Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Essence of Dust: A Narrative Battle Report

Mesut Il-Khedira had served as a Venger of the Exemplar Order for the better part of his life. In those years he had personally driven hundreds of heretical Morrowans from the sacred streets of Sul. His own eyes witnessed the swift and terrible judgment of Menoth upon the unfaithful. Through countless battles the eye of his god fell favorably upon him and rewarded his purity and devotion with divine protection. As a Seneschal the brothers of his order studied his every move in order to better emulate the fervor with which he served his creator. Even under the closest of scrutiny his fellow Exemplar never had any reason to believe Mesut had ever wavered in his faith or for a single moment resisted the guiding hand of Menoth. Today as he faced death and humiliating defeat Mesut Il-Khedira hoped that his brothers could not sense the confusion and anger he felt towards his god.


Mesut had been charged with leading a scouting force of Exemplar Vengers and Errants to clear the path for a larger Protectorate force sent to rendezvous with a supply caravan sent from Sul. The heavy infantry and warjacks at the rear of the Menite line were led by none other than The Testament of Menoth, the only living man who had passed beyond the gates of Urcaen and returned bearing witness to greatness of Menoth.

The Cryxian raiding party struck without warning and judging by their numbers and strength it must have been sent to utterly crush the Protectorate forward guard and pick apart the rest of the army at leisure. Swarms of the undead, skeletal knights, corrupted and bloodthirsty trollkin and monstrous Helljacks descended upon the Errants.. Driving this nightmare army was a hulking Lich Lord bearing trophies from his draconic conquests and hefting a massive blade. Mesut ordered his troops to assume defensive positions and await the arrival of the rear guard.

Separated from the main body of the Menite army the men and women under Mesut’s command resigned themselves to death, grimly determined to find their way to Urcaen with honor. As he scanned the horizon the Venger Seneschal was greeted with a sight that would embolden the most timid of hearts, the Avatar of Menoth. The warjack designed by the Harbinger herself, symbol of the power of his god and the strength of his people. Following closely behind was a group of heavy warjacks driven by the Testament of Menoth. As Mesut ordered his Vengers to encircle the Testament he did not hear a sound from the warcaster, only the chanting of the Choir urging the warjacks onward.


Mesut recalled the hope and pride he had felt upon seeing the warjacks he had thought were his salvation but it did little to comfort him now. The Cryxian onslaught had been brutal and relentless. The hymns of the Choir had been replaced by the screams of Knights Errant as vile corrosion ate away at their flesh, their armor serving as little more than tombs. The Avatar, such a potent symbol of Menoth’s blessing, was nowhere to be seen. The battlefield was covered in unearthly ash, the dead erupting into clouds of charnel flame. Mesut and his Vengers remained back with the Testament, watching helplessly as the souls of the faithful were drawn to the warcaster, filling him with power that the Vengers desperately wished he would use to beat back the undead. Once again, Mesut prepared to die serving Menoth. There were pitifully few troops remaining and the only Warjack in sight was a Reckoner with a crowd of choir acolytes infusing it with Menoth’s power.

The weary Protectorate forces prepared to receive the final charge from the Cryxian army. Towering Helljacks and hordes of trollkin were bearing down on them in such numbers that survival was hopeless. The entire Cryxian army lay between Mesut and the enemy warcaster. Even if he could somehow drive his Idrian stallion through the swathes of undead the Cryxian leader was at such a great distance that his charge would come to a halt long before he could reach his target. Mesut looked to the remaining Reckoner preparing to follow its lead and charge headlong into the enemy. The warjack’s furnaces roared and with a great belch of steam the Reckoner charged, but not toward the enemy. Mesut watched in horror as one of his vengers was hit by a shell fired from the Reckoner’s Condemner cannon. In an instant the Reckoner was finishing off the wounded Venger with a powerful swing of its Consectrator mace. The smell of incense mingled with the scent of freshly spilled blood and before Mesut could react to the warjack’s brutal charge it had dispatched a second Venger with another swing of its mace.

