Epilogue: Two Laws Made AbsoluteEdit
"It doesn't matter what you believe in; but simply the fact you are rooted in your beliefs."
All was still in the Land of Baron. Silence, and nothing else existed at that moment. Clouds hung in the sky, above the fields pluming with smoke, embers darting through the air; dispersing into the world. Flames burned, a storm of heat blazed across the village, wood crumbled, splintering apart, enfeebled from the pressure. Houses collapsed, caving in from their own weight, brittle. Scattered hay and debris only aided the inferno's process even more. Where were the villagers? Laying crumpled on the ground, ashen, absorbed into painful deaths. The smell of cooked flesh was outweighed by the foul stench of smoke.
Two lone figures ran through the blazing firestorm; desolate, devestating. A man and his child, a young boy pulled to his chest. A father holding and protecting his beloved youth, preventing the smoke from reaching his lungs, or the sight of the brutally killed all around. They were the only ones alive.
Dashing forward, the man's breath was short, his clothes were searing into his back. Pain tinged every nerve, submerging his skin with molten vibrations. The fires licked his heels, bathed the village in it's chaos. Crackling wood and sparks, the father was glad for this. It showed he was still alive, his body was still able, and the area still had enough air for noise to pass through clearly. Covering his mouth with his collar, rushing past a still standing church, a small temple.
And as he passed it, he caught eye of it's desecration. Painted in a darkened blood, coagulated from the heat, black and red splashed across the doors broken. The two large metal doors that once welcomed so many in... were shackled together with various chains from the outside. The man realized it was a temporary hell, a prison for those that were surely locked in to face their deaths slowly.
The Count of Slaughter spared none if found guilty of injustice. And they were all criminals due to a few. Families slain in the name of 'order', they were purged for their sins. Aeron Bloodraven chose who lived or died. The Ravenhold had quelled another possible rebellion from the peasants.
It was a day of death.
Skirting around the corner, he eyed the way out... a lone path leading out of the village was left, a pebbeled bridge across a small stream. No buildings smoldered across the path, only a few corpses that had been cut down before they could escape. The father clutched his child close, praying to the gods, wherever they might be right now to spare them; to grant them another chance at life.
His friends, family, his wife... all died. Taken away from him by the sadism of their monarchs. How was this fair? Leaping over a pile of debris, lit with the same red and orange fire that tore through the entire town. Nearly falling, his legs wobbled, weakened from the smoke and recent dash for his and more importantly: his only child's life. His only family left.
Racing across the bridge, the heat slowly died away, looking back to ensure his mind's ease was not false. No one was chasing them. No mounted knights, no archers, no mages, no Bloodraven. They were safe. They could turn from this place, to renew their lives. Tears in his eyes at the joy he was feeling, a living child to his breast, he murmered out, "It'll be okay Lumin... Daddy's going to keep you safe..." the small boy gripped the fabric of his brown shirt tightly, saying nothing in return but a few whimpers.
Turning his gaze back to the road ahead, he realized the words just said were no longer true. The Dark Knight of Baron sat on his black steed, armored head to toe in his malefic steel. A lone sword at his side, the legendary blade Dawnbreaker. Aeron Bloodraven let none escape... how could he have forgotten that...
False hopes. Dreams, believeing, faith, so easily snapped into pieces.
Behind the Count was his contingency of forces, his heir to the Slaughterhouse, the Count's daughter: Epona Bloodraven, and his sister, the Instrument of Destruction: Agrona Bloodraven. The forces stood still, with the royal head descending from his mount... a symbol of fear. A future epoch of terrors to be unfolded once he came to rule.
The father clutched his boy close to him, "Daddy will keep you safe..." repeating it, calming the nerves of his child. The sense of dread was seeping in, rattling his bones, sending shivers into his spine. Nothing was muttered, only the sound of the burning village and two pulsing hearts was all that filled the man's ears.
Footsteps soon joined those. Steel links clattering, metal pounding into the ground as it made it's way to his position. The swaying of the royal red cloak fluttering in the slight breeze. Neighing of horses, hissing of basilisks, chattering of Chocobo's; the mounted forces steeds.
