Hope Dies

Hope Dies

"Don't ye get it?" Captain Belace defiantly howled. "He is coming and we are all going to die! You're all mad!" King Dekin waved him to silence, stopping Belace short. True, he was coming. They all heard of the story of him. King Dekin considered the tale for a moment. The Hell King had come and marked the Kingdom of Dekin for annihilation. Will he fail? Had he ever been defeated? The very idea of the Hell King marching against King Dekin had his walls of stone shaking.

He had an endless hunger for war, battle, and blood that will never be satisfied. He loved to take life. He loved to watch the horror in his terrified victims. He loved to cause suffering. Indeed, he was human. He appeared as any other man, but does he fear death? No. The reaper will never harvest that soul, nor does hell want him.

Had he been wounded? Yes. An arrow through the heart and still he walked the earth. Does He bleed? Yes. He may bleed to the end of time and still live as if he never been not wounded. But there were very few men that match or surpass the Hell King's speed of his two blades, Fenris and Cerebus. His blades tore through the wind at such incredible speeds, cutting through human bone as it was mere butter.

And that hellish black armor, everyone man foolish enough to cross blades with the Hell King had been hanged with his own intestines. How many times had armies of thousands stood against the Hell King and his army? How many times had he killed every single knight but one? Too many times to count. In his wake he had been leaving a path of death and carnage. Ancient scriptures had given a name to the Hell King. He was marked as—Legion.

King Dekin's heart had been robbed of all hope. Inside the counseling chambers, they planned their battle tactics of many battles. Already in full battle armor, he looked to three loyal captains of his army. There was Captain Belace, Captain Dapel, and Captain Frigin. Dapel will definitely stand beside his men to the bitter end. Belace was afraid, but he will fight nevertheless. And Captain Frigin's nerves were badly rattled. For he was the Commander of Castle Saelon. It was Kingdom Dekin's first defense. He had seen the carnage, wrath, and destruction the Hell King was so capable of. It was painted on Captain Frigin's façade; there was no hope.

King Dekin gave a long defeated sigh and glanced at his captains. "We have no chance," his words so weak, never have his captains seen him like this. "Ready the men, up the draw bridge, guide the villagers, and I want archers all along our walls. We must at least fight and try stop the Hell King." His very title stole away all joys of the heart, leaving it empty. Indeed, this was a battle that the good of man will fail.

In the courtyard of Castle Dekin, a thousand good strong knights stood in full armor. The moonlight shined down on the five hundred archers manning the castle walls. Behind the thousand knights were the catapults, numbering in the tens. It was obvious that King Dekin had the larger army, but what good was that against the Hell King? It gave no comfort. Numbers offered no comfort against him. The three captains didn't try hide their lethargy.

The knights stood facing their front wall, around the castle was the twenty-foot deep moat. The archers counted their quivers. Others readied the catapults. The King stood atop the highest Keep that was located to the right corner of the front wall. He watched the horizon. He knew any moment now that the Hell King and his army will appear. They do not wait until the sunrise. The only light Dekin's army will have was the torchlight of the castle.

Captain Dapel joined his king as he made his entry known by a vivid bow to his kingship. Dapel examined his good king. Suddenly, he felt the darkness that engulfed King Dekin's heart. It was so profound, draining all the blood from his king, leaving his face pale as a ghost. Captain Dapel merely shook it off and at that moment, his body begun shaking uncontrollably. King Dekin gave a weak half-smile that faded away in that instant.

"Your mind and spirit don't show it, but your body can't hide it," the king said solemnly. "This is very rare to see my fiercest warrior tremble the face of an enemy. I thought I'd never see the day." Dapel gritted his teeth as he watched his hand tremble wildly. He slowly lowered his hand and formed a tight fist. Dapel always had nerves of steel. Always, but still King Dekin would trade his gutsy knight for a little divine help from the almighty, in all hope to stop this travesty.

"My kingship, we are ready for battle," Dapel said as gave a slight bow. "Does my king have any further commands before the battle begins?" The king turned to look at him and noticed his armor shook slightly.

"Yes, there is one thing," the King Dekin said weakly. "See to the men, have them swear to the death they will defend this castle. Have them swear. We can't have men break from the lines. We must show the…Hell King that we will not crumble under his reputation alone." As he said that, he realized that this might as well be the last order he gave to beloved Captain.

Dapel bowed to his king. "It will be done my kingship," his words were strong and he started to the staircase. As he took another step, he heard the slight sounds of an arrowhead cutting through the wind. He jerked back to his king who was leaning on the stone railings watching the horizon, oblivious to the arrow. It all happened so slow. Dapel cried a warning as he watched in horror.

