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 Prelude to the Fall: What Bloodlines Doom Begets

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The House of Ainsley
Keeper of the Dark Mirror
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Male Number of posts : 1996
Age : 45
Location : The Dark Heart of Bardosylvania

PostSubject: Prelude to the Fall: What Bloodlines Doom Begets   Wed Jan 20, 2016 2:38 pm

The Wildlands South from Konegheim
April, 1066 SE


"Silence that squalling whelp at once!"

At their aurum-clad liege's abrupt command, coarse and muddied hands tore at the tattooed mother's arms from behind.  She reflexively twisted away with a plaintive pule, a whine which blossomed into the wet shrieks of alarm as the unyielding clutches wrenched her shoulder and cast her swaddled daughter to the gore-fouled earth.  The infant's cries of dismay fell silent with the shock of her impact against the pebbled ground, only to then rise into an awful crescendo of pain mingled with the visceral terror of that surrounding, alien calamity which one so young could never hope to understand.  A scream the likes of which defy description in mere words.

Mercifully, the suckling's gut-churning howls were ended with all finality as the forceful footman released the barbarianess to recover his oft-honed battle axe among the puddles of sanguine mud...mercifully for all but the young mother, whose own screech of horror on beholding that descending axe -- and what small, cloven head it laid behind -- trebled to shake her lungs and draw stares of consternation from all around.  But she would not suffer long that grievous loss, for the Konegheimer understood well his master's need for reticence.  With another three strokes of the axe, the Seng woman's milky, freckled back lay claret-splashed and bare against the soil, and she joined her baby in eternal silence.

Their leader lent his raiders not the merest hint of his gratitude for those two deaths, for a garden of death had the once-bountiful Seng village in which they stood become.  Yet the silence was not yet complete.  The spitting flames yet lashed at the heavens from what huts and longhouses had been set ablaze to flush the natives from hiding.  What shanties had been spared from fire pealed then with voices from within: The persistent clapping of flesh against flesh, the wails, pleas and pained moans of bound village women, and the sharp breaths and grunted degradations of their violators.  The straining and groaning of brigands lashing the mangled limbs of the Seng chieftain's painted and mutilated corpse to a stout wooden beam, then setting that beam into the earth and erecting it as warning to any Seng tribesmen who would return.  The heavy, smoky atmosphere trembled with the cleaning and sharpening of victorious blades, the grim baying of hounds bereft of their barbarous masters, the cries of the wounded, the languid gurgles of the dying and the beating wings of a host of descending crows, invited by the carrion feast so laid in abundance.

In his time, the leader had played many roles.  Noble-born.  Page.  Squire.  Knight.  Scapegoat.  Renegade.  Plunderer.  Raubritter.  Outcast.  And then, as he had come to be, conqueror.  And in that conquered village he stood in reverie, fixing the proud Sengi Grand Lodge with salacious eyes.

"D-domnul," a timid voice addressed him from aside, "You said...promised zat, when I...I guide you to Seng village, you will spare Vorgir tribe from...."

"Impertinent cur!  I know what I said!" he thundered angrily in reply, turning his burning gaze on the fallen Vorgir chieftain, who averted his own despondent eyes to the red-steeped gauze and burlap bound tightly around the disjoined wrist from which his left hand had once curled and grasped.  Defeated in all ways by that moment, the diminished elder lowered his wind-beaten brow and withdrew, allowing the commander to return to his thoughts.  Thoughts which were again interrupted by yet another voice, crying from yon in condemnation.

"...devil.  I name you devil!"

Though many lesser men would shy from confrontation -- or stoically face it, at best -- he, among few, reveled in it.  With a wry smirk creasing his shaven countenance, he brushed his wavering cape aside with a sweeping arm, turning to face his wolfskin-garbed accuser: A rough and wizened shaman of near to eighty winters, clutching her wounded entrails against her belly as she rose from the red earth onto thickly callused feet and spindly, tottering legs.  The skulls of raccoons and songbirds strung from her neck clicked and rattled against their fellows as she moved, and the bloodied mud bunched between her gnarled toes as she limped for the conqueror in numbing agony, spitting hoarse epithets as she approached.

"Devil!  Dragon!  Murderer!  Asupritor!  Balaur!"

