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Dark Ages x Dark Fantasy

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a part of Blackheilm, by AtraLamia_Darkbane.


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Atra'Lamia Darkbane [0] "There will be neither empathy or leniency; Nor amity, reconciliation nor comfort For those who embrace the stars yet still do not believe."

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The Rise of Winter, The Fall of Fiends


Mɪɴᴇ ɪs ᴛʜᴇ ʙʀᴇᴀᴛʜ ᴛʜᴇ ᴡᴀʀʀɪᴏʀ·s ʜᴇᴇᴅ. Aᴛ ɴɪɢʜᴛғᴀʟʟ; ᴍɪɴᴇ ᴛʜᴇ sᴘᴇʟʟs ᴛʜᴀᴛ ɢᴜɪᴅᴇ﹐ ᴛʜᴇ ᴅᴇᴀᴅ ᴛᴏ ᴛʜᴇ ᴡɪɴᴛᴇʀs· ᴍᴏᴏʀ. I ᴀᴍ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴍᴇssᴇɴɢᴇʀ﹐ ᴡʜᴏsᴇ sᴜᴍᴍᴏɴ ᴄᴏɴᴠᴇɴᴇs ᴅᴀʀᴋ ᴡᴀʀʟᴏᴄᴋ﹐ ʙᴀɴɪsʜᴇᴅ ʟᴏʀᴅ﹐ ᴍᴀʀᴋᴇᴅ ᴡɪᴛᴄʜ ᴀɴᴅ ᴡʜɪᴘ﹣ғʟᴀʏᴇᴅ ᴛʜʀᴀʟʟ﹣ ᴛᴏ ᴄᴏɴsᴘɪʀᴇ﹐ ᴀᴍɪᴅ ᴛʜᴇ ᴍᴀᴅɴᴇss ᴘᴏᴜʀᴇᴅ.

The vast armies of Blackheilm, marshalled by Atra'Lamia, had cut a massive curtailment through the 'Renegade Kingdoms' that had risen up against the Imperial prominence's. Along with its connecting Northern realms during the high winter, several decades ago. Vesting mortal Ayenee troops, lead by the Sword of Ayen in conjunction with suasive thaumaturgy. Through every succession, all opposition succumbed and fell to the ravening swords of Blackheilm and Darkbane since the first bloody campaign; the imminent invasion of the ancient and ignoble tribes of Lower Rhydin.

The causatum of the final clash had seen the methodical slaughter of the Gabranth Imperial ilk, the torturous persecution and execution of every loyal devotee to their banners. Throughout each season and the following laborious months, additional empires and satrapies were gradually overthrown by the might of the combined Chaos and Shadow legions, commanded by Atra and the fearsome and unswerving loyal battle-lord's Mephi'sax Cinderbane and Eladron Plaguewrithe. Mephi’sax, the Cinderbane Imperial son to the 'Throne of Ash' and a Chaos Lord of ill-repute. Plaguewrithe, a Fiend-Lord of sublime brutality whom many believed to be possessed by a demon-spirit from the bowels of the bottomless Abyss.

Bolstered by their conquests, and the expansion of their dark dominion, the hordes of Blackheilm began the incursion into the lands of the Northern Tribes, beginning with the grim and brooding territories south of the glacial Kingdoms. The rugged fatherland of the warlike clans which had been recently united into a resilient territory dominated by the influential Overlord Cormath-Vuzathal, a Rhydin fiend renowned to allies and rival’s alike as the Devil of the North. Outnumbering the Ayenee forces five to one. Presumptuous that Ayenee and her supporting banners, now given the appellation- (in the Northern Lands, and common tribe tongue) the dreaded Salmuh'Ekallim hordes, as nothing of no immediate threat, permitting their march unopposed through their lands, while preparing a barbaric strike beyond the Mountain Kingdoms to the West.

Cormath-Vuzathal swore that a searing flood of blood and iron shall befall all who deign to pass ill-favoured. Goading their typical threats of war upon his territories. Another grim autumn’s end slowly yielded to winter, the Chaos Hordes began their debouch Northwards. News of the advance of Western Ayenee forces into frost-bitten Ciocladin Vale's, the basin known for centuries as the Ice-Gate to the Northlands, gripping the highland strongholds of Vuzathal. Grimly, Cormath taking up sword and rune-carved yew-spear, donning the blue woad of war. Vowing that this foreign woman with the all the seductions of Hyblaean beauty. This Hellish War-Witch shall forfeit in blood, every distance dared ventured across these snow-covered hallowed lands. Soon information was delivered by a heavily cloaked faceless sleuth in fur, that the invader's bivouac was situated at the base of the valley, preparing to march with the shadows of dusk.

