Leo, the title passed from one great warrior to another in Zodiac through the ages for near two hundred years, only those who proved themselves worthy had held the name.
The likes of the legendary Finnon Braggan the red lion who saved the realm at the battle of red snow against the invading forces of the Ocean empire.
And the great Allios Cet the lady of the stone, who saved the life of king Lir the second during the ten battles of the three islands when crushing the presumptuous pirate king, Edward green. Like all other legends who bore the title before or after them, they fought and died with pride.
Those were the heights that Ulfhild Freya had aimed for since she was old enough to understand their legends. While the members of her legendary and old house had served within Zodiac as Scorpio's and Sagittarius, none had donned the helm of the great lion.
When she had, Dia, when she received it after five years of hard work as a military officer constantly throwing herself into the worst fighting in order to prove her worth, battle after battle she scared both her body and mind. The twenty one year old Ulfhild was proud beyond measure, perhaps more than she had ever been pleased in her entire life.
But leading in an organization like Zodiac wasn't easy, she had been taught that lesson brutally. She had a scar to show for it.
" There are no hero's here girl, so be quick to removing those childish notions from your mind " Lady Nimue had been right when she told her that, if only she had known what donning the title of Leo meant.
Ulfhild shook her head from those old hells and she turned to her new ones. Upon her mount she had cut a bloody path through the Avalonian lines with what was left of her men all heading for the iron mountain that was now blanketed in shadows.
Many of her fellow warriors had fallen to the Imparetor of the military outpost. She shuddered as she thought about the old man who had become a living storm as he tore through some of the greatest warriors she had led. He terrified her just as much as those malformed shadows that she was to meet.
She knew these shadows well enough, Zodiac had fought numerous incursions in the past. What she couldn't understand was where they came from, but it didn't matter much. It was an advantage to take her enemy knocked off his game and she took it.
The battlefield around them raged on and she could feel herself falling into the static tranquil state that all warriors fell into during battle.
To her side she heard one of her riders shouted out in pain and terror as a lance from an Avalonian knight found itself past their shield and into the slits of the helm.
Ulfhild flinched when she heard the sickening sound of steel parting flesh and blood filling the helm in mere moment's before the dead knights body slipped off his mount.
But she could not, she would not stop her charge up the mountains slop. No matter how many of her countrymen and women she saw fall. She had to complete the mission, she had to make it mean something.
"A Soldiers pride is in their duty " she thought remembering the words her parents had beaten into her head.
To stop the mission even with fallen men was unacceptable. Her parents had taught her that and most of all Zodiac under lady Nimues firm if not cold hand.
"This is what it truly means to be a Leo, the younger me would despise me " she almost grimly smiled as she thought about her old beliefs of what truly meant to be a Leo.
"Die invader!" She heard a enemy knight shout as he came leaping out of the woods with a morning star mid swing for her helmet.
Her great blade, that she had named Pride, for her once great hubris took his head off with a single clean slice through flesh and steel. Her blade was ancient, forged from Mor-Armag by the great dragon itself.
It had once been known as the blade Drake-Flame when it's original owners the Ogfelf family possessed it. But that family was no more and the Freya family owned the majestic blade that prevailed against anything short of high quality metal or greater enchantments.
She didn't stay long to look upon the dead knight. She had a mission, a poisoned chalice that needed only little sips and not foolishly drunk whole. That was the duty of the young and foolish, like her sister.
"You fought for your home in the face of death, die with that honor " she thought though those words were as hollow as sand in her mouth.
She was the invader here, the aggressor, the villain. In her old childhood stories she was the foe that Finnon the red lion and Allios the lady of stone town, would cut down to protect the innocent.
But Zodiac had taught her that she was no hero. How many times had she walked knee deep in the blood of thousands from the copper mountains to the islands upon the western oceans, all for the crime of wishing their freedom from their conquers, be it her people or the Ocean lords.
The fires that had consumed the city of Strokling still warmed her flesh and mind. She would never forget the sight of the dead eyes looking at her, from both the corpses and her own men at the time.
"But if you dont fight you die. We have started too many fights, our foes would see us standing down and they would strike with their fury. It would be either them or us, a necessary evil has to be reached" she thought remembering the reasoning that the king had given Zodiac for the necessary evil.
She once again shook that memory again as her sword was wetted in more and more blood of the defenders of Avalon who would be missing an arm from now on.
