- Prelogue - Avrik's Grand Entrance:
- ViralEnsign_ wrote:Next piece of lore that dough asked me to do. Of course its not my best seeing as I just pushed it to be finished..... but here it is
"Amidst the massacre of Knights Avrik chuckle quietly to himself. It had been too easy getting into the Archives. The Knights had invited him in, then opted to ignore their new prisoner. He remembered it all too well.
Siephre, as he had been know that very afternoon, knelt over the dead knight, scanning his body for any sign of gold or coins, quickly rummaging through the leather pack beneath the knights breast plate. Finding nothing he had intended to leave in search of another unfortunate victim of fate, but a cold steel touch against his throat told him that he had been caught.
The sun was low in the sky when the small band of knights dragged him back to the Archives, bruised and bloody, threw him bodily to the floor in front the sentries.
“This one was found pillaging the dead” said the lead knight gruffly “The scum had already taken Ser Branden’s talisman and family crest....”
Around him half a dozen knights muttered their disgust.
“Take him below” a thin reedy voice, this time a Bane Knight, fingering his Shotel “He will serve his time in the cells, then Oscar will decide what to do with him”.
A Plated boot smashed into his head and he knew no more.
Hours later he had woken in the dark. The cell was small, rusted iron bars; the stench of filth permeated the air. He smirked to himself. They had fallen for it. Allowed him into their stronghold. Now was his time. He pulled the ragged cowl over his head, let out a long, high pitched whistle. From high above a crow flitted down, through the iron bars, landed on his arm.
“We know not what we take, the murder feeds, as I feed on the murder” he intoned. With a snap he ripped the crow’s head clean off, began to gorge on the bloody flesh.
The blood was hot and thick as it slid down his throat; it warmed his body, made him feel alive again. He tapped on the iron bars of his prison, the loud echoes reverberating off into the darkness, smirked to himself when heard the rattling click of chainmail.
The guard came into sight not a second later and Astoran by the look of his armour, turning to face the prisoner, glowering at him from beneath the steel visor. Done with his charade Avrik looked up from the fold of his hood, a feigned mix of madness and fear in his eyes.
“Please Ser Knight” he pleaded “Don’t keep me down here no more, I can’t stand the dark, the crows they are too loud, and my chains they are too tight.”
A look of disgust appeared on the Astoran’s face.
Avrik knew the man was his.
The man’s visage suddenly changed from disgust to a look of horror and pain, he glance down and that scythe blade that had pierced his plate mail, thick black blood leaking from the grisly wound. His lips quivered and looked as if he was trying to speak.
“Shhhhh,shhhhh my friend. Death is not the end. I’ll be sure to make use of you” Avrik’s voice was not a sibilant hiss in the dim light.
Near on half later Avrik had fled the prison in the Archives and was making his way slowly through the Archives upper floors, intent on finding the elevator winch, which he assumed was heavily guarded. All about of the lower floors the knights and Lifehunters swarmed to and fro in a hurry, carrying weapons, ballista bolts, and seeing to the hurriedly prepared defences.
Footsteps alerted Avrik to company. His visage at least would not give him away as it had
done before, his new body would ensure that only the highest ranking clerics would sense his corruption. Hurriedly he made of a sack containing half a dozen long swords, and resting his Great Scythe over his shoulder he continued toward the ornate staircase ahead.
A few knights stopped to question him, though his answer was always the same, he was amongst the servants and free riders of the knights, delivering weapons where his lord told him. None bothered to stop him though he assumed the Brotherhood of the Blade was ever watchful and was careful not to arouse their suspicions.
Finally he made it to the lower concourse. The balconies were thick with Knights and the myriad Lifehunters, warriors and healers now, every one of them heavily armed.
Avrik quailed as he spied Oscar and Gabranth below him walking with a pair of Havel Knights in tow. Oscar glanced toward him, as if aware of his presence, searching the crowd for the intruder, but turned away when another knight approached him in a rush.
