Tirus sighed. Sweat dripped from his brow and caked his entire body. His undergarments were clinging to his skin like those tights he'd seen traveling dancers wear. Those things must have been horribly uncomfortable. The angry yellow sun overhead shone down atop the encampment, reflecting off armored soldiers seemingly on purpose as to irritate the eye. The sun was indeed a bastard. You would think sunlight would have a more difficult time reflecting off of black metal, but that was not the case.
White canvas flaps opened and closed as soldiers, cooks, quartermasters and officers went about their business, crushing green grass underfoot. From his place atop Alnus hill, he had a great view of the war camp. It stretched out in each direction for miles, surrounding Alnus like white petals. The tents stretched onward until they hit the thick forest that encircled this hill.
While the trees were distant, Tirus knew for certain that those trees bore wide leaves that cast large shadows on the earth below them. Nice comfy shade, but miles away... Tirus shook his head, his slightly oversized open-faced helm tilting slightly with the motion. He leaned his black tower shield against his leg as he readjusted the helm. The Empire didn't care if their troop's armor didn't fit, only that they had it on. Tirus was convinced that his helm was given to him by a grumpy quartermaster. They had probably thought it'd be funny to give an orcs helm to him instead of human standard.
Orc auxiliaries didn't wear helmets right? Tirus was not sure. He generally tried to keep away from those pig faces. He'd never known a friendly orc in his life. He continued to stand guard at the top of Alnus hill, the bone-white warning horn sitting at his belt. He continued trying to ignore the sweat beading down his entire body, but it was difficult. No shade for him whatsoever.
'A soldier's job is not to be comfortable' a tiny voice said in the back of his mind.
He ignored the thought, Tirus would hear none of its heresy. When was that blasted gate going to open anyhow? They had been stationed here for months now, and nothing appeared. Tirus had heard of the Gate, but had his doubts that such a thing really existed. Sure, people said that it was a part of history and whatnot, but Tirus didn't know how to read. If the Gate was written in history, then he knew nothing about it.
Other than the fact that it would provide a new world to invade.
New peoples and treasures to bring into Falmart. That sounded pretty cool. Perhaps he could find a pretty trinket to bring back to Delilah? The thought warmed his heart. He'd do anything to see that smile of hers. Tirus would be able to see that smile if the damn Gate would just-
"Blow the horn!" His commander shouted, the red mohawk plume on top of his helmet blowing in a sudden wind. "The gate has appeared!"
Tirus turned around to see that, indeed, the Gate was real. It was a marvelous structure. The front of the gate itself was shaped like the entrance to a mausoleum, with a square body and triangular roof. Several large turquoise gems glowed in between the marble pillars beside the entrance. By the gods, those must have been worth as much as the imperial palace! Maybe if he convinced a few friends of his to help him remove them... Tirus banished the thought. He'd not get his head cut off for a shiny gem, no matter how big it was. Another drew his eye that sat directly above the gaping black maw of the archway. It was cut the same as the other gems, but was near three times the smallers size. Its glow was also far more powerful, being nearly painful to stare at.
"Tirus you damned idiot blow that horn or I'll get your Delilah to blow me!" The officer shouted at him, his face red with rage.
Tirus bit back his retort and quickly blew the horn. Not a good idea to insult a commanding officer, no matter how much of an unbearable ass they were. The sound echoed across the once open plains surrounding Alnus hill, and immediate movement followed. Black plated soldiers waving the banner of the Empire led platoons of troops with tower shields toward the entrance of the newly formed gate.
He knew the basics of the plan. Tower shields in front with cavalry directly behind. Followed by dragon riders and ogres and all the other troops that should be on the front line. Damned beast people and dragon riders. The riders were always cocky and annoying, it'd be nice if something on the other side would humble them a little. He was tired of them constantly correcting him on the differenced between a dragon and a wyvern.
Like there was a difference.
Any lizard with wings was a dragon, it didn't matter how many bloody legs they had. Those banners continued to lead troops up the large hill, and Tirus winced at the Empire's symbol. It had always unnerved him. A golden cross sat in the middle, with the shapes of dragon wings spread out between each section of the cross. This overlapped the symbol of a dragon on a purple background, or maybe it was a griffin? Tirus had never been able to tell. He wasn't sure why the banner made him so uncomfortable, it was the flag of his nation right? Why couldn't he feel more patriotic about it?
