Silent Scars of Wrath’s Perdition
Four figures gather in the warmth of the campfire. Their shadows seem to dance as the branches crackle in the flame. One of their number guards the rest from atop the trees, his focus on the unnatural darkness of the forest instead of the chatter below. The one telling a tale of betrayal, exile, and banquets is minute in stature but stout of heart.
“And that is why I am the Last Emperor.” He broadens his shoulders and puffs out his chest, somewhat like a salute to the fallen which he doesn’t notice. After receiving no reaction, he proceeds to break the silence, “Who’s ready to tell their story next? How about you mix-blood?
As the half-elf faces the halfling to respond, he grits his teeth and holds his tongue at first. He doesn’t yet consider this man a companion since it’s their first job together, but as he hears “mix-blood” his mind is gripped with emotions from the past.
“Wake up, wake up, son!” he knew that voice. That’s mum. Is it morning already? “Wake up your brothers too! Hurry, you need to get ready now.”
Hearing that her voice was full of urgency and dread was what broke the spell of grogginess. When he opened his eyes, she had already left the room. He heard her footsteps as she was going down the stairs.
As he walked towards his brothers’ beds. “Wake up you cheap replicas and get dressed.” He thought that was clever. They’ve all been born with the same face, branding the four of them as a “dark omen.”
He was still trying to be optimistic that their mum had woken them up for a surprise since the festival was just a couple of days away. That thought went away when he started to hear their Father arguing outside their house.
When the shouting started, he motioned for his brothers to go down the stairs with him. The eldest of the quadruplets took the front
“Of course! even though it was my idea. He always acted like the leader just because he was older by a few minutes.” He thought to himself. They were halfway down when his older brother looked back at them, his expression giving him a grim feeling of what was to come.
As they drew closer down, he asked himself why it was so bright outside. The light was spread wide and orange like a sunset, but its flickering betrayed the fact that it was artificial.
A creaking noise from a loose board pierced the silence inside the house and a hushed “Get down here quickly” beckoned us. They joined their mother by the dining table.
She said, “We love you boys. Let your Father handle this.” She was trying to comfort them but he could tell she was scared. He could hear his Father arguing with someone, the voice he recognized as the village alderman.
All of a sudden hell broke loose when someone from outside shouted, “Burn the witch!” Glass shattered as the windows broke from the thrown torches. He could distinctly hear clash of steel as swords were parried.
Mum sternly said, “Run boys, we’ll meet you at the grove. You remember the grove, right? Your Father and I will be there as soon as we can, but for now run and run fast!” So they ran, exiting out the backdoor.
“Our Father was a great swordsman from an ancient bloodline of elven warriors in the city and mum was a powerful druid. There was nothing to worry about.” He said to himself.
“I’m running really fast tonight, faster than usual. I think mum had cast a spell on us. My younger brother is beside me, but I couldn’t see my older brother or our youngest”. But he thought to himself that this was how they always raced to the grove, taking their own routes and shortcuts to see who was fastest and sharpest.
But desperation started to creep in “They should already be coming for us in the grove both mother and Father. Those backwater peasants don’t know who they’re dealing with.” When he heard a thud from a tree in front of him and felt a sting of pain and warmth started covering his right cheek. He quickly skimmed his face and realized it was blood that was when desperation settled in.
“I saw two of the mix-bloods here!” howled by the hunters like barking hounds on the trail of their hunt.
“Were we animals to be hunted?!” He painfully uttered unknowingly.
“You are a disgrace to this House,” they said to his Father. The young lad remembering a time when they were younger his family about to be discarded. “To bring impurity to this family! We shall spit out those mix-blood broodlings!” These words echoing through his mind.
“Were we rubbish to be thrown away and forgotten?” He painfully thought vividly.
He kept running faster, even as the arrows flew past him and his younger brother, he could still hear him right next to him at pace, running in the same direction. He lowered his head and shut his eyes for a quick moment. He didn’t want his brother to see the tears starting to flow.
He then crashed and found himself on the ground. “My face and chest hurt. Did I get hit? No, I just run into something like a rock clad in iron. It couldn’t have been a boulder, I know there weren’t any in this part of the woods. I’ll keep my eyes shut when they grab me, I’d bite and fight back. I want to live.”
The first thing he noticed was a gruff chuckle and the rattling of armor. The second was the smell of black powder and ale. He opened his eyes, expecting the monstrous face of a troll or an orc, but what welcomed his sight was a dwarf. His father had always talked about dwarves as strong, stubborn, ingenious, and loud bearded men underneath the mountains.
The dwarf chuckled, “What is an elf-ling doing at the woods in the middle of the night?” Before he could answer, something caught the dwarf’s attention, and raised a shield as tall as himself to deflect an arrow. He then herded the young half-elf behind him, where both brothers were united.
Their protector was like an armored mountain as the young brothers took shelter at his back. Putting all their focus on their unexpected savior they saw how he drew and raised his axe, ignoring the arrows clinking against his armor, and the eldest of the twins felt a tranquil moment come over him like the calm before a storm. Their living fortress pulled back his arm and threw his axe into the darkness. What it struck remained unseen, but a breathless groan was heard, a tearing of flesh against steel, and then the sputtering of blood.
The dwarf shouted a series of words, its power reverberating through the eldest twin’s mind. The darkness fell away as the axe glowed brightly from the corpse it had cleaved and flew back to its master’s hands. He then saw his youngest brother being held by one of the many hunters of children. He couldn’t count them all. He didn’t want to count them.
The light then revealed to him that they were already in the grove, but these hunters were also here. He then closed his eyes and decided, “Tonight I shall stay silent, but the day will come when they shall know my wrath.”
As “SilentWrath” turns his gaze to the halfling, he tells himself “I may not wish to draw the memory from the well of my mind, but I cannot stop myself from feeling that moment in time.”He smirks and says “If you survive tomorrow’s hunt and claim our bounty, treat me to a hot meal and some ale. Then I’ll tell my story of old, little emperor.” The man in the trees his younger brother “VeiledMaxim” gives a passing chuckle, as the halfling quickly retorts, “It's ‘The Last Emperor,’ just to be clear.”