"I'll never let you go son..." his heart beat faster, death was approaching. And there was no escape. It was absolute.
All because of the choices of a few thieves out of their village. The lot would suffer. All would be burned by the holy wrath of law and order. The Count spoke, approaching still: "You're people have been weighed and measured... you have all been found wanting for your sins. You are all guilty of treason against the Kingdom of Baron..."
Thump Thump... Thump Thump... "I'll protect you to the very end..." ignoring the words that were spoken, clutching his child, who was now leaving streaks of tears, rolling down cheek and chest.
"Your punishment is death..." Dawnbringer rose from it's passive position at Aeron's side, perparing to strike, raised to cut through his intended victims. No emotion, the voice was as cold as the steel he wore, as remorseless as the dragon scales it was forged from. The heart's blood it was tempered in. Gleaming dully in the fiery light from afar. Poised to kill, he waited for the father's last words. No sight of the child would phase his actions.
The father whispered, silent tears falling. "I love you son." The boy whispered back... the last words either of them would speak. "I love you too..."
A swath of blood spilled across the road side, splashing and rippling, the body of the father and son collapsed, their death was silent and swift unlike the rest of his victims that day. Dawnbringer dripped with their red essence, dribbling off the tip onto the ground. Every eye was upon him, his forces stood at the ready, ready to leave the desolation behind them. The two princesses smiled, Epona gleaming with sadistic joy at the sight of what had occured. Swift and tactful vengence for insubordiation. A lesson taught to the majority for the failure of compliance of the guilty few.
One bad egg slowly spoils the rest.
Aeron looked to the fallen. "Justice has been served. Toss their bodies in with the rest of the flames..." gazing to his forces. "Let this be another lesson to the people of Baron... there will be no tolerance for the wicked. All thieves, mongrels, and criminals will die. Where one falls... so too shall the rest; we allow no corruption to spread, lest it taint the lot of us..." walking back to his mount, he raised his leg over the large pitch black horse.
Agrona and Epona spoke in concordance with one another, the Raven Legions echoing their words. "Reap the harvest of souls guilty..." their voices rattled against one another, stirring their mounts, riling their hearts and minds with cheer at their victory. "We shall burn out the impurities, we shall carve out all sickness from our kingdom!" Agrona nodded to her men, raising her arm. Rallying the cheer from their lips, roaring throughout the forests. A riot of voices shattered the skies, knocking at the heaven's doors.
"We shall triumph over the sins of this world, we shall be the sword to behead the world's evil! We are the Bloodraven!" the battle cry of the Raven Host. The world grew noisy once more...
Chapter One: ThieveryEdit
"What you believe, creates your reality, creates a right and wrong from your perspective. But that's all it is... perspective..."
The skies crisp and clear, beautiful, birds flew through the sky. The village was at peace, everyone going about their daily buisness, it was high noon, and the world was a busy place. Merchants with their stands, selling their goods in the market. Farmers in their fields, yielding the crops, sewing. Nothing seemed wrong, how could something so quaint and perfect move from such a balance?
With peace, comes the anarchists. A group of men and women, about eight of them in total resided just outside of the village, all of them speaking with a seriousness unseen by the rest of the populace. A lone man, lithe and tall, flowing vibrant red hair. Wearing a peasant's garb, his only means of defense a lone knife. His group followed similiar, wearing poor class attire, some even without shoes. All thieves, bandits.
However, this man had something the rest did not. A lone jewel in his hands, a grin on his lips as he inspected the flawless ruby, "Look at this... it's genuine boys and girls... nothing like it, our biggest payload yet..." smirking triumphantly, the night before was filled with debauchery. The fortunate thief in question: was Razil Backstry. The castles had been relatively devoid of military forces due in part to a tour around the land of Baron.
It had been ripe for the picking. House Firesteed hadn't seen it coming. Nor would they miss a bag's worth of gems... the rich had enough of them as is. Their voices resounded, his audience filled with cheer, and worry. It was always like this, the heist had been in the planning for weeks. Using their newfound riches to liven up their village with rounds of ale, buying new horses, increasing their supplies, the whole sha bang. All at the cost of one of the many gems aquired that night. They would live like kings for the rest of their lives.