The arrow flew, inch by inch. Dapel cringed for he knew where the arrow would hit. The king's head jerked back hard, sending him toppling backwards. The arrow was embedded deeply inside the king 's skull. Blood spat out through the exit wound, as the arrow hadn't the momentum to exit completely out of the instantly dead king's skull. The dead king's body had toppled to the staircase. It rolled to the bottom of the staircase.

And then the cries came. "The king is dead! Our king is dead!" The echo rang out through the entire ranks of knights. Dapel then looked back to dark horizon. He could barely see, but made out horsemen galloping down the hills. He heard again, the flight of arrows, this time more than one. He pulled up his shield above him as thousands and thousands of arrows rained down on him. He witnessed all the archers on the front wall dying as they stumbled over the edge and into the moat. All the knights in the courtyard broke the lines to cower under their shields and huddle together.

As the shower of arrows stopped, Dapel again looked to the horizon. His eyes widened at what he had saw. Seven huge blazing boulders were hurling through the air. Quickly Dapel found his nerves and yelled to his men. "Fire the catapults!" The men regarded him for a second as they hurried to load and fire the rocks in retaliation. Dapel then regretted that they were fighting blind. It was completely black in the fields outside the walls of Castle Dekin.

"Oh dear god… it can't be!" Dapel cried as he had figured exactly where the flying flaming boulders were aimed. He looked back to his men in the courtyards and the archers on the front walls. "Get as far as ye can from the front wall! Hurry!" He yelled with all the air in his lungs. At that moment, Dapel jumped for the Keep. He fell a forty feet drop into a pile of soft hay. Quickly he pulled his shield over him.

The blazing boulders collided against the front walls of Castle Dekin. All seven hit the mark perfectly. They tore through the front walls as it were a pile of logs. Knights nearest dropped their sword and shield and ran for safety. The stones were sent flying across the courtyard of the castle, bashing the heads of fleeing knights' unconscious. The boulders continued to push on as they crashed scores of knights.

As the seven boulders came to a halt, Dapel looked with horrified eyes. Castle Dekin's front wall was completely demolished as it now laid in ruins. He rose and looked back to his fleeing knights. "Halt!" he called out as loud, they all stopped. "Hold your ground and reline your divisions and be quick about it" They all ran up to Captain Dapel and filled the courtyard from the one side to the other. They watched with wary eyes into the darkness.

They drew up their swords and shields. They had well observed the destruction of their front walls. Never had anyone of them ever thought that their front wall would be destroyed so easily. And so it was quiet once more. The darkness beyond the moat came wicked howling from five hundred men. Then, scores of hellish horses leaped over the moat and on to the rubble of what was left of the castle's front wall. The horses charged on full stride, carrying deadly riders atop of them. The deadly riders were screaming, howling, and laughing as they rode into the courtyard wheeling their bloody blades.

Dapel looked to his men and he seen the morale of the army die at the sight of the hellish riders. All Dekin's knight froze at the howls of the deadly riders. Running through the ranks, slicing off heads as they go. Horsemen continued to leap across the moat in an endless stream. Dapel watched hard an approaching riders. They wore skulls of great loins with long bullhorns. Their armor blackened from the year old blood stained upon it. A tore up black cloak that wiped about in the wind as they rode.

One hellish rider rode directly at Dapel. He howled, screamed, and laughed in a craze. Dapel didn't dishearten at the sounds. He maintained his focus. The rider swung recklessly. Dapel pulled up his shield and knocked the blade away as he thrust his own sword into the kidneys of the deadly rider. Dapel sled his sword back out of the flesh of his crazed enemy. Blood dripped from his sword. He watched the wounded enemy slow his horse as he later fell off his horse.

He stared into the courtyard and seen the slaughter wage on. Horses by the hundred lapping around the courtyard, taking twenty Dekin knights a lap. Dapel then looked to the other still standing walls. He noticed a few archers still alive; some wounded, but not badly. "Archers! String up and fire at will!" He yelled with such anger. The archers all heard the yell of the superior captain as they reached for their quivers and took aim and fired.

He smiled as he watched the deadly riders begin to drop from their horses wounded. It made them easy prey for Dapel's remaining four hundred knights scattered all about the courtyard. He watched for a moment as he noticed his men were being pushed back to the gate leading into the inner town where he had two hundred auxiliary troops. How the battle was going now, he might not need the auxiliary troops.

He watched horsemen drop from their horses as an arrow embedded itself in the rider's body. As they laid on the ground for that instant, knights of Dekin pounce on them, stabbing them to death. The deadly horsemen were beginning to thin out. Dapel gritted his teeth, gripping hard the hilt of his longsword at what he heard. Yet again, he heard the sounds of thousands of arrows drop from the sky. He retaliated, he held up his shield to protect himself, but all the arrows had a mark. They weren't just fired wildly into the air.