Grimacing to himself Avrik made the long walk out to the first defensive line, across the empty threshold and down into the winch rooms. Below he could hear the ring of steel on steel and the Gravesworn engaged Oscar’s preliminary troops.
It was time. All about him the ballista operators gathered close to take a weapon from his arms. It wouldn’t do to kill unarmed men; he thought wryly, the Gravesworn would
never respect that, but if they must die then so be it. A second later his Greatscythe was cutting a swathe through their ranks, amidst the screams of the dying, a crow began to caw."
- Part 1 - The Gravesworn gain entrance:
- Throughout the archives landing; through the countless bookshelves; all the way down to the entrance of the crystal caves the sound resonated. Soldiers hearing the sound panicked and ran to their posts. Knights calmly stood from their duties and moved to don their armour. Mages cast spells of protection, and medics filtered throughout the army. Oscar and his commanders looked up from their plans realising they had run out of time. And the defenders armed their weapons and aimed them at the entrance, but for some it was already too late.
Luke spun the handle as fast as he could, desperately trying to align it with the archives entrance. Gary and Feth were already loading the ballista’s main weapon as it rotated. The heavy bolt was giving them trouble though, not helped by the ballista’s movement at his hands. Despite being on the second floor the team was panicked by the sudden alarm and had no idea what was happening.
Behind him he could hear the screeching of the giant lift dropping down to the base level. He breathed a small sigh of relief as the bolt finally clicked into place, knowing reinforcements would be coming down on that lift. He quickly switched spinning direction for the handle and the ballista thudded to a halt facing the entrance. Panting in relief Gary and Feth pulled out their bottles and had a quick drink as Luke made small adjustments to the ballista’s aim.
A warm wetness splashed onto his back seeping through his chainmail to soak into his clothes. He turned around ready to berate the other 2 for their clumsiness. “What are you foo-” the words choked in his throat when he saw the tall thin man behind him. Gary and Feth were spread on the ground behind him, pools of red growing around them. With horror Luke realised what the liquid on his back truly was. He gasped in panic, desperately trying to yell a warning. The man grinned at him.
“Now now, you can’t spoil my surprise just yet.”
The scythe slashed upwards into Luke’s face, splitting his mouth into to and making sure his warning was never heard.
Unhindered by soldiers the Gravesworn army marched into the lower level of the Archives. A bloodbath greeted them, the crew of every ballista sliced into pieces around their machine and the first defence squad laid out in rows before a lone man.
“I had some time before you arrived so had some fun.” the man said.
Drake marched towards him, a coterie of his most trusted following a step behind. “I see you were successful Avrik.”
“You told me to find a way in.”
Drake nodded, “What purpose does this serve?” he replied indicating the rows of dead.
“Watch.” Avrik closed his eyes and began muttering words too low for Drake to hear. A cold wind blew from behind the army and the corpses began to rise. In ones and twos they stood up, standing silently before the Gravesworn. “They’ll be waiting for us up top. This will buy us some time.”
Oscar looked at the ruined stump of the lift gears. He turned to the soldier next to him, “Can you fix this?”
“We can, but it will take at least a day, possibly more if any of the chains have slipped off.”
“Not enough time for that.” he shook his head, annoyed. How had they done this? He looked at the army assembled below packing itself onto the elevator ready to rise. No time to waste wondering the question, there were more pressing matters.
“Knights!” he yelled, “Prepare to defend our home!”
Oscar smiled and marched back towards his commanders who waited nearby.
They will attack soon, we must be ready.”
The commanders surveyed their forces. Approximately half the tower knights were here and about a third of the astorans had arrived. The Archives were a massive place, and Oscar had no dount dozens of knights had become lost in their rush to get to action. He had already sent squads back to start organising a second, better line of defence. This one would too easily break, they would fall back as soon as possible.
The group of commanders moved down the force, tower knights in the centre greatshields at the ready, and astorans protecting the flanks with pike and halberd. Gabranth broke off to take his place in the centre as the others continued past. When they reached the end of the line Natalia and Andarta saluted and headed to the second line where the greater part of their forces were. Oscar, Aeter and Mildred split up to, Aeter taking the left flank, Mildred the right, and Oscar joining the rest of the dragonslayers to the side. While the main force hit halted the enemy charge the slayers would strike from everywhere, weakening the enemy cohesion.
