****The Swords Call****
The stars faded as the sky turned to a light purple in the east. To the
south, the camp began to stir. King Leo had spent the rest of the night in silent
thought. He was up now, looking over towards the north were his first battle
was to take place. The wind blew his brown hair about his shoulders. He could hear two of his knights approach as they climbed the little slope behind him. He noticed the fires being put out in the camp below as he turned to greet them. It was Sir Aquarius and Sir Virgo.
“King Leo” said Sir Aquarius. A look of pride filled his deep
blue eyes. He reached out to Leo’s shoulder. “Come, we must prepare. The men are waiting”.
“We have found some armor that will fit I think” said Sir Virgo.
“We will equip you with a horse and fill you in on what tactics are at are disposal”.
Together the three of them returned to the camp. The soldiers looked upon him, not with doubt as he expected, but with hope.
Inside, he found Sir Cancer and Sir Hamel waiting by the fire pit where last nights events took place.
“Hail King Leo” said Sir Cancer. “Will you join us for
some breakfast this morning?” He dipped what looked like bread into his
cup and took a bite, then offered the rest to him. The king declined.
“Your horse is ready Sire” said Sir Hamel. “The others
will join us shortly”. He brought forth a set of armor from a small cart
beside him. Sir Aquarius and Sir Virgo went about assisting the young king. The armor fit well enough and wasn’t too heavy for Leo to move in. Next, they fitted him with a helm that came from one of the fallen soldiers. The other knights had joined them by the time King Leo was done getting dressed. They gathered around.
“The sword has granted me wisdom, but I am no expert in war. What
plans have you devised?” said King Leo, addressing them all.
Sir Aquarius explained to King Leo, what he and the others had come up with.
He drew a diagram in the dirt. The king would lead the bulk of the force
with Sir Aquarius, Sir Virgo, and Sir Hamel accompanying him. Sir Pisces, Sir
Gemini, and their troops would flank him on the left, while Sir Cancer, Sir Scorpio, and their men would flank him on the
right. They were to charge as one, as opposed to coming in waves as they had
done previously in the days before. They mounted their horses and headed out
just as the sun had fully risen. The whole camp emptied, save a few who were
too wounded to accompany them.
The king and his knights made their way to a small ridge over looking yesterdays contest. The carrion birds hadn’t left much and a few of them had returned in hopes of leftovers. They scattered as the noise from the horses disrupted their behavior.
The men waited patiently for the barbarian horde to come. It wasn’t
long before they heard the first signs of their enemies’ arrival. The rumble
of their coming sounded as if many horses were on their way to crush them, but no mount was seen, their numbers were so vast. Upon seeing the knights, they halted. Then
with a great war cry, they charged forth.
King Leo held the sword in front of his face and closed his eyes. The
sun gleamed golden off the blade of the king. He raised it in the air for all
to see, and with one swift movement, spurred his steed into action. The knights
followed, feeding off of their king’s fearlessness. A sudden panic filled
the barbarians. They had expected the men to give them a fight, but they had
not counted on the appearance of the Golden Sword. The Daybringer, as it was
known amongst them, was legendary. Its’ tale was well known and feared
by the superstitious barbarians. By the time they had regained their senses,
it was too late, for the King and his knights were upon them. King Leo had felled
two barbarians before he realized where he was. He looked around and saw his
men making easy work of their adversaries. The three knights that were with him
had pushed far into the ranks of the barbarians, separating themselves from their king.
Suddenly his horse reared as it was struck and wounded. The jolt sent
him reeling, as he was knocked off its back. A few of the knights saw this and
tried to close the distance between their fallen leader and the throng of barbarians around him. Winded but unhurt, King Leo scrambled for his sword that lay a few feet away. He reached the sword just as the mob arrived. With a terrible
roar, he turned to defend himself. All the combatants froze; including the knights,
for it was not the King, but the sword that had made the deafening call. King
Leo broke the pause with a mighty swing that found its mark. He pulled his helm
from his head and instinctively blocked then counter attacked his next foes strike.
One by one they fell to the King’s might.
The barbarians had seen enough. Those who still remained after the sword
spoke began to flee. Many were cut down before they could escape and even more
were chased down by Sir Scorpio and a few of his men. Although they were heavily
outnumbered, the battlefield yielded many more barbarians than the king’s men.
It had happened so quickly, that many were in disbelief.
King Leo stood there, bloodied sword in hand. The soldiers looked upon
him in wonderment. The stories they would later tell would speak of his ferocity. All were too busy to notice the blue wizard’s arrival, seeming to appear from
within their own ranks.
“Well done” said Majisto, coming to stand before the king. “You
have put your trust in the sword and it has rewarded you”.
The bewildered king looked at his sword then to the wizard. “Majisto? How did I…? Where did you….?”
The wizard ignored his questions. “Your day is not yet over, young
king. You must ride out and push them back even further”.
“But we have won this day” said King Leo, uncertain of Majisto’s intentions.
“Yes, King Leo, but your purpose is not only to defend your people here, but to journey north and claim those
lands, the lands of ancient kings, as well”. The wizard paused a moment,
taking in the confusion that the king and his knights displayed. “The people
of the north are much like you, leaderless and without king. They have been overrun
by the barbarian hordes yet have none to stand against them. Will you not free
them of their terror?” he finished.
A sudden understanding reached Leo’s thoughts. “I will free them and the lands that had once been protected by this sword so long ago” he said.
“Good” said Majisto. “It is there that you will find
more answers to what questions you have not thus far even thought of. Give your
men their deserved rest, and I will council you on what lies ahead, both on the battlefield and on your throne. It is not yet midday and you have much to accomplish”.
The wizard pulled aside the young king as his men tended to their dead and wounded.
Majisto instructed the king to send word to the villages of their victory and also his claim to the throne. Then he told King Leo of his knowledge of the barbarians. They
had become fearful at the battle due to a prophecy concerning the sword. While
the sword would continue to place dread within their minds, that alone would not secure victory. Fierce and powerful warriors that they were, they were not evil. Their
leader however was a cruel and menacing foe. He was known as Kornephoros No one knew why this brutal warlord led
raids into the peaceful lands south of the barbarian domain. A lust for power
or gold perhaps; or merely driven by an unknown hatred of the civilized people, none could say.
Of the north-western lands, Majisto told Leo of their great beauty. Although
the land itself was a treasure, many more interesting artifacts were to be had. As
the wizard continued to speak, King Leo had the feeling that he was not only going to liberate the people of these lands,
but also unlock a part of his own past as well.
After everyone had rested and regrouped, they set out again. King Leo
was given a new horse and the blue wizard now traveled with them. Together they
all rode with confidence and resolve …and a boy as their king.