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His death wasn't completely unexpected but surprising in the moment, he hadn't been well for a while and we knew it was really just a matter of time. He loved us for sure but was only ever nice when we behaved in a way he approved of. We had a very superficial relationship, he wasn't particularly kind and after my parents' divorce he disappeared for 10+ years. He was conservative and rigid, married a harsh woman with unkind children of her own, and didn't have much understanding for anyone else's perspective. Our feelings and decisions were only valid when he agreed they were, otherwise they were met with derision and scorn. He was never really all that interested in me and my sisters as people, especially me who didn't fit into the little box he had of what a woman, or a career, or a life should look like (ie not married to a wealthy conservative church going man). He played very obvious favorites with one sister from the day she was born, absolutely classic golden child.
So here I am with a toddler and another baby due in less than three weeks, and all I feel is some kind of relief. I don't have to pretend with him anymore and only tell him things he would approve of, and I don't have to deal with his wife anymore.
And I am overwhelmed with gratitude and love for the family I've built. And the parent I get to be to them and companion to my partner after lots of therapy and reading and reflection. I get to tell them I love them unconditionally and their feelings are valid no matter what they are, and I get to support them in whatever they choose to do and be proud of them. I'm not going to tell my toddler he needs to be grown up now and give in to his little sister all the time, that's not his role. And it's ok that he didn't want either of the little spoons I offered this morning but the other, secret, little spoon and then still got very upset about it... life is hard and sometimes you need a cry and a hug when things aren't going your way. I will teach them to be kind and compassionate and that there is more than one way to live successfully. And that I have a partner who loves me uncondiontally and I him too, and that he's a real partner in parenting and I don't have to hide or sneak around like my mom or my dad's second wife did.
I definitely feel a bit odd about not being sadder. But maybe that's the lesson, too, that you can't create authentic relationships when you don't accept people for who they are.
I pretty much looked for stats similar to D2 in the beta. I ended up with around 20% crit chance and 95% crit dmg. I then made vuln dmg my 3rd priority. That was only about 20%
Is this now wrong? Are stats like dmg to close/far, basic skill, core skill, etc. going to take over?
And with no vitality stat is +health going to be a big deal?
This may have been asked here and I apologize in advance if it has. But I am trying to settle a debt that is mine. It's a repossession from years back. I have a great deal on it as I'm only being asked to pay 33% of the original amount. Problem is they dont report to the credit bureaus. How would i get them to do this? Or how would i go about it getting it off my credit report on my own? tia
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Hi everyone, I'm writing a book, and just curious as to any feedback that people may have for my first chapter, I uploaded a previous draft before, a very early draft I might add, and now I'm looking for some good old fashioned feedback.
For more information about my book, check out my youtube channel at Crimson Clover - YouTube
Thanks, also the channel is very rough, it was my first time making videos and thus fairly poorly made, however I am attempting to improve it by making less book relevant content, which will allow me to improve my basic skills.
Chapter One :
Divinity. That is what connected the walls surrounding Dundis castle, not stone or metal, this was not a mere wall but a divine gift from ones above. Divinity sealed the wall, made it whole, the walls sealed together without mark or blemish, something no man could ever replicate. The wall had stood for a century, and would likely last ten more, there was no weakness, no flaw in design. 50 metres tall the wall was unscalable, unbreakable. No man could break the wall, it was the Vaunghe empire’s crowning gift, their wonder of the world. Those that were hired to clean the wall’s dirt and grime were heralded as the truly faithful, and all longed to help the gift of the gods. And yet despite this the Alizian’s watched, standing with armies around the great wall, waiting to breach its crust and destroy the core.
The Vaunghe had watched their foes throw everything they had, hundreds of men attacking the steel doors of the wall to no avail, an attempted archer attack quickly squashed by the wall's height. The Alizian military was strong, a blend of the Alizian warriors and Strolim blacksmiths made for a truly terrifying army. The army was so terrifying that the Vaunghe inside the castle doubted there were any more Vaunghe troops left, this was the end to a long battle between man and man. Even the soldiers left weren’t particularly important, just those lucky enough to guard the king and a few trainees. But the Vaunghe felt their luck running out.
