The tale of a young woman and her people.

by Alania

The young woman sat motionless upon her horse, shilouetted against the setting sun. The stained and torn banner of her people, her country flapped gently in the fading light, hoisted high upon a long lance and held steady in her hand. Some several paces back from her a great forest of pikes waved gently, held by grim-faced men and women, battle worn and weary.

After a moment the beat of hooves upon the cold ground broke the eerie silence, and from the left side of the phalanx a lone horseman galloped forth, coming to an abrupt stop beside the woman. Turning towards her, he began to speak. After a moment, the young woman turned to face the man, her own green eyes meeting his. She uttered a brief reply, followed by a nod, and they both turned their horses and headed back into the thick of the swaying pikes.

As the two dismounted from their horses, the man gestured for one of the messengers nearby to join him. "We camp here tonight, tell the companies." was all he said to the young messenger who, with a bow, hurried off to spread the word. Falling in step with the woman he had rode in with, who had begun to walk uphill towards a small rise, the man began to speak again.

"Its as good a place as any, I suppose..." he said with a sigh, "Though I admit I am worried about our supply lines being so stretched."

Nodding in agreement, the woman remained silent a moment, a gloved hand reaching up to adjust her long black cloak. When she spoke, the young woman's voice was low and contemplative "We don't really have a choice brother, but as you say, it is as good a place as any. All we can do is go over our plans, and get what little rest we are being afforded."

"Indeed" the man replied quietly, the two of them lapsing into silence on the remainder of their journey up the hill.

"Tomorrow's battle will be pivotal" The young woman said as she studied a roughly drawn map of the area and battlefield. She looked up, her hawkish features set in a grim frown. Her green eyes met those of the army's head officers in turn, her gaze coming finally to meet her brother's, his features a near mirror of her own.

"Our strategy will be as we have planned since the beginning," Said the woman's brother, gesturing vaguely towards the map. "Slingers and archers are to make every shot count. This area has little natural shot for the slingers, and our arrow supplies are low."

"The phalanx will stay put until the calvalry has determined more about the enemies position and has tested their line, then it will move forward." The woman added, drawing an invisible line upon the map tracing the calvalry's route with one of her long, slender daggers. "They outnumber us, but they are less disciplined. We must remember that, and use it to our advantage." Straightening up, the woman folded her arms across her chest. "That is all we have to say, unless there are any suggestions or questions?" she said to those around her. There was a general murmur of agreement from the small group.

"Then go talk with the soldiers, go rest." Said the man as he reached for his cloak, which lay over the back of a vacant chair, and threw it about his shoulders.

A thick damp fog hung about the ground as the army began to prepare itself for the day ahead. The early morning sky was laden with heavy grey clouds which threatened to unleash a torrent of cold rain upon the two armies below.

Outside her tent, the young woman stood, her horse waiting patiently nearby, making a few final adjustments to her armour. Around her, others also prepared themselves for the battle. Finally satisfied with the fit of her armour, the woman walked to her horse and mounted up, nodding to the attendant as he handed her the reins. Taking them, she slowly lead her horse in a walk through the busying camp, moving once again towards the small rise. Upon reaching it, she met up with a small group of mounted men and women, the same group she spoke with the previous night, and her brother.

After a brief discussion, the group began to disperse, each off to form up their companies. The last to remain on the hill were the twins, looking out over the camp and their army as it slowly formed itself up on the plains below.

"He is there." The woman stated as she observed the activity before her, a frown setting in upon her face.

The man gave a brief nod, "Yes, I can feel his presence." He to frowned, "It does not change our plans though, but if either of us gets to him, we know what we must do."

"Mmm" The woman offered in response, then after a pause she turned to the man, her eyes meeting his "Well, this is it, I suppose. Fight well my brother." she said with determination.

"And you my sister, fight well."

After a moment, the two urged their horses foreward and moved down through the camp to where the army was forming up on the barren winter field below.

With a fierce cry, the calvalry, led by the twins, joined the infantry in the great melee which had ensued upon the two armies clashing together.

Charging forward, the young woman drove her long lance straight into the shoulder of an attacker's swordarm. Wrenching her polearm free from the screaming man's shoulder with a sickening twist, the woman tilted the tip of the weapon down, lodging it in the ground infront of another enemy's horse, causing it to rear and unseat its rider.

