The Horseman of Conquest

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Summary

In a war-torn world, four teenagers face famine, war, pestilence, and death. Will they survive till the next year, or will the world kill them first? After an attack on Solle Fiey, the Ful-lands of Saint Addins was fully destroyed. It forced survivors to the By-lands. No food and too many people changed the By-lands and its people. From what was once a land of industry and prosperous arts, turned into the sole industry of mechanics. Now, a rebellion is brewing amid the silent war for power and control in Reatte. It is a battle that has no end, a battle of the true Horsemen of the Apocolypse and the ones who have earned their names by surviving what has killed those before them. A journey of four teens, wholly underprepared for what they must face, are more connected in their pasts than their futures. They must use their ability to survive as their weapon and protect the rebellion started by the fires of their hearts. Famine, War, Pestilence, and Death have each found a perfect match in the Rebellions Four Horsemen.

Genre:
Fantasy / Adventure
Author:
S. A. Manning
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
1
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
16+

The bird in the golden cage

Dax

I stared out the window, waiting for the seemingly endless monotony to cease, but it didn’t.

It never did.

As I stared out into the darkest reaches of Allare as the sun rose over the horizon of the city, only disrupted by the buildings in its way. The trees light up, changing from the forest greens of the dark to a vibrant emerald that came forth with each moment the sun rose higher.

I watched as the people began to leave their homes, as they left for their well-paying jobs. I watched as children left for school, and their animals of choice followed them. I watched as animals ran rampant, scavenging for food near the restaurants. On the edges of Allare was the beginning of the By-lands. I could tell because of the 20-meter wall that surrounded us. Everything was in its place, everything was as it should be. And yet, something felt so wrong.

“Dax, your father has requested your presence, he claims it to be an urgent matter, but I fear that he has done something despicable yet again,” Damian speaks to me in his low baritone, but his tone is... a warning to say the least. The last time he used that tone, someone had attempted to kidnap me for ransom. Not that my father would ever pay it. He had always been someone to depend on, no matter what happened. It didn’t appear like that would change now.

“Damian, thank you for the warning. I hope it is unfounded, but you haven’t lead me wrong yet. I hope that it is nothing other than another marriage meeting, where I say no and he finds yet another person. But I fear that it is worse than that.” No matter how bad things could get, it would be worse if I ignored the warning signs.

“Dax, I have raised you since your mother passed, and I want you to remember, that if the need should arise, I will attempt to help you in any way, shape, or form that I can.” I nod along, accepting his words, even if I hope that it doesn’t come to that.

I stood and walked just past him, before I looked back. He had turned back to look at me as well.

“Thank you, Damian, I appreciate your services.”

“Think nothing of it Dax, I was only doing what anyone would have done.”

“Not likely. But I appreciate it nonetheless.” I walked into the elevator and turned around to see a small smile lighting up my father figures face as the doors closed.

The descent was usual, a calming motion. Get in, press the middle button on the side wall. Let the doors close all the worries behind me. Let my emotions leave me. Doors open and see the man that caused our country to be in ruin.

The same thing, without fail. However, something was different; my father wasn’t holding a file in his hands, didn’t look annoyed with the world at large while looking at me.

No, he was... smug.

Damian was right.

“Ahh, Dax. Lovely day isn’t it? I watched the sunrise this morning, the light glinting off of the glass is truly beautiful. I also finished a contract with Senator Melour, it involves you to a degree.” His eyes glinted as he spoke, the sunlight illuminating his face. The way that he looked like he had won made my heart drop to the pit of my stomach.

“It is a day like any other, I believe. And a contract with Melour, you say?” I raise an eyebrow at him, and his eyes glint yet again. My hands twitch at the sight.

“Yes, you will be married to Valkyrie Melour in two weeks time. Had you not been so dismissive of the people I brought in for you before, you may have had a choice in this matter.” His body radiates that he had won, like when the By-lands had nearly been destroyed like the Ful-land. When he had nearly destroyed all of Solle Fiey in an attempt to break them. When they finally surrendered to his merciless dominance.

When the three Solles agreed to his terms, at the cost of giving in to a man like him.

He doesn’t care about the devastation he causes, so long as he wins.