The food supplies had run low, even if the nobles weren’t in the castle there was no chance of resupply. The few men who had eaten in the past few days stood alert, gazing down from the ramparts at the enemy. The soldiers knew they had to either surrender or fight, but the Vaunghe were passionate people, they could never leave behind their identity in favour of life. So the men waited, bows and arrows at the ready, for the next attack. Heavy items such as ingots and chairs lined the rampart, ready to be thrown off at a moments notice.
They had waited in this position for many cycles, and as day turned to night, and night turned to day the Vaunghe were exhausted, finished with whatever feeble attacks these barbarians had planned. They could throw whatever armies and arrows they wanted at the wall but it would remain unphased, forevermore. When the Alizian’s next attacked they would be met with the last strength of the Vaunghe, and it would be a story remembered for milenia by man and the gods.
As the morning sun rose over the wall, the enemy was revealed in all their glory. Even from so high above the Vaunghe could see the glint of silver from the Alizian military. The bright greens of the Alizian armour created a dazzling sensation that they were one with the grass, which blended in so perfectly with their clothes. They stood in their thousands, armed with whatever they could find, and even on the wall the men could see him.
The slaughterer, the murderer, the man, the myth and the legend Osmund stood alone on an overlooking hill. The fiend was well known by the Vaunghe, he was likely the greatest foe that had come from the opposing sides. Vaunghe generals often fled at his coming, or surrendered first, but rumour had it that Osmund gave no mercy. Overseeing his army to destroy everything that was left, the Vaunghe soldiers knew today really was the end. The figure on the hill moved closer to his army and screamed. The battle-cry of the Alizian’s shook fear into each of the Vaunghe atop the rampart, being so loud that it even reached so high.
The hundreds of troops began to move in sync, forming three individual groups of soldiers, with 10 metre spaces between each. Each contingent comprised six hundred men, easily dwarfing the 82 Vaunghe soldiers that were left. But the Vaunghe were not afraid, at least not afraid of a breach anytime soon. These walls were built to withstand any damage, no man could breakthrough one.
Between the troops was movement, indeed there seemed to be movement down all three rows of men in blue. The Strolime empire had finally revealed themselves, with their short stature and mental prowess the Strolime were gifted inventors not expected to appear on the battlefield. And yet here they were, almost one hundred of them hauling forth three large metallic objects. The sun bounced off of these objects into the Vaunghe’s eyes.
None of the men had ever seen objects like these, seemingly composed of pure metals and on wheels. Some thought they were a testament to the gods, some holy objects, others believed it to be some new invention from the Strolime, however none of them could say anything for certain as they were pushed closer and closer to the wall. The Strolomites stopped in their advance, approximately 20 metres away from the wall. The purpose of these objects had yet to dawn on the men, although one of the younger men on the rampart claimed he could see small objects poking through the metal, which was now aimed at a forty-five degree angle towards the wall.
As the Strolimites halted their advance many began to move away into the safety of the Alizian wall, likely afraid of any precautionary Vaunghe archers. One of them, a rather short and plump soldier, stayed with the object, placing a hand on it and turning to the wall. It was a fleeting moment, but for a second it seemed the man was gazing at the Vaunghe soldiers in shame. One last condemnation to the ones that began this war, before it would all come crashing down. But then the moment passed, and the short man moved as the rest did, doing a slight zig zag to avoid arrows.
And now, just as quickly they had come, the Strolomite’s were gone in the ranks of the Alizians, still waiting in their groups for something, and then they came. Three figures, two women and a man, moved between the lines just as the Strolimites before them. These three wore no armour, only the greens of Alizia upon their tunics. They stood beside the objects and began to reach their arms into the underside of it. Before the Vaunghe’s eyes the objects began to turn slightly, aiming even more directly at the wall.
One of the Vaunghe had enough of this display, and raised his bow. There were low winds on this day, and he was a good enough shot to reach at least one of the Alizian soldiers. He aimed his bow, finger on the drawstring, and released. It is likely that this arrow would’ve drawn first blood in this battle, however the arrow never reached its target.
