"Have you ever seen someone you love die before your eyes? Have you ever seen everything that has ever been dear to your heart be snatched away from you? Seen everyone you had ever known be taken from life?"
A campfire in the night; six people, three young men, three young women, all dressed in armor, about to go on a mission from which they might not return from. One is the Speaker, their leader. He alone, aside from one of the others, knows what they face, and trembled telling them what they would face; it would be too soon, anyway.
"No, you will never know."
Silence; then he spoke again.
"It was sundown. I was playing down by the river in the forest, a few miles from my village. I was a mere child of five years, someone who had never known the harsh realities of life, and would not have, would never have, had they never attacked.
"Suddenly, I heard the screams, smelled something burning, and I saw a red glow across the sky. At first, I had thought someone's home had caught fire, and ran to lend my assistance. But it was not just one home; it was everything.
"Fire raged across the wooden houses, several had already caved in. I saw bodies lying in the streets: children no more than babes lying in their own blood; old men scarcely able to lift their legs lying about as if tossed by a pitchfork; young, nubile women without heads; everyone was dead. Except me. And the monsters. I saw them, saw them running about through the streets, wielding sword and battleaxe, killing and looting wherever their fancy struck them.
"I was too shocked to do more than stare; perhaps I was screaming. But it escapes me now. What I saw before me was even more terrible. A human body was lying on the ground before me, scarce ten feet away; a hulking, black form crouched over it. It was a moment before I realized that the screaming came from the body on the ground; it was still alive, and that thing in front of me was eating its bones. Then, somehow by some agency, the thing turned and I saw to my horror it was my father laying on the ground, broken and bloodied, a mass of wounds from which blood spewed asunder. The dark thing rose onto its feet; all I saw was its eyes: mad, fiery eyes. There was no sanity in them. The thing resembled more like a werewolf than a man, its black fur covered in blood. For several seconds, or maybe several years, we looked at one another. Then it turned, and left. My father was no longer screaming; now he was lying in the cold, unfeeling state that is called death. But I knew from those eyes that he suffered far more than physical pain.
"I ran towards my home, hoping that my brothers, sisters, and mother were all safe; but the moment I saw the house burning like all the rest, my heart sank. I went in, creeping, almost, too scared at what I'd find inside.
"It was nothing short of a nightmare: all of my kin, from my brothers and sisters, from the eldest to the baby; from my uncles and aunts; even my grandparents of both sides; all dead. I was the only one not rigid in death.
"Then my senses registered; five black wolves were in there, three disposing of the dead, while two more were holding a struggling body between them; my mother. She was still alive, but bloodied and in the nude. What those creatures were doing to her was worse than rape. They were torturing her body and soul. I knew all too clearly what would happen the moment they were through with her.
"Then something snapped; something shattered; something broke inside me. I was no longer a frightened little boy of five. I cast my eyes about for a weapon. There, a curved blade, a fell weapon of one of the monsters. It was hot, hot enough to burn my hand; the scar still remains."
He opened his hand; and lo, there was a scar; a twisted imprint of a hilt made of ebony metal.
"I took it, and knew what I had to do.
"I remember one of them; it was more or less identical to the one outside, only a different color. White, I think was the color. I remember its eyes, though. The same mad yellow fire burning inside. I had stopped before it, holding a sword too large for me. It would have been funny had any one else seen it; but only that thing saw me. It was holding a leg-bone; of whose I do not know, and nor did I want to know.
"I ran it through, no longer wincing at the sight of death; how could I? I killed the other two in the same way, and then turned to the two using my mother. I ran one through the back, and the other, decapitated on the backslash. It was then my memory becomes blurry. I do not know how I got my mother out of there, being a little child of five, but I did.
"The fires had burned down low; the village was no more; the monsters having fled, gone to whatever hole they had came from. I remember the body of an old man, blackened and crushed on the path before me; the sight still remains with me to this day. I knew what I had to do. I got my mother out of there and into the forest.
"She died two days later; and I was left alone. The last of my blood, the last of my flesh, the last of my family. I met with three others; an old man who died of shock and grief an hour later; another boy of my age who survived with me; and a young girl of about ten, who must have seen her family being devoured right before her eyes. I, thankfully, was spared of that sight, except for my father. Together, we three walked all through seven hundred miles, after burying the elder back in the forest alongside my mother. We walked through valley, plain, forest, mountain, everywhere, until we reached safety."
There was a pause.
"This is why I had made it my life's mission to protect mankind from those pretenders of man. To wipe them out like they did to my family. That is why we are here. That is why we will never return from this, or if we do, make a better world for all."
He got up and doused the fire. The others got up, and together, they moved on into the darkness; less than a few miles from their destination.
Soon, too soon, they will be at the Gates of Hell.