1 World on Fire

Aldrig's mouth hung open as tears streamed down his face, the scorching air was suffocating him. Light danced in his eyes from the emerald fire that was annihilating his whole world.

The attack had come suddenly and without warning. The Surrex army stormed through the village with little resistance.

"Al! Al! Come on! We have to move!" His older sister screamed at him. Grabbing his hand she pulled him away from the sounds of death and slaughter. The crackling of fire sounding unnaturally loud from behind them.

His bare feet squelched through the mud as he was dragged to the rear gate. As pure terror gripped his heart like an icy claw he looked to his sister for comfort. Though reality was much crueller.

Her usually lustrous long, dark brown hair was dishevelled. A wild look could be seen in her eyes as a trickle of blood flowed freely over her brow.

She would let out animalistic grunting noises every few steps as she gripped her side. It was clear to Al that she was in great pain but what could he do? After all he had just celebrated his seventh summer.

It was at this time flecks of what appeared to be grey snow flowed around them, carrying the sent of burnt flesh. It was now obvious what this was. It was ash! All that would remain of their home, friends and... family.

Having now cleared the perimeter of there village they could see how dire their situation truly was. The same emerald fire leapt and danced through the forest that surrounded them. Painting an eerie scene.

With pained expressions on their faces they forced their feet onwards. Before long a blanket of ash carpeted the forest.

"Isola? What happened to mother?" Al asked, not quite sure if he wanted to hear the answer.

"Don't worry, she'll be ok." Isola replied. Like she was trying to convince herself more than her brother.

Silence descended between the pair as they pushed on. The cracking of branches and small gasps were the only sounds echoing out around them. Every step pushed their nerves to the limit.

As the forest seemed to be closing in around them a horrifying sound reached them. The howling pierced clearly through the night.

"Shit!" swore Isolda, "Wardogs!"

They were almost at their limit. How were they supposed to escape such horrors!

"Sis!" exclaimed Al while pointing at the ash around their feet.

"Fuck! Footprints!" she yelled in despair.

The baying of the hounds grew louder as they closed in on their location. Sweat could be seen trickling down their faces. This was simply to much. Al could not help but cry, the water turning a dirty colour from the ash that was still falling over the forest.

"This way!" yelled an unfamiliar male voice excitedly.

The voice rang in their ears sending a cold sweat down their backs. The fear spurred them on as they took off running no longer caring how much noise they made. They had never been so far into the forest so they had no idea what direction to run in.

Soon the sound of running water could be heard and the light of hope could be seen reflected in their eyes. This could be their chance! The dogs would definitely lose their scent if only they can reach the river. The ash soaked ground kicked up a dust cloud as they ran.

They burst out of the treeline looking around helplessly. The ground dropped off in front of them. A rather long drop the thought. The river was quite wide as it snaked it's way between two sharp cliffs. Stone fangs could be seen protruding from the fast flowing body of water. They knew in their heart surviving such a fall was unlikely.

Before they could start running again several large black and brown dogs covered in armour leapt out of the forest. Quickly spreading out to surround them. Between their growling a man's sinister laughing could be heard.

An object came flying through the air bouncing in the ash before coming to a halt before the kids. This left them speechless. It was a bloody and broken head. The neck seemed to have been melted when separated from the body. The only problem was that it was not just any head. The dead eyes that stared back at them was their mothers!

"Nowhere to run little rabbits!" yelled a gravelly, rough voice, "You'd better just give up."

At this point the owner of the voice stepped into their line of sight. Accompanied at least twelve other knights. The all bore the crest of Surrex. Their faces covered by full plate tells. The man in the lead had a black crest that ran from the front to the back of his indicating that he was the commander. His similarly black cloak floated behind him as he removed his helm.

An even more horrifying sight was revealed. His face was covered with a large burn scar. Eyes narrowed like a hawk at the pair of them. 'So these are her brats are they.' he thought casting his dark eyes over them. 'Best to just kill them now.'

He chuckled as he glared them with a fanatical look. A deathly silence and then he let out a piercing whistle. The warhounds went mad with the sound as they bared their blood soaked fangs. They lunged at the children.

"Al, I'm sorry. Please live." Isola whispered quietly. Her eyes soaked in pain. Before he could reply he felt the sharp shove of a palm on his chest as he lost his footing. Staring in disbelief at his sister he fell from the cliff. The last memory he would ever have of her would be deeply engrained in his memories. As he fell he watched as the pack of wardogs tore her apart.

At least he would not have to suffer for long he thought. As he continued to plummet towards the icy river. Its jagged fangs desperate to devour him.

***

The ground rumbled as the army commanders sat around the war map. The damn catapults had not let up for days as the fort was slowly pummeled. Goren stared hard at the other Warlords.

"This can not go on!" he yelled in defiance. "They broke the treaty yet we are the ones holed up like rats. Even worse they are making us look like cowards!"

"Goren, calm yourself. They simply struck before we could." an older man replied.

"Why don't we just send out the Runelord?" another casually replied.

All eyes floated to the sole chair in the corner of the room. In it sat a man cover in leather and hide armour with some chainmail showing here and there. A fur overcoat wrapped around him, his face covered by the hood.His long grey hair with a solitary braid resting on the underside hung loosely down to his chest.

"I'm not here to deal with the unworthy. I only want the head of the Paladin. It's all you're paying for anyway, right?"

The Warlords grumbled. They knew they could not afford to piss off a Runelord. After all, very few people in the world could use magic. Not only that the method would change depending on where in the world the user came from.

The mages of Angolia were called Paladins. They would take time to manipulate the available elements around them to cast their spells. On the other hand their Norheim mages were called Runelords. Using personally crafted runestones written in the language of the gods to instantly cast their magic. No matter what though any mage had to have knowledge of the Godithic Runes to learn magic.

The door slammed open as a young warrior charged into the room.

"My Jarls! Urgent Report!" He yelled at the top of his lungs.

"Out with it man!" Screamed Goren, seemenly discontent with interruption.

"A raging, unnatural green fire has been spotted in the forest to the north west!"

The Warlords were dumbfounded. Their enemies had went around them completely ignoring their existence!

A deep laughter could be heard resounding through the room. As all eyes glared at him the Runelord stood.

"Good! Very Good! It seems that Alinorr has dared to come out! I, Haldric shall take care of this!" he boomed loudly. Stomping out of the room in a good mood.

He climbed the crumbling stone steps to the battlements. The warriors atop the wall not daring to look at him, well aware of the difference in status.

He glanced around soon spotting the sea of fire in the distance that the messenger spoke of.

'Hmm, that should be where Eldran Village is located' he thought. A darkness descended on his face. He grabbed the nearest warrior.

"You!"

"Yes sir!" The man squealed as he felt a dampness in his crotch area. Haldric ignored this.

"Are there any monsters left between here and Eldran?" he asked.

"I don't believe so sir."

Haldric nodded, content. He drew his blade. The warriors around glanced at it thinking it was rather odd. The handle was rather long with multiple runes inscribed. The blade itself was single edged and jagged.

As they were thinking this Haldric channelled his mana into the runes. They glowed in different colours the handle elongated. Turning the sword into a spear. He laughed as he jumped from the battlements. He pulled a runestone from his pouch on his waist and charged it with mana.

It lit up as the spell was directed at the firm earth below. Rapidly transforming it into a field of mud. This softened the landing for his legs as the warriors looked on agape. Laughing maniacally he dashed forward. Starting a slaughter amongst the surrounding knights.

He could be heard screaming, "Alinorr, prepare yourself!" as he dashed into the night.

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