In the split second before the release of the bow, the Vaunghe noticed the smoke billowing out of the bottom of the devices, the flames that shot out, and finally they noticed for not even a fraction of a second the object that shot out of the metallic thing, something white and red that hit the wall in an instant.
The wall shook, and the following barrage of these objects shattered any notion of divinity. Crashing and crumbling the rampart was launched, sending soldiers flying everywhere. The Vaunghe beside the wall were subject to the falling rubble, both the crumbling stone of the walls and the miscellaneous objects they had left upon the wall. All of the objects crushed the few Vaunghe left, save for the few sickly starving soldiers left inside the castle’s inner walls.
Down went the walls, such a harsh strike against the wall that nothing stood in the path of this monster. The roaring splattered through the castle, the screams of the falling wall waking the King himself from his slumber. Such a vast creation had fallen in seconds before the might of the Alizian’s, and now there was nothing left but to watch the battle unfold.
Smoke flooded the inner walls of the castle, casting the few remaining into fits of coughing and blindness. The walls finished their crumbling, and yet the roars didn’t stop. These were not the roars of the wall but the war cries of the soldiers outside, and they began to get louder, echoing through the walls of Dundis and into the ears of the weak nobles and soldiers.
Through the smoke they came, weapons raised and charging the weak. The few that tried to fight were slaughtered, cut down by a sea of green soldiers. Those that were choking, sputtering or raising their hands in defeat were spared, hauled through the hordes and into one of the stables facing the inner wall. They were to be tried and jailed, for no human regardless of their crime should be killed. It is simply not the Alizian way.
Out of the one hundred and fifty two people who were in Dundis, forty two had died in the wall’s destruction, and a further eleven were detained by the Alizian military. There was nothing that the Vaunghe could do, save for locking their doors, shield themselves and hold out for as long as possible. The Vaunghe forces built barricades in their castle, locking away the Alizian combatants for as long as possible. And during all of this Osmund waited. Waiting for his time to end this war, this travesty of battle that had gone on for too long, and that time finally came.
* * * *
Osmund stood alone atop the hill, and watched the madness unfold. The walls crumbled at the face of these weapons with no more effort than a straw house, and the plumes of smoke assaulted his men, although not to the extent of the inner wall. After a few moments of sputtering and choking the men cheered, for this was the moment that they had been waiting for, the end of such a long war now in the Alizian’s favour.
The Vaunghe capital was in shambles, their military long crushed underneath Osmund’s almighty power, and all that was left was the King. Hiding behind his walls as if he didn’t deserve this loss, this final failure in his life. Osmund was willing to spare as many people as he could, it was the Alizian code, but there would be no mercy for the King. This wasn’t one final battle between two great armies, that conflict happened weeks ago, this was the last breaths of a psychotic monarch being silenced amongst the last of his troops.
Osmund gazed longingly at Dundis, the ruined walls and advancing soldiers and doubted. He felt something was off, something was very wrong with all of this. His heart began to thump, as Osmund’s eyes turned every way to understand what was wrong, what abnormality was here. It grew and grew, Osmund began to shake at what was about to happen, nothing was right here Osmund should be somewhere else helping someone, there’s something wrong here something very-
Peace. Osmund’s heart stopped thumping, body stopping its perpetual shaking. He looked again to the marching troops, now almost entirely inside the walls, and looked back to his back, and the reserve Strolomites that now stood. They were cheering, marvelling at the success of the assault, and how the god’s gift had saved so much effort on their part.
Such strange creations composed of metal and flame, Osmund marvelled at the power the gods possessed. These devices were so unique in design Osmund doubted if any army could defeat them. The large red tubes they released could easily destroy an entire village by itself, but with one hundred of them an entire valley could be bathed in flames. Something truly abnormal in this world, something so parallel to the code of battle that no army would ever think of it.
The Vaunghe were once considered to be the greatest fighters, with the tournaments they created bringing forth the greatest warriors from throughout the land. Their dedication and power were unmatched in ferocity and violence, some called the Vaunghe the standing due to their unmatched will to always get back up. Osmund recalled his days in the tournaments, those peaceful days when he was not yet a hero to people, but a simple military man. He was still only Osmu back then, and yet even those of the time knew he would be something special. As Christoff used to say, ‘Ozzie you’re going places, big ones’. Osmund missed Christoff, It had been so long since their last meeting, and all Osmund wanted was to meet again one last time.
