CHAPTER 1 – Votex Garando
Every being searches for their place in the world. A place that defines them, a place where they can control their own destiny, for Votex, that place is the battlefield. Everything about it makes him feel as though he was where he was meant to be. It excites him; it brings forth all the savagery instincts a man possesses. The intoxicating smell of fear from his enemies, the ground shaking beneath his feet as a thousand warriors charge towards him. The skill and honour gained from fighting in a hundred battles.
Most of all though, he loved the courage it took to stand in front of them thousand warriors and fight for good and to protect people who couldn’t protect themselves. For that is what being a knight was about and Votex knew that well.
The passage to becoming a knight of the forth, is not covered in the blood of your enemies but is lit by the hearts of the ones you save. The words of votexs previous mentor Garando, echoed through his mind just when he needed to hear it. Votex thought that, that was an interesting trick garando had seemed to play on him.
Votex often wondered whether his mentor knew the precise path for every knight he trained and then implanted each thought to be awakened when they needed it most however it was more likely Votex chose when he needed to remember the wisdom of his former mentor.
Votex stood waiting; this was the hardest part of war, waiting for an enemy to show themselves. This was the first test of the, newly graduated, knights that stood behind him. There nervousness was radiating from them and he would have been able to feel it even without his heightened abilities.
Then suddenly out of the woods ahead, came a charging pack of barbarians. Their teeth bearing like vicious wild dogs and their eyes wide with furious, anger and blind hatred. Votex sensed the movement behind him and turned at once to catch his knights running in outright panic.
He was shocked, knights did not act like this, they held their ground against any enemy on any battlefield, this was a mistake. Votex blinked hard trying to awake from a bad nightmare "thhhiisss....... caaann..... noot....... bee”. Votex’s words came out as hardly a whisper and then he was shaken back to where he was by a hideous war cry from behind.
In one quick practiced movement, he had swung around and pulled his sword free of its sheath. Before he had even realised, his instincts had took over and he was moving slashing, thrusting and spinning from one dead barbarian to the next. The odd clang of metal on metal broke through the battle cries and the cries of the wounded.
Votex ducked under a deadly sharp axe, while he did this he pulled his sword across the gut of the barbarian splitting it open and spilling his intestines into a neat pile on the ground. The barbarian fell, while Votex moved onto his next victim.
The waves of barbarians slowed as votexs blade tore their courage and their limbs from them. After a quick slash across the throat of one barbarian, spraying Votex with blood and the thrusting of his sword through the belly of the next, their taste for battle had vanished. The remaining band of barbarians ran from Votex, deserting their honour to save themselves. Votex pulled his sword free from the dead barbarian, after wiping it clean on the cloth hanging from his belt; he put it back into its sheath.
Hidden out of sight it watched the knights run from the battle just as its master had predicted but not all ran. The remaining knight sliced a deadly path through the barbarians before the last few fled from the battlefield. It had seen enough and scampered, with such a speed it would be mistaken for a trick of the mind, back to its master.
Votex arrived back at the northern fort, which sat at the top of Herrandian land. It was surrounded on both sides by mountains, making it ideal for defence against the northern wastelands, which had become a staging area for attacking barbarians from Etheria.
The wastelands themselves where a stretch of flat, harsh, cold landscape that stretch out north as far as the eye can see. It was believed that past the northern wasteland lay a vast country abundant in gold mines, rivers, forests, food and life, a paradise for those brave enough to face the hard journey. Many travellers had left Herrandian searching fame and fortune by conquering the great wastelands and reaching the paradise but none had returned.
Some people said that the travellers had simply found that paradise and chose not to return, others however had more sceptical opinions. Fearing what lay ahead past the wastelands the Herrandian knights built the fort over 500 years ago.
The fort, despite its age, stood tall and firm. Made from solid stone, its walls stretched from the western mountains to the eastern mountains, closing out the wastelands. Its wall’s was so perfectly placed in between the two mountains it seemed as though the fort had been carved out of the middle of one whole mountain.
Dead centre in the middle of the fort was a huge wooden gate, held firmly in place by a lock. The lock, made from Iron, was a shaft that stretched across the whole gate, held firmly in place by two joints that extruded from the gate. It looked just as immaculate as it had 500 years ago.
A dark blue emblem positioned itself dead centre of the metal shaft. Like a beckon of the power of the knights that had created it. It held magical power that could not allow the gate to be opened without a knight’s hand to lift the metal shaft.
