The Battle of Saltshire
Sarah, Lady Sarah as she had been knighted, had prepared for this moment for most of her life. She had trained at the Knight’s Academy in New Alaris and had been recognized by the Arch-Knight, Lord Pax., It was he who had instilled in her the true values of being a knight and the work it took to protect the people. She had been taught that the knight's call was to ensure the hopes of the people and give them something greater to believe in. Sarah had already proven herself and had been honored by the city of Albrik as a hero when she saved it from the treacherous dragon Toothful.
Then why did she feel so overcome with dread? What power did this hulking beast of a man hold, who battered her mind and spirit as strongly as his axe beat down on her shield. Her spirit cried out to overcome him as she witnessed her fellow knights struggle against the same dark power.
The Knightmare that stood against her had ravaged the small farming village of Saltshire. Saltshire lay on the border of The Scar and New Alaris just within Sunbriar, making it a crossroads for many.
Lady Sarah and a trusted contingent of knights, including her close friend Sir Edward, had been sent forth by Lord Pax to defend Saltshire. They had hurried forth and torn through the waves of monsters and beasts that had ravaged the nearby countryside. Now only this one man remained as a threat to all she stood for and the people of this village.
The figure before her was not the combatant Sarah and her comrades had been expecting to fight. They had not been warned of The Knightmare that awaited them. He was far beyond the challenge of the monsters they had already fought. A sense of dread and an overbearing essence cascaded from him across the land, causing the villagers to be terrified beyond understanding. It was more than even some of the knights could stand against.
Fighting this figure would prove to be no easy task. The notion that the Knights of Alaris could restore peace and save the villagers dissolved as this deadly figure in his horned helm, dragging his massive axe, stalked from one Knight to the next. The Knightmare dominated the field of battle.
A sense of dread bore deep into Sarah’s chest like a living thing, filling her heart with an inexplicable fear. She found herself overcome with hatred and despair. The Knightmare swung his imposing axe effortlessly. His motions were concise, single-focused swings filled with devastation. He didn’t waste energy with flourish. He seemed to fight with little regard, as if he believed there were none who could defy him. None on this battlefield could stand alone against The Knightmare, other than Lady Sarah. Though Sir Edward and Sarah’s other knights tried to aid her, they continued to be beaten down. Even as she tried to shield them from the onslaught; Sir Edward was dealt a serious blow.
Meeting the monstrosity blow for blow wore away at her strength. Though her speed and skill matched his, the sheer ferocity of his attacks was immeasurable.
As if this wasn’t enough, he seemed to be protected by some mad sorcerous spell. He fought with single-minded focus, leaving himself open to counter attack without care. Recovering from the brute force of his blows had kept her on the defensive for most of the battle. Still, an opportunity presented itself, and the Knight pressed the attack. Lady Sarah struck at The Knightmare, cleaving into his side, only to be overcome with searing pain in her own side as she slid her sword back into a defensive posture. As she leapt away from The Knightmare, she realized that she, the nearby villagers and knights under her command suffered from fresh wounds to their sides in the very place she had mere heartbeats ago struck her enemy.
Her resolve to end the conflict was growing and, unable to ponder the invisible attack, she parried the forceful strikes of The Knightmare’s Axe. She fought with renewed intensity, using her knight ability of healing on herself to remain alive and drive the combat forward. Lady Sarah drained herself of all within, down to her last emotion, to survive. A lull in the battle allowed her a moment’s respite, and in that moment an understanding occurred between Lady Sarah and The Knightmare that stood before her. The battle was ended and The Knightmare departed.
Many of her knights, including Edward, lay injured as well as many villagers, too many for her to heal on her own in her weakened state. Lady Sarah was filled with a sense of failure. Distraught, she led the survivors away from the once beautiful Saltshire, back to New Alaris. Her worry for her friends drove her to reach the healing hands of the New Alarian Doctors swiftly. Once safe, she could return to hunt The Knightmare that had destroyed Saltshire and harmed those she held dear.
He stood at the edge of Saltshire strong, hulking, stalwart, pleased and frustrated. His goal was simple. Destroy this current system and its cruelty. His master had schooled him in the perversions of the world. He had come to understand how those in positions of power committed wrongs for their own personal agendas. Moreover, the common people tolerated this by doing nothing to stop it.
It would begin in Saltshire. Saltshire was small enough that it was of little importance but still close enough to rouse the nest of those that needed to be addressed. He had waited for this moment to come.
His power was such that those who felt his presence were brought to great fear or inspired by the strength of the Scar’s supreme champion. Even the inhabitants of the Scar, beasts who were avoided in every corner of the world, either fled his presence or followed him like a lion, guided by this symbol of might and survival. Perhaps there would be some greater use for these creatures in the future. For now, he’d let them appease themselves with the destruction of this once insignificant town. He would remember it. It would be important to recall the moment his quest began. Their sacrifice would become a historical moment all would recognize.
He shook off his musings. The air within his sphere had changed. Something had entered into his area of influence. The Knights of New Alaris had arrived to face him and he watched as the weakest of them fell to their knees before him. His presence was overwhelming and his conviction was like a pressure on their souls that they could not overcome.
He reveled in it. It was high time they paid the price for their sins. It was the Knights who sheltered the guilty and all those who used their power to prey upon a world which had resigned itself to its fate. No More. The world’s filth and all those complacent would be shown judgment for their inaction.
He had not expected her to be there though. He knew they would send knights, but he never expected this knight, Lady Sarah. It seemed she could elude his power. She carried herself differently than the other knights and her resolve seemed unshaken in his presence.
Her shield up, she batted away blow after blow of his Axe. His power and conviction were too much for her to overcome. Though she met him strike for strike, she repeatedly fell. He beat down on her incessantly. But her foul magic rejuvenated her body and her spirit somehow. With each fall she rose up again and again. Other knights charged forth in her defense, in their demise. He batted them away as easily as one would swat a fly. They would have been of no consequence, except for their interference in his battle with only one of true importance; she who refused to stay down and accept her defeat. His frustration grew as wave after wave of knight charged forth to attempt to overwhelm him. What honorable warriors, trying to swarm him with sheer numbers rather than face him in definitive battle. Lady Sarah hid behind her fallen troops to heal herself again and again rather than heal the others around her that fell at his hands.
This is what the knights of New Alaris were; this is what they stood for. This was the evil that destroyed everything that he would never know, because they took it from him before he knew it even existed. His strikes were true and straight, swiping with defined purpose. It was a necessity as he was driven to exhaustion fighting off the hordes of knights, one man alone against the masses. But as more knights fell, Lady Sarah seemed more determined to fight on. He raised his weapon higher for more power to bring his Axe down on her and end this foolishness. He left himself open without fear or concern and was struck in his side. Pain seared through his body, and he spewed it outward into the land around him. He watched the knights fall. His power over them was evident. The wounds erupting on their bodies was a reflection of his own. His retaliation. If only he hadn’t expended so much energy fighting off the others. Looking down at Lady Sarah rising to her feet once more, he knew he could not win against her impertinence. This battle would take too long to determine a winner and possibly leave him vulnerable. All his life he had known None were his equal, yet here she was. The realization left an ashen taste in his mouth, worse than death. Still he could not risk continuing. Even now, as he looked across the field of battle, a few of the knights stirred. He turned and walked away from the remains of the town of Saltshire. This battle would continue another day.