Osmund’s assistant came to him, a younger Strolomite by the name of Gizmu. Gizmu was rather muscular for a Strolomite, a strong figure contrasting his associates' plumper bodies, and stature was fairly tall for one of his people at 6’5 ft tall. Hazel hair protruded through a blue helmet, and for the first time Osmund considered what his assistant could look like. Gizmu was one of the many Strolomite’s who refused to show their face until military success, a tradition that Osmund respected. He had no doubt that Gizmu's true face would one day be revealed to him, as the man possessed genuine prowess in the fields of agriculture, something sorely missed in the modern military.
“Osmund, your team is preparing now, they’ll come soon. I advise you to prepare your armour sir, as it won’t be long before you’re sent in.” Osmund sensed mild concern in Gizmu’s voice, but didn’t pursue it.
“Thank you Gizmu, my friend. I’ll begin my preparations, tell the guests to meet me here when they are fully prepared. And do ensure they understand that there is still risk of injury on this mission, ensure each of them wears their armour.” Osmund’s voice was deep and echoed his long life, commanding a sense of authority amongst all Alizian forces.
Osmund left the hill, passing the cheering Strolomite’s and the peasant farmers who supported the army, and entered the rows of tents. They stretched out on either side, one for every four soldiers, until he reached his own tent. Entering Osmund was surprised to discover a fellow commander still asleep in his bed, snoring away peacefully.
Osmund removes his upper clothing, the clean tunic falling to the ground. While removing these clothes Osmund kicks the sleeping man in the leg, which doesn’t actually amount to anything rather than halting his snoring. Osmund kicks the sleeping soldier again, this time in the buttocks, which does a far better job of riling him. The man looks around wide-eyed, before settling onto the sight of the giant Osmund.
“Hey, why'd you kick me? I almost had a bleedin’ heart attack don’t you know not to meddle with a sleepin man?”
“Don’t you know that you were meant to be on the battlefield at the crack of dawn? I don’t know what kind of promotion you’re expecting when you aren’t even going on the battlefield. Do you really want to be Balmun forever?” Osmund spoke coldly, now reaching for his chestplate.
“Well no sir. But the thing is I actually have a very cunning plan, I thought of it all myself.” A smile falls upon the man’s face, whose head bears an uncanny resemblance to a potato.
“And what is that?” Osmund halted his preparations briefly.
“Well if I say I was there but didn't actually go, who’d think I wasn’t? I can just sleep through it all until the battle is won and no one would be the wiser.” Osmund puts a hand onto Balmun’s fleshy shoulder.
“A fine plan, if I wasn’t your commanding officer you buffoon. By the gods I believe some divine creator mistakenly put a turnip in your head instead of a brain because no noble’s son has ever been as frankly idiotic as you have. You’re coming with me to the battlefield, and I suggest you get dressed or you’ll be facing the last of the Vaunghe army with your flopping cock dancing for all to see.” Balmun stood and began to slip some clothes on, as Osmund completed his own set of armour.
Osmund’s armour bore the mark of a noble family, some rich fools who wanted their family crest to be associated with a bloody conflict and a dangerous murderer. Osmund wore it because of the armour’s quality, customfit to encompass Osmund’s 9’5 ft tall body, something no other armour was able to achieve. Osmund’s height was always an oddity, reaching far above the average 8ft heights of most Alizian’s, and making him one of the tallest figures in the lands. It was this height and his skin’s colour that earned him the name of the black death, which he wasn’t particularly fond of due to the mention of his skin. And even then Osmund certainly didn’t feel like a black death, whatever that was meant to be, rather he felt like death itself. Osmund was to be fifty years old by the end of the week, and it showed on his body. The hair that was left on his head was grey, and while still possessing an impressive form Osmund’s body was not in its prime, he was old.
