This is an old story of mine, started in 2005 and still work in progress.
Lately I've been a little disappointed by the performance of my stories (mostly fanfictions), so I've decided to try to publish the prologue of this story hoping that someone would be kind enough to leave me a critical comment.
I publish only the prologue for now. If the story is appreciated it is likely that I will publish also the next chapters. Do not expect, however, the fastest updates because I have other translations to work on. The more reviews I get, however, the more I am persuaded to update... but this is natural I think, right? :D
Anyway, the story and the characters belong to me and me alone. And I am very jealous of my characters, so do not attempt to kidnap them XD
I'm not a native English speaker, I'm Italian, so forgive some of my errors in the story.
Hope you like it. ;)
Prologue. Warrior of a dying flag
It was raining. Raining sharps of silver at the light of the sunset, when burning rays pierced the dark clouds of the storm. Heavy, hoary tears were falling from the black sky, tinkling on the armour of the kneeling figure, drenching his mantle and his dark plume; they rolled down the long iron blade of his sword washing away the blood, revealing the bright metal beneath it.
Corpses of men and horses lied around him. Broken spears, shattered shields. Desolation. Death. His watchful eyes were mourning for every one of them... they weren't soldiers... they just asked for freedom. But he had to slay them... slay them all... one by one... why?
The strips of blood in the covered sky retreated as tidal waters, a cold and restless haze galloped on the fields. But the man was silent, kneeling in the clanging mud. He was silent and watched.
His outline was barely visible in the fog, just like a mysterious ghost of darkness. And he remained silent, leaning on the hilt of the sword.
A shadow raised like a spirit from the battlefield behind him. A ghost in the mist. A spirit of undying life... remains of a forgotten age. Shivering flames in his eyes of fire. And the shadow spoke. His voice was warm, gently, coming from the abyss of time. Ancient, still melodious. "Comrade, we must go: the army is on the move".
"Why?" the man asked. His voice was icy and hard, not different from the iron that enveloped his figure.
The shadow looked at him wearily: two flaming points burned in the fog.
"Why are we still fighting?" the man cried jumping up. "I thought we were at peace! I thought that bloody Empire was established to build peace in Europe! And still death and war corrupt us. Why?" His eyes were burning behind the deadly demon mask he wore. And yet only a single, plaintive sigh he obtained in response. He raised his eyes above the black shadow beside him, away from those flaming eyes that were watching him without any warmth, away into the mist and the burning of the dying sun, the rotten bloody pustule that was hanging on the horizon.
"I'm so tired..." he sighed coldly. And he truly was. Tired of fighting for an ideal in which he didn't believe; tired of fighting for a man he had never seen, for an Empire that had enslaved his people... tired of fighting against people who should have been his allies.
He sheathed back the sword with a dry movement. The mist sparkled on his demonic mask giving scorning tears to those empty eyes; but the fog did not know that beyond them, in the depths of those black voids, there were other eyes, other eyes that shone with other tears. Real tears. Tears of anger.
The warrior remained silent for a long time, his eyes pointed into the thin fog, trying to deny the unmotivated death that surrounded him. He knew their faces. The eyes of boys who watched the eternal night mixed with faces clear of their opponents. Boys too. Other faces that would soon recurred to him in his dreams.
"Brother?" the shadow called him.
For a long moment none response came. But then, an icy voice, deep, such as the shadow could barely recognize as the one of his fellow, growled: "I want to see the Empire burn".
The flaming eyes of the shadows became sad at those words.
"It is not to us to decide", the shadow said.
The man chuckled, his voice contorted in a terrible sound. "Oh it is to us, my friend. It is." His eyes moved to meet the shadow's, "If it is not to us to decide our fortune, then who has the right? The Emperor?"
Therefore the voice of the shadow grew harder: "You're speaking of determining the others' fortune. It is not to you to decide the fate of the Empire of the White Dragon." His voice became softer, "As it is not to me."
The eyes of the warrior flashed. "Look at this" he roared, with a wide movement of the arm showing the death around them. "Look at this! We speak of right and fortune, but who had the right to decide the death of these people?! Who? They didn't decide, some other did. They were claiming freedom, not death!"
"They did choose their fate, my brother" the shadow told him, "they did".
"Not my boys… they did not." The man said, and his voice trembled, all the anger fell into the abyss of his mourning.
And soothe silence filled the air. A heavy silent, as the mist itself had turn into a curtain of steel. Only the whispers and the moans of Death were heard, and for a long moment they were the only voice shivering on the dark battle. The sun exhaled his last breath, far away in the west and his blood left the lands in a cold twilight.
"Brother," the voice of the shadow spoke and Death himself fall silent, "we must go…"
But the man ignored those words and his eyes were still lost in the undying haze.
"The army is ready to leave. They're waiting for you… they're waiting for their leader" the shadow added.
Another long silent moment, then the black warrior turned slowly to the shadow. An agonizingly slow movement. One's fiery eyes met those cold and empty of the others, fire and ice. And a chill pervaded the shadow when he those eyes - the eyes of a man who had lost anything in which he believed, of a man who lived only to feed the ghosts with his own meat. And anger. Anger and hatred harboured hissing in their nests of ash beyond the icy blue.
Then, something in those eyes hardened. The nothingness clotted into the determined gaze of the general he was. The man spoke then, his voice slow and steady. Every tear of anger seemed to have evaporated and vanished in the fog itself.
"Where are we headed?" he asked, and he could have sounded naive if his voice had not been so cold or figured so mighty.
"Odense" the shadow replied laconically, holding back a smile. That was his old friend. A strong and strict general of the army… never in the right place when needed. As when royal messengers came along with new and unexpected orders. He shook his head wearily.
"I thought our task was to slaughter rebels and bandits…" said the man sarcastically.
The eyes of the shadow narrowed: "New orders came from the king" he said with a hilt of impatience in his voice.
The warrior moved forward to him. "The king? Since when Altair suffer me to enter his precious city?" he said bitterly
"Don't speak like that, brother. I understand your angry, but you have duties too. We all have. Perhaps the king has now something more important to entrust you than border skirmishes" answered the shadow. Both now were walking side by side towards the place where the army was encamped.
"Perhaps," said the man coldly, "but he wouldn't entrust me. At least not on his own will."
The shadow looked at him quietly.
"Do you smell it, my friend?" the warrior asked him. "Empire stink".
And so? What do you think?