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A note from Avitue
Spoiler: Content Warning

This section of the second arc will contain a good dose more violence than the previous ones.

“Not much is known about the origins of the Holy Kingdom of Theodinaz, as few historical records from that age survived. The most common belief however, were that the founders of Theodinaz were exiles from the Vitalis Theocracy that had been a power in the Ur-Teros continent over a millenia ago. Whether there is much truth to this belief is unknown, and if they were exiles, considering the highly religious theocracy, they were likely exiled for blasphemy or similar, especially when considering how they crowned their monarch as a God-King.” Albus Weintraub, History Professor.

 

Much of the news that Cal caught from rumors and gossip as she made her way through the orcish lands towards the Xewaur Kingdoms - she had travelled with the Beastfangs back to Gal-Morogh and stayed there for another couple of weeks with her half-brother before she departed - had not painted a pretty picture. The latest information she got from Khal-Est mentioned that open riots had happened multiple times in the southern and eastern regions of the kingdom, and that it was rumored that some of the minor nobles from that area had planned to rebel and secede themselves from the kingdom. The northern area of Knallzog also saw many terrorist acts against the dwarves who lived there, with the responsibility claimed by the human supremacist cult that called themselves “Sons of Theodinaz”. Cal hoped that Helga and her Bronzemanes were fine since they were headed in that direction last she heard.

 

The Orcish clans themselves felt more tense than they had been prior to the gathering, with every clan in preparation for any potential conflict that might occur, and all their able-bodied youths trained further in the ways of a warrior. It was quite obvious that if a war was to erupt in the end, the orcs refused to be caught unprepared, though Cal dearly hoped that it would not come to that, for at least the territories where the cult seemed to hold the most sway were those further away from the orcish lands.

 

It turned out that just because they held the most sway further away, does not mean their reach failed to extend throughout the kingdom.

 

Cal found that out when she chose to enter the Ezram Kingdom through a familiar place, the same village - she never did bother to learn of its name - she passed on her way to the orcish plains. What she saw on her arrival were the village women and children - especially those with non-human blood amongst them - gathered with worry and fear etched on their features in the village square, with their menfolk nowhere in sight. A quick round of queries informed her that a band of the cultists - approximately forty men strong - had holed themselves up in the area, and of late had raided the nearby villages, where they were known to have commited unspeakable acts against any villagers not of pure human stock.

 

Those selfsame cultists were spotted by a hunter the day before, the direction of their march headed towards this very village, and the menfolk - and what few militiamen amongst the villagers - had sallied out, intent on the defense of their families and belongings from the predations of the fanatical cultists. They had gathered what weapons they had, and set up an ambush in the woods nearby where they predicted the cultists will pass through, and had told the women and children to flee for the orcish lands should a messenger who bore bad news was sent back to the village.

 

Cal headed out of the village towards the direction the village women told her, and less than an hour later, the wind brought the noise of an altercation that took place in the forest ahead well before her eyes caught sight of it. She hastened her pace as she heard the talks break down, as arrows and stones started to fly and screams of pain resounded.

 

**********************************************

 

(POV switch)

 

Aldermann Yeshua Vanderbilt never wished for any of the events that had led to this point of his life to ever have happened. He had just wanted a peaceful life after he served his years in the army, had retired to a lovely little village - barely ten households at the time - on the frontiers, and settled down and built a family there with his half-orcish lover who he would forever miss after illness claimed her a decade ago. Nowadays he lived alone as the village elder. One of his daughters had stayed in the village with him and already gave him grandchildren he greatly doted on, and life was good for him.

 

Until the thrice-damned Sons of Theodinaz - spectres of a kingdom of fanatics long buried - rose again and made life more difficult. At first there was just a wayward lunatic or two that wandered into their village, which were simple enough to be apprehended and handed over to the local baron’s dungeons. Earlier in the winter this year, a band of six younger lunatics had barged into his village and attempted to assault his people, and they subdued those with a lot more violence - only four of the lunatics were alive to be sent to the baron’s dungeons, which grew fuller by the day with lunatic cultists.

 

And now the worst of the news came when he heard of another village three day’s travel from his own razed by a thrice-damned horde of those same lunatics. Once the villagers caught wind of the news it was obvious to all of them that they had no choice but to fight, even if the odds were against them. A runner had been sent to the Baron to bear the ill tidings, but even the most optimistic estimate of his return would not be until the next month, unless the Baron had a subjugation party already assembled by his arrival, which seemed most unlikely.

 

Which led to him in his old age once again with his sword in hand, as he led the village’s menfolk and the few militiamen he personally trained - there were but twenty three of them, barely half the reported number of cultists - in the woods near their village, most of them perched up trees, hidden by the leafy canopies with their bows or slings held at the ready. An ambush was the only chance his village had, and he had every intent to make it count.

 

An ambush that was apparently foiled before it even began when a man dressed in a white robe stepped out in the open and loudly announced his presence.

 

“Do not hide, my dear villagers! We wish no harm upon you, save those that consort with the filthy demi-humans that plague our dear kingdom! We are here to fulfill the will of the gods themselves!”

 

“Fuck my luck! Of course they had to have a mage with them.” Yeshua thought. At the same time, he realized that the mage amongst the enemy likely already detected his ambush, and they had nothing to lose by now. “A pox take you and your gods! Men! LOOSE!” Yelled Yeshua as he himself nocked an arrow to the string of his bow with motions long practiced yet not forgotten, drew, and loosed. All around him the village’s menfolk did the same, and a moment later over twenty arrows and stones flew through the air towards the man in white robes.

 

Only to suddenly be pushed aside by a wall of wind.

 

“You are fools to defy the will of the gods!” Claimed the cultist in white.