Osmund looked at himself in the full body mirror, grabbing his longsword and leaving the tent, dragging a half dressed Balmun with him. Back through the tents they travelled, back past the now eager Strolomite’s and atop the hill where Osmund’s infiltration team stood. In any other battle Osmund would’ve despised the one that left this group with him, a collection of subpar and mediocre soldiers with all the military future of an Otter in a stew. But then again Osmund’s battle history did feature a lot of important people dying under his watch, so perhaps this was for the better.
The force began with Edmun, a cross between a prostitute and a noble who unfortunately takes more from the noble. An egotistical brat, as well as a greedy goblin of anything that isn’t bolted down, Osmund had borne the unfortunate duty of his company for months, since the initial assault on the capitol. The man could barely hold a weapon, save for slight skill with a flail of all things which he wore by his side. It was a gold plated flail as well, specifically made for beating in the heads of the poor Vaunghe soldiers stupid enough to get close. Blonde hair obscured blue eyes that spoke to his red-light mother, in fact for a noble’s son Edmun had all the appearance of an incestuous dullard. The man had survived by pure luck, and was the only casualty that Osmund wanted his side to suffer.
The Enick twins Humun and Eumun were up next, named after their family crest of the god of alcohol Enick. In contrast to Edmun these were a pair of real soldiers, Osmund had seen the fruits of their labour many times. They were great at the art of flanking, Humon’s greataxe paired alongside Eumun’s spears proved to be an unbeatable combination. The only issue that Osmund had with the pair was their… peculiar relationship. While the two were great fighters, whenever they were together anything else became impossible to comprehend. Osmund had once caught the pair attempting to seduce a goat wearing a knight’s helm, and while they were drunk there is still clear evidence of idiocy amongst them. The pair were identical in appearance, burly figures of 8’5ft, short cut black hair and overgrown beards stretching down their faces, however the distinguishing feature between the two was Eumon’s cleft lip, which gave his speech a lisp.
Josmu was far more a scholar than a soldier, although Osmund enjoyed his presence greatly. Since they first met the pair had hit it off, often discussing each other’s lives in Alizian taverns across the kingdom. A gifted archer, Josmu was the son of two aspiring poets and enlisted into the military voluntarily to assist in the war efforts. Osmund had a great deal of respect for the man, and hoped that the two would one day have a drink together, and ruminate on the past once more.
And then there was Jumun, a gifted soldier and one of the few Osmund thought could take him in his prime. Long strands of red hair ran down her rough face, a pointed nose and peculiar eyebrow shape giving her a perpetual look of disappointment. At a height of 9’2 ft she stood almost toe to toe with Osmund, in fact there were many aspects about her that reminded Osmund of himself. The first was her attitude, she treated every war as a tragedy of its own, and yet she would never fail to perform against her enemies. Skilled in most weapons Jumun’s life had been long and arduous, her worn out armour covered in patches and dents. Osmund had offered her a new set of armour once, to which she vehemently refused, telling Osmund that she wished to end the war in the armour she started it in. Currently she held a single large sword nearly identical to his own, and Osmund predicted that she couldn’t wait for the battle to be over.
The group stood facing the smoking walls, watching the now descending Strolomite’s retrieve the three gifts from the gods. Pushing them back up the hill would take tremendous strength and a long time, which is why nearly double the number of Strolomite’s assisted in the endeavour. Osmund cleared his throat, prompting the looks of the team. All of their eyes were of Balmun, who was somehow already panting after a 2 minute drag through the ground. Osmund released the man and pushed him towards his new comrades, to which he sulked.
Osmund could see through the smoke of the ruins now, noting the strangely high number of bodies present from Osmund’s view. It appeared that there were more forces than originally estimated, as it was initially guessed there were around one hundred and fifty soldiers inside. Judging by the number of corpses inside those numbers clearly forgot to account for the possibility of trainees inside of the castle. This may be a slightly larger fight than initially predicted, although even supposing there were another hundred or so trainees locked inside rooms there were things Osmund could do against that.
“Alright then, good to see that some of you actually bothered to wake up today, Balmun, and I think we all know that this mission is going to end the war.” Balmun raised his hand.
