Return of the Reaper

Thousands of years ago, the Reaper, Demon Lord and ruler of all Creation, was betrayed and his empire turned to dust. Now he has returned, and is looking for revenge on the one who betrayed him.


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25. Chapter twenty five

 The atmosphere in Brugenmord was tense. The few survivors who managed to run away from Meroe spread the disturbing news about the fate of the city, forcing them to push to the limits their efforts in order to bolster their defenses.

 

 The peasants from the nearby farms abandoned their crops, taking with them the barely edible results of their untimely harvest. Hundreds of workers toiled ceaselessly reinforcing the walls, aided by thousands of desperate commoners eager to help with the defenses. Mounted messengers were sent to the nearby towns, both to warn them and to ask for their support.

 

 Brugenmord was a very big city: almost one hundred and fifty thousand people lived there, and many more in the surrounding plains. The castle, built in immemorial times, was an architectural marvel, to the point some wondered if the hands that built its massive structure were truly human or not. As time went by, it had been expanded and modified many times, to the point that little could be guessed of its original structure.

 

 Deep inside the castle, king Dieter von Hogerschaft controlled the progress in the defenses and received the discouraging reports of his scouts: out of the dozens they had sent to patrol the southern borders, half returned without any sight of the enemy, while the other half disappeared without a trace.

 

 “This is impossible!” Yelled the old king to his generals “According to the refugees, an army of abominations assaulted their city and now we can’t find a single trace of them, even though they could perfectly be at our very doorsteps.”

 

 The general was about to answer when the hall’s doors suddenly opened. The king’s outraged shout died in his lips when he saw a gigantic creature that looked like it was taken out from a fairy tale. It was almost naked except by a loincloth, and its black skin was covered with strange tattoos. Standing at his side was a young man wearing simple, age-worn clothing. Behind both of them, a dozen soldiers stood in a semi circle, their spears poised to strike despite their expression showing they didn’t think the weapons would do much against the colossus.

 

 The sergeant in charge of the soldiers bowed before the sovereign and was about to say something when the giant spoke, startling everyone in the room “Beast of Agarod, Lord of the Third Legion, Doom of Foes and Scourge of the Seraphim, requests an audience with the lord of this castle.”

 

 The king, showing a serenity that was far from sincere, answered in a sharp voice “What is it you wish, foul creature?” He said, his gaunt features a mask of grim fury “Do you pretend me to surrender the city to your cursed horde? Begone! Tell your master that we would rather die than bend the knee!”

 

 Beast took a deep breath, his will strained to its limit by the effort of not slaughtering everyone in the room. “When I abandoned this world, humans were barely better than wild animals, going from one place to another and warring over the smallest triffles.” His voice, full of barely controlled anger, made the spears tremble in the hands of the guards “From what I can see, little has changed since then. I come in peace, you idiotic fool of a king. An army the likes of which your daft race is incapable of imagining heads towards your city. I came here to warn you and offer my help, but so far I have only found venomous words and spears pointing to my heart. I will only ask one more time: Beast of Agarod, Lord of the Third Legion, Doom of Foes and Scourge of the Seraphim, requests an audience with the lord of this castle.”

 

 The king stood silent for a few moments before saying “I hereby grant you audience both to you, Lord of the Third Legion, and your servant. House Hogerschaft offers you its hospitality.” With a gesture of his hands, he waved the guards away. If the creature was whom he said – and there was no reason to doubt it- they would only die unnecessarily if things got ugly.

 

 “Very well,” the king continued “what exactly are we going against, and how do we stop it?”

 

 “You shall face the very legions of hell.” The situation was tense since the demon entered the hall, but now the air could have been cut with a sword “A savage horde of demons. Their nature hasn’t yet been tempered by the soothing air of this world, so they will be even more wild and unruly than the humans of yore.”

 

 “It should be easy, then.” Said one of the generals “We should let them crush themselves against our walls and let the boiling oil and a rain of arrow do our dirty job for us.”

 

 “Of course, it would be that easy, if this army wasn’t led by the Reaper’s second in command, who happens to have joined forces with one of the most terrifying sorcerers Creation has ever seen. And this is without taking into account that a part of the army’s troops have wings, rendering your walls and archers almost useless.” Beast stood thinking for almost a minute and finally said “What resources does the city have for its defense?”

 

 The same general replied “We have food enough to survive a siege of ten months, perhaps eight if we receive too many refugees. There are many wells inside the city, so we won’t have to worry about water.” He turned to the table, where a big map of the city and its surroundings was unfolded “We have twelve units of a thousand men each, plus the militias trained for emergencies and those who are willing and able of holding a weapon. Of those twelve thousand men, three thousand are archers, known throughout the region for their accuracy. Of the remaining nine thousand, eight are our infantry, between light, medium and heavy. Finally, the remaining thousand men are the city’s elite, our heavy cavalry. Our engineers are working day and night reinforcing our walls, and we don’t lose hope that the nearby cities will answer our plea for help.”

 

 As the general spoke, Beast’s face turned to a savage grin. Now that he knew where he stood, he could start helping these whelps in order to humiliate both Death in the Wind and the Vermin Lord.

 

 No matter what happened, it would be an interesting battle.

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