Na'Er: The Smoldering Knight

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Na'Er: The Smoldering Knight

Post by Gal3rm on Fri Dec 07, 2012 7:51 pm

Hello everyone. Wanted to get your feedback on a story I'm working on. My approach was making an epic out of a short story. Just for fun. Let me know what you think. Thanks.

Mount T’ira roared. From the village at its feet to the shores of Wa’at the entire land shook. The children ran as their parents called out to them. Elderly ones looked around nervously though they made no attempt to move. Townsmen walked about hurriedly shouting orders to seek refuge all the while assuring people their safety. The farm animals frantically began to stampede within their corrals.

The young man watched them from the hills of Ora. He had just been knighted and his assignment was here. Ora was his birthplace and this incident was one he was accustomed to. His lips formed a small smile as he reminisced on his days as a child and how he marvelled at the lava mount. The villagers were right to seek shelter. It was a precaution. The lava walls protected the village and rerouted the river of molten rock to the sea. Still, one can never be too certain and so the people always sought refuge. The townsmen always assured safety. How could they be so certain? A familiar dense heat washed over the knight as he breathed in the scent of lava. A scent he had grown up with and granted him a feeling of security and comfort. Taking in one last look at his childhood home, he turned away and began to head back to the district tower.

Stone Tower was the second largest of the district towers and provided the best defense. Standing alone in the middle of an inactive Mount it was surrounded by the mouth of the Great Mount T’es. The young knight rode up to it and dismounted his bear. Most knights received a steed, as was common, but given the size and skill shown as a recruit, he was bestowed the honor of being a Mauler, the strongest single units of the kingdom. Those who joined the ranks were the strongest and the fastest of the recruits. Even the bears they rode were of immense size, averaging the size of two and the strength of three.

Stepping inside he recognized several faces and knew it was time. His commander was preparing the men for a unique mission that was to be worked by only Maulers. Maulers were strong, yes, the strongest, but they served best as a defense behind a number of Sabres and Strikers. To be used as an offensive force really made this mission significantly interesting. One by one the men checked their armor, balanced their axes, sharpened them if necessary, and prepared the beasts. As the knight looked around he couldn’t catch a single hint of hesitation or worry from his counterparts. And neither did he feel it from himself. The training for Maulers was as prestigious as it was brutal. Each chosen recruit was first sent into battle on the frontlines. Not as part of the first wave but as the first wave itself. He was to single-handedly confront and defeat one hundred enemy soldiers, a tally kept by the training officer. Once he met this requirement the actual first wave was sent out and he would continue fighting. Of all the villages and towns, two hundred Mauler recruits were chosen. Of all two hundred only thirty survived initiation. This was his unit. Their first imperial assignment and the total body count laid down by these men exceeded past three thousand.

Initiation separated men from the knights. Prior to taking part of it a recruit would be free to decide whether or not he would continue, never being forced to do something he did not want to do. For others they were simply asked to leave, the commanders knowing full well they would not pass the test. Those who left would become marauders, swords for hire. These men would become part of other armies for a few coin. These men, former recruits, citizens of the kingdom, made up the numbers of the Kan'Er. For the young knight initiation had been different. When his time came to face the enemy. The first waves had already been defeated. As he traveled to the front lines, he was confronted by enemy Maulers. Many he had come to know as friends, brothers, marched towards him in unison ready to cut him down. He watched as they, without hesitation, charged. Faces he had grown to laugh with and trust were ready to strike him down all for the price of few goods. The young recruit prepared himself as sweat trailed down the sides of his helm. Fear of hurting those he had grown to love inhibited his impulse to attack. Yet, love for his kingdom, love for Ora moved him inside as he raised his weapon and cut his former brother. Passion for his true loved ones: his family, his army, his kingdom fueled his power and his strength. Mauler after Mauler he brought them all down. His family was one. His family was Arian.

The land was dominantly ruled by the kingdom, but some parts had been conquered by rebel clans. Districts who opposed the King. Kan’Er was the largest of these and had recently been spotted seven days away from Arian, the king district. The plan was simple. They were to travel east toward the Taer mountains. There they would intercept the Kan’Er army and defend his Majesty. The travel time was two days lending a three day strategy preparation period. Apart from most of the intel and briefing, one part caught everyone’s attention. The Kan’Er led and army of sixty thousand.

The view from the Taer mountains was strategically advantageous. All of the northern landscapes could be perfectly viewed from atop any of the peaks. And it was from this direction that the enemy approached. Favorable winds and a gentle sun was all there was to the trip. Camp had been set up with uniform speed and briefing began almost immediately. The young knight wondered what their camp would look like from the enemy’s point-of-view. Only thirty-five tents for the men, command, food and supplies alongside a herd of bears the size of horses. We probably look like bear herders he thought. No, not bears like these. As he viewed the surrounding landscapes he realized how little he knew of the Taer mountains. How far the kingdom stretched. All around wild vegetation flourished and the creatures that dwelled the Taer lived undisturbed. There was a valley that lay in the middle of the peaks with magnificent sized trees and lush vegetation. He admired the serenity of it. Three days till battle.

