A short character prologue a friend asked me to do in 2008 since I’ve been told I write up really cool fight scenes. The world is set in the land of Tyria featured in the MMORPG Guild Wars. I believe her characters still exist, though she hasn’t played for quite some time. This also spawned a spin off where I started writing a story about the main antagonist, which hopefully i’ll finish in my lifetime, at least before Guild Wars 2 comes out, which I’ve heard was November 2011…
The rain came down harder. Thunder rumbled the countryside and yet the footfalls of the enemy drew near with clear resonance. For almost a millennia, no utterance of their coming was heard.
The Charr were returning.
Ezrah steadied herself, her mind sharpened with the hidden energies that she’d long set aside in precedence of family. But as the protection well was soon coming to a close, she would need to summon the strength to hold the enemies off. Protecting the children was tantamount. The familiar musky scent breezed from behind her, but the howls of the forest wolves were heard long before their arrival. The nature spirits had heeded their call, mustering several dozen packs to their aid. For a moment there was relief in that a favourable outcome would be present. But that all changed when just a scant few shadows emerging from the tree line tripled, and tripled again. What seemed like a small scouting party, was in reality a sizeable battalion. Glinting, menacing eyes stared back at them for only a moment, and then it came.
The battle roar.
Jelena stiffened as the roar echoed through the valley, but it was small in comparison to the stampede of fang and claw around her as the wolves charged immediately. With a firm resolve and steady aim, she fired her first shot from her dead father’s bow.
The clash was immediate, gnarling claws and crude blades of war struck hard and angry. Eruptions of blood, merely seen as dark drizzle in the wet, harsh night only fuelled the battle lust on both sides. Although the wolves were there, honour bound to protect the humans, the Charr were there for the enjoyment. Amid the flurry of fur, a blade as tall as a man swept through the defence as if it were mere paper. Ghort Stormblade was hunting for bigger prey.
Nine feet tall, hunched and armour clad, Ghort Stormblade was one of the fiercest warriors ever to arise in the ranks of the Charr armies. Having no taste for power, the satisfaction of the hunt was all he needed, and that was all the shaman needed to carve him into a great hero that the Legions needed. As he cut a swath of destruction through the wolves, he made his way towards the necromancer.
After her first shot, Jelena acted on instinct alone. Her first power-shot had pierced the eye of an oncoming warrior, the force so strong it had reeled the Charr warrior backwards. It was dead before it hit the ground. Her Second Barrage, a technique her father taught her once, but still had yet to master, struck two Charr, dazing them for a moment, but long enough for a pack of wolves to overcome them and rip them to pieces. Pausing for a split second, she glanced over to her mother. Eerie green fury spat from her mother’s hands, corroding and decaying anything they hit. Jelena smiled, but deep down, she knew the smile was forced. Hunting for another target, she found a head higher than the others and fired.
Ezrah surveyed the intense battle for a brief second. The knotting thought in the back of her mind telling her that at this rate, she and the girls will die. Stemming the tide was all she could do. Even the minions she rose from the fallen corpses, friend and foe alike, held the Charr at bay only for moments. Her power itself was not without sacrifice either. First with her husband Anthon and now with her very own body. The death magic burned her veins and wracked her body as if giant invisible hands slowly squeezed the life out of her. Ezrah coughed up blood and ichor, but she persisted and held fast. But with her muscles tensing to breaking point, it wouldn’t be long. Mustering the remainder of her strength, she called to her patron god.
“Grenth, give me strength.” Halting her attacks, she reached to the sky. “Ezrah ap Niht!” A name she hadn’t uttered in years, not even her family knew that part of her past. Translating loosely to mean ‘Ezrah of the Night’, it was the name she was given in her homeland of Elona, in the service of the God of Death, Grenth.
Ghort arrived to see the necromancer bring her guard down, but he knew how cunning humans could be, especially one that cast dark magic. As he moved forward, an arrow glanced off his shoulder pauldron. He spotted the little mouse that fired the arrow and ignored her. Drawing his sword up, there was a brief expression of satisfaction as he swung the blade down onto Ezrah’s frail form.