Votex expected to find his disgraced knights at the fort but all he found was a deserted outpost. What is happening, first my knights and now this? Even without his knights being here there should at least be thirty soldiers guarding the fort another fifty reserve, for any emergencies, but there was not a single being here.
What was stranger was the fact there were no signs of conflict, the huge wooden gate that protected Herrandian from the wastelands was intact and securely locked as usual. The heavier weapons and armour, the soldiers decided to not wear when there wasn’t an inspection or trouble, where still there.
Even a few meals had just been left. Which was not unusual for typical soldiers who had been called to an emergency, but a reserve would be left to guard the fort and they would have eat or cleared away the meals. Besides if the guards had left there would be tracks leading away from the fort and there weren’t any or was there?
Votex started to move the locks from the fort gate to see if the guards had marched out to meet invading barbarians in the wasteland. Using his abilities as a knight he easily lifted the metal lock up of its joints.
“YOU!” a voice shouted from behind.
Votex spun to find a dozen or so fort guards standing their ready. He immediately dropped the metal shaft back down onto its joints.
“Who are you? And what are you doing here?” the tallest and most senior looking said.
He had to be the fort head guard but surely he would recognise the armour of a knight of the forth. Votex stood to his full height
“I am Votex Garando a Knight of the Forth, once a student of the academy of Herrandian, why did you leave your post?”
Votexs words were spoken with all the authority he was able to put into them. The head guard was taken back at first but then he regained his composure
“I am .... Nyron Hepertise commander of the fort I left my post because I had good reason to leave now, why are you here?” the head guard demanded.
Votex was about to reply when he noticed that the rest of the guard had appeared on either side of him. They stood just far enough away not to be noticed by a normal soldier but Votex wasn’t a normal soldier. He eyed Nyron and chose his words very carefully
“I was meeting here with the rest of my companions I thought ......”
Nyron jumped in before Votex could finish “Then why where you opening the fort gate?” Nyron barked.
“I was looking for tracks I was worried there had been an attack when I saw the fort was deserted I thought that my companions had marched out to fight” Votex protested.
“LIAR!” Nyron shouted his voice filled with outrage.
“Your here to sabotage the fort, you’re a spy for the barbarians” Nyron accused.
Votex was stunned by Nyron’s claim, he tried to speak but words wouldn’t form in his mouth, it was if someone was chocking him, making him unable to breathe.
“KILL THE SPY” Nyron ordered to his guards.
As soon as the order was heard all the guards behind Nyron and to the sides of Votex where unleashed on him, like a pack of savage dogs.
The fort Guards surrounded Votex, attacking like a pack, one at a time, not going for the kill but waiting until Votex tired. He fought them back again and again each one darting in from different angles attacking and then darting back out. A guard darted in from behind Votex slashing low for his legs Votex managed to jump over the guards attack but this guard didn’t dart back out but stayed to fight.
The guard hacked and slashed at Votex feeling for a weakness in his defence. He attacked high then moved to low attacks with such grace and speed Votex was forced to just defend. The guards movements blurred into one as his attack pace quickened and his strikes became more ferocious. Votex was horrified; he was being beaten back by a mere soldier, a guard of the fort.
Votex decided enough was enough.
He called on his abilities as a knight of the forth his armour changing from a dull steel to a gleaming white colour. The markings that where once faded now stood out in a light blue. The guard backed away immediately frightened by the change.
Votex smiled, now it was his turn. He dived at the guard moving we a speed that was unmatched by anyone who wasn’t a knight. His sword was just a blur of movement as he attacked. He dove under the swing off the guard rolling around the back and holding on one knee before slicing off the guard’s right leg.
The guard feel to the ground but didn’t make a sound. A black liquid gushed from his open wound. Votex steeped back shocked, suddenly the guard changed and was no longer human it was a creature. It was much taller than the guard had been. Around eight feet tall its whole body was very muscular. Its skin was a dark blood red colour. It tuned its head and faced Votex its black eyes bore into him. Its sharp teeth bared and a sound, similar to wolf growling, came from its mouth.
Votex was attacked by the other guard creatures that had surrounded him. They bit and tore at his armour ripping it from his body, so they could get at his tender flesh; they devoured his skin while he still lived. He could taste the metallic taste of his own blood, which covered his face and body. He felt the life ebb out of him as he lost more blood and the hungry creatures tore more of his flesh away. He felt his eye lids grow heavy and fought hard to keep them open but it was too late. Darkness took hold of him and Votex Garando, the great knight, died.