Court soothsayers foreseeing ravines overflowing with blood and unspeakable carnage. Despite the foreboding warnings of doom and atrophy. To the thunderous clang of battle horns, great runes were cast and eldritch spells woven as Cormath-Vuzathal lead the Ciocladin Beserker's and Northlander's into the foggy, lunar-swathed, quagmires. Fading sunlight chases the horizons with behemoth shadows and flames of crimson; twilight perspires and the darkness arrived like infernal steam entrapped by the spectral aurora- draped from zenith to earth, like an arras in the lofty chamber of Gods.

Folklore oft mentioned the blood of many Gods, Devils and unearthly beasts had blessed the dark earth of the valley over the generations, Cormath promised their War Gods that the snows will again know the blood of their foes. With unnatural borrowed stealth… silently the masses brooded within the teeth of shadows and below the langorous moon. Knowing that whatever the conclusion, these hours of darkness shall see another legend of war written in blood, and the bitter end of men. A legend none shall disregard...pity it was just another battle preceding the scores of many others that lay waste to the phantoms of the past.

Death Blooms Over Fields Of Snow

Aɴᴅ ᴛʜᴇ ᴛʜɪʀsᴛ ᴏғ ᴛʜᴇ ᴇᴀʀᴛʜ sʜᴀʟʟ ʙᴇ ᴀᴘᴘᴇᴀsᴇᴅ ʙʏ ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴍᴀᴅʀᴇᴘᴇʀʟ ғɪᴇʟᴅs ᴏғ ᴄᴀʀɴᴀɢᴇ...​

"O' Northen Gods of War, grant us, this night... smear us with red rain, feed our steel with slaughter. Let every blow be a killing blow, grant us victory, or a mighty death. I'll carve the runes of Death in their flesh in your honour, as destruction churns the storms!"

Weapons dusted with gem-frost glistened under the light of the night made colder by the vast moon veiled in a ghostly gossamer. Swirling mists concealed them well enough to the naked eyes of a mortal man, but not those so gifted beyond the threads that wove life and death as jewels upon a necklace of oblivion- "Sword fodder", mellifluously Atra whispered referring to the creeping warriors gathering along the edges of the valley. She spoke into the entwined darkness and frosts, where in opposition they remained concealed on the vale embankments flanking the low hill pass: antithesis… wolves in wait.

For the briefest of moments, as if the fogs parted upon the biding of Cormath. Gleaming black eyes peering through the wolf-like helm of burnished Mirthril, down the valley scathingly towards the gathering of the 'Salmuh’Ekallim' army. Gauntlet curling into a massive fist that cradled the apex of armoured chin, he studied the structure of the encampment. Great black waterskin tents arranged strategically upon the ice-whelmed wastes, shimmering like the oceans from the light of countless burning golden cauldrons in fantastical shapes of all manner of unspoken beast. Powerful steeds tethered, many warriors standing, weapons in hand... "Aye, all sword fodder", echoed a graven tenor. A voice that was unmistakably male, but one that barely could be considered, human but Cormath only spoke aloud the words which infiltrated through the vespers of his mind.

Then, like a black wave surging over the highland precipice, the ashen plane lay thick to the peytral of black warhorse barding, reminiscent of a beleaguering sinister sea, in violent hoarfrost churn. Stallions carving a path in avalanche-like proportions. Armour refulgent with an ermine pall in the capture of the argent-fire on rune-infused mithril; casting death-moon reflections. Spectral-tendrils of their breath, harsh-spiced and spine-tingling, billowing through metallic cryomantic jaws like the fiend's of the barrens. Stygian-black mesh, obscured beneath the cloaked darkness of their ancestral furs, either adorned with hex-envenomed axe, hammer, spear and blade. In thunderous loom, the first rank collided in a piercing, jarring oeuvre.

"You all shall reap the harvest of spilled entrails, we'll claim many heads this night!" Blizzard, silver-sheathed lowlands and winds had shielded Atra'Lamia and her men well, they had no use for meagre spells and arcane conjurations when nature itself belligerently provided all… {wrath}…{ reckoning}…{subterfuge}. With one gauntlet-hand holding chains, and the other, a clenched gloved-fist risen to signal a silent standstill, having halved the Blackheilm and Darkbane legions long before the others had entered the Northern Glades. Electing a harsh terrain of passage in order to waylay the Vuzathal and Ciocladin Highlanders from behind. Even the Battle-Warg's strained at warded harnesses. Taut were the leathers, threatening to snap them at any given moment.