It was because he didn't much like the Empire.
Soon the first platoon entered through the Gate, putting up their shields for whatever lay ahead in the new world. Tirus didn't envy the poor bastards. Frontlines for something like this might be a guaranteed death sentence. What if the new world was populated with humans the size of mountains? How would the empire conquer that?
Giants like that would have giant jewelry, so maybe the Empire would simply steal away with whatever valuables they could. If they were small enough the giants might not even notice the Empire slowly chipping away at their gold necklaces, that would be amazing.
And of course the dragon riders would get swatted at like flies! It was perfect.
He rolled his shoulders as he was ordered in formation. Thankfully he was positioned at the very back. That would provide a better opportunity to run away like a coward if this invasion went sour. He didn't care if he was called a coward, he wasn't ready to die for 'his' country. Delilah was more important than patriotism. His stern-faced commander mounted his horse and motioned forward into the black mouth of the Gate. It truly was unsettling, like entering nothing. Not just darkness... nothing. Like he would fall for eternity if he were to step over that threshold.
If the men in front of him fell, then he'd flee right there and then. He'd wear his shield on his back to stop any arrows and make his escape.
Just before they passed through the Gate however, Tirus could see an orange light approaching them at a fast pace. A man carrying a torch on horseback perhaps? Maybe the other side did have giants after all. That thought, however, proved to be wrong when a glowing orange ball of magic collided with his commander's head.
There was no death scream, the man simply fell from his horse to the dirt. The orange ball had dissipated into flame upon its collision, lighting the commander's short red cape afire and melting the metal helmet to blackened charred skin. Tirus saw that, blinked, and then looked back up to the Gate.
That was when he saw the glowing orange dots that alighted the cavernous mouth. They weren't speeding towards them, they merely remained where they were. They weren't flame balls then. They floated below the ceiling as well, dozens of floating orange dots just sitting there. Then they all blinked.
Tirus dropped his spear and shield, and began running down the hill as the mouth exploded with motion. He heard inhuman shrieks and roars follow after him, accompanied by the pained screams of his fellow soldiers.
He kept running down the hill, the incline giving speed to his mad sprint. He tossed off his ill-fitted helmet as he went, the piece of armor rolling down the hill alongside him. He turned his head to see a massive horned monster roaring as it tore men apart with its bare hands. Its arms made the trees far ahead of him look thin, and it was easily as tall as an ogre. Its gray body was pocked and marred with claw marks and other wounds which were covered by the blood and gore of an unfortunate soldier.
He kept running, eventually reaching the bottom of the hill at the same time as his helmet. Tirus turned his head again, seeing giant red floating creatures with no limbs and cavernous mouths shadow the encampment. Wide blue glowing cavernous mouths opened to fire bouts of those energy balls down on the camp, setting tents alight and burning soldiers to ash. Other flying creatures followed, with leathery wings and pale flesh. Green globs of what appeared to be the things spittle flew in tandem with the other energy balls, colliding with every soldier and tent it possibly could.
He ran between the burning tents, smoke filling his lungs. Tirus still kept running despite the burning pain in his chest and the searing pain at the back of his throat. Death screams sounded from everywhere, and Tirus quickened his pace. A man appeared before him from one of the flaming tents, the armor having been fused to the poor fellow and sloughing off of him like a metallic soup. Fire spouted up from his back, sending plumes of black smoke into the air.
Tirus sidestepped the man, who gave a pleading cry at his back. Despite himself, Tirus felt guilty. There was nothing he could do for that man, he was going to be dead soon anyway, and Tirus wasn't becoming a metal mush today if he could help it. He saw a horse running unsaddled through the camp towards him. Tirus didn't consider himself a good rider, and the fact that the beast didn't have a saddle discouraged him even further. However, he needed to get the hell out of here before he was melted by one of those things.
He positioned himself to grapple the thing's neck and swing onto its back. It wouldn't work most likely, but the adrenaline pumping through his system helped him to ignore the odds. Before the galloping steed could draw close, an orange and blue-skinned thing with bony white spikes jutting up from its back and elbows leaped onto the horse's neck; clawing and biting with ravenous hunger.