As Oscar moved into position he stopped in front of a man wearing the armour of a paladin. He was clutching a black tome in one hand, while twirling a talisman in the other.
“Chief Medic Aldthre are your men dispersed?”
“Yes sir, they have orders to prioritise healing and fall back with their squads.”
“Good. Thank you.”
Oscar turned and walked away. The chief medic looked down at the book he was clutching and caught the talisman he had been twirling. He smiled and stroked the book’s spine.
“I may finally get a chance to use you.” Lethard smiled in happiness.
- Part 2 - The Gravesworn Strike:
- The ranks of knights held their breath as the elevator slowly pulled its way up. The sound of the lift pulling itself up resembled the song of the Pisaca’s and every Knight winced hearing it. Whoever had ripped it out must have done damage to the gears too and slowed the entire lift. Finally the first pale heads emerged over the lip of the landing. The bodies they belonged to rose into full view, and as they emerged the knights froze as one. Before them the 100 men of the first defence squad stood, slowly swaying, their armour and weapons clinking as they moved. They looked the same as they had while alive apart from the deathly pallor of their skin.
The lift clicked into place, the dreadful screeching stopped and the first corpse warrior stepped off the lift. The knights remained frozen. Even Oscar, hand raised to call down a rain of heavy bolts, found himself rooted in place by the horror of the scene. Sweat broke on his forehead, the thought of firing on his own, even dead as they were, was something he could not bear.
Necromancy on this scale and had never been seen by the knights before, and Avrik knew it.
The final corpses pushed their way off the elevator and the horde swallowed the distance between itself and the Knight’s line. Oscar’s hand trembled in fear as the knights began to retreat rather than fight their former comrades. As the corpses advanced the knights retreated equal distance ensuring the2 forces would not meet. I must do it, Oscar’s thoughts raged, I cannot let this beat me.
“Oscar!” a voice rang out. He looked up to see Aldthre staring at him in desperation. NOW!
“FIRE!” he yelled throwing his fist forward. Shaken from their despair by his voice the crews of the ballistae swung into action. Bolts rained down into the advancing army, crushing bone and violating flesh. But the wall of dead kept coming, wounds that could kill men in full plate simply slowing them.
As the knights stood frozen in horror the lift flew back down to ground level. Unburdened by the weight of so many placed upon it, it glided back down to the waiting Gravesworn
without noise. It gently stopped at the lower level, the gates chiming open merrily.
Drake strode onto the lift with another 150 Gravesworn “Our advance force won’t hold them for long. We need to reinforce them fast. Be ready to bring it straight back down.”
Up above a hundred Gravesworn under the leadership of Avrik snuck out from behind the corpse wall. With the knights attention focussed entirely upon the dead they had no
trouble making it into the dark embrace of the shadows. As the corpses continued their march of terror they slithered from shadow to shadow until they faced the Knight’s flank.
“Oscar!” The warning drove Avrik deeper into his shadow. He looked around fearing they had been spotted, but the Knight’s attention was still on the corpses. Then who? Looking up he spotted Lethard among the ranks, calling his warning to Oscar. Avrik frowned, evidently his idea had come back to haunt him. Swearing he turned his attention back to his own men, making sure his hand was ready to strike.
“FIRE!” Oscar screamed his order.
Smiling Avrik gave his own “Kill them all.”
The hand reached out and grabbed the knight’s flank.
- Part 3 - The First line breaks:
- The sound of battle drew Oscar’s mind. The corpses still had not reached his line, there should be no sounds of battle yet. Yet to his right he heard the clash of steel and the scream of man. He spun, gazing to his flank where the Sworn Knights held the line with their spears. Or at least they should have been. His flank was reeling under the blow of dozens of slender warriors. Knights were falling in droves, their longer weapons unable to be used effectively in the close quarters they found themselves in.
