Those words were immortalised on the stone that sat at the entrance to the main hall of the ebony stone fortress, each word printed with gold. It was the only stone to seem out of place in the room as well as in place. Every stone was locked to another, forming the ebony shield, guarding the knights and soldiers of the Kingdom of Bretonnia, all rushing about as they prepared for war. The lord, Lord Jeannot Gidie of Lyons, stood discussing with a few other knights of the Grail for the upcoming campaign into Estalia, who was being assailed by legions of undead warriors from the east. Others, such as the knights of the realm, strolled about the castle, followed by there squires and fellow knights, while Yeoman and other such peasantry rushed about getting their last equipment ready for the seas they would be traveling on.
While all this happened, three boys sat in front of the stone, reading it over and over. They were awe stricken by it, and adoring it.
“Yves! Régis! Adrien! Up and about you rascals,” called the lord walking over to them, his accent very thick and strong. His strolled to them gently, his chainmail and plate-mail scrapping against one another while his beautifully blue tunic with the silver dragon on his chest, seemed to make him more imposing. On his belt were three swords, each having a handle capable for one hand to hold it, and even then it was heavy enough for it to require two hands.
The Lord of Lyons was tall, nearly six and three inches tall, and with his cold steel blue eyes made him always looking like he was scolding the boys. However, at the moment his eyes were soft and caring, as he was concerned for his young children, as well as for the men under his lordship and domain. Even the peasants.
“Papa!” the boys called jumping up and clamouring to him, which he knelt down and embraced them softly, hard to do with armour and tunic adored. He chuckled and smiled at all of them, pulling them away from his neck.
“My boys, you will make great knights all of you,” he said ruffling Régis hair, the white streaks of hair in his beard now showing.
“Papa, will you destroy the damned monsters of nightmares?” Yves asked, his fiery red hair making him look like an angry dog. His hair, a fair bit messier then it should be at his age. His eyes, the same colour as his fathers, shown with enthusiasm and eagerness to join his father.
“Yes papa! Will you!?!” explained the second, Régis called out, just as eager. His hair, though long and well kept, was the same as his fathers, a dark and deep brown, faint streaks fo blonde running through them. Adrien remained silent; staring into his father’s deep and encompassing eyes as he smiled at the three young boys.
“Listening to the wild tales and dreams of Brother Achille again ‘ave we boys?” he asked, chuckling deeply, before shaking his head softly, “I tell you what now, we will. Me, brother Achille, Brother Pierre, and even Brother Louie will destroy those damned monsters of the sand in the glory of the King of Bretonnia!” he said calling out, before chuckling and embracing his sons again. They were about 13 years of age and well into the training for knighthood, which he was fairly proud of. The three were born at the same time, granting him not just a second child, but a third and fourth. Unfortunately, his beloved wife and mother to his boys died during it, making him grieve for several months, feeling lost without his love.
He smiled at them, picking up Adrien and walking over to the stone, “My boys do you know what it means?” he asked them, Régis and Yves on either side, thinking for a moment.
“Papa?” a quiet little voice suddenly piping up, the pale red eyes of the child looking at the stone, “Does it mean we must ride out and take the world on with all of our courage and might? Right papa?” he asked, quiet as ever. The lord smiled, his beard stretching to match is soft smile.
“Aye my boy. You may be quiet and small, but you have the mind of a great tactician and the skills of a fabled swordsman,” he said, kissing his boy on the head and placing him down with his brothers. They all were triplet, but all looked different, from Yves fiery red hair, to Adrien’s small build. They were his children and he couldn’t help but smiled because they were his children. Each had a skill the other didn’t. Yvres, who was the largest and strongest, could not right a horse, and was personally loathing the fact that he couldn’t ride well. Adrien, on the other hand, was a great with a sword and lance, but was small and under built, though his fierce attitude only shone in battle. Régis was best of both, though showed a great preference for a sword then the lance, and loved to ride to his hearts content.
“My boys, your brother Jacque will be coming with me and my sister, the young Damsel Laetitia, will stay and watch over you as you finish your training and prepare to join me in three years time. Understood boys?” he stated, receiving a nod from the three boys in complete sync. As he finished, a tall joyous lad, eyes matching their fathers, marched up, flanked by two Men-at-Arms, both carrying a pole-arm and shield.
