The heavy mist finally rose sparing us all of that death like scent. It surprises me how I never related that smell to anything particular; but now after ten hours of heavy march through this merciless cold and blind ground I’m certain. As if divine power has given me a piece of its endless knowledge. This mist smells like death!
Leaving the pastures behind us, and having mysteriously peaceful river Roah to our right we finally face the hilltop we marched to conquer. Menar Um friends and Haadar turned left and right trying to spot the hand that waved the fog off, but fearful eyes refused to see that dreaded vision. And the hilltop stood, like long forgotten painting, old, rotten and dead… Back home I’ve never been filled with such black thoughts, but then again, back home was another place and another time. Even thou I can’t tell whether its the coldness of this land, hostility of strange creatures that suddenly roamed the land or the incomprehensible power of the new beings that ruled the world, I’m certain that all these sudden changes originate from the same source. The one I fear as much as I detest to uncover. Old structures that now emanated with some clandestine purpose were undoubtedly a fort of long forgotten noble lord. We marched to conquer what now seems to be nothing but ruin. Rivers as black as moonless night washed all thoughts and visions from my mind but one. Why is it so peaceful? Why is it so peaceful? Why? Why?…
“All halt!” Rean’ras yelled and scared away what seemed like vultures feasting upon my brain. He stared at the hilltop as if his eyes could see meanings of things besides things alone. Dead coldness of his face never revealed any thrill or worry; at this moment a blessing. I resisted sudden urge to imagine what visions sparked between those dark blue eyes for my imagination and clairvoyance have been digging my tomb more than once.
“Aiden forward march!” came just in time. Warriors don’t like indecisive leaders. Few of my friends marched toward the hilltop along with several hundred Haadar belonging to the Aiden group. I, like others left behind, was stripped of choices but waiting. Cruel penalty for those doing their duty. Silence was broken by numerous footsteps alone; mixed into echoing sound – “prelude to unleashing of the hell”; my visions formed. Prootprootproot… I’ve always believed time changes its velocity ever struggling to make our lives as miserable as possible. I’ll concur that
this is very pessimistic thought, but what I am experiencing now seals my belief for eternity. Time stood still. I had time to wonder where all this anxiety comes from. It’s something unnatural and more intense than anything I know of. Prootprootproot… Is it the inevitability of the end? Could it be worse even? Prootprootproot… a long, long time…And then it stopped! Aiden and his group have reached the hilltop and stood buried still. Dark blue-eyed warlord waited several moments and then gave up; “Aiden?” he yelled. Did I detect a slight desperation in his calling, or is the foul odour of this place twisting my mind again? Aiden stood and gazed into what lied beyond the hilltop; I felt that gaze to be of a person looking at long lost everlasting paradise, yet the same it could be of someone looking into the ever-burning pits of hell. And still, not him nor his men moved. It happened! Rean’ras erupted fiery roars of mad with anger and rage. Warlord roars beyond all mortal warriors.
“Charge! Charge! Charge!” he screamed, and brave Haadar followed. Half the victory was already here, they all knew. They flew upon his valor and fed their own with it. They roared and raged as they stormed toward hilltop. Aiden group stood still. Curse the ground! It opened! What terror lies buried and springs to take lives of such courage? It sprung in front, in middle, behind, everywhere! Everywhere these cursed terrors. Haadar fought; both their fear and newly introduced foe. They charged and fought and died. Such terror that only my visions could’ve warned me of. If I only had let them. Aiden group stood still.
As I watched stunned blood and death slowly paving the path to the hilltop, hairs on my neck rose and I HAD to turn. I turned just in time to see shadows of unnatural speed dance through our back ranks. They danced and victims fell, as if death itself mistook this cemetery for a ballroom. None of my comrades ever saw their dance partner. Dead people do not see. Even more swiftly than they came, virtuosi disappeared, leaving signature behind I will never forget – dead faces with a very clear expression of surprise lingering. Driven by utmost panic or innate clairvoyance, my mind started to form a single purpose. I must see… “Irtan bud wadaa!!!” was followed by shrieks of many. I tried to tie back strings of my thoughts, but surprise of worst nightmares coming to life wouldn’t let me. Stout figures with deformed faces clad in heavy armor waved their swords, axes, knives, maces. I couldn’t tell their weapons one from another for they never stopped moving, cutting ground, air and unfortunate foes that thought to be a match. With each kill roars strengthened and weapons flew even more swiftly. Six nightmares unstopably swept our army from behind howling with thrill and delight. Dozens of Haadar charged each of them, but to no avail. Blows seemed to meet one weapon, while others singed bringing punishment to weaker and less skilled. As they killed never backing up or showing uncertainty, in seconds of pause while stepping from one pile of bodies to their next foes nightmares raised their hands and weapons announcing undeniable triumph. Armageddon, no doubt! For no reason, I turned. Aiden group stood still.
Thoughts throbbed from back of my mind; “…beyond hilltop!” What? Beyond hilltop what? I must see… YES! My single purpose! I must see beyond hilltop. I ran over bodies, ran upon newly formed pathway. Only halfway through I realized that I’m not killed by buried terrors – their attacks must have waned. I ran on and on, through death and blood and friends. There was no air in my lungs. Was the world vanishing or I just forgot to breathe? Couldn’t tell. It really didn’t matter; hilltop was near. Using my knees and hands I finally made it. Aiden stood still nearby. I glanced behind for the last time, only to see several remaining warriors defying nightmares and the warlord Rean’ras who’ll soon face them alone. Beyond hilltop… beyond hilltop were them! Creatures without hair, with a very pale skin, all cloaked in black. They stood and didn’t move much. It resembled some foul ritual with these being devoted servants of evil paralysed with depth of their trance. Yet it was peaceful. Their eyes! All white, nothing else. I stared into those strange white eyes feeling my mind clearing up of all worries and thoughts. Beside me Aiden stood still.
So did I…