Polymath Redux Annex
Chapter 9 – The divine knights
For the past fifty years ‘Duncan’ had served dutifully as the chief of his village. A miniscule settlement skirting the borders between Xagontetia and their rivalling power of the Baliazoural Empire. War and strife was only a given. From a young age, he had been taught and expected to become an unflinching pillar for his hometown. He knew from the start that ‘greatness’ or ‘adventure’ would not be part of his destiny, yet he was content. He loved this small town and wished to be a part of its history until the day the last plank of wood fell from the last house.
Many people looked up to him as a source of guidance once he had taken over his father’s position. Since then, for the past fifty years, he had lead a strong and prosperous community. Yet, not everything was peaceful. Life on the fringes of their home country’s influence were not without strife, frequent monster attacks and small skirmishes with the neighbouring country were part of life. With the aid of patrolling knights and the town’s healthy militia, these incidents weren’t much of a problem.
His digits now ticking over to his sixties; he understood his time was due. Yet, it had to be now that a great tragedy befell his village. Foreign knights and soldiers- warriors of the Baliazoural Empire- raided into his village wielding weaponry and armour much greater than what their feeble village could muster. They had looks of hesitation, but that did not change the outcome of their actions. They moved in without word or demand and began to cruelly execute the villagers.
Screams and shouts muffled by the sound of blood splatter and roaring fires. Many young ones fell before their savage blade. He, along with the village’s small militia, resisted but it became overwhelmingly clear that they would not hold on for too much longer. As he saw the young ones fall, a sense of guilt spanning as far as the void, encroached upon his heart. The crossbow in his hands shook powerlessly and the bolts he fired missed every target. ‘Does it even matter?’ he started to wonder. Even if they somehow miraculously survived the brutal affair, the countless graves they would have to make would demolish their village from sadness alone.
As his heart sunk deeper into the abyss, in this last, desperate moment, a sliver of hope descended upon them. Knights adorned in pure white, as though they were sent from the heavens themselves, had landed and launched a counteroffensive. Their armour glowed piercing silver even amidst the burning of blood and fire. They illuminated the path they marched and clashed against the knights of the Baliazoural Empire.
A magnificent skirmished played out. Just like the old war stories his father used to recite. Knights adorned in holy flame charged out from the forest, led by a charismatic man in a white mask. The leader was not in armour, dressed elegantly in a long white overcoat over a black suit. Such level of trust and charisma was hard to find even on the battlefield. He leapt first and pointed to the Baliazoural knights, “attack.”
With extremely minimal effort they pushed back the brutal brigands of the Empire. They were made a mockery and a joke. The swords of the empire’s knights clashed and broken upon the mere contact with the holy knights’ shields. One by one, the enemy fell and were cut off from escape.
For the first time in his life, Duncan felt a strange sense of malice. His blood boiled and his hands trembled with just fury. ‘Continue… kill them,’ he wanted to shout but held his breath. He needed to remain a sturdy pillar for the sake of his home. Faltering now would be an insult to those who had died.
A single man had given him that responsibility as he saved the village. The leader of these adamant and glorious paladins, a man whose lean build and smooth complexion gave off the impression of youth. Beneath that mask, ‘probably someone half my age,’ Duncan thought. That said, the way he moved and commanded the holy knights with vigour and charisma revealed much in the way of leadership and talent. There was far more experience behind that slender build than Duncan had in his entire sixty years of existence. ‘Is this the difference between a military commander and a mere village chief?’ he wondered, but couldn’t help but let out a smirk.
Eventually, the Empire’s knights surrendered. They dropped their weapons. From their initial numbers about twenty of them had been ‘taken care of’ in just the opening few seconds. Now only the enemy’s captain and a handful of knights remained with their hands raised high and dignity discarded. The paladin commander stepped forward to confront the enemy captain that had knelt down in defeat along with the rest of his cohorts.
Beside the young commander was a fiery young woman. The look in her eyes as she stared down at the enemy captain sent shivers down the chief’s back. Her fists bursts with flames as they were clenched. She alone took down a considerable number of enemies even without a weapon.
“We surrender… we surrender,” the enemy captain conceded.
The masked, young leader of the paladins remained silent. He carefully observed the captain and then turned his gaze towards the defeated knights behind him. He paced around and carefully inspected the quality of the gear that these knights wore. They were obviously a huge step down from the ones worn by the paladins but still of military grades. Confirming this, the paladin commander finally spoke, “a little excessive if you were just going to be raiding a defenceless village, don’t you think?”
The captain turned his head, his eyes downcast and expression soured. He gritted his teeth before letting out a sigh of defeat. It was not that Duncan could forgive him, but he could faintly understand the frustration. They brought a small company of men to raid a village with military standard equipment, only to somehow surrender. “Tch… just who are you?”
The young commander touched his mask, almost in a gesture as if he would reveal his face, yet decided against it. He cleared his throat as he straightened his back with both hands, “I am Colonel ‘Mordred Daltress… 18th Field Marshal of the ‘Holy Chivalric Order’.”