The horse continued its gallop for only a moment before it collapsed with a neigh. Tirus took a step back as more of the things ran for the fallen horse, ripping it apart and shoving bloody viscera down their gullets as they swarmed it like ants on a sweet. Tirus turned heel, and ran in the other direction.
As he turned, he saw a large man standing before him. No, not a man, another monster. Two pairs of black horns jutted up from the things skull, curving in two directions, and deep-set glowing red eyes glared at him with hatred. It had no nose and was bald with pale maggot colored flesh. Besides the horns, the head looked like a skull. The mouth was concealed by a green metal mask, and that same metal encased it's legs, and left arm entirely. A pauldron with an odd symbol etched into its surface reflected in the firelight. That pauldron also covered the right side of the thing's chest, and a round glowing orb was set deep within its confines. In its bare right hand, it carried a glowing red double-edged axe. Tirus flinched upon seeing the transparent symbols in the glow of the axes blades. An odd thing was belted at its waist. A double barrelled metal staff.
Was this thing capable of magic!?
"Malak doe tal!" It shouted at him in a rough tongue, pointing its glowing axe at him.
Tirus turned again, opting to run between burning tents rather than deal with the pack of orange creatures. The horned man thing shouted at him again, and Tirus heard an ear ringing explosion follow after him. Several dozen holes ripped through the canvas of a nearby tent, blowing the thing over completely and blocking his would-be escape with burning canvas. Tirus turned again to see the monster approach him with heavy footsteps.
Tirus's eyes darted back and forth, looking for an escape that wouldn't get him chopped in half or set to blaze. There was no escape, the horned thing would be able to hit him easily with as much space was allowed between the flaming tents. Tirus fell to his knees, and the creature gave what sounded to be a laugh. By the gods... he was really going to die like this. He never should have signed up for this damned cursed army! He should have stayed home with Delilah... she was never going to know how he died.
He looked skyward, praying to whatever god was listening to save his skin. The smoke-blackened sky was a stark contrast to what it had been earlier. Where before this reverse invasion it had been clear and cloudless, it was now nearly black with smog. Tirus sniffled as tears welled up in his eyes. His lungs strained for clean smokeless air. He turned his gaze back at the laughing monster before him.
Another flaming tent had fallen behind the creature, completely encircling the two as what had to be a demon reared back to strike Tirus's head from his body.
That was when he came.
A large man in green-plated armor ran through the flames behind the demon, and before the thing could turn, the green knight punched it's
Head off in a spray of red gore. Four horns flew in random directions as the man continued forward at an incredible speed, passing Tirus without a second thought. Tirus had barely glimpsed the man before he passed through the roaring flames without care. Broad arms carried a metal double-barreled staff much like the one the demon carried, but with what looked to be a golden hook at the end of it.
Tirus noted the similarities of the armor between the demon and the green knight, the only difference he spotted in the brief glimpse being that the man's breastplate covered his entire torso, as opposed to the demons barely half. He had been wearing gauntlets covered in several small spikes -or were they studs?- with what appeared to have been a blade attached to the underarm of his left arm. Something was also mounted upon the shoulder on the left of the green knights head, some sort of odd green cube thing.
But none of that was anything before the gaze behind that transparent visor. The green knight's glare nearly made Tirus faint with fear. He stood from the ground, and covered his nose using the short red cape at his back. He'd need to soak the cape in water if he could find one of the cook tents. He looked down at the dead demons fallen axe, and quirked an eyebrow. Looking around himself, Tirus confirmed that nothing was coming to gnaw on his giblets as of that moment. He leaned down to pick up the black hafted axe, and stared in awe at the glowing blades.
It was light, far lighter than any weapon he had held in his life. He could swing this like a kitchen knife! He could use this to cleave his way through any demon that got too close! He glanced around again, seeing the circle of fire surrounding him. Perhaps he would have to wait for these flames to die down, but that wasn't going to be a fun time. People still howled with pain and more explosive sounds echoed throughout the camp.
Tirus crouched low to the ground, holding the axe ready to cleave.
Who was that green knight?
Hey guys. Got this done WAY faster than I thought I would. What do you think? Also, if you're interested, I've written an original work over on FictionPress called Wasteland Weirdos. It's a merging of science fiction, fantasy, and post-apocalypse. If you've never heard of FictionPress, it's the sister site of Fanfiction . Literally its almost exactly the same as this site. Love you sweety.