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Congratulations to daelrog with his winning piece - Winter's Serenade. I will contact you soon about your signature.
See it below.Hair and blood flew off Kristoff as the beastman’s axe grazed his scalp. Screaming a fiery curse he swung his sword upward, catching the mangy savage’s jaws. The monster rose two feet into the air, blood spraying in a perfect arc as he fell back. Kristoff turned his head and bellowed out, “Sons of Ostland, I’ve seen you fight better in a drunken stupor against those Hochland pig-lovers!”
His men rallied behind him. They moved forward to face the next wave of beastmen. Kristoff began to raise his sword to inspire his men, but all the strength in his arm melted away. Before them were fifty beastmen, maybe more. At the forefront was a massive creature the howled into the night sky. Kristoff lost the feeling in his legs as he went to a complete stop. They were going to die.
The moment passed and he felt his strength return to him, the sword in his hand once again became real. “Sons of Ostland, let no beast be free of our blades. Let no monster avoid our righteous fury. Today, we will triumph, and no beast will ever return to the town of Banesburg again. With me warriors!” With a newfound power he felt his legs lift him off the ground. It happened so fast. His feet were gliding over the roots and bushels straight for the minotaur.
The world went to a grinding halt. The minotaur had raised his mighty spear to block Kristoff’s downswing. Though through the matted red fur it was hard to tell, Kristoff could have sworn that the creature grinned at him before his free hand swatted him away.
Kristoff was knocked senseless as he hit the ground. Move. Move! He rolled to the side, hearing a loud snap of the spear splitting a rock which he had laid over. He went up to his knees and lashed out, expecting the minotaur to go on the offensive. Quite the opposite happened as his opponent let the sword pierce its flesh. With one hand it grabbed the sword, keeping Kristoff from pulling it back. With the other it tried to skewer him over and over.
He let go of his sword and pulled out a dagger. The minotaur began to chuckle. “You think you can pierce my hide with that knife?”
Kristoff slashed both arms spun around and stabbed the minotaur’s right knee cap. Before the beast could cry out Kristoff brought the knife across the beast’s face finally driving it into his eye.
He looked up for his brothers-in-arms but only saw death around him. He was all alone now staring down the eyes of dozens of curs. Kristoff smiled slightly to himself. He had just slain a minotaur, and no one would know of his victory. No matter though. He only wished that the wind hadn’t grown so cold.
From nowhere they came. Knights that glowed pale silver came rushing from all sides, flowing into the ranks of the beastmen, washing the chaos away from the forest. He did not hear one scream as the knights seems to suck the sound, the life from everything they came across. His right eye went blind by a bright light. He stammered back and tried to look up at the source and was lost for words.
It was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen. A woman, an angel, a goddess was perched atop a white stallion that shimmered from its own light. Her white cloak seemed to swim in the breeze. White gold locks flowed from the hood of her cloak. Pearl lips smiled warmly towards him, ice blue eyes pierced into his very soul.
He fell to his knees. “My Lady.”
Her smile grew wider. “Stand tall proud warrior. Did you not just slay that minotaur.” The richness of her voice wrapped around him. It was nostalgic. Against everything that seemed right to him, he stood up as she commanded. “Good. Now then, will you accompany me back to your village brave solider?”
“It would be my pleasure my Lady.” He bowed low, looking up to see her eyes light up with joy.
“Bring him a horse Shi Lian.”
“As you wish, my Mistress.” A young Cathayan maiden who was beside her went off to find a horse. How long had she been there? The girl was quite pretty in her own right. Was he that lost in her Mistress?
“Now tell me, what is your name?” Her hungry eyes demanded an answer.
“I am Kristoff Bane the Lion, grandson of Olaf Bane, founder of my village.”
“A strong name, with a strong background.” She paused for a moment as if to draw in the whole world to her. “I am the Lady Winter. It is good that my caravan came when it did, else you would have been at the mercy of those savages.”
Shi Lian came back with a grey, dull horse. Kristoff brought himself up onto the saddle. They began to move. He looked around and saw that he was surrounded by strange people. “My Lady, who are these people who travel with you?”
“Ah, so you noticed my acquaintances. You already met Shi Lian my handmaiden. Poor girl never smiles. Lost love you see.” She turned to an even stranger member of her caravan. He wore a black jacket and carried a large scythe with strings attached as if it were a lute. Small holes let air out from small tunnels within. Was it a weapon or an instrument? Was it both? “His name is Deathknell, also known as the Bard of Death. He rarely speaks. When he does, you can expect that death is soon to follow.”
“Such sad tales. Why does someone as beautiful as you travel with such scarred individuals?”
“I have my reasons.” She turned away to indicate their conversation was over.
The caravan reached the outskirts of Banesburg. Servants daubed in white robes shuffled about before silent, silvery knights that seemed to swallow the light around them. Young girls in dancing dresses tossed powder high into the air that had the scent of mint and cinnamon. However, all eyes turned to their champion Kristoff alongside the most beautiful woman any of them had ever seen.