Mesut frantically turned searching for the warjack’s master, there must be some explanation, cortex damage or perhaps some dark Cryxian magic. The Testament locked eyes with Mesut and for a moment the Exemplar hoped he would gain some understanding, that Menoth had some word of direction for him. In the warcaster’s eyes Mesut found no encouragement, no comfort, no wisdom or explanation. All there was to see behind that mask, inside those eyes, was power. Power fueled by the sacrifice of the men and women sworn to bring the light of Menoth to Northern Immoren. After the most fleeting of looks the Testament of Menoth advanced past Mesut and with a single determined swing of Requiem crushed one of the few remaining Vengers. Behind his mask Mesut’s face contorted with disgust and shock. Ibrahim Gazahli had been a true and devoted servant of Menoth, an exemplary soldier who would have served as an excellent candidate for a Seneschal. Mesut could not understand why his god would choose to cut Ibrahim down in cold blood.

Mesut was prepared to die fighting for Menoth, he was pure of heart and mind always willing to heed the call of his maker. This however was too much to bear. Good men, faithfully devoted to Menoth mercilessly slain by those who were supposed to be the servants of their god. A lesser man would have fled in terror, but Mesut was an Exemplar and those who belong to that order know no fear. His faith faltering and all hope lost Mesut Il-Khedira gripped his lance and prepared to charge into the enemy and into Urcaen.

Mesut fixed his gaze on the nearest trollkin and lowered his lance. Before he could order his steed to action a blinding light erupted from the Testament and Mesut lost sight of the enemy. Souls swirled around the Testament dancing madly through the air and dissipating with blinding flashes. His eyes blinded by the spectacle and his ears filled with a sound like rushing wind Mesut was left to stand hopelessly by until the chaos subsided. Just as abruptly as it began the outpouring of power was cut off.

Mesut looked toward the enemy once more but rather than seeing the unholy hordes bearing down upon him he saw three lone Vengers thirty yards ahead of him, their armor glinting in the sunlight and an ethereal mist swiftly dissipating around them. Mesut recognized these soldiers instantly as the very same men he had seen with his own eyes being cut down by his allies. Before they had been hopelessly far from the enemy but now they were now close enough to threaten even the enemy warcaster far behind the frontlines. Mesut stared at the Testament in awe, truly this man had been granted the keys to the gates of death. Though the Testament looked drained of the power Mesut had seen burning in his eyes he summoned one last burst of divine power, raised Requiem high into the air and brought it crashing down sending a shock wave radiating around him.

As the wave of power washed over Mesut he felt a strange sense of detachment. He looked at the world around him and it somehow felt thin, he sensed he could move effortlessly through it and see for miles unobstructed. Feeling as though he was having a taste of the absolute mastery Menoth has over this world Mesut shouted ahead to his Venger brethren ordering them to charge through the Cryxian ranks making for their leader. Mesut sensed the speed of his stallion and the familiar rhythm of its gallop. Gone was the sense of the wind whipping past his armor, the sound of hoof meeting earth. Bracing himself for impact Mesut charged into a waiting bane knight. Expecting a jarring impact Mesut was startled to feel only the slightest resistance, like sand pouring through open fingers. Onward he charged through countless undead horrors not slowing for an instant, drawing ever closer to the heart of the enemy. Ahead he saw his fellow Vengers reach the Lich Lord and one after another they thrust their blessed lances into the monstrous affront to the Creator.

Suddenly the world seemed to slow, the chaotic sounds of battle returned to Mesut’s ears. His limbs felt heavy and his heart was burdened with longing to continue his ride beyond the bounds of Caen and into the realm of his maker. A unexpected jolt caused him to cling tightly to his reins. The legions of undead he has passed through effortlessly moments before were swarming around him fleeing the battlefield. The lich lord was nowhere to be seen, the Cryxian army was broken.


Mesut Il-Khedira had served as a Venger of the Exemplar Order for the better part of his life. After every battle he had ritually cleansed his weapons and armor. The ritual had always brought him comfort, a reassurance of Menoth’s blessing and a hope to serve him again. Today he had cleansed his weapons three times, his armor seven but he still smelled the stench of impurity clinging to him. He had doubted Menoth and his appointed servants. When they reached Leryn he would bring himself before the Scrucators to be cleansed. He hoped that he would be able to serve Menoth once more on the battlefield, whether mounted on an Idrian stallion or on a wrack.

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