“Sir I have a very cunning pl-”
“Shove your plans up your slacker buttocks, you idiot. Now then, I’m gonna say this once, because quite frankly the more chances I give Balmun to interrupt the more likely I’ll butcher myself with this sword. Now then we are the backbone to the forces, our mission is to help take individual points of conflict from alternative points. We will accomplish this with the leaked maps of the castle gained from Vaunghe intelligence. Now then, originally it was believed that we were dealing with only around one hundred and fifty troops, but it looks like someone didn’t remember the number of rookie troops that are trained here, so we could be looking at a few more troops than expected.” Osmund saw the hand raised but tried to ignore it. The man with the potato for a head seemed adamant however, and raised his hand higher. When that didn’t work he raised both arms.
“By the gods what is it?”
“Well sir, what kind of weapons do you think they have?” Osmund stopped in his tracks, not expecting anything even related to an actual important question. A smile formed on his face, it seems that even fools can think every now and again.
“Decent question my friend, we can probably expect the basic mix of swords and axes, likely shields also, but we may have one or two archers running around however it’s unlikely any survived the wall’s collapse.”
“That is good Osmund, once we take a few down I need a weapon, I like the swords myself.”
“What’s wrong with your sword?”
“I left it in the tent sir.” Osmund cupped his hands into his face, cringing against the stupidity of this man.
“Listen…. just everyone follow me please, I mean by the gods man. Come on. Listen I don’t think we will need any armour with us today, we have the single thickest piece of meat just over there as we speak.” Osmund points towards Balmun, who turns to see what everyone is looking at. Without another word Osmund begins to walk down the hill towards the castle, muttering things that even the gods consider a little racy.
* * * *
The ruins of Dundis stood firm in their strength, with the ruined walls blemishing what was once a grand fortress that none had penetrated. Tall spires protrude from the shapeless stone complex. Along the gateway was a path leading directly into the Dundis entrance, which stood slightly ajar. Fragments of the wall had crushed many parts of the outside, with simple wooden stables and trees crushed by the weight of the plummet of the debris. The architecture that remained spoke to the complexities of the Vaunghe, as spiralling patterns adorned the walls of the castle, interlaced with rare jewels that coated the walls. The Vaunghe were so fortunate with minerals that one could find them coating their walls, despite the fact that no one other than a fellow Vaunghe was ever meant to see such a thing.
A veil of embarrassment and determination clashed as the group descended the hill, weapons at the ready. The group had reached the ruins of the wall now, debris coating the grass and the bodies that were surely there. Even destroyed Osmund still felt some of that divine power the Vaunghe always babbled about, he felt the strength in the walls and not for the first time wondered why the gods would bestow such a gift upon such a vile group.
The group began clambering through the ruins, over the cracked pieces of stone and through the divine walls final remains. There was a smell here, the remnants of smoke colliding with the smell of blood, but there was a third smell, one that Osmund knew well. It was the smell of inevitability, heavy in the hair. That which is unlikely to happen always will happen, and when it does the smell adds to it all, the smell of fate and destiny runs through this place.
Inevitability hides everywhere, in the trees and the skies, carried by the wind through it all. From nature it was born, but in man it thrives, the building’s will one day fall, the kingdoms will fade away, and everything will one day lead to something else. From every beginning comes an end, and each end becomes a beginning, this is how it has always been. This place thought itself against such things, and inevitability infected its walls, creeping along slowly rotting the once great walls into a hellish nightmare. Now the bubble has burst, and the smell of inevitability crowds the world, taking over everything.
Moaning. A low whimper. A cry for something. Calls for assistance. A terrified yell. Osmund approaches the source of these noises, his team close behind. At the source of these screams is a Vaunghe soldier, somehow alive after the rampart’s collapse, covered in piles of stone and smoke. His outstretched hand reaches towards Osmund, who in turn takes it.