The thunder had fled the conqueror's voice, replaced with a sarcastic lilt on beholding the hopeless and ill-fated elder.  "Such scalding words, my lady!" he replied with false stupefaction in descending the hillock to greet her.  "How could I have possibly earned such caustic rebukes from the most graceful and impeccable dame in a thousand leagues?  With this amicable disagreement, perchance?"

"You mock me with falsehood!" the hunched shaman snarled with indignation.  "You, who lead men wiss minds sotten in venomed soughts of rape, plunder and butchery!  You, who has killed all sat I loved!  You, whose greed and cruelty drives us into seh hungry darkness from which no tribe returns!"

"And let that be the fate of all ghost-worshipping barbarians who kill my men and presume themselves to be beyond retaliation," he retorted imperiously, shifting his mocking sneer into a rancorous glare.

"You, who broke the mewling, craven Vorgir with your savagery and turned them against us!"

"Savage?  Savage?!?  I shall not be equated with your ignorant, dung-coated, skin-cutting tribe of stick-wavers who quail in suspicion of what ghosts and omens may lurk in the most meager of things!  I am a noble-born model of elegance!  And you, madam...you are a low-born, filthy, barefooted savage terrified by the shapes in shadows and mist!"

"Savagery..." she coughed, shuddering as the stark chill of a coursing forest wind creeping through her eviscerating wound and deeper into her form.  "...it is not a sing of seh simple, poor or wild.  It is a sing in seh hearts of men...men with seh hearts of wolves.  Sis you shall come to know...you and yours."

"Spare me your laughable soothsayings!" the fallen knight spat, punctuating his rebuttal with the crashing of his mailed hand against her tear-dampened cheek.  What brigands looked on in attending their liege yelped in cheer as the old woman wheeled into the mud, excited as they were with the sudden stroke of cruelty and violence.

So lain in the scarlet-steeped dirt, her weeping returned threefold.  Sorrow and anger against her tribe's slayers roiled in her heart of hearts, erupting in pained murmurs amid her redoubled sobs:

"Cur...c-curse you.  I...I-I curse you, Bardos Ainsley!" she blubbered bitterly, closing her eyes without lifting her head from the saturated soil.  "By seh Eyes of M-Mic...Micwei Jatscu, I-I curse you, in name and in blood!  Hated shall be your name!  Poison shall your blood become!  And sough your house may rule sese lands for a sousand years, may all born to your blood never find what sey seek!  And may you, Bardos Ainsley, in your greed and monstrosity, return to devour your children and your legacy until..."

"Enough!"  With a flash of Konegheimer steel and an eruption of wrath bursting from the corpse of tolerance, the shaman's tongue was forever stilled.  Her beheaded body sank limply into the red mud, and Bardos batted her head away from it with a resounding slap from the flat of his longsword.  Years of dignity and nobility weighed his mind to crushing, his exile to this primal, unconquered domain costing him what temperance he once harbored.  And if the Count of Konegheim would condemn him to perish in this forested, wolf-scourged and barbarian-infested wilderness, he would instead claim it by right of conquest and carve from its bosom his own providence.

"Sir Bardos?" his lieutenant Brunn asked with trepidation.

"Yes," spake Bardos, not in answer to Bronn's address but to his own unvoiced questions.  "Yes, I shall dominate these savage, superstitious mongrels in every conceivable way.  This land shall be tamed by me and mine.  And Seng and Vorgir alike shall kneel before me.  They shall bend their knees to me or they shall greet extinction for their defiance!"

His maimed Vorgir aide bit his lip, dismayed with what bargain he had struck with this steel-wielding tribe of destroyers.  Heedless, Bardos finished wiping his blade clean of the shaman's scarlet lifeforce, then turned to level the sword at the grand lodge.

"And this...this shall be the cornerstone of my new hall, my new manorhouse!  The seat of my power and the throne from which I shall bring these hills and forests to heel!  Take up your woodcutting tools, men.  I have a legacy to build and children to sire!  And," he added scornfully, "I promise to refrain from devouring both!"

The fires murmured and feasted against the twilight and would do so for a day hence.  The crows would not disperse for nigh to a tenday.  But words are fleeting, and die soon after they're said.  Who would bear Bardos Ainsley's words and atrocities into history, and what commiserating ears could possibly have heard the shaman's dying, desperate words?

None but the ghosts -- and their keepers -- could know.  And so the pages of time would turn.
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