He quickly spotted Aeter’s helms plume. He had drawn his straight sword and urged the men around him to do the same. Only those men who had been able to hear him and follow his order were holding steady. Oscar suddenly cursed, realising he had sent Natalia to the second line thinking the Astoran’s here would be fine.
“With me Slayers!” he ordered, taking off at a sprint to the flank.
“Knights draw your blades!” Oscar roared over the clash of arms. “Bite their flesh with your steel!”
The knights around him heard the call, and their training took over. Spears and halberds clattered to the ground, swords drawn and shields unbuckled. A wave spread out from Oscar’s presence as the knights regrouped, his stature lending them confidence again. The grasp of the Gravesworn stalled as the knight’s gauntlet punched back, their slicing fingers blunted by the impact. Oscar himself joined the fray, his skill with the spear surprising the Gravesworn as he handled it admirably in close combat.
Between Aeter and the Dragonslayers the Gravesworn surprise attack was pushed back, Avrik retreating with half his original number, the knights having lost twice as many. The price had been high thought Oscar as he looked over his flank. The men were tired and their formation was ruined. In the centre the Tower Knights had overcome their fear and destroyed their former comrades without loss, but as Oscar scanned the entrance could see the damage had already been done.
The right flank was crippled, his knights were still on the verge of retreat, and worst of all the early strike force had linked up with hundreds of new arrivals. Massive warriors in knightly armour stood silently in ranks in front of the elevator, which once again began to descend. The bone hand had arrived.
Avrik laughed at the chaos he had created. Even Oscar had had to step in, although he hadn’t been able to reach the fool in the melee. Never less, he had inflicted painful losses
upon the knights, and was quite pleased with himself.
“Your turn Drake.” he smiled, gesturing at the scrambling knights. The dead knight was quiet a moment before responding.
“Yes. We’ll strike now.” He turned to his bone hand. “We face the giants of the knights, but our giants will crush them!” Unlimbering his halberd he swung into motion, quickly reaching jogging speed. He angled his shoulder down, aiming at the shields of the knights. Ballistae bolts cracked down around him like lightning striking from the heavens, but it was futile. His speed and armour ensured no bolt hit him straight on, any that did strike him glancing off. Behind him the Bone hand came unhindered, a gauntlet of their own aiming down the throat of the knights.
Drake hit the Tower Knights with the force of a tidal wave. Shields buckled and broke, the men behind them thrown backwards, their armour’s weight no anchor. Drake’s halberd swung around, decapitating the first knight to charge him in a spray of blood. His halberd slipped between the gaps in another’s armour, piercing the man’s stomach.
He swung the blade out, gore spraying out and leaving the knight to drop to a painful death.
A third knight came for him, and Drake barely had time to raise his shield to block Judgement from crashing down onto his helm, only the heavy armour of the wielder slowing their attack enough for Drake to block. He glared at the heavily armoured
knight, the battle around him temporarily forgotten as the 2 flashed back to the fields of the painted world. Snow floated down around them, settling onto Drake’s black armour softening its colour. Here Drake had almost been killed when the knight had crushed his body.
The screams of battle snapped the pair back into reality, Gabranth swinging his greatsword onto drake once again. The dead knight sidestepped the blow and thrust at Gabranth’s leg with the halberd. A massive stone shield dropped down in front of the thrust, the halberd bouncing off not leaving a scratch.
“Fall back!” Gabranth paused upon hearing Oscar’s voice. The first line had done its job, now the second line was ready. Snarling at Drake he swung Judgement in a massive arc, Drake dodged but an unfortunate Dead Knight stepped into the swing and was pulverised. Gabranth used the space to withdraw with the surrounding Tower Knights.
The knight’s force began funnelling out of the battlefield, retreating up the stairs to the second line. The dragonslayers guarded the rear, fighting defensively to stop any eager Gravesworn passing through. Eventually the entire force had retreated.