“Father, we are ready to depart. My regiment of Men-at-Arms are ready, and I’ve prepared my sword for battle,” he said, hand calmly grasped upon the pommel of his sword. In his other was a helm, a bronzed dragon holding a shield, while the shield upon his back was blue, silver dragon emblazed on it, with a quarter of the shield white with a black De-fleur. He smiled as his brothers, “How are the three knights of our family doing this fineeve boys?” he asked, Régis walking over and grinning stupidly up at his brother.
“We’re fine Jacque, just saying good bye to Papa,” he replied for his brothers. Jacque smiled and ruffled his hair gently, chuckling before looking at their father, whom nodded gently, and looked at the three again.
“I promise to see you when I return or when you come to join us. Come Jacque. We must march to the port of Lille, and make sail for Estalia and the castles of the knights in Araby,” he said patting each of his sons on their heads before walking off with his first-born to the gates of the castle. He mounted his warhorse, and waved for the knights of his small realm to follow him. All the knights raised their lances up and cheered, riding off.
The three lads stood and watched as the column of knights passed by them, at least a mere hundred, followed by the rare mounted yeomen, who rode past horns and bugles ringing out. The three boys rushed up the castles tower, clamouring onto the ramparts of the walls to see the emassed army of peasants marching past. It came from the realm of Bastonne, the mustered yellow shields with the crimson red dragon.
They march in thunderous step towards the coast.
6 Years later.
Adrien sat atop his steed staring at the desert field and sighed softly. He ran his hand over a bronzed grail. He had somehow achieved this, almost completely by accident, and now, on the windswept desert of Araby, he was about to take up the vendetta that his father had left to do 6 years earlier.
“M’lord!” a man said rushing up the sand dune to him, shield protecting him from the wind, “M’lord! We are in position and ready for your orders, m’lord,” he said stopping next to him. Adrien looked at the man, and nodded.
“Are the yeoman hidden with the Damsels?” he asked looking back at the field of battle. He could see the sandstorm slowly lifting. He could see the ventures of previous battle the lord of another realm, Knight Marcus, a man who came from the Montfort. He army lay in ruin, the now slowly disappearing bodies of the lost Men-at-arms and yeoman, the black shields and banners now slowly disappearing into the white sands.
“Aye m’lord, they are hidden as you ask. As well as your brother’s regiments and two detachments of other men-at-arms, m’lord,” the reply came quickly. Again Adrien nodded, eyes still watching the sands engulf the lost army of Montfort. His eyes, now hardened, glanced over large black banner disappear, marking the graves of 1000 men. The Tomb Kings had claimed another large toll from the Bretonnian crusaders.
“Good. Return to your post and hold your line. Order the Trebuchets and yeoman who are not hidden to fire when the enemy is in range. We have the advantage, soldier, and we will take victory,” he said, turning walking down to his mount, were at least 30 other knights stood. Ten, excluding himself, were grail knights and were to take the lead of the charge, supported by 20 knights of the Realm. They were the left flanks charge line, while there was another group of 30 knights of the realm on the left, lead by Régis, his brother. In the middle, a group of 6 knights, all dismounted, lead the Men-at-arms and held the bulk of the position in order. But this wasn’t the plan. Behind a bulk of the forces was an cove, which they would lure the Tomb Kings legion into there, so the Yeoman, Trebuchets, as well as other men rain doom, death and destruction down upon the doomed legion, while the knights encircled them, charged in, with the Men-at-arms, more than a 1000 men at arms squeezed them towards the knights. He knew this plan would work, as the knights who quested for the grail themselves, charged any large beasts for them to take them down.
“M’lord, shall we?” a feminine voice came, making Adrien turn to look at a very beautiful woman.
“Yes, m’lady Louisette,” he said, nodding to the prophetess of the Damsel, and smiling, “We will,” he said mounting up and rolling his shoulders, the heavy red steel armour heavy, both in his duty and sand.
He looked ahead as the storm finally disappeared, and the glint of steel and gold could be seen in the distance.
They were upon them, the legions of Skeleton soldiers marching forward. Adrien, who now felt the largest shiver in his life since he made his first charge at the head of the knights errant 3 years prior. His body tensed up and he brought his finger to his grail hanging around his neck, silently praying.
