Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Dark Ages, Book 1: Chapter 2, Part 3

(Continued from Chapter 2, Part 2)

Not two months later, Ozzie stood on the deck of the first ship of the Fiendlord’s army as it crossed the narrow sea between the fiends’ homeland and their future conquests. They will never see us coming, thought Ozzie.
Fiendish raiders terrorized human settlements often, and some particularly ambitious groups might even attack a town on occasion. Never before had so many fiends banded together to form an army that could actually threaten the humans, with their knights and their fortresses. The humans were divisive and quarreled amongst themselves, but the fiends were worse. Blood feuds, class conflict, and the simple ruthlessness that was their nature had held the fiends back from greatness.
Until now. Until him.

Ozzie remembered looking down from his balcony into the faces of his adoring masses. Jaegmead was efficient, if nothing else. Fiends of all sizes hushed when Ozzie raised his hands for silence. Gargoyles, nagas, ogres, cyclops, and a myriad other fiends and outlaws paused their endless squabbles and listened. The word had spread of their plans, sure as sickness, but they all wanted to hear it from his mouth. Ozzie was only too happy to oblige.
His voice rang out strong and clear, telling his people of the plight of the fiends, the atrocities of the human race, and why the coming war was justified.
He told them the gist of their plan, how they would sail to the next island and exterminate the humans, clearing a place where their leader, the Dark One, would build his fortress. From there they would launch a campaign against the kingdoms of men while their leader summons forth the greatest of all fiends to aid in their battle.
Then the Dark One stepped forward to thunderous approval, and Ozzie was certain the humans could hear them all the way in their great castles in Guardia. He hoped they trembled at the sound.
He signaled for silence again, which was slower in coming than before. Ozzie called forward the leader of each clan and commanded that he swear fealty to the Dark One and sign a peace treaty, vowing peace between fiends until the fall of Guardia. One by one they stepped forward, and each swore his undying service without hesitation, and the Treaty of Medina was held up for all to see.
When the ceremonies were complete, Ozzie pronounced the Dark One the Lord of the Fiends, and they chanted for their Fiendlord well into the night.
Ozzie looked at his Fiendlord now, standing at the bow of the ship, looking toward the west. He was still trying to get used to that eager expression on his lord’s face. He’d worn it all through the preparations. The Fiendlord even oversaw the building of the ships that would carry his army westward. The forests gave up its lumber without incident, and Ozzie suspected his lord had something to do with that.
The winds had been blowing favorably for the entire voyage so far, and Ozzie suspected his lord had something to do with that as well.
Why even question it? Ozzie shook his head to banish his concerns. Worry was tiresome, and every day the excitement of the coming conflict would further overshadow his misgivings.
He turned his thoughts instead to the razing of the first village once they made landfall. He could see the burning houses, hear the screams of the dying, the clash of steel in the distance. He could practically taste the women already.
The women.
He licked his lips eagerly and stared out toward the western horizon alongside his master. Another glorious day, and still many more yet to come. 

(Continued in Chapter 3, Part 1)

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