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Cataclysm/Chapter 1, Dishonor

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Once, we were different.

We ate, drank, and loved as noble beings.

Once, we had a kingdom.

We were lords, knights, adhering to chivalrous ideals.

Once, we were human.

Now, have we lost it all?

For we had a choice - to perish, or alter our ways of living.

Our past ethics were shed, memories of another life forgotten.

Where is our honor now, Lords of the Flame?


CHAPTER 1: DISHONOR

The men are restless. I can hear the whispers in the night, theories of a conspiracy. Even now, I hear them.

"Does the Lord himself not question our orders?"

"Shush. Orders are orders."

"Orders may be orders, but this... This is going too far."

Not one month ago, we were a peaceful kingdom; Ardens. Unprovoked, His Majesty declared war against neighboring kingdoms. Our vast military forces overwhelmed the smaller kingdoms. In less than a week, they were a part of the newly announced Empire of Ardens.

Despite the claims by His Majesty, we found no evidence of supposed evil committed by these kingdoms. The villages didn't resist our conquest, most simply allowed themselves to be conquered. What little military we faced was not fueled by any sort of desire to fight; most were old, frail, and unable to properly battle.

I am a part of the High Council of the Empire, the Lords of the Flame; a group of nobles and leaders that take orders directly from the king. Each has command over at least one legion, depending on rank. Having a relatively low rank, I had only one legion.

Ash, my legion, was sent to claim a powerful artifact from a village on the border of the empire. We were told that the artifact, a scepter with a large ruby, was a divine gift, a blessing from the Gods to show us where the Empire was to conquer next. We were told that it was our destiny to take this artifact, lest the village learns how to use it's mystic power for evil.

We found the scepter, but at what cost? As we were ordered to do, we burned down the village, and herded up the 100 or so men, women, elders and infants. The woman at my feet, with her hands bound, and all the other innocent villagers who put up no resistance, looked at me with her eyes. They showed no anger. No fear. No regret. Only pity.

For she knew, at that very moment, when our blades would behead each and every single one of them, we had destroyed any hope of recovering our honor.

The ruby in the scepter shines silently, not willing to assure our souls that what we did was right.


"Lord Leon!"

I am woken from my memories and thoughts by a knight whom I did not recognize. He must have been a new recruit, or a very low-ranking member.

"We are Ash - a proud legion of Ardens! Are we now thieves, sent to plunder?"

"Enough". I ordered.

"But M'lord!"

I look to my right, and now I see a senior knight, one that I know very well. Sir Avan, one of the first knights who trained alongside me.

"The kingdoms, the villages, they all offered no guilt to be accused of, and little resistance. Still, we cut them down..."

"Enough!"

I looked around, noticing my disheartened knights.

"We did no more than what our Empire required us to do".

Still, they are not rallied. Truth be told, I wasn't very happy about the situation either. But still...

"We are Ash. It is not our place to question the orders of our Emperor. Now, prepare for landing, men!"

"M'lord!". Out of respect and honor, they quickly went to their respective stations, leaving me in my quarters.


I breathe a sigh of relief, and I remember the woman's eyes.


Where is our honor now, Lords of the Flame?

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