However... this was not to be. False hopes. Faith. Dreams, soon to be shattered. And they would pay dearly. So would everyone they knew and loved.
A group of children played on the roads ahead of the village towards Ravenhold, playing stick fights and engaging in imaginary mortal combat. Giggling, laughing, enacting their attacks, 'slaying' one child who was playing one of the wicked royals.
Their laughter would soon die, their ears perked. Silence... the birds, the bugs, their dogs ears darted towards the air, sniffing. Followed by a whimper, scurrying behind their human companions. The sound of thundering footsteps, the noise and clatter of hundreds, marching as one cohesive unit. Soon... over the rising hill, the banner of the Ravenhost held high. Followed by the appearance of a Black Knight and his army. The Raven Legions...
The children immediately froze, one of them darting off, rushing to warn the rest of the village of what was on it's way. Leaving her brother and friends behind, thinking they would be safe. Thinking they would join her sprint. They were not fortunate enough to break free from the visage of the Dark Knight, the Count of Ravenhold. The armor her wore, contrasting the vibrance of the colorful woodlands, reflecting the woe he carried. A hero, a villian. It all varied on the circumstances.
But his personal arrival... it was an assurance. Even the children overheard the tales of what occured when the dread knight rode at the front. Death followed, he was it's harbringer, executing the wicked. The lone girl that had rushed off, soon stopped... hiding behind a tree, peaking around, whispering silent shouts to get them out of the way. "Move! C'mon guys! We need to head home!" They fell on deaf ears.
The sight of the Host was enough to make even grown men stand still in awe.
And it was already too late for them to move. The Dark Knight arrived, his two war princesses by his side, on Chocobo's of their own. His dark steed neighing as it came to a stop. The air vibrated with a clatter of steel, voices shouting a "Nnngh!" as they halted in their footsteps. Awaiting their leader to head their motions once more.
The children didn't move. Neither did the Host. A mute moment, no need of words, only the void contact inbetween the eyes of the youth and the ruler of their lands. The souless visage meeting innocence, devoid of emotion or thought. Epona and Agrona dare not speak a word, realizing that the interaction was to be Aeron's alone. Soon, a few words were spoken from the forerunner, "Spare none. We march home by dusk..."
Agrona took her queue, smiling, her wild black ponytail bobbing as readied her mind and body. Aeron was giving the orders to commence the execution of the village. They had stolen from an allied House, effectively stealing from their own people, from another village. Thieves. Drudges. A sickness that needed to be cut from the host before it spread like a plague.
With nothing else said, the Hand of Bloodraven extended her palm, speaking the incantation of her Blue Magic Spell: Matra Magic... the children's eyes widened, flinching as the last sight they saw was a burst of blue light. Scattering their physical bodies into a mist of dust, gone from existance in a matter of seconds. The first of many to fall that day.
The lone girl that hid, screamed in terror as realization sank in. Rushing off towards the village in a full sprint. None of the Host stopped her, Agrona spoke lightly, "Should we stop her?" Epona chimed her voice in, "Does it really matter? They will die regardless... why not have a little fun?" Aeron sat on his mount, Nimbus, the animals that they all rode on riled slightly by the quick use of chaotic magics. Unmoved himself, unspeaking, at last, he rose his hand. "Silence Epona... do not presume you have a say in this matter, unless you are spoken to..."
Epona obeyed her father out of respect for own well being, the Ravenhost listening and watching as their leader made a decision. "We ride onward, nothing changes..." Aerona hated needless destruction. Hated how the lower class of Baron simply couldn't work hard for their living. Instead they doomed themselves, instead they had to choose the hard path and force everyone to fall with them.
Agrona spoke to her men, the leader of the contingencies put her as the military leader of House Bloodraven, a commander, just below the rank of her brother Aeron, a general. "We march on! Forward!"
Moving forward once more, the clatter of steel resumed it's place on the paths. Aeron looked to his sister, "We shall burn this place to the ground, make sure by the end of the day, that Epona knows how to deal with insubordination..." "We shall be benevolent, I will give my people the chance to turn the criminals in, to repent for their sins..."