Drake Looked around at his remaining knights. Almost half had perished, but over a hundred tower knights had been taken with them. His analysis was interrupted by the chiming of the lift, bringing another one fifty Gravesworn to the battle. Drake leant heavily on his halberd. Now was the time to regroup, get all his men up here. The true battle was yet to start.
- Part 4 - The Lines are Drawn:
- Safely behind the second line the first line dropped their weapons and caught their breath. The retreat had been fast and hard in their armour. Coupled with the fighting the knights were already tired. Oscar had no such luxury though. As soon as the first line was safe he was out on the front, looking over the second line. He was thankful the Hand appeared to be a good tactician. He was tired and would have missed some of the gaps that were now covered.
“We’re as ready as we’ll ever be.”
Oscar turned to see the Hand approaching. The man was in his battle armour, the distinctive yellow cloth crown immediately drawing the eye.
“What about the third line?”
The Hand grimaced, “Still working on it. Some of the soldiers here are from the third line. Too many are lost in the archives.”
Oscar nodded. “We’ll just have to hold them here then.”
“Well said the bone hand in first supported by as many BPs as we can get through. The ebon hand know their job already. The red hand will stay in support, refreshing the BPs when they fall. The Darkstalkers will follow directly behind the bone hand and strike targets of opportunity as they see fit. The followers will protect the red hand and act as a reserve to reinforce the line for defence or to bolster an attack. Any questions?” Drake looked around, seeing only nodding heads. His plan was good and maximised the skills of their men. “Good then. We march in 10 minutes, prepare your soldiers.”
The other generals moved off to their armies but Avrik stayed behind. Drake looked at him questionably, although no expression could be seen behind his helm.
“… this is it Drake.” muttered Avrik, “Don’t die.”
Avrik marched off leaving Drake bewildered.
“You have the arrows?” asked Abel.
“Yes milord. They are sure to do their job. But I could only get 10 and the targets may be too strong.”
“If you fail Shadow, then the Stalkers will condemn you as a traitor.” Abel turned to Laplace, “Don’t miss.”
The assembled army was massive, thousands of troops packed into the opening rooms of the archives, the crowding only made worse by hundreds of phantom hollows reinforcing their numbers. Dead knights stood next to assassins. Pyromancers supported necromancers. And a single sorcerer stood aloof from the army.
Drake looked over the army, his army. He smiled thinking how far he had come from a
suicidal plunge. Now he commanded the greatest army in Lordran. “Bone Hand, crush them!”
Avrik looked upwards and called to his crows, “To the skies with my brothers!” A great flock of crows burst into the archives, a jumble of black feathers and snapping beaks. The Ebon Hand was covered by the flock, who lifted them high into the air, disappearing into the rafters.
“Today we fight for freedom brothers.” hissed Abel, “Slay all of the god’s puppets.”
The swarm of living, dead and incorporeal marched on the second line.
The ground rumbled before the second line. Carts of books shifted on their wheels, while unloaded ones drifted across the aisles. A black shadow emerged from beyond the walls, reaching across the battlefield. Knight’s backed away from the malign presence, the room filled with the chiming of armoured men in motion. Cleric knights advanced on the shadow, their holy light pushing it back.
The lifehunters stood stoically, dispersed among the Knights lines. They had been allied to this power in what seemed like an age past, they knew it was nothing to fear. But the Knights had not seen the full force of the Gravesworn before. After this war, they would know it.
Oscar looked over his men, seeing their fear. He marched out in front of them, walking into the largest shadow emerging from where the enemy moved. The darkness cast his golden armour in an ugly light. The shining gold perverted into a dirty brown. He raised his talisman in defiance and a burst of light flared from it. The darkness shrieked and fled its light, unable to withstand his power.
“My Noble Knights and allies!” he cried turning back to his men. “Our foe seeks to trick us with petty tricks and illusions. But these hold no power over us! See how it flees from the light? True power is measured in our strength of arms, and our bonds of brotherhood. Look to the man to your left, to your right, to your front and back. Today he is your brother, today you will fight for him, and die for him. When the dogs of the Gravesworn emerge we will give them no ground, give them no mercy. These dead men pervert nature and deserve nothing but true death for their sins. Today they have entered our land, and will pay the price.” He took a breath before going on, “Today we end their menace, the first step for Lordran’s true release starts today!”
