A rhythmic beat filled the green valley, the sound created as leather crunched against gravel. Thousands of boots created the thunderous percussion. The sound of the royal infantry, the iron fist of the monarchy. After having spent their entire lives since childhood being trained in bow and blade, they made short work of any threat to the realm. Black and crimson figures, all moving in perfect unison, sunlight catching their imposing helmets as they rose and fell with each step. In their wake utter destruction was all that remained in the once quiet region.
The first Lieutenant led the march. Preferring the weight of the black leather he had been given compared to the usual full steel plate, the enemy today had no need for conventional armour. Images of the horrors he had witnessed earlier this morning still filled his head. All the old, the women, the children. All dead, and what's worse, under his command. His instructions had been clear, no survivors were to be left and all the houses put to the torch. Hundreds dead, but still they march. After the third village on the White Road the smoke had alerted the fourth, that's where the casualties had been suffered. It's one thing to fight another man, skill and equipment were all that was required, but no matter how fancy their armour, or sharp their swords, this was no conventional adversary. Only a handful had cut down so many of his company's men.
A shiver took hold of the Lieutenant, he suddenly felt the air around him grow much colder, a terrible sign. A crimson clad fist was raised high into the air, as he shouted his command. "Contact, ranged weapons!" In unison bows were wielded and arrows were knocked. A few dozen hooded figures stood in the field in front of them. An elder man took a step out from the group, a thick white beard accenting the light blue robes of their ancient order.
"Tell me sir," the old figure demanded, his voice calm and cool, "why is it you march upon our lands? We are in times of peace, we do nothing but serve our king."
The lieutenant stood tall, fist still raised, feeling it tremble slightly. He watched as light pulsated from beneath the robes of the men in front of him. No ordinary men, he thought, gods. With great pain he dropped his hand forward, as he screamed "Loose!"
Black arrows filled the sky, hundreds of arrows flew, a royal infantryman never missed his mark. Yet one after the other the arrows swerved last minute landing just at the feet or to the side of the group. The old man let out a little grunt as he pulled his hood back, letting his colourless hair fall over his aged, weathered face. Deep set crows feet were accentuated as he frowned at the men in front of him. "We have served in your ranks for the last age, we taught your people how to forge those weapons you turn against us, taught you how to wield them. You know what we are capable of." He raised a hand, a white jewel glowed in it. Suddenly the sound of screams were heard, cracks sounded as bows were dropped to the floor. Steam coming off the first line of men's hands, all those foolish enough to opt for mail. The lieutenant glanced behind him at his men struggling to stop the burning. His breath now visible in front of his face. Again, a drop in temperature. He knew they could only draw so much heat from their surroundings before they were powerless, this was just a show of force. He drew his long sword, and as if some unspoken order had just been issued so did the men behind him. A bolt of light arced from the old mans hand, hitting a black clad soldier in the chest, he collapsed to the ground immediately, not even letting out a sound as his life left his body.
"Charge!" The men broke ranks, all running up the verge towards the blue figures, their light armour allowing them to run faster. However just as fast as they summited, they fell. Lights flared and corpses hit the dirt, piling over one another, arrows were pulled out of the sky by some unseen force, hitting friendly targets. Surely they will run out of energy soon. They have to. The others submitted far earlier. By now they were navigating around a wall of bodies, growing with each passing second. The blue clad men had now pulled out melee weapons, the gap between them had now narrowed, steel met steel as blades struck, the infantry were fast, silver arcs blurred through the air as they relentlessly struck at the men ahead of them. The lieutenant pulled his sword from the stomach of one of the men and moved on to the next, feigning a blow high then thrusting his dagger at the next man's throat as his guard lay open. Immense heat passed through the blade, he watched as the steel turned red and started to ripple as it stopped in midair millimetres from the man's throat, some invisible force holding him back. A look of pure concentration passed over his opponents face, the blade trembled in the air. Then unexpectedly the man dropped, a dead weight hit the ground with a dull thud. No wound suffered to his body.
All around him the conflict was drawing to a close, the final few standing had been routed, arrows struck them in the backs as they attempted to flee. He knelt to inspect the body in front of him as all that remained of his company piled the dead on the sides of the road. When the hood was pulled back he realised it was the face of a boy, wispy strands of hair clung to his cheeks in patches, his skin a shade of blue. He was cold. When someone dies they stay warm for hours, death's cold clutches only settle in after a long while.
"Sir! Contact on our flanks!" A voice amongst his ranks screamed. And sure enough more robed figures looked down upon them from the top of the valley once again blocking their path. The few they just slew had only been to slow them down. Now over a hundred blue figures surrounded the company. They lost their element of surprise. Breaking into houses and slaying these men before they could gather their powers was easy, only a few caused too much struggle. Then the small band they just faced essentially decimated their forces. Now the enemy was too far away to charge at, arrows would be no use, if they did make it up the hill too few would remain to take them on in melee combat. But they would be executed if they turned back. They had little choice.