Discarding her lance in favour of her sword, the woman drew the weapon from its scabbard at her side, and with a cry, swung the deadly blade down in a whistling arc to block the blow of another who sought to cut deep into her leg. The woman's parry sent her attacker staggering backwards, and raising her blade once more, she thrust it forwards into the throat of the unbalanced man before he could recover and attack again.

Suddenly and unexpectedly the woman turned, finding herself face to face with her brother, his eyes blazing.

"There he is!" The young man shouted to his sister above the din of the slaughter around them, pointing with his bloodied sword to a mounted figure in the distance - a figure whose very presence seemed wrong, unnatural in some way. "I'm going to get him." He said to his sister as he urged his horse forward, his voice a mixture of rage and conviction.

"Not without me you aren't." The woman mumbled to herself as she spurred her horse into a gallop after her brother, falling in line beside him.

As the two moved closer to the mounted figure, the wrongness of his presence became stronger, and he turned towards the two twins as they rode purposelfully towards him, a mocking smile spreading across his apparently perfect features. "Ah, the bastard offspring of my brother come to challenge me, I see." The figure said with a sneer.

"And it is your bad fortune that we did!" Screamed the woman with rage.

Then, suddenly, above the chaos, the woman's brother's voice rang out in a harsh cry as his horse reared and then shot forward towards the figure, urged on by the young man.

The woman watched as her brother sped towards the vile figure before them. Watching, as her brother raised his bloodied blade in challenge. Watching, as the corruption infront of them raised his hand in an echo of her brothers actions. Suddenly the woman's brother's horse stumbled and turned sharply, as if hit by something, causing the young man to be thrown from its back, tumbling into the frenzy.

Her eyes widening with fear and rage, the woman scanned the ground near where her brother had fallen to see that he was alright, beginning to move forward herself. As she moved past where her brother stood, somewhat dazed and shaken, but otherwise alright, the young woman reached out a hand to him to help him mount up behind her. "That was foolish, you could have gotten yourself slaughtered." The woman said to her brother as she glanced over her shoulder at him briefly. Turning forward, she continued, still moving forward towards the figure some ways ahead of them in the swirling mass of the battle. "We'll ride to him until he looks to strike again, then we dismount and take him by foot from either side."

Forward, the twins sped upon the black warhorse, swords drawn and at the ready. Forward, until once again the corrupt being raised his hand as if signalling for the two to halt. Quickly reining the horse in, the woman hastily dismounted, as did her brother. Down in the midst of the melee now, the two began to cut their way towards the leader of the enemy hordes.

As the woman neared her goal, she found herself pressed by several attackers. A bloodied blade arced down towards her side, and though she was able to parry it, and several others, she could not move fast enough to deal with all the enemy surrounding her. She could not block the powerful blow from the pommel of a sword which crashed into her left temple. Dazed, the woman staggered forward, her vision blurring, everything moving in what seemed to be slow motion infront of her. Slowly, she sunk to her knees, her sword slipping from her grip to land on the bloodied ground beside her. Confusion spread over her face at the sound of cruel laughter coming from above her, overlapped with a familiar voice screaming her name somewhere off to the side of her. The woman could not see properly though, her vision was dimming, and everything seemed so distant.

Suddenly, she felt herself being lifted roughly into the air by the collar and thrown unceremoniously over the neck of a horse. Lifting her head a little, she saw the face of her brother some ways infront of her filled with a mixture of fear and anger. He seemed to be screaming her name...something was wrong. She tried to struggle, but her limbs would not respond, her head would not clear. She watched as her brother ran towards her, his movements distorted and slowed by her failing vision, his voice echoing her name in her head...



Nothingness, then...

Pain. A universe filled with pain.

She jolted awake, crying a name - a plea for help.

Dark shadows flitted across a stone ceiling.

Cold laughter, a scornful voice, taunting.

A face filled her vision, an evil grin spread across it.

The glint of metal in torchlight at the corner of her vision.

A voice.

"...won't kill her. It can't kill her..."


It shot into her abdomen, through her arms, her legs, her head.

She gasped, struggling, trying to defend herself, but her limbs were bound.

More laughter.


Lights exploded in her mind, she shot into wakefulness again, the side of her face stinging.

The face, laughing.

A hand jerking her head to one side, warm fetid breath upon her neck.

The voice, mocking.

"...a shame your brother isn't here to see this..."

More pain, beyond description, shot into her temple and through her head, filling her being.

And then she found herself.


Falling through the worlds. No control, where was her control?

Screaming. Unable to stop.

The mocking laughter echoing faintly in the distance.



A.R. 2001





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