Shadowbeast: Kings of War fanfiction

The vision was hazy. There was panic. There were horsemen.

The vision cleared.

They would die by their hands if they did not run.

If they ran the horses and spears would bear down on them, blades and hooves slicked with their own blood.

The vision was gone.

The thunderseers watched with the confidence that only those who have already seen their victory will ever know, as the lone knight raised his axe and spurred his horse into a gallop towards them. They would survive.

They watched with contempt as his horned helmet lowered. Fool, they thought as one.

Clods of earth flew from the ground as the rider sped towards them. Tulgurt, the largest of the thunderseers, pushed to the front of their ranks. The great cyclops raised his hammers above his head and let loose a mighty bellow of defiance, naming himself as the champion who would swat this fly aside, so that the seers might prepare for the fight to come. The fight that would see them confront their visions.

Tulgurt found it hard to believe that this upstart had the temerity to ride alone against him and his brothers. He would have seen it as an insult had he not found the sterility of the rider strangely distracting. The knight’s face was hidden by a helmet that closed the window to the rider’s humanity, stopping Tulgurt from seeing the uncertainty and fear that lived in the hearts of the rider’s feeble race. Tulgurt also noticed the rider wore a simple white surcoat and shield, strangely uncluttered by the usual boasts of heraldry that so many men clung to in the face of their own deaths. Something about it unnerved the cyclops.

There were the horns though. Tulgurt allowed himself a brief smile at the horns that had been stuck onto the helmet. They broke the illusion the rider had clearly tried hard to create. The illusion that the knight was somehow above the vanity of lesser men, somehow purer. Somehow better. Tulgurt’s smile became a great roar of laughter. This was just a man, and like every other man he had crushed under foot so this one would fall as well.

He looked again at the horns, smiling, readying his weapons.

The rider was now closer, axe still raised, horse charging directly towards him, but the horns seemed to have grown. Tulgurt looked again. They were longer, sharper, but more than that they no longer looked like decoration stuck onto the helmet. It was as though they grew from it. The helmet itself had changed. No longer a shield to hide the rider’s humanity behind, it had fused with his face and the resulting mess of flesh, bone, and metal exposed and amplified the rider’s rage and fury. There was no humanity, no weakness, only the certainty of violence and death. The rider began to bark threats and challenges, not only to Tulgurt and his brothers, but also to the world. The rider demanded Garkan himself take to the field or be proven a coward for twice the length of eternity.

Panic ignited in Tulgurt and the seer lashed out with his hammers, but the blows fell too soon. They arched down and the horse danced to the right leaving them with nothing to hit, until they thudded into the ground. This brought Tulgurt’s head down. His single precious eye was now at the rider’s shoulder height. The rider raised a corner of their shield as the horse carried on past the cyclops allowing the rider to drive the shield home into Tulgurt’s face, blinding him and flipping him over with the force of the charge. The axe that had been raised dropped down by the rider’s side before arching up into the chin of another of the seers.

Confusion spread quickly through the ranks of the cyclops as the rider lashed out with axe and shield making of each a weapon equalled only by the other. Monster fell upon monster as screams, as much of bestial delight as anguish and pain, filled the air.

On a nearby rise the initiates held their horses steady, spears ready. The paladin leading them watched the hunter through the slits of his helmet. The example had been set. He raised his sword, barked an order and the horses started to canter forward.

Published by Eddie Bar

Fantasy storyteller, reader and wargamer.

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