Originally posted on Goonersphere
The General rested on his haunches, his now spattered armour creaking as he bent. The scene which tortured his eyes was one of bedlam and violence. The very floor on which his hands now leaned on was saturated with blood – of who it belonged to was a mystery.
For both sides had suffered losses, and the liquid spilled could have been from either. Bodies littered his eyeline, but that was not the destination for his vision.
He looked to the horizon, to where the Haven of Four twinkled its seductive light. Then, just below, what remained of the savage horde of Shadow Dwellers – who had gotten past the General’s men and now were free to taint that holiest of ground.
By the Gods, they had failed.
They had rode forth from North Londonia with victory in mind, but with the consequences of losing weighing deep in their hearts. They had stood guard over these lands for over twenty years, ensuring the Shadow Dwellers could not distribute their scourge and remained in the darkness.
It had been this way for a generation – but now, the whispers and childrens tales had grown to a very real threat, and once more, the General and his men – The Soldiers of the Cannon – stood tall and in the way of a very real nightmare.
The battle-scarred General had witnessed many an uprising from the filth which had once claimed what was now in the hands of the People of the Cannon, but this had been different. Once a savage yet rash bunch, this time they had strategically fought and it was the closest he and his men had come to tasting defeat.
Defeat was a shame which many soldiers cannot recover from, but if they had fallen at the diseased hands of the Shadow Dwellers, then the repercussions would have been far worse.
Thankfully, the General had many men to call upon to aid his infantry, and these men had seen off many of these fiends.
The fierce nature of the battle would have been difficult to witness as a bystander, but in the thick of things, all that was apparent was a thirst for blood. Both sides lost huge numbers, and the terror that was Kane the Tusked Devourer had left many families bereft of fathers and husbands.
Now, as what remained of his cavalry tended to the wounded and joined the General’s gaze, their leader stood up and unclasped his chestplate – which was emblazoned with their sigil of a Cannon.
He knew that Sir Kos of Cielny, Sir Sanchez of Sanchez and Sir Rambo of Dragonshire had cut swathes through their nemesis’s ranks, but they had ultimately fallen short in stemming the tide toward the Haven of Four.
The nagging thought which dominated his beleaguered mind was whether their titanic efforts had been enough to stop the hordes from obtaining the Shining Crown and the power over all lands.
His people’s place at the Haven was assured, but if the Shadow Dwellers were allowed to lay waste to all and sundry – which would be a stark reality if they could obtain the Crown – then all would be lost.
The only hope now, resided in the Shadow Dwellers themselves. Even in their times before they were shunned, they carried an inherent talent for chaos, a chaos which often engulfed their own.
The path to the Crown was visible, but not without hindrance. Chief among them was the current keepers of the Crown, the wildlings of the Bridge.
The General called for his Squire.
“Boy, hand me my eyes of distance.”
The boy, on the cusp of manhood, ran like the spirits of the fallen had chased him, and within seconds, he had a device which resembled binoculars.
The General surveyed the location which the Shadow Dwellers found themselves in. A fight was ongoing, and the Wildlings of the Bridge looked to be no match for the Shunned.
In the corner of the General’s eye, in the murkiness, a diminutive figure approached the melee. In his hand, a glint of silver. As he sped up, he whizzed past many Shadow people, and each one fell to the ground with grievous injury.
The mystery figure was none other than the much heralded Hazardun, chief terror for the Wildlings.
Word had been rife of Hazardun’s death, and the defence of the Crown was weakened severely as a result, but the General’s eyes were privy to a different truth.
The Shadow Dwellers own disorganisation and greed had failed them. If they had set their ranks as a good squadron should, then the plague that is Hazardun would have been smote instantly. Yet, their own failings had put paid to their efforts, and now, what remained of their kind were being savaged by the Children of the Magpie – whose people had been on foot as they had seen their home destroyed.
The relief flooded over the General, and it felt as if he could once again breath. The Shadow Dwellers force had been destroyed, and what little had been left in their filthy hole would now look to repopulate and once more fuel their fire for plaguing the lands they once held, so long ago.
Now was the time to survey his men’s losses. One of the finest leaders he had seen, Artetum LegoHair, lay on the stained ground, his eyes open and his hair still perfect. Sir Rosicky too, had fallen. He was a favourite amongst the men, and now the hands that had destroyed many enemies were at rest.
The man they knew simply as Flanimal, was contorted into an uncomfortable shape. The General stood over his body. His last memory of this man would be him screaming with bloodlust as he ran headlong into a pack of the Shunned, with no regard for his own conservation. Bravery was no stranger to the Flanimal, and songs would be sung in the taverns of his extraordinary exploits.
He sat on a tree stump and sighed. Once again his lands were safe. The threat from the Shadow Dwellers would once more blight his people – but he also knew that his men would always be there to stymie their plans.
In the face of the Pires Seven and The Great God Titi, the Cannon demanded it.