THE BATTLE OF THE FROZEN DALE
One Mile from Adamant Citadel
Blinding eddies of snow obscured the battle field, but Aelfenar knew the walking dead were closing in once more – he could sense their unnatural, tainted presence in the biting cold air all around him. He drew another magazine from his belt in readiness of the next attack. Five hours they had held out, taking down the gods alone knew how many of the aberrations, yet there were now perhaps only twenty Skorn defenders where two thousand had stood earlier. The end was near. The Undead were anathema to the Skorn, yet even facing certain death, none of the Skorn showed so much as a flicker of fear. Aelfenar’s heart surged with pride.
‘The dead come once more,’ warned the revered spirit-warrior Thalanos, voice crackling over his radio, confirming Aelfenar’s suspicion.
The stink hit Aelfenar first, slipping through even through his rebreather unit, a rotten stench of death, and decay, and he curled his nose in disgust, as he narrowed his single eye. Dark shapes coalesced into being as the enemy approached through the swirling snowstorm. Bedecked in rusted armour of antiquated design, they marched in perfect unison out of the snow. Glowing witch-fire burnt in their empty sockets, and a wave of fear rolled forward before them, colder than any winter.
In one smooth motion Aelfenar raised his rifle, posed his finger over the trigger and squeezed off a round. His bullet punched through the skull of a horn-helmed skeleton warrior armed with a blade of crackling energy, felling it instantly, and he had drawn back the arming mechanism for another shot in the blink of an eye. The air was thick with gun fire as the Skorns unleashed their fury into the tightly packed ranks of skeleton warriors, felling hundreds of them. Aelfenar loosed volly after volley in an unending stream. He hardly paused to aim, yet every round struck home with unerring accuracy. Then the ancient skeletal warriors were upon them, and battle was joined once more.
Though Aelfenar had his rifle in both of his hands, he had his leaf-shaped long dagger attached to the rifle's end, as was the Skorn way. As a skeleton warrior stepped in close, void sword raised, he darted forwards, moving with nigh on preternatural speed and grace. Before the undead could strike, Aelfenar slashed with the blade at his rifles end, severing the vertebrae of the Undead warrior’s neck. The witch-fire in its sockets disappeared, like the snuffed out flame of a candle, and it toppled into the snow.
Spinning, Aelfenar swayed aside as a rusted axe slashed for his head, drawing his arming mechanism for another shot as he did. Bringing his rifle up, he fired the weapon at close range, destroying the sorcerous bond animating another of the Undead creatures, which collapsed into a pile of bones in the snow. Aelfenar lost track of time as the battle raged. He exhausted his rounds, yet fought on without pausing, drawing a slim-bladed short sword from his belt. After what seemed like an age, he came to a halt. He was breathing heavily and bleeding from a dozen wounds. Bones and bodies lay strewn across the churned up field. Only five Skorns remained standing.
‘Is it over?’ said Aelfenar, his voice little more than a whisper over the radio. As if in answer, a blanket of violet-coloured fog rolled forwards, appearing seemingly out of nowhere.
‘Sorcery,’ hissed Thalanos, stepping back from the coiling tendrils of purple, sorcerous smoke. ‘No, it is not over. It will never be over.’
The smoke infused the fallen bodies of the fallen, and once again the dead began clambering to their feet to rejoin the battle anew. The small cluster of Skorns formed a tight circle, preparing to sell their lives dearly.
‘Die well, my brothers,’ said Aelfenar. ‘We shall meet again on the Golden Isle.’
Four hours later
The snow crunched under the hard footsteps of the tall cloaked figure as it marched up the side of the snowy mountain side, in toe to it's rear, several more similarly cloaked figures followed close behind. The howling winds whirled about them, their cloaks dancing wild about their forms giving them the eerie impression of wraiths as they seemed to glide across the snow. Several yards below at the large rocky hills base posed several strewn bodies heavily mangled and dismembered. Blood and gore painted the once pure snow in a crimson red gleam wherever a body was found.
As the hooded cloaked figure reached the top of the rocky hill it forward moved until it stood directly beside a heavily snow covered tree. I suddenly stopped and raised a single skeletal like hand and the hooded cloaked figures behind it stopped instantly. Under the cowl two burning orbs of emerald fire peeked out to at the world. It peered forward, it's left orb rotating in place as it's vision cast a green gloom at the valley below. At max magnification it finally saw what it sought past the thick snow storm. The small city of the Adamant Citadel, a maze of houses and temples, at it's base a wall had been built long ago, only slightly worn down. It's vision shifting to infrared it spotted several heated bodies upon the battlements in patrol. Their seemingly lax guard gave tale to the fact they had yet to learn of the fate of their first battle group they had sent to intercept the Bone legion. They had been ruefully unprepared, taken by surprise and despite their best efforts had done little more than stall the legion's progress.