“No... No, you have never given me a second of your time, except when you wanted something, I have never had a choice here. I performed to your standards, I lived as you wanted, I acted the way you designed me to. I refuse to do this!”

“You don’t have a choice. The contract has been signed, and for this outburst, you will be under house arrest till the wedding. Your only connection outside that you will have will be Damian. Guards!”

They dragged me away as if I was a sack of flour. Or a disobedient puppy. I was dragged up the stairs because I was moving too much - trying to make them let go of me - for the ride to be safe.

Thrown into my room like yesterday’s trash, I got up and ran towards the door, only for it to be slammed and locked in my face.

“Damian! Damian, where are you?” I yelled the second I knew that the guards had left.

I began to run towards the kitchen suite, making enough noise to catch his attention. To bring him to me.

To wake me from this nightmare.

“Dax, what is going on?” He spoke as he turned the corner, only to catch an armful of me, “I was told that I would be staying in here with you for the next while, only leaving when I needed something. What did he do?”

He held me tighter as he felt the first tear soak through his clothes. As I shook like a leaf and started to sob, holding the only father figure I had ever known. As he held me like I was made of glass that would shatter in seconds.

“I... I am engaged. Political engagement, to a girl I have never met before. You said you could help me. Please, get me out of here. To the By-lands, my father only has people here, not beyond the wall. I know you are different. Damian, please.”

“Dax, Dax, listen to me, okay? Listen to me. I can get you out, but not until Friday. That is when the By-landers closest to the wall can come in to do work, and leave when they don’t find it. It is the only day I can. Just calm yourself. It will be okay.” Damian held me like how he must have held his son. His son who was drafted, and never came back.

(~o{War}o~)

Soon enough it was Friday, and I had been told nothing about my wedding; however, I was fitted for a suit. It was supposed to be for my wedding, I knew that better than anyone else. I cried for hours after it was over.

“Dax, it is time to leave. You have the bag ready, correct?” I gave him a firm nod, face as stone cold as the days had felt since the incident.

The escape was a whirlwind of colours and sounds, never once feeling real. I was sent down the laundry chute, into the basket, escorted into a truck, and switched back and forth between the trucks until I was outside the walls.

I only knew this because the driver started pounding on the walls of his truck, to get my attention.

“Hey, your highness, get your ass out of my truck.” I jumped up and started to climb out when the driver sighed and looked at me and my clothes. “Okay, here is the thing, I don’t like what your father has done, but if even his brat doesn’t like him then we can at least agree on something. Some advice: change your clothes, stay to the shadows, and for the love of god, take this.” I barely caught the bag thrown at me. It was bigger than the one I left with and seemed to have more room. Half of the bag felt empty, and it felt like it could fit what I had in it. “People live out of bags like this, so to blend in, take it. I am doing this so Damian doesn’t lose another son. Be careful, and stay hidden you hear.”

I nodded and he grabbed his hat and swatted at me with it, “Now get out of here brat, you can eat the scraps later!”

I ran off to the nearby area that was filled with the greenery of a forest that I had only seen from my window. As I picked up speed I noticed that the ground was getting bumpier. My solution to run faster to combat this rough terrain was destroyed by the fact that I quickly caught my foot on a root and a tree broke my fall. And possibly my face as well.

While I thought about how breaking my nose could possibly help throw off the detectors, I stemmed the blood flow from my nose and started to formulate a plan. Like how I should put my two bags worth of things into one, and keep the second one for emergency purposes. And how I should set up a shelter before the sun sets.

Opening up the duffel-bag I had been gifted, I saw food and a water filtration device. Things that would no doubt be of use to me. There was also some clothes that looked like they hadn’t been properly tailored for whomever the last one to wear it was, and most important of all, there was a 12-inch dagger.

The dagger would be of more use weapon-wise if I learned to use a dagger instead of a military issue gun. If I didn't already hate my father for everything he had done already, I would have found room in my heart to hate him just a little bit more.