Agrona could only presume her brother was gritting his teeth, the thought of corruption was deeply despised by the Count, speaking with a slight tinge of hatred, "And if they will not cast the lepers out, we will have to burn the place to the ground, so the sickness has no chance of spreading..." The commander nodded, "As you wish, brother." Her family was an inspiration to the other royal families. Benevolent, strict, ruthless to criminals. Chaos was squashed beneath their heels. Despite their reputation for tyranny, it was merely the lowest classes perspective. They lived in fear, caution, because they were guilty minded. No matter how they hid it, wrong doings could be found out, and once it was...
The Ravenhost took pleasure in curing their lands of evil.
"Daddy! Mommy! Aaaagh!" screaming from a light voice, high pitched, signs of stress, tears dropping off her cheeks. She was the oldest... she was responsible for all of them, she was the adult! Her parents would panic, then they would hate her for abandoning them, for not protecting them... responsability fell on the newly teen.
Her blonde hair bounced in the wind, her plain brown and green dress, held by a small leather corset tarnished by dirt, tanned by salting. The two parents in question immediately rose from their seats, blacksmiths, the father holding a piece of tarnished iron in his hands, recently cooled, pounding out it's impurities. "What is it sweetie? Is everything okay?"
Worry filled their eyes, and filled the minds of any onlookers or listeners with slight worry. She whimpered, blubbering a few words from her salty lips, strained with tears; "D-dad... t-the C-count... h-he... t-they..." The confusion from the parents was pronounced, "Hunny, what are you talking about? Calm down... speak softly... what's happened?" The girl shook her head, "P-papa, he killed them! The count killed bubba!" falling to her knees, enwrapped in fear, followed by her mother's arms.
Both of them looked shocked, terrified, angry, confused. Emotions conflicted with one another. The arrival of the Count, the death of the innocent children... they both knew what was coming next. It was inevitable. The blacksmith rushed over to the streets, "Everyone! Get your children inside now! Get the militia!" he grit his teeth in anger at their slow pace and confusion, "NOW!" his voice rang, he grasped one of his creations, a steel broadsword.
They had intentions to fight back. If it hadn't been for that damned thief Razil, the very idea that he had stole from an opposing nation was foolishness, how could they have let that rat in their village? They had goods bought with the money he had brought here... supplies fresh, food and drink spent wantonly with the money he had 'procured' through 'proper channels'.
The Raven Legions were now at the doorstep of the village, a lone bridge, going over a single large stream, large enough for the forces to pass across unhindered, forming tighter lines to pass more easily. Aeron caught sight of the people, he could hear the coclephony of noise, doors slamming shut, people shouting and screaming in panic. The girl had clearly made her voice known...
Epona gleamed with excitement, she loved seeing her father in action. The way he executed his actions, the way he instilled order... she craved it. Craved that power, her body ached for such a manifestation. To hold the ability to instill great fear... she shivered at the dream of her future reign.
Agrona looked to her sister, "Stay quiet... let your father speak when we arrive... hopefully we can resolve this situation without any more deaths..." The Bloodraven Family enacted judgement because they needed to. Not because it was a wanton pleasure to slaughter. Only the wicked deserved to die. She obeyed any orders from Aeron because it was her duty.
Not because she took a delight in murdering children...
Epona replied back, licking her lips at the idea, "We all know how this will end... the blood is already on our hands..." grinning to her elder sister, "Your hands, actually... they won't resolve anything but the idea to fight back, the sickness that was there before? It'll spread like the black plague, nothing will stop them from rioting." The aunt wished to silence her impudent niece, but... her words rang true. It was far too late for reasoning. They came here to end the wicked.
They would not leave until it came to pass.
Their breath was short, the knights in their ranks came to an abrupt halt, "Un!" shouting it as they stood silently, at the ready on the bridge and path to perpare the destruction at the word of their Count. Aeron gazed to the small milita the villagers had ready... he wouldn't even bother to dismount. They were all guilty, they all going to burn.