Smoke from the Kan’Er was clearly visible to all the Maulers. Command had deduced that the enemy would not be able to see them. The men would take brief glances at the trails of smoke but mostly focused on camp duties. The battle would take place the following day and final preparations were to be made. Yet there wasn’t much to prepare for. They were thirty men with thirty mounts. Thirty-one with the commander. It wasn’t much of preparation as it was just waiting.

Wind tousled the flags as the men took their position. The sun remained gentle. Motionless the men stood their ground glaring at the enemy. The young knight counted over and over the ten bodies directly before them. A third of their men lay dead before ever moving against the Kan’Er. The Maulers had taken their positions prior to dawn. Kan’Er tents came down as the sun peaked the horizon.

Kan’Er soldiers had not caught sight of the small force until a scout had pointed out the group through the lenses. The King’s Maulers stood there statuesque. Their stone postures being dramatized by the high blown flags. A soldier looked towards the group in admiration. How grand they were. Powerful. A sense of respect washed over the army as they stared out towards the Maulers. Even their King began to feel reverence towards the brave men. Then he gave the order. The reason why the Kan’Er had expanded so fast in recent years. The Markers prepared their arms. Each loaded and took aim at the enemy. Cold steel soon to be made hot by friction pointed at their targets. An eye focused through the lens of the hand cannon and sought the head of a Mauler.

Thunder. And they fell. The young knight had heard an immense cracking, booming noise and his brother fell. No warning. There had been movement in the Kan’Er lines but he just figured it was them taking formation. Blood pooled around the heads of the fallen and he noticed the air of disturbance amongst the men. He studied the imposing lines. The Strikers in front of the Sabres, the Sabres in front of the Maulers, the Maulers in front of the King. What are those? The flanks were arranged diagonally from the lines. Spreading out and forward from the main arms. And they were moving. The movement he had seen before. He was close to calling the enemy’s tell when he was interrupted by Thunder. Around him ten more dropped. Again in the same, inexplicable way the others had. Retreat. Retreat was not part of training. It was never considered. It wasn’t honorable. Yet dying without battle was not the way a Mauler should go. The call for attack had never rang and already less than half the men sat on their mounts not knowing why or how they were being deposed. The fight had to be in the mountains.

The men moved into the mountains. To the young knight it felt like retreat. But it was strategy. The open field was something they were accustomed to. The canvas of the art of battle. Honor and victory were hand in hand in the field. Until dawn came and with the new day a new terror. Only a third of them remained and the enemy still numbered sixty thousand. The valley forest trees seemed ideal. Eleven men with eleven bears waited. A marching was felt and then heard. The growls of the Maulers mounts and roars of the Sabres bounced of the mountains and echoed through the valley. The Kan’Er flags flapped violently as the army appeared from between the slopes. Sixty thousand were now being funneled into the valley by the hundreds. Numbers familiar to the knights. And they charged.

Axes swung as enemies were impaled. Many were beheaded by the Maulers while some were crushed by the bears. The Kan’Er strikers were not as uniform as expected. The young knight noticed that for an army their size and so powerful, they lacked experience and structure. Horses toppled as bears snapped at their legs. Screams were what echoed the valley now. But the King’s Maulers remained silent. Anger at the infringement of battle kept them quiet. War cries are the songs of battle and this enemy had dishonored the art with their cowardice. All too quickly the mouth of the pass was littered with bodies, many dead, others soon to be. Relentlessly the enemy was being cut down. Soon the Sabres on their enormous tiger mounts began to appear atop the bodies. The large cats powerful agility making it seamless as they made their way towards the King’s Maulers.

The sight was worthy of being a painting in the King’s art halls. Eight Sabres pounced at the young knight. All soared high above his head, their claws like garrotes, jaws fully extended plummeting towards him. His blood boiled as his mind’s eye saw his brothers lying still in their own blood. Their mounts, having no rider, were left distraught. They had followed the men into the mountains but their spirit was lost. Now they lay still, like their knights in the field, having been murdered by the Sabres. The bond between a Mauler and his bear was too great. Prior to the initiation phase, a Mauler would spend six months in the wilderness with his bear. He would travel with the cub in his arms and train, eat, and rest together. The cub would see the rider as his only family, it’s mother and it’s father. The rider created a bond stronger than that of a simple pet. His mount became an extension of himself. By the end of the six months, the unbreakable connection will have stimulated a growth beyond normal for the still young cub. Already the cub had the size of an average adult bear with still two years left for growth, where they will reach full warrior beast size. After the bonding trial, a rider and his mount became inseparable. This six month period was only done by Maulers. It wasn’t unusual for one to die soon after the death of the other. Their death was unfair thought the young knight. Their death is my strength.