The clothes were at the bottom, presumably for if someone cut open your bag, they wouldn’t get your supplies. But what sort of heathens lived out here? Why would they not tailor the clothes? Would it not be better to tailor it to suit one specific person so no one else could steal it and have it be of use to them? There seems to be much I am not aware of, like how the people out here managed to buy something as expensive as a water filtration kit. Especially one as compact and useful as this. It was almost military grade, but I don't think even the military had ones that are as good as these. It would run the risk of getting it into the hands of the enemy and the last thing we needed was the enemy getting resources.

So how did people out here get it if we don't even have widespread resources for our own military?

I only had more questions than answers, and no answers seemed to be in my grasp any time soon.

The dagger had quite obviously not been made by a master, but it seemed durable and was correctly weighted based off of the historical examples I had held in the Allare Museum. The edges were still partially jagged, and there were small scratches throughout the blade, but overall, it was a beautiful knife.

I changed into the clothes provided to me, no matter how they made me feel, which was quite naked. I grabbed my clothes from the Allare and placed them in the hole of a tree, grabbed my bag, and started walking through the woods once again.

I thought I heard the sound of wolves, but I dissuaded myself of that notion. If only because there was a simple bell-like laugh that rang through the forest, it was very feminine and it encouraged me to come to it. However, the spell-like trance that had taken over was broken when a pack of wolves started howling in sync with the laughter.

It sounded much closer than before; as if they had been hunting and I was their new prey.

I had never run quicker.

(~o{War}o~)

I finally made my way out of the forest, and the world seemed to brighten back up. As if all the life in the forest was dictated by the owner of the bell-like laughter. That was worrying in its own right because I could have fallen to its owner quite easily had I followed it. I had been completely entranced, which had never happened before. I swore to myself to never allow a person of dangerous qualities to capture my subconscious again; if they gain power over me, it will be like the incident all over again. No one will hold power over me again. I won’t let anyone hurt me again.

I entered the nearby village, only to be greeted by unfriendly faces. I was an upstanding citizen, this lack of faith in the good to be found in people is quite frankly disturbing.

It slipped my mind for just a moment where I was. No one will care if I am upstanding if I am carrying a weapon that can kill them at any given moment. Not that they didn’t have a good reason for worrying that I was armed. I was, but I was incredibly inept at using what I had.

My father’s effects on the quality of the lives of others must reach farther than I originally thought. Had he truly ruined the lives of so many?

It seemed that this new life would be no easier than the one my father was dictating. However, I am the dictator my own life now, so if I screw up horribly and die, it is all on me.

I won’t allow my father or anyone else to hurt me, but who is there to stop me from harming myself in the process. Who will stop me from ruining those around me, and losing myself in the madness that had overtaken my father?

It was a reasonable concern; after all, I am my fathers’ son.

I spiraled under the gazed of those surrounding us until someone wrapped their arm around my shoulder and dragged me off of the street.

“Hey, you seem to be new here, so here is a bit of advice, keep your head down, and if anyone in army gear shows up, keep your head down and don’t say anything. No matter what happens, you dig?” My head was still spinning from the change in scenery, and from the fact that there was a humongous man in front of me. “Kid, are you gonna answer me at all or did your little brain die before you could?”

That snapped me out of it, but only just, he reminded me of someone I had forgotten long ago.

“I understand sir, but why are you helping me?” The behemoth of a man just shook his head at me before answering.

“Listen, kid, you aren’t the first one to get kicked out of the Allare, so watch your step, there are hundreds of us everywhere, so be cautious. Some got kicked for petty theft, others... for not so little things. No one tells the truth here, so trust no one. Everyone has an agenda, even if they don’t know it. And don’t defer to anyone, I am not sir, I am nobody to you. Don’t give your name, it gives them knowledge about who you are, and knowledge is power. Don’t trust anyone who gives you their name upon meeting you. Now I have to go kid, and you do too. And holy shit, carry yourself like you own the knife you do.” And as soon as he appeared, my dark-haired, giant of a saviour was gone through the crowds.

I looked into my bag to see my knife sitting on the top of my clothes, where it wasn’t before, as if the man had grabbed it and seen exactly what I had. In fact, it seemed as if I was missing a can of food, but the information he gave me seemed to be useful so it was a fair trade in the loosest of terms.

I walked through the city feeling like I was missing something larger than I realized until I ran into another man and fell to the ground.

“Hey! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to run into you, my name is Emilio, what's yours?”

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