Shouting out to the head of the militia, the blacksmith and his shattered family grimaced, barely holding themselves back from attacking. "Where are the thieves?!" Aeron growled out, shouting angerily, "Tell me where they are, and I may have the decency to spare your wretched lives." it was a farce, a bluff. He knew they wouldn't. But his forces, his daughter more importantly would see how a future countess, a future queen should rule. With complete benevolence.
Quiet. Absolute quiet.
"Will no one come forth? Is it really worth your lives to defend your criminals?!" the steeds of the Ravenhost grew restless from the sharp and booming voice of the forerunner. Silence met him once more as their answer, all at the ready to defend themselves.
"So be it." the chance was given, the chance at life was denied. They would die as a whole. "Burn the village to the ground, kill every last man, woman or child. I want their corpses littering the streets before dusk..." signaling Agrona with his words, she nodded, yelling out to the opposing milita... "You all were given the chance, now you die!" "Ravenhost, ATTACK!"
Epona grinned, readying her dual swords, the armies charged forward, the Bloodraven heirs and their Count leading the charge. Judgement... was at hand.
Chapter Two: PunishmentEdit
"Sometimes we pay for our beliefs, simply because the 'elite' choose what should be right or wrong. A horrendous notion..."
Everything was in motion. Fire was being shot across the skies above them in dazzling arcs, tearing asunder the houses and landscape it crashed into. The sounds could be heard, screaming, gnashing of teeth, howling, gears of war were turning. Bloodshed was being spilled! It was glorious, the sweet aroma of death filled Epona's nostrils, inhaling the sacrament that was being committed; for the fall of the wicked.
Black Mages were continually bombarding from afar, the Raven Legions marched swiftly behind their Lords and Ladies, on foot and on mounts, carving into the ill perpared masses, ill trained militia. Aeron shouted at the head, dismounting as he crashed into the first of his victims, growling gutterally, anger empowering his brute strength. Men broke under his blade, their red ichor splashing across his armor and onto the ground. The Bloodraven Count was the very essence of fear. A lone man walked forward, extending his spear to pierce the Lord's back. However, it splintered upon impact, poorly made, a poor weapon to use against the armor forged of a great black dragon.
Aeron looked back to his next victim, it was the Blacksmith that had lead the charge. Chaos burnt the area asunder around them, noise blasted the skies, innocents dying, fires starting, blood bathed the streets. But to Aeron, there was only him, and his next victim: he was alone until the next battle insued. And in this instance; only he and the Blacksmith existed, everything else was an obstacle. Approaching the impudent man slowly, to be slain in order to join his son and the rest of the anarchists.
"You attempt to harm your leader?! You attempt to harm me?!" Aeron watched on as two men came from his left, wielding iron swords and leather garb, rushing at him to gauge the Tyrant down, but it would fail as well. Aeron brought his fist to the first's neck. Fragile, so small, such weak fleshy things... they had become dead the moment they stood up to him. Grasping the asurper's throat, the other attempted to free his ally, slashing pointlessly at the armor, bouncing off, mere child toys.
The sound of crunching bone, a spinal column splintered into dust, instantly killing the man he held. Blood smearing his gauntlets, pooling in his grip. The Blacksmith looked on in fear as he cast the rebel so easily thrown away into his comrade, again leaving just the two of them.
"Baron has given you everything! And this is how you repay those that protect you?!" his blade carving into a dissident on chocobo-back, killing mount and man. Rushing forward to kick the useless resistance away, shoving the dissident into a crowd of militia, those currently engaged with his Ravenhost.
"You seek to repay us with rebellion... I shall take pleasure in quelling your pathetic resistance, and I will make your entire village an example for the rest to follow!" Glaring directly to the blacksmith... only he and him now stood, no more obstacles in the immediate, no more would be protectors. Everything was too chaotic, villagers were scattering like flies, running, darting off to save themselves and their families. Pointless, finite lives soon to be snuffed out.
"Everything you love and hold dear will burn for your insolence!" The Bloodraven Lord rushed forward, blade held in his hands in a two handed strike, bringing the weapon crashing down on the head of the militia. Dead, unable to stop the swift and fierce strike, his body lopped in two seperate halves.
Epona looked to her victims, riding on her armored paint horse, Starscatter, rushing forward with both swords, swathing through her victims, taking no pause to strike down running victims.