Blood contrasted the green vegetation artfully. The Sabres scattered the field. Their tigers cried in agony. He removed his impaled ax from between a soldiers ribs as the eleven now stared down the now frozen enemy troops. Twenty thousand troops had been decimated by eleven Maulers. The King’s Maulers. Roars rocked the valley as the Kan’Er Maulers made their way from around the mountains walls. Surrounded, the knights formed a circle. The enemy Maulers yelled, raising their weapons. The song of cowards. The young knight’s anger grew powerful. He thirsted for justice and honor. His unit thrived on it. His kingdom was fueled by it. His Majesty ruled by it. The Kan’Er Maulers charged the men. The Kan’Er Maulers fell before them. Their axes were overpowered. Their mounts were incompatible to the riders. Mauler versus Mauler. Bear versus bear. Kan’Er colors blanketed the field. His Majesty’s Maulers towered the field. The attack had stopped. From the peaks, the young knight watched as more enemy troops rose over the hills. He studied as the Kan’Er spilled into the valley. At the corner of his mind he felt fatigue but dismissed it. His brothers stood so he stood. A movement caught his attention. A movement he now recognized and by the slight sound of the armor of his brothers as they tensed up, he knew they recognized it too. The familiar glint shone off the enemies above. A glint he had distinguished as the tell. The mark of sudden death. He stared at the enemy. He focused on a single soldier as he held a strange tool. The enemy stared back at him. A moment of hesitation gleamed in his eyes as he looked away. The silence in the valley held an air of respect for the eleven knights. Their hipocrisy wears a mask of respect. Kan’Er called for Thunder and with it the lives of his brothers.

The young knight dismounted his beast. Both felt the gravity of the slaughter. Before he was able to take control of himself he was down on his knees. The tears welled up and streaked as he watched his own colors lie before him. His brothers. Men of honor, bravery, and justice. Even their beasts weren’t discriminated this time. He looked out at his enemy. They did not cheer. He did not yell. None of them felt guilt. Hypocrites. He felt despair for his brothers and anger toward the Kan’Er welled up inside. Justice called from inside him. The honor of battle had been defaced. And as he came to terms to the defeat. As he took in the loss of his brotherhood, he heard the movement. In defiance he stared up at the cowards. He knew the end of his knighthood would end here. Yet, he couldn’t let go. They will continue forward to Arian. His Majesty trusted in him to stop this force. It wasn’t foolish to send only thirty of his men to battle the Kan’Er. In actuality it was almost wasteful. Twenty men could have accomplished it. The thought that an army of cowards would take control of his land by such dastardly means made his blood rage. He watched the enemy and suddenly he saw Mount T’ira. The people of his village living their simple lives. Children running between the animals as they grazed the rich pastures. Elderly ones lending their gentle, toothless smiles. The strong posture of the townsmen as they watched over the people. And the heat from Mount T’ira. Peace. The field came back into view and with it the enemy. Movement that now seemed all too close surrounded him. He watched. One by one each of the soldiers pointing their strange tools at him. He watched. His people cannot die at the hands of these traitors. He watched. Silence like before fell upon the valley. He watched. Kan’Er called for Thunder. His heart called for Fire.
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The valley sunk beneath him and with it a sound louder than thunder filled the sky. Soldiers fell off their mounts as they kicked up. Yells were heard as heat consumed those in the valley. Those who fell into the lava. Screams of despair rang through the lava mount as enemy soldiers burst into flames, their bodies reaching their ignition temperatures. He wanted to run but couldn’t. The knight stood still in mid-air next to his beast as he watched the valley transform into the largest lava mount he had ever seen. It wasn’t an eruption. It was an awakening. He felt a comforting heat inside as he stood still at the center of the Mount. And as he watched the destruction of his kingdom’s threat he saw red. A column of lava surrounded him and his beast. The heat became unbearable. It began to engulf him, making his skin feel as if it were melting. Despite the pain he did not scream. As it seared his veins it fueled his life. It hardened his skin. It changed him. The column descended and those left standing at the peaks of the Great Mount’s mouth attempted to make out the figures that stood before them. The heat blurred their vision as the figures ascended past the peaks. Before them stood an immense Beast scorched and powerful and to it’s side, calling the Beast to a bow was the Knight. His skin like the blackened cooling rock with streaks of white magma flowing through the cracks of his face. They watched in amazement and whispered among themselves a name.
Na’Er, The Smoldering Knight.

Copyright 2012 Guillermo Vera.
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Gal3rm

Join date : 2009-10-22
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