The man mutters something, sputters blood, and begins to fade. As he does, Osmund moves towards the rocks, feeling against it. Somehow the rocks aren’t as heavy as they should be, and Osmund slowly moves the rocks. The first and second rocks move, and after some struggling Osmund moves the third rock, revealing a bloody leg, spurting forward. Osmund realises how the man survived, the remains of a metal box squashed around him. As the rampart fell the man landed inside, narrowly missing an immediate demise. Now he sat, bleeding in and out of consciousness, and moaning for help. Osmund put his hands around the man, slowly lifting him, and moving forwards into the inner walls.
There are running medics here, and as they see Osmund’s approach they run to him, taking the injured man and placing him onto a table. The man may survive, they told Osmund, however his bleeding may take too much from him. As Osmund turns to leave he hears the voice, the message of the man.
“T-t-th-than-” It was shaky, interrupted by coughs and convulsions, but bore strength, and Osmund felt the ghost of a smile play upon him.
“It wasn’t an issue.” And with that Osmund left the tent, admiring the surroundings in focus for the first time. Eyes bore into him from his party, and yet no one said anything, they couldn’t. Many had called Osmund a monster in his time, they had seen him do bad things to bad people, and yet none would call him a monster, for there is no such thing. Osmund is not some black death, he’s another beast entirely.
For the first time Osmund admired his surroundings, the inner walls were now filled with wreckage, and looked back to the tent. It was amazing how quickly the medics could establish tents, the battle had occurred for less than an hour and already there were three tents established side by side. Besides the wounded Vaunghe soldier were three other injured soldiers, each seeming to be hit by a minor injury likely from the smoke inhalation.
The captured and surrendered were lined up against the castle's wall, being carefully monitored by over sixty members of the contingent. There were only around twelve or thirteen of the captured, smoke-covered and sputtering. On the ground were bodies, those rookies that tried so valiantly to protect what they cared for. They now lay, looking up to the sky blindly.
Osmund saw the bodies and felt his stomach turn. The desire came back. The shaking returned, alongside it the painful sharp stabbing thoughts. Everything changed, he forgot who he was. What kind of person would approve of this, what even was Osmund was he real or fake, how is he even conceiving things like this. What is reality and why is it real, why can’t he understand-
Silence. Peace. Osmund returned to himself, the shaking never happening at all. He looked down at the bodies and continued to walk. There was nothing he could do for them, not anymore. The eyes of his group bore into him, shattering something that had broken a long time ago. He raised his hand and motioned for his team to follow, leaving this travesty of death and life behind.
Footsteps. Osmund turned to their echoing sound, the way they bounced through the place was unbelievable, the way it echoed between the walls and the castle structure itself. Through open castle gates he ran, a messenger in green, sword in its scabbard and now approaching Osmund. The man tripped on something, a large rock of some sort, before standing, dusting himself off and reaching the group.
“Osmund, we have hit the enemy’s points of defence.” The man was young, maybe twenty, and no more than twenty five.
“And? Where are they?”
“There are three fronts, the first is in the scout’s tower where a group of Vaunghe are amassing weapons and barricades fast. We can no longer enter the tower, as the amount thrown down makes common entrance impossible. The second location is the garden, where we believe the last of the nobles and the King himself are. We’ve faced harsh opposition from the enemies, who have formed a wall of shields to protect the door. Finally we have the guard’s quarters, where a few amount of Vaunghe are in active combat as we speak, although that will likely be taken without need for intervention.”
“Good job soldier.”
“Thank you sir.”
Osmund removes a slip of paper from his garb, and admires it in the sunlight. It was a complex map of Dundis, including the secret passages and escape routes of the entire place. It cost the annulment of many Vaunghe men and women, but was worth all the effort. Consulting the map Osmund noted the existence of an escape passageway inside of the tower. It was obscured behind a wall, thus explaining the lack of windows on that side.
“Report back to your commander that we’ll begin with the tower, there are several clear passages into an alternative staircase. Launching a pincer attack we’ll defeat the enemy and allow for the redistribution of forces. By that time I expect the guard’s quarters to be taken, allowing us to completely overflow any opposition protecting the garden.”
“Yes Osmund, I will inform her now.” And with that the young warrior ran back through the castle’s long iron gates.