Jelena stared in disbelief as the massive sword cleaved her mother from shoulder to sternum. The entire act was enough to freeze her on the spot. Feeling her focus slip, reality itself seemed to just blur everywhere. Numbness set in, and brightness seemed to overcome her vision. Her trance was broken when she hit the ground, pulled down by her sister Amaara. Dazed and smelling a burning sensation, she turned to see a corner of the house was smouldering, where she was standing seconds before. The selfless act could not stir her from the image of her mother however. Turning back, she still saw her mother’s body, attached to the sword as if she was still standing…
The body turned her head and smiled at her daughters. Jelena couldn’t recognise her mother anymore; the body was a skeletal, withered husk, tainted with disease and leathery. The smile was a rictus of teeth, a grin that disturbed the soul. The once full head of long flowing brown hair was now matted, grey and stringy. But it was Ezrah’s eyes that remained that vibrant emerald Jelena had always known. In her mind, she could hear her mother’s calm, soothing voice.
As she saw her daughters run into the darkness, Ezrah turned her attention to the Charr that had almost cleft her in two. The blade, jammed hard and unnaturally into her deathly torso was not some random occurrence. With her decaying form, she looked him straight in the eyes, Grenth revealing the Charr’s soul unto her.
“Ghort…” the necromancer muttered. Ghort was momentarily stunned that the human knew his name, just as equally he was not able to remove his sword from this now rapidly aging corpse. Feeling unseen fingers wrap around him, constricting his movements, he called for help just as Ezrah laid her bony, sickly fingers over his face.
“Ghort!” Ezrah’s voice was no longer her own. A more powerful presence was talking through her. Even the shamans further back felt the chilling night become even colder. Green wisps of energy coursed around Ezrah and Ghort. A crackling sphere of magic slowly encased them.
“Ghort! Klaatu… Barada… Nikto!” with the final breath uttered, a surge of magic coursed through, hitting Ghort in the face. Searing, vile tendrils melted his flesh, putrefying his insides whilst his fur smouldered, hissing from the still raining night. It was an unimaginable agony as his skin and muscles were stripped from the bone, leaving him still alive enough to feel himself coalescing into a new purpose.
A rumbling, more powerful than before like an earthquake of unseen proportions rocked all those locked in battle, giving pause to all those that chose to look at the swirling green energies that occupied the centre of the battlefield. Corpses about, both wolf and Charr alike were drawn towards the energy like a vortex of power. The keen eyes of all saw what was going on, as the sinew, cartilage and bone were being arranged to form armour plates and jagged greaves upon the forms that were both their leader and their enemy. A shadow cast from within, humanoid in shape, it stepped out of the glow as it faded away. Intricate details adorned the newly fashioned armour, a dark, tattered cloak waved slightly in the wind. A cowl, also dark and tattered framed the expressionless, drawn skull face of equine nature. Glowing emerald eyes sent chills down the spines of the strongest of Charr warriors. The haunting death gaze of an Avatar of Grenth.
Three emboldened warriors charged without hesitation towards the new threat, swords and axes held high; they knew numbers would win the day. The Avatar merely glanced in their direction and all three had been separated at the midsection by an elegant bronze scythe. Angered, the rest of the Charr charged into the fray, breaking off from their fights with the wolves. The Avatar, with practiced, precision movements, eviscerated the warriors one by one, dismembered limbs flailing to the mud with wet, disgusting splats. A warrior tried to sneak around whilst his battle brothers were being methodically slain, however a large shard of ice pierced his torso, impaling the Charr to a nearby cliff face like some macabre ornamental toy. The Avatar spun on the spot, slicing through two warriors a half a dozen times, moving onto the next target as they fell to the ground like diced tomatoes.
The remaining Charr shaman called for a retreat. There was no sense in dying to this methodical, unemotional servant of a human god. It wasn’t something he liked, but it had to be done. They needed to report their findings.
The Avatar continued to stalk the Charr, but as fleet footed as the Avatar was, the beasts quickly disappeared from whence they came. Feeling the time on the spell almost ending, it jammed the end of the scythe into the ground, creating a ward to the land. The earth rumbled once more, closing any entrances that may have been created beneath. Frost formed on the blade, and around the Avatar snow fell where once was rain. Green energy crackled, waning as it decreased. A brief pulse of light and then the remains fell to the ground. All that was left was bits of bone and flesh, already quickly rotting away, sinking into the earth as if to return to the domain of Grenth, awaiting their call again. And the scythe, standing ominously like a grave marker.
After a long moment, Jelena approached the scythe. Tentatively she touched the blade. It was stone cold. Her sisters had probably made it over to the barracks residing within the wall, but she opted to stay behind. Jelena had witnessed the entire fight with the Avatar. Her finger traced the unknown inscription on the blade. Mesmerised, she recalled the chilling feeling of necromancy and jerked back, as if burned. Kneeling down, she brought her hands together and prayed for the safe passage of her parents to the afterlife. She prayed to all of the gods, bar one. She could never forgive Grenth for the acts upon her parents. Ever.