“The lines are drawn, and we are ready to begin,” whispered a man softly. The legion advanced and attacked the Men-at-arms who now acted as the bait for his trap. They fell quickly, before the order was given, and the men fell back. They rushed back, the Yeomen laying fire upon the walking dead. Adrien growled, feeling the urge to rush in and save his knights and men, but bit his tongue. The flaming arrows fell upon them, as the men-at-arms rushed past them. Adrien continued to bite his tongue as he counted the knights.
The last of the men rush past the Yeoman as they too fell back heading for the hidden trap.
“Wait!” he hissed, feeling that the men were tensing up, ready to fight. He rolled his shoulders again, watching the legion march forward, heading into his trap. As the last of the skeletons disappeared, Adrien raised his hands. From the dunes beside him and from the ones across the field, rose several dozen men at arms rushing out to the now blood stained desert sand. They rush and reformed, his brother Jacque in the middle of the 176 men leading them with his red blade, his blue tunic and shield identifying him among the yellow and red tunics and shields of the men at arms. Adrien raised his sword and pointed at the ridge.
“Attack! Attack in the name of the King Louen Leoncoeur! CHARGE!” the voice rose up as the men-at-arms rushed forward, up the hill past the dead men from the just happened slaughter.
Adrien stabbed his spurs into his horse, which sprang forward, heading towards the enemy’s rear. He grabbed his lance and pulled it from the ground as his shield hand replaced his sword to its sheath and let his dangle from his shoulder. He raised it up as the lance caught aflame, the flame not harming him. His shield now back in his hands, he felt he rush of hot air past his ears, and roots crawled along the ground with them, racing jsut as fast at the tombs damn legion. Adrien just smiled, knowing that the Prophetess was protecting them, as the knight, all 31, formed a wall of lances and shields around her, charging forward. As they reached the peak of the rest of the army appeared, rushing at the enemy. Knights, mounted and not, rushed forward at the enemy, leading the men at arms, and crashed into skeletal warriors, steeds and other sorts of creatures. He heard the cries for glory, protection and for victory as the lines collided against each shield and weapons clashing against one another.
“Charge! Lance them!” he says. In moments he lances his first enemy, a mounted skeleton, crushing it and making bones shatter and spiral away flaming as he crashed through the lines.
Several minutes passed as he crushing the enemy under foot and the flurry of melee took up. He let his lance’s flame encompass a wall of men, before it was knocked away from him by a halberd wielding skeleton. A few moments passed and he felt the blunt end of the spear knocking him off. He fell, a loud crash as he hit the ground, which he scrambled back up, drawing out the first of his swords, slashing through several skeletons. He parried and hacked his way through dozens of skeletons and beasts till he came upon his brother, who was also on foot now.
“Brother! Where’s the line?” he called, Régis moving past him to cut down a halberd wielding a skeleton.
“I don’t know Adrien! I got knocked off. Look for the Liche! We take it out we take out this legions power!” he called, raising his shield to block a halberd coming down on him.
“Find it! Kill it! We win! Got it!” he called back, sweating in his helmet, panting. He swung his blade around and wretched it into the body of a large scorpion beast. He felt something inside as his blade snapped.
He left it there as the beast rolled over, withering in pain, as Adrien moved on, drawing his blade and rushing into the next batch of enemies. He cut them down, running into some men at arms, who rushed to him, forming a wall around him.
“Push for the centre! We must find the Liche! When we do, we have to kill it!” he proclaimed as two knights of the quests finished cutting down a giant beast of stone and metal, cutting of its wings and thrusting their blades through its skull. Around him the flurry continued as the screams of death raged. A giant stone rained crushing dozens of skeletons under it, while rolling deeper into the army. Adrien slashed the next enemy, having it blocked by a turquoise shield and deflecting it away from him. Luckily he was saved by one of the men-at-arms thrusting his pole-arm through it and making it sunder appear.
The battle continued on, as he hacked and slashed his way through at least a dozen more enemies’ constructs, his second sword shattering against a halberd. Each cut made him feel weaker and there seemed to be no end to the skeletal warriors of the sand. His third blade came out, and thrust it into the shell of the next enemy.
“M’lord!” came a call, a paragon of a knight group rushed beside him and cut down a large serpent construct, its glowing green eyes flickering into blackness as it head fell to the ground.