 

Despair was what the village elder felt when he saw the sight of the ambush fail without even a scratch laid on the enemy, and the rest of the cultists - closer to fifty than forty by his count - rushed out from behind the man in white with crazed eyes, weapons held in their hands. To make matters even worse, a strong gust of wind suddenly blew, and unbalanced many of the villagers from their precarious perch atop the trees, half of their number fell to the ground as they were caught unprepared, with at least one poor lad who broke his leg on the fall. Yeshua himself leapt off his perch on his own terms before the wind forced him to, and while he stumbled his landing, none of his frail old bones broke at the very least. He drew the short sword he kept from his army days from its sheath, and checked the small shield tied to his left arm out of habit as he eyed the cultists about to reach him.

 

What followed felt like a blur to his old mind, as instincts honed by years of life as a soldier took over and moved his body on their own. He felt it vaguely when the first cultist to have reached him - a young woman with crazed eyes - swung her hatchet down at him, only for him to have deflected it to the side with his shield, then ran her through with the sword, and felt a touch of satisfaction as he felt her life drain out and her body went limp in his hands. “These godless whoresons want to harm my grandchildren!” He thought.

 

Sadly, quantity had its own quality, as the saying went, and it was not two minutes before the villagers went from hiw they barely their ground, until they struggled to survive under the push of the numerically superior cultists. Already he saw old Sam, a lifelong farmer that had taught him how to tend a farm when he first came to the village, down on the ground, his hands desperately clutched his open stomach, where his intestines threatened to spill out. Stavos, the village blacksmith went down next, as a cultist landed a slash with his saber that cut right across the blacksmith’s face and through one of his eyes just moments after he dispatched of a cultist with his hammer. Yeshua himself already sported several cuts, though fortunately none of them deep enough to impede his mobility, not fatal enough to threaten his life for now.

 

It all looked hopeless for them and their village, and he had already resigned himself to sell himself dearly to at least take one more of these lunatics to the grave with him. He was just about to give the signal for their assigned runner to run back to the village and had everyone evacuate post-haste, when she came and turned the tables.

 

A tall, slender woman with snow-white hair landed right in front of Stavos, who knelt and clutched his face, and with one hand swung a machete and decapitated the cultist who was about to finish the blacksmith off. The woman’s other hand swung in a wide arc and Yeshua could only catch a glimpse of some metallic things as they flickered through the air, for they were thrown with great force. The result showed itself a moment later when four of the cultists clutched at the metal darts that suddenly embedded themselves in their throats or faces.

 

The next thing he saw was how the woman seemed to have conjured a vicious halberd and sent body parts strewn all over the place with one mighty swing that literally dismantled three cultists caught in her range. The battle paused for that moment even as bits of cultists rained down on villagers and combatants alike, and both sides took a few steps back to assess the sudden change to the situation, and to his delight Yeshua saw two of the youngsters carry old Sam away while they did what they could so that his injury had not worsened even more.

 

“Fear not the heathen demi-human, true believers of Theodin! Kill the wench and bring her head before me!” Yelled the cultist in white like a madman as the cultists seemed to have found their courage and advanced once more. “The gods be with us and bless our endeavors in their name!”

 

“I fucking hate fanatics.” Mumbled the woman as she too stepped forward to face the forty or so cultists that remained.

 

The first cultist that closed on her was met by a vertical slash that split him apart in twain, his two halves fell to each side and splattered blood and entrails all over the ground, and the woman brought her weapon back up with an upwards swing that impaled another cultist’s head from below, where the force of the swing literally ripped the cultist’s head off her neck and sent it aloft to drop next to an understandably frightened village boy.

 

What remained of the cultists fared no better. The villagers could only watch in awe as the woman obliterated the fanatics limb from limb, those that met the axe-blade of her weapon cleaved in twain, while those with the misfortune to meet the hammer end often ended their lives with either their heads or torsos crushed open like an overripe watermelon. From time to time, the woman drew out throwing weapons that she threw around with accuracy, every single one aimed for the eye, throat, or mouth. One of the cultists was even dispatched when she flicked her head around, which brought the spearhead anchor of her braid in a swing with such force that it tore through the man’s throat.

 

Not even five minutes later, the only cultist left on their foot - a few of the others were alive, the ones lucky enough to have taken a hit from the shaft of her weapon instead of its head, but they were definitely in no shape to fight, or even stand up for that matter - was their leader, the man in white robes.

 

“Unhuman Devil! The gods protect me! I shall smite you down with their blessings!” Yelled the cultist as he unleashed blades of wind towards the woman.

 

The woman could have dodged them, Yeshua thought as he saw the woman simply took the hits, the blades of wind caused merely superficial cuts to have formed on her flesh. The village elder knew from what he saw of the woman’s fight that she was more than fast or skilled enough to have simply steped out of the way, but she had not.

 

Because the villagers were right behind her.

 

More blades of wind were unleashed by the cultist, but the woman seemed to have literally blinked through them - so fast her movements were - and the next thing Yeshua saw was that she had the cultist leader held up by the throat with one hand. He desperately tried to claw at the hand on his throat to no avail even as the woman held him aloft with a look of disgust on her face. “I didn’t really want to dirty my hands since I’m here to enjoy life.” Stated the woman to the uncomprehending cultist. “But for sacks of shit like your ilk? That is an exception I’d gladly make.”

 

A loud squelch echoed through the forest, and some of the villagers looked away, nauseated, as the woman made her halberd disappear, then gripped the cultist's head with a claw-like grip with her other hand, and applied more pressure to her hands until the cultist’s head literally burst open like an overripe watermelon.

 

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A note from Avitue

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