.”
“Wicked? I wonder.” I muttered as I watched him take stance with his weapon. In response, balls of black fire ignited in the palms of my hands and around my wrists. As I returned the favor, taking my own stance, I stared at Casimir who stood firmly in his wraith stance. Nobody moved, both waiting to see whom would make the first move.
Unforunately, my nerve broke first. I brought my arms up, and shot a massive continuous stream of fire into Casimir. Within moments, black smoke polluted the very air, blighting everything it came into contact with.
Casimir’s face, as it first broke through the ash cloud capable of melting steel, was the last memory I ever had.