“Yes Sir Godfrey, what is it!” he replied parrying a blade, a solid thump against his shield. He swept at the monster from under the shield; breaking is spine and watching it collapse.
“We have confirmed that the Liche is attempting to make a push for the Damsels and Prophetess’s! We have to kill it now!” Godfrey reply, fear in his voice, as he chopped another beast in two.
“Agreed! Send a signal for the knights who remain mounted to head to protect the damsels and charge the lines of the nearest damned monsters!” he called. The paragon nodded, turning away and making his way through the lines of the men-at-arms and knights, who all surge forward to kill the enemy.
Adrien felt a surge of energy through him as he felt hsi skin and muscles become stronger, and he smiled, “CHARGE MEN!! DESTROY THESE MONSTORITIES!!” he called thrusting his sword through a skeleton, its bones dissipating to sand and dust. The enemy began to slow, and fewer monsters rushed at them.
“Incoming!” someone screamed and instinct took over as Adrien raised his shield, and felt the sting of arrows rain down upon the men and him. The wards around him protected, and he thanked the lady for protecting him, but he could see the arrows and punched clean through his shield and one had punched through the shield and into his arm, making him flinch in pain. His eyes watered for a moment as swung his sword through the arrow, making him still capable fo fighting without arrow’s stuck out of the shield, which made him look around him. At least a dozen Men-at-Arms were felled with the arrows having passed easily through there chainmail and studded leather.
Adrien growled and looked forward, to raise his shield to a ball of terrifying energy against him. His shield, enchanted as it was, let the energy roll off him as the next wave of arrow’s fell on the men. He understood now, and signalled for the men to rush forward. He stepped forward as a line of knights pressed on. He chopped around his shield and dropped another skeleton with his blade. His eyes narrowed, seeing the twisting sands of magic wrap around the lead skeleton for a formation of Ushabti, wielding large two hand weapons.
Unspeakable words escaped from the liche’s mouth as its started to cast another spell.
“Sir Francis, Edwin and Mathias, you lead the knights against the left, while Sir Andros, Comgal and I will take the center. Sir Brodie, Lochlann and Théo attack teh right! Everyone else support us in our assault!” Adrien called to the knights around him, before leapt forward, several knights following with the rush, crashing against the standing corpses. Adrien parried a blow from a jackal like monster, wrenching his sword through its skull, before pushing it back with his shield. Another knight wasn’t as lucky, a crocodile Ushabti swung its blade and removed the knights arm from the shoulder down, before bringing the blade back across the knights chest and cutting the armour clean open, breaking the knights ribs and killing him. Adrien pressed on, the knights of the quest dealing with the Crocodile Ushabti a moment later. He clung to his sword in his hand as he parried yet another blow, thrusting it into the gut of another Ushabti. He pulled it out to see it light aflame, smiling.
“Brother! Take the head of the monstrous wretch ahead of you!” call Yvres. He held a banner eternal aflame, making Adrien smile in his helm, turning to the Liche, who’s mouth continued to move, spouting the wretched spells of the dead sands at him. Adrien moved forward, swinging his hand towards the liche, feeling it parried. He blocked the Liche staff himself, feeling the it smash against his shield. He swung the blade again at the liche, only to have it parried again. He growled, and swung his shield against liche and knocked it against the ground. He turned and parried a blow from a jackal Ushabti and pushed it back with his shield, only to have a knight with a great weapon chop it clean in half and let its body fall to the ground.
Adrien spun on his foot, thrusting his flaming blade at the Liche. The blade embedded itself into the shell of the beast, receiving a long and powerful groan from the skeletons now dissipating mouth. Its jaw unhinged as the scream became more powerful, before becoming silent as the body turned to sand and the beast around him too began to turn to sand, only to have the men cut them down, faster and faster, until none remain. Nothing, but sand.
Adrien looked about, as the knights began to gather the fallen knights, while Damsels and Prophetess dealt with the wounded. He moves to the rear, seeing the yeoman collecting their dead. He sighed.
It was a victory, but a heavy losses to his crusade, and from what he could already see, only a third of his peasants remained and at least a tenth of his knights had been killed. He waved off the last of the knights and when about, finding his lance and picked it up, walking towards the ridge.
“I hope that this pleased you papa,” he said quietly, “For I have finished your vendetta and now you may rest.”