Further scans of the other hill's around the Citadel showed that sentries at each outpost had already been neutralized and their positions taken. The Death marks worked quickly. Good. Once the signal was given then they would move, as the Necroloth had been commanded.
The time was soon at hand, it felt it deep within, everything was already in position; the hooded figure looked up as the tides of the wind suddenly changed. A single leaf fell, torn free by the wind and it quickly descended toward him. A hand open, it caught it within a steel hard grip so quickly it would have been easily missed if the view was not paying close attention, it brought the leaf close to it's face and for a moment it stood there as if in deep thought. The wind seemed to change again dying down slightly, then the unmistakable sound came as from a far off there was a mighty explosion and the sound of the earth shaking for a moment. Then a great horn was blown.
The time had come raising it's other arm it closed it's hand slowly in a tight fist and the cloaked figures behind their lead responded. A great gust of white mist blew across their hunched or standing forms and once it had cleared they had vanished as if taken up in the wind.
He screamed in agony as he fell back to the cold stone slab underneath him, half of his upper right side missing all together blood pouring freely. Around the fallen soldier more Skorns fired from behind ruins or cover at the oncoming hoard bellow. They were unlike anything the Skorns had ever seen in their lives, and it was all they could do to hold out. The sounds of gun fire and explosions filled the air. Skorns armed with rifles and machine pistols fired at the on coming wake of skeletal forms hardly visible in the snow storm, and the figures fired back with their own weaponry. Dark purple streams of energy flayed flesh as it not burned, but literally caused it to rot within moments. Causing limb's to break of dead and useless as Skorn's screamed in agony, withering on the ground. The Skorns still put up a considerable fight, but as Tomkia watched out from the window of a higher elevated temple at the mountain base bellow he could not help but feet a feeling od dread at the sight before him. Skeletal figures of living beings with swirling green to purple energies emanating from their limbs and baleful lifeless sockets. Yet reports had revealed they were different from any undead faced before, instead of mere flesh and bone, these were said to be literally made of iron. How could such a thing even be possible?
It mattered little, they had finally reached the Citadel, and every Skorn would fight to the last to drive them from this place. Reloading his rifle he fired down the iron sight's at another aberration of horror, the shot blasting it's skull open and the witch-fire in it's socket's faded. Then quickly rearming for another, yet they seemed to simply keep coming. He aimed at a rather large and heavily armed necroloth, when the hairs on his back prickled. His only warning before the stone wall at his left suddenly exploded from a powerful a blast of balefire. Tomkia was launched back from the shear force sending him skidding across his back, in a daze he slowly stood to his feet before falling forward again clutching his side. The haze slowly cleared revealing several burning purple light's from the base of the mountain. Balefire catapults.
They had set them closer now and were unleashing their fury in full force. How had they assembled them so quickly? The enemy must have had been planning this for sometime, removing Skorn sentries in order to give them time to build siege weapons before the main assault, or perhaps some force was making their power and range more potent. In either cause the temple was ablaze in arcane fire and he needed to escape while he could. Pull his rifle off the ground with his right hand as he held his injured side with his left he limped away to the back stairs leading down. The ground floor of the temple was also in ruins and bodies laid about likely caused by balefire artillery. He reached for the back exit, just as the beams broke and fell apart behind him just as he exited. He dove to the cold snow as debris fell behind him. He got to his knees and took stock of his surroundings. He could hardly believe the sight most building's were on fire or destroyed, places that had served as homes for Skorn's ever since coming to this awful new world. They could not afford losing it...not to those..things.
He stumble to his feet and limped to the far end of the street. If he could just reach the radio station, they could call in help, there bound to be someone that could help. But would they reach in time? Or even care? That was yet to be seen but it was a gamble he had to take, contacting outsiders was forbidden by the elders but he would be damned if age old teachings doomed their race. Rounding a corner he limped using the wall to support him. As he made the corner he nearly screamed at the sight. what looked to be four iron skeletons with glowing rifles of their own marched down the street. They spotted him and one made a high pitched cry. They all leveled their horrid weapons. Tomkia managed to duck and dive into a open temple just as the first ray's of nether energy hit the wall he stood moments ago. Tomkia's feet pounded against the bloody floor of the hallway as he ran away from the small unit and their strange and deadly arcane guns. Beams whizzed past him and splintered the walls. Tomkia howled in agony as a beam slammed into his upper left shoulder spinning him to his back. The four skeletal being's approached rifles leveled. No escape. No hope. It seemed he had failed before he had even started.