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Dreaming: The Black Crusade

Valus Caormastus

Stratics Veteran
The Black Crusade

Valus dreamed of war.

...and there he saw them. All of them. Ten thousand souls. The Virtuous arrayed upon the ridge in righteous splendor. Pale pennants lapped languidly against the sea breeze, as breastplates and speartips gleamed molten gold in the evenings dying light. The last rays of day formed a halo at their backs, the God Kings chosen. Defenders of the Church and of Britannia.


...Knights and Squires. Paladins and Warrior Priests. Simple farmers who had beaten their plowshares into swords to take up this noble cause. They were men who had only yesterday shed each others blood in the name of conquest and self-rule. Only yesterday had they sacked the pagan temples of the north in a vile venting of their bloodlust and intolerance. Today their attentions were turned to a more blessed enterprise. The prideful and the meek. All humanity united in one glorious cause: to drive the Daemons of Chaos back into the Void from whence they came...


...He walked amongst them. Close, their armor was shown for what it really was: mismatched and battered, ancient heirlooms mingled with accutrements of humble craft. Yet nothing could mar the majesty of this single moment. For he loved him as his own, a great and terrible love, as one who sends his child to his death for the sake of others...


From Death... Life.

...He turns. At the base of the hill stands Magincia. It burns. Cobalt flames lick the sandstone mansions. Its sacred minarets topple under the weight of siege. The Daemonhost charges through the streets, cutting down the innocent where they stand. And they are joined by men. The Corrupt. The Heretic. The Blasphemer. Their sin evidenced by the mutations that mar their once beautiful forms. No longer human. Unworthy of life...

...He turns, and raises his hammer to bless them...

"I am the Hammer,
the Herald of Hate.
I am the right hand of the God King Ascendant.
I am the instrument of his will."

...and they chanted with him...

"The King and the Avatar are One.
The Savior of Mankind Lives!"

...over his shoulder, one stepped forth from the blames of Magincia. She holds a Staff in one hand, and a skull of midnight hue in the other...


...a shadow spreads behind her. A face, red and terrible, his eyes as flames...


Once, the Britannians had fought a Daemon Prince, and had been slaughtered for the attempt. It was not until a man had called them to wage war not on the flesh, but the very idea itself, did they strip him of his power and deliver the killing blow.

"Avatar," he cries out. Thousands surged down the mount towards their enemy.

...he spares himself one last glance over his shoulder. One last, selfish glimpse of the light before he faces his death, unmourned and unremembered...

The Guardian rises behind them, his hand stretching out across their ranks. His shadow reaches into their hearts, corrupting them...

...and he laughed...

Valus Caormastus

Stratics Veteran
Valus awoke.

His head pounded as he rose. Thoughts and images continued to race through his mind, disappearing into the aether of his subconscious before he could fully comprehend their subtleties. What time is it? It was as though the silent monologues of those in the adjacent rooms whispered in his ear. No, that would be mad. The Patriarch shifted the covers from his legs, and pressed his feet into the floor.

Had it been a dream? Or another vision. He dare not assume, for the Guardian can shroud himself as an agent of Light, come to whisper sweet nothings in your ear, until your soul is stamped with his mark and bound for Gehenna. Yet, despite his reservations, it bore with it the scent of prophecy.

And that troubled him most.

He rose from the canopied bed that had been provided to him. A kind gesture, but one he accepted with a hint of chagrin. He thought back to the dream. How easy it would be, to assume our baser instincts can be wiped clean in a baptism of blood and fire? What happens when the Crusade ends? What happens when there are no more heretics to purge? No more daemons to banish? No more witches to burn? He shrugged the ceremonial white robes atop his broad shoulders. Will man, who has tasted blood and the spoils of conquest, beat his sword back into a plowshare and return to the life of a farmer, or shepherd? Or will he become like the barons of old, plundering and ravaging until Sosaria is again plunged into war?

He turned to a mirror, and clasped the heavy golden collar of his order about his neck. Flame points pricked his skin, the Sun. Flame of Life. There was one more preparation to-

“Hello, Sweetheart,” a voice cooed with the liquid malevolence of the devil himself. He didn't need to see the silhouette in the window to know who it was.

“Tarrant.” The word slid off his tongue like a curse.