In time they reached the dark cloud that engulfed the top of the mountain upon which they could find the Prince.
The Avalonian prince, she remembered him well. He had given her sister a scar like she had received her own and he had also slain lady Nimue. She knew that it would not be an easy victory to overpower him and he was needed alive and in enough of a state that the Avalonians wouldn't launch attacks out of pure anger.
As her and her party neared the thick dark purple cloud and she could already feel a nauseous feeling in her gut that made her legs feel like jelly. She was most thankful that she had her great lion helm to hide her fear, it would do her riders no good to see her weak in the knees and drenched in sweat.
"Rider's, brace yourselves!" She ordered and a few of them in the back loudly complained, not that Ulfhild could blame them, they were plunging head first into filth.
She took one last big deep breath before plunging forward into the thick musty cloud with her mount. The touch of the cloud was cold and so unearthly that it made her skin crawl.
She could see nothing and she refused to breath in these foul fumes. As she blindingly rode forward with only the sounds of the hooves of her riders to tell her that they were coming with her, though their true number she had lost as they fled the city and many within their company had lost their lives to the defenders.
The plumes of darkness were so cold to the touch that she did nothing but shiver upon her mount as it carried her deep. By the time that she had thankfully crossed through it her flesh was cold and hard like some kind of stone found within the fridged northern mountains.
The city upon the mountain was touched by battle as well, though it wasn't battle brought by them. The twisted abominations that they knew as the children of the night brought ruin upon this city in great masses.
So many of their kind polluted both the earth and the skies from flying monsters to others that looked like men but were more beast like.
Ulfhild had fought against these things before and she would be a fool if she didn't fear them. This worry was lessened when she saw Avalonian knights fighting against the beast's with a frenzy.
A knight with a great mace cracked open the head of a Cusith, another unleashed a torrent of red hot flames that burnt hundreds of Shadow Walkers to mere nothingness. The knights weren't alone as men and women who weren't knights or soldiers bravely joined them in the fray.
"What do we do Leo?" Aries or Brandon asked as he looked at the creatures with a burning hatred behind his eyes.
"Focus on the mission" she ordered him and she couldn't help but understand the look of disappointment upon his face.
If anyone knew Brandon well enough they would know how justified his hatred for those things was. But she didn't need rouge behavior from him right now.
"Forgive me my friend, the chalice is tempting but we must not drink of it " she thought as her hand tightened around the hilt of her blade.
"Of course Leo" he said though with clear resentment in his voice.
"Thank you Aries, i am sorry. But you can kill them if they get in our way" she said to him with a grin that he would not see but his smile was visible to her.
Kicking the side of her mount and the mount reared before galloping forward. As she rushed into the fresh ruins of the city her blade cut through all of the children of the night she found in her way.
The world was soon a blur as her sword cut and cut through the children of night. The tranquillity of battle ended when something big and blue shot passed her like a lightning bolt and flew into a building that collapsed from the impact.
"What was... Oh Dia have mercy" one of her men screamed out as he looked from which the blue thing had come.
Her mouth went open but no sound came out as she watched the writhing mass pulling itself towards them. It's many mouths howled in pain, it's many limbs both great and small were grasping for anything that they could grab and feed to it's mangled, illformed teeth.
"Deus be good, is that..." a knight of Avalon who she recognized as the fighter from the Nexus with lightning and the giant war hammer declared just as horrified as her troops.
"A Lich, a lost soul that has willingly given itself to the touch of the night" she said as she watched the creature with both disgust and pity as she tried to think about what drove this fool to sell their own soul to the void.
" Var-Freya, what do we do?" Someone asked her from behind.
Ulfhild didn't know, she couldn't know. She had a mission and that is what only mattered. But the sight of a Lich, an abomination that was a threat not just to them and their men back but by also the innocent civilians passing around them.
She watched as a group children ran around screaming from a pile of ruble that they had hidden behind. Her body acted without her thought's and she charged forward with her sword ready to be something that the younger Ulfhild would have been proud of.
"A fool i am drinking this chalice " she thought as she met the Lich in battle.
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I am a 21 year old law school student at the National Institute of Public Administration. My dream is to one day publish my story phantom ddriag and hopefully get a show made from it.
I also have a youtube account that hundels web fiction content, here is the link https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCFz-mHywXBJnLF8uyofcLAw/videos