Glossy-obsidian black fur besprinkled by wan-tempest, ruffled sadistically from the talon-caress of the howling wind, revealing heinous soulless twin-lanterns, burning-mercurial furnaces (tapetum lucidum) reflecting every foul horror bequest to mankind. Avidly eager for the kill, just as the querulous war-clash ricocheted throughout the mountains… and the first drop of vitae was spilled. No sooner had the copperish-sweet scent permeated nostrils, impatiently they flared. Snorting back with a hankered inhalation which caused maws to spread wide in hellish contempt revealing multitudes of elongated whet-plated canines sodden with humid saliva.

The halo of black around Atra's head, features concealed behind the macabre grin of plumed helm. Ravenesque cascades flowed over bodice touched by shadowy fen-fires, before writhing around ordained scalemesh armoured bodice, ebony brocaded leather limbs bejewelled with black gold cuffs and opulent pleochroic jewels in anathemic hues. Exposing the armed feminine stature of an impossible sylphlike figure; the very embodiment of deathly beauty girded for battle astride the Dreadstead juggernaut. Ebony mane streaming in the violent affections of the blizzard, charred flames licking along the edge of muzzles as it abruptly grunted. Inhaling back the acerbic winds that carried its interest.

A high-pitch nickering escaped from the decayed wreathes of inhalation, heat hitting the coldness loitering on every claws of boiling storm causing a hissing resonance when fetters were liberated from their mistresses grasp. Battle-Warg's to lead the charge just as the carnyx, 'The Horn of Battle' rang across the valley, accompanied by the full voice of war chants and obscenities, in tactical demoralization, to overawe the lesser noble Northen heathens. Both the Cinderbane and the Plaguewrithe positioned one at either side equipped themselves with their chosen tools of death, enriched by the potency of age-old spells woven into the gruelling forging process, consecrated by the effluvia of diabolical philtres then blessed by fire and tempest.

They were the first amongst the charge, as the skies from behind the circling forces were lit with an uncanny verdant sickly flame. Every muscle and tendon of Battle-Warg, flexing into the strain that tightened the leathers- found their liberation at the release of chain to collar, compelling them to attack. To gorge on the festering carcasses of war, that offered a wide banquet to creatures of nightmares' tide… those that flew, scuttled, slithered and crept, all the visible and corporeal nightmares of these arctic and barren wildernesses rife with the exiled Lord's and King's that were once banished, yet now granted amnesty.

Pouring out from the fen’s in a staggering horizontal Phalanx formation in swift pace, both Warg and Warhorse thundering across the stark plains. Harbinger battle-cries screaming through the condensing mists… withdrawing elaborate shaft of ensorcelled battle-axe from its saddled sheath, Atra's gloved hand flexed firmly around it lifting it so the cruel moonlight grinned against the esoteric steel. By Dreadstead's celerity it powered in front of the other vessels of war, grunts of exertion pluming vines of frost and glowing effulgence into the oncoming elements. Whirlwinds of dark spittle fired out from nostrils and another whinny escaped, this one different, it was enough to shatter iron and ice in an explosion of crystal and fiendish reflection, cacophonous in deafening chaos.

Rising high upon hooves, shanks straining from the weight shifting to hinds, full weight sustained to the back of the barded mounts form, then lunging into a powerful stride into the trembling gloom. Knee joints bent in the surge of its pace, hooves digging at the clashing elements though they rode upon the mists in ghostlike appearance, hoof slashing fiercely just before the power in his hocks leaping forward. "To the ruin of all the wars of time, to plunge with clangor of timeless cataracts adown the gulfs eternal, to seek those familiar shades of Death!!" Front-rankers in stampede hammered into the attacking forces with deadly precision and in continuous strike.

Juggernaut lowered its shaffron festooned head, so that the hook of its neck was pinned hard towards the instep of black crest and tarnished silver plates rusted with blood. Swiftness aimed against the wind and even though the lashes of sword and polearm were naught but dull bites, the mount welcomed the pain of it. Impaling the careless soldiers on the pinnacles of spike and hooked fang. A rampant monster roaring for its glut. Fiery crests of saffron-streaming behind the abysmal stallion with an animated fury, the ever-twisting, flame licking the flurry of snow-storm.