All along the walls of the courtyard, all the archers stumbled off the walls. Some fell into the courtyard, others fell into the moat. All arrows hit their mark. Dapel glanced to the four directions in disbelief. Never had he witnessed such perfect archers, such perfect war weapons. He looked to what was left of the front wall of the castle as horses leaped into the courtyard by the scores. Dapel rose up. Lifted his shield and sword as he sled into a defensive crouch. He lifted his sword high.

"We fight for peace! We fight for freedom!" He yelled with such feelings from his very heart. All Dekin knights took notice. "Men! What do we fight for?" He yelled once more to his men, using the old chants of Dapel's kingdom.

"We fight for hope!" All the men yelled out back in response to Dapel. Cheering broke out through the ranks of Dekin knights. As they charged headlong into the deadly riders as they're final stand. Dapel felt their intensity, their viciousness. Seeing their determination, Dapel instinctively joined into the charge. He stopped short, as he caught a glimpse of one magnificent, hellish, glorious warrior that stepped down from his horse, inches from the edge of the moat. He took two hellish blades strapped to his horse.

Dapel recognized those blades as he heard the description of them so many times. They were Fenris and Cerebus. That warrior was indeed the Hell King. "…Legion," Dapel said breathless. He stunned where he stood, frozen, unable to move. His eyes fixed on the Hell King. A blacken skull of a great loin and long horns of a bull, the glorious warrior wear over his head. Blackened armor and that torn up cloak that wiped in the wind as he walked into the battlefield.

A knight came at him headlong, oblivious to who he picked a fight with. He thrust his sword. The Hell King easily parried with Fenris and Cerebus was driven into the heart of the foolish knight. The poor man spit out blood. The blood splashed on the Hell king's helm. His mouth opened wide and took in a deep breath. The first kill of the night, he lifted the poor Dekin knight high over head. Fenris then was driven right beside Cerebus. The Hell King had begun pulling Fenris and Cerebus apart. The poor knight was split in half! Blood, guts, and bodily organs dropped down on the Hell King. He again inhaled deeply.

Then, hundreds of Dekin knights upped another headlong charge. Dapel looked to the Hell King… Legion. Who was smiling wickedly and at that moment, thousands of arrows shot out behind him. The charge was stopped dead in its tracks as hundreds of Dekin knights fell died. It was the last of the Dekin army. All but the auxiliary troops of two hundred horsemen Dapel had left.

Dapel looked back to the gate that led into the inner part of the castle. "Horses charge!" Dapel called out. The gate busted open and two hundred streamed out from the gate. All the horsemen cried out in full charge. There stood the Hell King unshaken. All his deadly riders stood behind him. He started a charge of his own, signaling to his deadly riders to stay behind. As the nearest horseman of Dekin closed in, the Hell King leaped high in the air.

Dapel's jaw slowly dropped as it all slowed in his eyes. The horsemen charged as Fenris slashed off his head in perfect grace. A second rider prepared to strike against the Hell King. But it was too late; already Cerebus was driven to the side of the horsemen. Cerebus exited out through the other side of the torso. Both riders fell from their horses dead. The Hell King flipping in the air dropped on the saddle of a rider-less horse. He pressed against the horses back for an instant as he launched himself like an arrow.

Two riders were even as Fenris and Cerebus lopped off both of their heads at that same moment. One badly wounded archer had risen up. In a last retaliation, string an arrow. He shot it straight at the Hell King. It ripping through his armor and through his heart, But he did not fall dying. He mere stood, confused for a moment as he realized the archer of the arrow. He locked looks with the archer. Dapel had witnessed it all.

Dapel couldn't fathom this. Be all logic, the Hell King if human should be slowly dying! But he wasn't, he mere stared at his attacker. At that instant, he threw Fenris at the archer. The deadly sword caught the archer through the skull. The archer's legs buckled quick, he fell limp. The Hell King as he walked to retrieve Fenris, he motioned another wave of arrows to take care of the remaining charging horses.

Dapel watched all his riders fall over their horses, dead. Dapel groaned as he fell to his knees. He felt a tearing cold pain on his left shoulder. He was hit with an arrow. He quickly grabbed the arrowhead, as he tried his best not to scream out from the sheer pain. He pulled out the entire arrow, then he screamed out in pain. He dropped on his back, bleeding. He had watched his king and glorious army full in a matter of an hour. Now he was on his back, dying.

He looked up into a dark sky where no stars stirred. The Hell King looked over him. Dapel froze that second. Dapel's saw the smile lay on his enemy's face. Dapel knew what his enemy was thinking. Somehow, he knew he'd survive. He gritted his teeth at the trembling sensation of his wound. Then, he drifted off into a long, long sleep.