“Let them come.” He whispered, the knights continuing their chant in the background. “Let them end themselves.”
- Part 5 - The Battle Begins:
- From the passages of the archives a sea of black erupted. A tidal wave of phantom energy rushed towards the knight’s line, and the wave crashed down onto the cliff of shields. Phantoms died in droves as spear and sword clove their insubstantial flesh as the wave broke upon the cliff. Black smoke wreathed the field of battle, the remnants of the phantoms haunting the knights even after their bodies were destroyed as their spirits hungered for death. The sound of a sea breeze blew through the archives as the wisps were cast down, dissipating into the air. And then the sea gave way to wall of iron. Wall and cliff crunched together in a cacophony of screeching metal. Men were trampled and the dead were flattened as the tide of battle surged back and forth. One side roared in their will to fight, the other with dead lips.
In the centre of the war 2 titans met again. Gabranth in his while rock armour, heaving Judgement through even the toughest armour, while Drake split bone and flesh with halberd. The 2 fought towards each other, a saga of battle that lusted for its ending.
Across the field of battle Oscar led the Dragonslayers into the melee. Spears slashed and thrust, piercing joints and taking limbs. The cumbersome dead knights could not match the speed and ferocity of the slayers. Oscar revelled in the fight, dancing around his targets, hacking and slashing before they could respond. His slayers worked in harmony with each other, cutting openings and protecting their backs. The weariness in his limbs faded as adrenaline raced through his body and he let himself become lost in the thrill of battle, trusting the Hand to direct the battle.
Above them the Seeker’s turned their magic to the battle. Soul mass and soul spear rained down onto the enemy. Sorcery burst among their ranks, wrecking armour and wilting dead flesh. Bursts of holy light blinded the dead as the paladins poured their energy into the fray. The dead reeled back from their light, desperately covering their eyes. Until the darkness began to claw its way back. The Red Hand emerged, their own magic free from the drain of the phantom life, turned towards the knight’s mages. Waves of poison and toxic gas swept through the battle, driven by new winds. Up above swords of orange light burst around the sages, eviscerating the slow and knocking away the fast. The medics were forced to turn to healing, and the light was weakened.
On the flanks the most bitter battle was fought. Lifehunter’s struck down Gravesworn, and the dead added to their ranks with each clash of blades. Dragons tore their foes apart with claws, pyromancers burnt the dead from inside their armour. Yet even as they did so, the dead knights waged through their ranks unstoppable. Nevyn had never seen such ferocity from either side as he watched a fellow dragon leap upon a knight and tear its throat out before filling its skull with breathfire. Yet even as the knight fell another ripped his brother off the knight and crushed his skull with their gauntlets. And that knight erupted in fire as an exile channelled his inner flame. Such chaos.
Up above the tumultuous battle the shadows moved. The Ebon Hand and the Shadows of New Londo crawled through the rafters of the archives, watching the chaos erupt below. Avrik could not help but worry as his green eyes spotted Drake facing the titan below. Shaking his mind to clear his thoughts he moved his gaze to the Seekers and their leader, Andarta. They were the target. He leapt forward, landing easily on the next rafter. Oscar has been careless he mused, and I will punish him for it. He made to leap again, his knees bending into a crouch when an explosion rocked the rooftops. He spun around, eyes wide, their cover blown.
“What happened!” he screeched. His eyes were immediately drawn to a portion of the rafters where a fire licked greedily at the wood around it. The light from the expanding blaze illuminated the soldiers behind him. Charred corpses surrounded the fire where a
dozen men had died from the explosion and the inferno that followed.
“You were careless.” A voice whispered behind him, “And know we will punish that.
Last edited by DoughGuy on Thu Oct 18, 2012 10:47 pm; edited 8 times in total