Unearthed History

Shadow and Flame

Chapter 1

Two riders race north along the wall through the dead of night, their heavy cloaks soaked with rain. One of them carries an unconscious figure, slumped over the back of his horse. Fighting through their injuries they charge through the muddy fields with fear in their eyes, for they know what chases them…

As they once again glance over their shoulders a roiling cloud of smoke appears through the dense fog. An earsplitting, grating shriek pierces the night and reverberates throughout the countryside as a flame flares up in the middle of the cloud. Blind panic sets in as the riders spur their mounts on faster and faster, far beyond the limits of the exhausted and frightened animals.
Out of the billowing cloud emerges a shadow at great speed. A jet black warhorse with smouldering red veins bursts forth, its mane and hooves burning with dark red flames. Smoke and fire emanate from its frothing mouth and nostrils. Every thundering hoof-beat produces a burst of flame and steam at the creature’s feet, leaving behind deep, smoking hoof-prints in the sodden ground.
A horned figure, wearing a black metallic armour and a long flowing cape that seems to trail ribbons of shadow sits atop the muscled beast, its glare fixed at his quarry in the distance.

The black figure unsheathes a massive, jagged blade that seems to bleed shadows and swallow the light cast by the flaming mane. With another deafening shriek it charges forward with even greater speed.

In the distance, a welcome sight greets the riders as the fires on top of the guard towers of Fort Westergard pierce the night, sparking a glimmer of hope.
“Jon, hurry, do something, we have to lose him,” one of the men shouts. The other rider closes his eyes and mutters an incantation under his breath. “This is all I’ve got left”, he says to his companion, as his mace starts glowing with a light as bright as the sun. The nightmarish figure immediately growls and shields his eyes from the brilliant light, but remains steadfast in his pursuit.

He points the long umbral blade in their direction and utters a single, eldritch syllable. A shadowy tendril reaches for the source of the light and latches on. The light is immediately snuffed out from the mace and its wielder lets out a horrible cry of pain as his very life force seems to be drained into the dark blade. He grips the reins of his horse tightly and forces himself to stay conscious for the last leg of their escape.

A resounding note from a blaring horn pierces the night as the soldiers guarding the fort sound the alarm. Several more lights ignite atop the high defensive walls, as a group of knights on horseback emerge from the large gates.

The shadowy figure suddenly stops his fiery mount in the middle of the road before he gets in range of the defensive forces. Its large hooves dig deep into the mud, producing clouds of steam. He lets out an angry roar that shakes the riders to their core as he glares at the receding riders until they are well out his reach. The hellish steed snorts and neighs as it rears up, casting a flaming silhouette against the darkened night sky. With a final scowling glance the black rider turns around and charges off into the fog, vanishing just as suddenly as it had emerged, leaving only a cloud of black smoke.

The mounted soldiers surround the two riders and guide them beyond the thick, reinforced gate, which closes behind them with a loud thud.

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Malgan Malgan

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