Surrounded at all sides by mountains crowned with glacial luminosity, great rings of stones, black beneath the stars, leaving no means for realistic retreat. Those seemed to loom over the broken scapes of the encampment now a slaughter ground of clashing steel and the screams of those fallen to limbless decline. Manoeuvring aside sword-thrust and the cleave of roaring hammer, having dismounted beast and watching with a darkened glee as it devoured warrior and giant alike with necromantic maw. Atra smited herds of men, stumbling forward then compelled back, only able to take small mincing steps in order to avoid a certain death. Most trying just to keep their feet due to the crushing pressure of the frontlines.

War songs in varied deep breathless, glutteral pitch, the old tongue greeted their weapons, "Raise thine steel to the ravened skies, the bloodying is at hand. Rejoice in your wounds." Sung in the ambiance , a curse of humiliation to the bleeding and the weak screaming in the darkness. Still, Cormath and the more adept of his men moved with unearthly swiftness and fierce grace through the crashing throng- forces around them increasing and decreasing in parallel formation, some regiments gaining ground, while others from the same horde lost ground, moving backwards and forwards, undulating… resembling ocean waves against the jaggered peaks of midnight crags.

An enemy blade opening the shoulder of Cormath-Vuzathal to the bone, in vehement rejoinder, the Overlord swept his 'Dark Reaver' enamored sword out in a deadly arc, its iron head rending armour and biting deep into abdominal flesh. Eladron Plaguewrithe's abdomen yawning open, staggering back as blackish intestines spewed forth from the gaping orifice in a throbbing, slithering pile. Virgin snow stained crimson. Lastly, sundering head from trunk with another devastating blow, a writhing, shadowy amorphous smoke-like form rose from the smitten corpse, fleeing shrieking into the embittered elements.

Blood dripping from frost-encased axe blade, forming a crimson blossom upon the ice... attention thus promptly set on the one towering over the fragments of her Warlord. Cimmerian eyes narrowing, glowing with a fiendish, eldritch malevolence giving a high-pitched whistle to gain Cormath's attention, then gestured with gauntlet to come-hither. No honourable warrior ever attacked a man from behind, unless they were a Northern-dog, that is. In calm calculated swiftness, directly engaged into the melee of blade against axe. Skeggox, axe-head competently trailing lower blade edge, cleaving power catching the edge of the Ciocladin steel every time it was frivolously thrust or swung to seek accolade of flesh and blood. Entwined blade by axe, forcing blade to pass only to proficiently and accurately sweep in flashing silver towards the man's neck, forcing him to step backwards while already in momentum circling above head to come down towards shoulder in reckoning strength.

Sword returning to parry blade, only to be met with the twixt of rune-enforced handle taking the full brunt of the swing. A frustrated rumble echoed from behind the helm, every attempt averted by a skill similar to his own yet more refined and callous. Blunt end of axe coming around to thrust against torso, might into the compel enough to knock a mortal man off his feet. Eldritch empowered plenilunal-mithril steel impacting hellacious damage on the sword blade itself in brilliant sparks of luminescent vitality. Deciding to execute a manoeuvre that, whilst primarily easy, held far more meaning than Cormath could know. Keeping a wary eye upon the blade yielded, having tested the warrior's strength and alertness, Atra advanced in a calculated guile.

Circumnavigating smoothly and skilfully to the left flank of impending perforation only passing her waist, exploiting the warrior’s bulk against, utilizing an pivoted nimbleness that, potentially caught Atra's opponent by astonishment. Descending in a victorious diagonal arc driving the undeviating edge of 'bit' between the shoulder blades of Cormath. Sinking its blade deep, possessing an appetite similar to the wraith suffocating the hapless soul. Capable of 'sucking out the shadow', energy or essence- transmogrify in necrotic blight … a slit into a fatal infliction, and minor gashes into ravines that had felled yesteryear Gods, Devils and Fiends. Sword was spun backwards and thrust shallow between the joints of mesh and leather.

Right boot rising to mid-back, kicking him forwards into the powered frost, dislodging weapon and his own sword from her now wounded side. Gauntlet hand covering the wound as near black ichors spilled over the polished silver. Wanting to witness the ember's of eyes dim with the cessation of existence, gauntlet hand unhinged visor to reveal flawless statuesque features and in turn the horrified eyes behind helm, and black blood-splattered lips that attempted to utter some word… perhaps even a name. Nevertheless its insignificance warranted an cold and emotionless silence. Canting head to the side, while leaning on the blunt of handle, indulging in the revelation of just how quickly that life-shadow was waning… wilting before her very eyes.

