Monday, 27 June 2011

The Prince of Ashes


He seemed an island of quiet, unearthly elegance where he stood, on one of the few remaining towers of Castel Vigilius in Borgen, Cora's capital. Until recently, this had been the home of the Knights of St. Invictus. The city had been bombarded night and day for two months before it fell. They had rained fire, plague and acid on it, demons and guldamoths had thrown themselves against it's defences, and a hundred nigromancers had torn at the very fundaments of it's reality. Then it had fallen. It's fortifications crumbled, it's once magnificent temples, those few that had survived the onslaught, stripped and defiled. Hardly a single house was undamaged, and an unnatural, viscous, dark mist lay like a dirty shroud over the once proud and defiant city.



The Prince bore a polished moon-silver breast-plate over a tunic of white silk. The armour was emblazoned with a relief of a giant squid, inlaid with gold and dark blue and scarlet gem-stones; the silk was embroidered with gold and silver threads. His legs bare, in the fashion of the ancients, showed the same perfection in muscle and tone as his arms. On his feet he wore sandals of the finest, most supple leather, with clasps of silver and mother-of-pearl. Around his fore-arms he carried bracers matching his mail, both with motifs resembling creatures of the ocean deep. His dark hair fell to his shoulders, and a narrow, pale crown, with a single, dark star-stone, rested on his head. Draped over his left shoulder hung a silvery grey nether-silk cape, and on his hip a golden short-sword rested in it's ivory scabbard. He was a beautiful man, with sharp, but gentle features, and dark eyes with a melancholy depth most who gazed into found impossible to forget.

The island teemed with black-armoured legionnaires, tattooed savages with pierced flesh, mercenaries, terrible war-beasts, mad-eyed cultists and slaves. On the towers, where the angels of the vanquished knights had stood watch, tall, dark and terrible entities gazed into an eternity no sane man dared contemplate. The harbours were full of ships, some much like those found in every other harbour, but most belonging to the Armada of Forlorn Hope – ships lost at sea, their crews gone mad and given themselves over to the Deep. The might of the Empire of Stars stood poised to tear open the weak flesh of Eria's soft underbelly. Everyone waited for their Prince to issue the final order.

He stood by himself, his entourage keeping a respectful distance to their dark liege, everyone well aware of the mosaic of torment they would earn if they disturbed him in his thoughts. The Prince appeared to be scanning the horizon, as if searching for something. The courtiers behind him fidgeted nervously. Only the tall, bald man, a simple dark robe loosely drawn around his muscular, hideously tattooed body, seemed at perfect ease. Somewhere close by someone, or perhaps something, was screaming. The sound was rising and falling, blending with the noises of the city, in a manner reminiscent of a lonely instrument against the urban cacophony. None of those on the tower seemed to notice. There were far to many such symphonies, played out on those captured defenders who had not yet died, for anyone to pay heed, regardless of the musician's skill.

Overhead a pale sun drew itself slowly towards it's nocturnal refuge. As it inched closer and closer to the deep western ocean, the courtiers changed discreet looks. A questioning glance from on was answered with a subtle shrug from another. Perhaps they would embark tomorrow, but for now one more night of feasting awaited while Caracalla postponed his moment of commitment.

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[Picture source: StrawberrySoulReaper]

2 comments:

  1. Nice write-up! Very evocative, and very cruel.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow. Cruel? I'll take that as a compliment, and thank you.

    ReplyDelete