The Vultures Will Know Aug 30, 2018 15:49:45 GMT -5
Post by Char-Vell on Aug 30, 2018 15:49:45 GMT -5
Basilius opened his eyes and gazed upon hell. All about him the ruins of Haileus blazed. He stood in what was the garden of his modest home, now trampled by hooves and booted feet. He regarded the pathetic little heaps that had been his wife and children littering the ground, festooned with feathered shafts. He recited their names; Jagna, Fane, Dryas, Halina.
Behind some barrier in his soul he felt the profound grief of one who has lost all, but it was strangely distant, overwhelmed by an irresistible compulsion to punish those responsible. He knew the sigil of his enemy, emblazoned on the jerkins of the men who drew their bows and rained a hail of arrows Basilius and his family. A Silver Stag. In his mind, as if placed there by some eldritch means, he could see the whereabouts of each bearer of the Silver Stag. There were some eighty left alive. Each of these he would kill in the name of his family and all the citizens of Haileus ravaged by these hellhounds.
Basilius plucked three arrows from his flesh, heedless of pain, and took the first steps on his march for revenge.
He walked mechanically along a deserted avenue. Choked with debris and the bodies of the slain. Vultures swarmed over the bloating, ruined carcasses, delighting in this carrion feast. One of the scavengers lighted on his shoulder and sought to bite into his neck. Its beak and claws stung his flesh, but it was little more than a distracting nuisance. He slapped the bird away and it flew off with a squawk of protest.
Basilius passed by a particularly luxurious home, and hearing voices from within, felt compelled to investigate. In the richly appointed entrance hall he found three fighting men standing over the bodies of two others. One was helmetless and wore a crimson cloak. His hair and beard was shot with gray. All wore the Silver Stag. The greybeard was haranguing the others.
“Damn your eyes! What happened! I told you dogs to control yourselves!”
One of the subordinates stammered a reply.
“General Vikare! We did not set out to do ill! Our blood was up! The princess taunted and cursed us as we passed! We meant to take her captive, but Krathides suggest we teach her a lesson. Then the Aesir protested and killed Krathides and Perdias before riding off.”
“Bastards!” roared Vikare. “I’ll have you flayed to the bone for… Eh?”
Basilius stepped into the midst of the mercenaries. Somewhere he’d acquired a broadax and now gripped it in his right hand. Vikare stepped forward.
“See here man, the fighting has ended! Lay down thy axe and…”
The Kothic general never finished his statement. Vikare had soldiered all his life, and could read in the eyes of a man if her were a slayer or not. He had seen nothing in the glazed black orbs of the Corinthian. In his desire to not compound the sins of his men he made a fatal error.
Basilius lashed out with the axe and hacked deep into Vikare’s neck. The general reeled backward, clawing at the wound to no avail against the fountain of blood that erupted.
The next blow of the axe took the head off one mercenary as he dragged his sword from its scabbard, all too slowly. The remaining warrior swung his sword and slashed Basilius from shoulder to hip. But to no discernable effect, the aggrieved Corinthian was oblivious to all but the hunger for revenge. He brought the axe down with such force that it sheared through helmet and skull alike, breaking the haft off near the head.
Basilius dropped the broken haft and walked to Vikare. There he stooped and tore the crimson cloak from the dying general. Vikare sought to speak but only produce a whistling gurgle.
Basilius forced his entrails back into his body, and wrapped the cloak about his torso to hold them in place. He collected Vikare’s sword and returned to the street. He knew there were others he must kill, and where to find them. He would not falter until all were dead. He set out toward the city gate.
From the rooftops, a vulture observed the Corinthian’s movements for a moment, and then took flight.