The group followed suit, pushing the gates open fully and revealing the site of further bodies. They were inside the building’s inner wall now, the sun still bearing down upon them. This was the location home to many of the more important stables and areas for battle preparation. The ruins of a barricade lay around the door, alongside the copious number of trainee bodies who failed to protect themselves. While there was no evidence of the wall’s debris assaulting this place, there was still a large amount of destruction here.
The remains of statues greeted the group, once magnum opus now a disfigured remnant of what was. They were made of marble, and once depicted the Vaunghe gods, although who each one was could not be discerned, due to the broken faces and pieces they had been split into. The statues lined the walls of this castle, with a new statue lining the wall every five metres. If they weren’t destroyed they would likely be the most impressive feat Osmund had ever seen, standing at almost double his nine and a half foot frame.
Moving forward, Osmund looked to the north, where the entrance of the tunnel system began. According to the map the entrance was hidden below the royal stable, and gave passageway into the complex’s vast tunnel system that could lead to several strategic positions. Motioning for his group to follow, they moved slowly around the curved walls of the inner wall. The bodies gradually stopped appearing, prompting the drawing of Osmund and the other’s weapons, save for Balmun who still lacked anything to protect himself with.
The royal stable was just as grand as Osmund expected, long silver poles supporting a twenty metre stable. Beside each pillar was another statue of a god, albeit these gods were untouched and in their full glory. First was the god of thought, Merculd, a figure of 19 ft who sat upon a throne of gold. Adorned with jewels and royal fabrics, the bearded man watched down upon those that approached, beckoning them inside. The man himself was crafted out of intricate copper and glass, an architectural marvel that Osmund couldn’t comprehend its creation.
Beside the father of thought was the mother of art Freya, whose statue was in opposition to the metals of Merculd. Freya was a wood carving, an intricate and detailed depiction of the woman who was 15 ft tall, standing up with beckoning hands towards any visitors. Her face was carved to the smallest detail, with each individual tooth lovingly crafted on her mouth. In contrast to the first statue Freya’s was carved alongside her body, a tight fitting tunic layered over hard to know pants, due to the lack of colour or texture upon them.
The last of the three statues was Zid, the proposed god of the wall, a 19 ft tall mass of flesh and muscle. There was nothing to this god but his muscles, they were the only trait he has, a blank, general male face looming over the entryway. It was made out of stone, likely being the oldest statue here and thus the simplest. That is not to say the statue wasn’t a work of its own, every detail to Zid’s veins had been lovingly placed, it’s just compared to the other two Zid felt… irrelevant to Osmund, past its time.
The stable was enclosed in intricately carved stone, helixes intersecting each other granting slimmers of light into the stable. There was no damage here, no bodies, no other people, this was Vaunghe architecture at its finest, and all of this hard work was spent on a singular, slightly inconveniently placed barn. The oddities of the Vaunghe never failed to surprise Osmund, and he braced to enter the barn.
Straw floors and hay bales greeted him, alongside a single lone steed. A fine horse, certainly of nobility, awaited patiently for its master to return. It had been alone for time unknown, and yet Osmund noticed it was still being fed quite well, a decent number of carrots awaiting on a plate. Osmund opened the gate to the horse and approached the fine steed. He slapped it on the behind, sending it out of the stable and into the inner wall.
“Sir, I’ve stepped into horse dung. May I have another pair of shoes?” Balmun’s voice rang through the room, echoing slightly. Osmund responded by throwing a carrot at his head. Balmun dodged with less than a second to spare, and the armed man behind him was hit dead on.
Reeling back from shock and surprise, the armed soldier moved his sword to his front, trying to shield any further blows. The man was tall, 8’5 ft to be exact, and dirty. His armour was coated in dirt and remnants of the smoke from the wall. Osmund could see the desperation in his eyes, and now charged the man.
Osmund met the man’s blade with his own, parrying immediately. A foot swept the enemy to the ground and Osmund stood above him sword raised. The man went for the blade only to find his hand was removed, spouting blood everywhere. Osmund grabbed the man and pushed him to his feet.
“There is a base for any injured troops at the entrance to Dundis, go now before you bleed to death.” The man’s face flashed in surprise, and he quickly scrambled out of the room, hand stump spouting blood.
“What is it Balmun?”