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Prologue

by on August 30, 2016
 

 

The Knights Creed

 

As Knight appointed by the Imperium.

This is my creed. This is my Quest.

To defend and uphold the pure innocent and helpless.

To be a beacon of light shining as an example of all that is great and inspirational within mankind.

I wield honour and might for the Imperium.

I am a Knight.

 

The twin moons glowered above the jagged range of the Rhyslec Mountains like two large milky eyes, the dull blue of their light lingered upon a humble cabin perched on a rocky outcrop. From the surrounding gloom, a stooped figure shuffled towards the welcoming glow issuing from the building’s doorway.

Hyber Reese shivered her old joints creaking in protest as she knelt beside the crackling holo-fire, its warmth welcome against the harsh chill of the night air. It was always worse these first days of the winter turn, the cold a dull ache in her bones the winds sharp against her skin.

Soon the cabin would buzz with the children’s excitement the air thick and cloying as they toasted zip bugs and boodles over the flames, the sweet aromas mingling with their infectious laughter comforting far more than any fire.

 

The choosing had always been this way, the young flocking to hear her tales as passed down the long line of storytellers, of the Fire Knights and their endless crusade against the Sheyri. Below in the village, the elders and young men gathered in the great hall to fill the night with their feasting and celebration. Come the break of dawn a lucky few would be chosen as generations before them, to join the ranks of the Knights order and so add their legend to the telling.

 

She turned offering a welcome smile as the children shuffled through the entrance, filling the confines of the cabin with their enthusiastic babble. Hyber motioned for them to be still as they gathered at her feet faces upturned, voices dropping to an excited whisper. She eyed them one by one each familiar to her, once they had stilled and the muttering had died away, she would begin.

 

Hyber’s stories flowed from well-rehearsed lips. The shadows grew long and her audience sunk into a dozy tumble of arms and legs, their dreams a thrilling whirl of ancient battles and heroic adventures, all but one.

Vespa, a girl of twelve turns, sat patient and expectant, her deep blue eyes fixed on Hyber from under an unkempt mop of shaggy blonde hair.

Finally, the old woman acknowledged her. “Yes, my child?”

The girl pleaded with her. “Hyber please tell me again, the other stories, the scary ones from the dark war!”

A frown creased the old woman’s brow. “The hour is late and tomorrow is your brother Jeb’s choosing you should be abed.”

Vespa’s face soured, but Hyber was having none of it.

“You know the small ones don’t like to hear such tales.”

The girl shot upright in frustration “But they’re asleep!”

Smiling Hyber motioned with her hands. “Hush now, wake them, and you shall have no story.” Vespa sat back with a frustrated thump.

The old woman jabbed an accusing finger.

“And don’t let me catch ear of you terrorizing them with these.”

Vespa’s cheeks flushed, and she tried her best to look hurt by the accusation.

“Very well, but a short one. And I’ll want no more of your sass when it’s done.”

Resigned Hyber settled herself and arched her fingers beneath her face. “It was a time far gone, hundreds of turns. And much has been lost in the telling.”

Vespa’s face crossed with a questioning glance causing Hyber’s eyes to narrow accusingly. “I am old child but not that old.”

The girl tried her best to cover the grin forming on her lips, the old women barely hiding her own amusement continued.

“At the reach of the known systems so very far out, two great armies went to war. Across worlds, they battled until finally, they clashed at the Rentspire Gate, an ancient towering fortress. Knight Master Tancrid led the Knights into a desperate fight, there was but the glint of hope for victory against The Reek.”

Vespa gasped a mixture of fear and excitement flushed her face. A thin smile crept across the old woman’s lips.

“The Reek was an olden race, lost now to time and war. And be thankful for that my sweet child for they were a nightmare, a formless creeping evil that could corrupt a good man to its ends. Merciless warriors lacking pity or remorse they devoured whole civilizations leaving nothing in their wake but dead planets, shadow worlds. The light of the galaxy was in danger of being snuffed out forever with only the Knights to stand in its way.”

Hyber lowered the flames of the thermo with a brush of her hand, lengthening the shadows across her face. Lines of age crisscrossing her craggy features she stooped low for dramatic effect. Vespa was enthralled hanging on her every word.

“The battle raged without end, the air thick with smoke and fire. The monstrous shapes of the Reek war abominations lit up by volleys of blaster fire and the flare of a Pyr sword, the screams of the dying echoed across the battleground. The bodies of the fallen heaped at the foot of the gate as wave after wave of Knights clambered over the dead and dying, only to be struck down. Even in the face of such havoc, Lord Tancrid would not yield, the enemy he faced would wipe out every last man woman and child, they had to be stopped.”

She paused for effect, Vespa on her knees in anticipation.

“The green sun of the Spire System rose over the battlefield that fateful last day, the gate cast a shadow so dark as to dull the red blaze of the Knights armor. Across the endless fields of carnage, Tancrid came upon the shattered body of his son, his sorrow, and rage boiled forth in a tortured scream as he spat his hatred for the enemy, vowing to give no further quarter.”

Hyber paused watching the girl, breath held in nervous anticipation. The old storyteller continued, enjoying the attention as much as her audience the telling.

“On they fought the light fading taking with it hopes of victory, and so the old warrior turned to a desperate final measure, an ancient and terrible weapon. The Sunderhammer last of the great obliterators or Planet Killers as they were known. The giant battleship hurtled through the gate Tancrid at its helm wild-eyed and mad with grief, the ship spewing dark energy and purple warp fire. It struck at the heart of the Reek worlds shattering the system. Nothing could escape and in an instance, an entire race and the Battleship were gone, leaving the core of a deadly black star to mark its passing.

It is said that even now if you were to stand at the edge of the Gate and listen you can hear Tancrid’s final screams of rage and sorrow echoing through the void. But don’t linger too close child or you’ll feel its hungry tug as it pulls you down, into the dark.”

 

Vespa sat rapt with eyes like saucers and only when a small Moosecrab scuttled across her palm did she startle and scream. Hyber sat back chuckling as the room descended into a chaotic tumble.

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