Despite the wound that seeped in torrents, and the feverish realization that his blade too bore its venom's. Pushing weight from leaning position to then move, kicking the sword away from grasp so that it was lost forever- buried in the snow. Astride where Cormath then lay, one boot harshly resting against chestplate, pinning him down. Another cough of oil-like ichors trickled through burnt iron followed by a gurgled chuckle, "You are to be congratulated… on your ability." Bemused and disorientated as other words bled through the blossoming streams of Phlegethon wines. Choking out in brews of inky-red... "Dattirvarh…."

Discourse that inspired the wane of gloating smirk, and even the pallor of moonstone flesh to a deathly sallow… "Your words of deceit shall not be heard here! My steel is whet and thirsting for your life-ichors... aye, and with my dying breath … I'll spit defiance in your face!" Aphotic veins snaked twixt metal-clawed digits like night-sky come to snow. On polar days when even the halls of Hellisdalr were illuminated by the brash sun blazing white and pure with a dreadful coldness from a pearly azure-tinted heaven. Wintered blood welling over wrist, kissing the aurumate design of Cormath’s armour with soft wet drips.

Before given another chance to speak such despicable lies through iron and blood, ascended in upright strike, discreetly curved inwards before vigorously bringing it slamming downwards, shattering helm in two separate halves, and the skull within noticeably parting to spill its spongy carnal matter sluiced forming a macabre halo around its remnants. The shocked expressions of Northern warrior having seen the face of their leader's nemesis- Atra'Lamia stood poised there, staring upon the collage of who was celebrated as the Great Fiend of the North. Drawing back the ichor that flavoured palate and spitting on the remains, returning back to the fray of war, unappeased.

The use of the spear no longer viable except for those of Atra's forces on the outskirts relentlessly pushing inwards. Opponent and adversary no more than a nose away. Having no other choice than to reach for a weapon that can be easily accessed to great effect, a large or even a medium sword would now put a man at a disadvantage, with the opponent pushing up applying pressure, making it exceptionally difficult to unsheathe anything but a dirk, bayonet dagger or short sword. Resilient men perished to the dance, while the rest having lost their leader, pararrhexis embraced the enemy lines faltering at the back due to those attempting to escape back into the foothills, leading to a clear route to eradicate, the rest of the army seeing their countrymen flee also took after them, breaking down their own structured formations.

To the wandering curr who fled the field and their banners diminishing to the knives of the glass-splintered storms, immediately were hunted down, dragged and forced to their knees before Atra'Lamia. Tugging ebony-wolven furs' around svelte physique, relishing in the gnawing terror of wolf devouring whatever morsels remained of their Vuzathal brethren. Summoning a surviving warrior with sanguine gauntlet deteriorating to rust due caustic libations. Ushering unto him, two gifts with which to return to his people; one, the fallen, sundered banner of the Ciocladin tribes, the other… the cloven head of their Overlord.

Her words rung out over the blood-drenched wasteland in insidious, sneering lilt: "Take this message back to your fatherland, to your Crimson Emperor. If ever again he deigns to strike against us again, the slaughter this night will seem as naught compared to the havoc I shall visit upon him then." Turning to signal another, a young lad wearing the colours of the Lord sworn fealty to. Dispatching message by carrion wing, to the Ayenee kingdoms of their temporary success, and the pending return of its able men. Already the wounded were being gathered, and the unfortunate too mortally wounded sent to the glorious bedimmed halls of Hellisdalr where they would drink once more with their brother's and father's.

Tallying for moments longer only to watch the Death-pyre flames sunder the starless night with their serpentine, hungry tongues. No prisoners had been taken, or spared- given the most honourable end deserving of a coward defecting their own positions and banners. Skinless their disemboweled and headless bodies had been strewn across the valley, unworthy of even the ghoul to pick at the remains or suckle on their worthless bones. Cormath, was not even granted the respect of resting place, festooning in grotesque visceral exhibition; like a crucified coat of arms in blood-raven design. Burning flesh travelling far aloft carnivorous shivering zephyrs.

Mesmerized in a moment of inner reflection, or the fever that doused porcelain brow, gently stirred by the soft reproach of concern, causing perceptions to shift from the trinket around wrist, to the heather-haired weary facade of a mature and aged sentry whim had been close during names spoken and secrets shed. "Mi'Lady?" Two of her closest had perished this eve, perhaps the realization of it had for a moment trickled through the typically shown dead-pan, emotionless expression. Vikor, forever had this irritating knack to appear from out of nowhere, fluttering about concerns and gestures that appeared almost motherly in nature. Disturbingly so. Usually there would be some exchange of few sarcastic words, but this night. Concerns quietened with a boreal glance, and dead-expression as she took a single step, passing by fluidly leaving nothing but the wake of heavy cloak in cortege within the snowfall.