The Lady Winter was pleased with the awe. Her satisfaction faded quickly as a young maiden rushed up to them. “Kristoff!” with grace and vigor she leapt up into Kristoff’s arms, still riding upon the horse.
“Freya! I never thought I would see you again.” The two lovers embraced taking the spotlight away from Winter. "Freya, love, this is the Lady Winter. Her knights saved me from the grasps of those vile beastmen.”
Freya pulled her stare away from her love to look at the woman who saved her man’s life. There was no hint of anger or jealousy in Freya’s eyes, only innocence. Tears welled up and she hopped from one horse to the other to embrace the Lady Winter. “Thank you so much for saving my beloved Kristoff. I would never be able to survive without him.”
Shock rung deep into the Lady Winter. It had been so long since anyone had treated her so informally wonderful. “I… well… he fought bravely.”
Freya released her and dropped off the horse. “Welcome to our village. Please, help yourselves. Any friend of Kristoff’s is a friend of ours.”
“Friend? Yes, I will remember that… Freya.”
On the outskirts of the town, the Lady Winter was starring up at the stars whilst Shi Lian stared blankly in front of her.
“Friend… love… who is that woman to speak to me of such things?”
“Is something the matter my Mistress?” Shi Lian’s lifeless voice gave no hint of concern, yet the Lady Winter had long become accustomed to this.
“That woman, Freya, is so full of life and vigor. She is genuinely a wonderful person, a girl who deserves a brave man like Kristoff Bane the Lion.” Her hands shook with anger and sorrow. “Why does she have everything whilst I have… nothing but power.”
“If I am correct, my Mistress always said that power is what was most important to her.”
“I did. However, power is empty. Power gives us the ability to take what we want. It is taking what we want that fills the space that power provides us.”
“Then my Mistress should take what she wants.”
“There is nothing here that I want.”
“Then why is my Mistress sad?”
“I want to hurt something Shi Lian. I want to bring a cold wind through this town.” She looked up at the uncaring sky. "If I, the Lady Winter, cannot feel happiness, then why should anyone else?”
The two looked over to see Freya walking towards them. Her auburn hair bounced to and fro in the wind. Her night robe gave off a small scent of pine. As before, her face was brilliant, freckles displayed across her face, green eyes untarnished.
“I saw you from the window. Is everything all right Lady Winter? Were the accommodations unsuitable?”
“The accommodations were fine Freya.”
“Can I get you a warm drink, a blanket to warm you up?”
“It is all right.”
“Surely there is something I can do for you. After all, you saved my fiancé’s life, and therefore I owe you mine.”
A small, vicious smiled curled on the Lady Winter’s face distorting her beauty. Her hood fell back and in the moment, golden curls, cold blue eyes, and a heavenly aura filled Freya’s sight. It was followed by something far more sinister.
Kristoff was running through the village. The white-robed dregs had begun murdering people in the night. He smashed one aside with a blacksmith’s hammer, lodging the tool in his skull. He spun around and decapitated a dreg rushing for him with a woodcutter’s axe.
“Freya!” Kristoff had been running frantically everywhere, trying to find her. He passed the last building and saw the Lady Winter, watching the spectacle without emotion. “Who are you? Why have your servants attacked my village? Where is Freya?”
“So young, so naïve. If only she had been less kind, if only her spirit was a bit more dim then I may have spared her. However, I could not let her go on as she was.”
“What do you mean? That doesn’t make any sense at all.”
“It really is simple. If I cannot find happiness in eternal life, why should I let her enjoy a mortal one?”
The cold wind that preceded her, the silent knights, her pale skin, it was all too clear. Kristoff had been a fool not to notice before. He pulled out his sword and rushed for her, feeling every fiber in his body propelled for his opponent. With the wave of a hand, he was blown back by harsh winds that cut his face. “You really think you can challenge me?” The Lady Winter laughed loud and harshly, mocking him. "Good bye Kristoff Bane the Lion, you would have made a good pet, but I found another.”
She began to trot away. Kristoff could see Shi Lian and another woman on a horse, the stranger wrapped in blankets, pale and shivering. Freya. “FREYA!” All around him dregs and ghostly knights began to descend upon him.
Atop a roof Deathknell crouched, watching the scene unfurl below him. He stood up and pulled out his scythe. He strummed a few cords before he began to play.
Where is the love?
The justice of man?
Are we so lost,
That Sigmar forsakes us?
Down, down, down…
Fall into the winter’s
Dream, Winter’s game, Winter’s play, Winter’s cage, Winter’s Rage…”
He played the morning away as the village of Banesburg died.
Thank you for everyone who voted for me. It's things like this that makes an amateur writer's day. For those of you who enjoyed the story, be sure to check out the Summer Seasonal Arena as some of the characters will be returning.
I am heading off to the Peace Corps. It is bery likely I will not be back. Good luck to all of you endeavors.
Good Job man. I liked it very much.
Same here! A deserved winner, but well done to all the other entrants as well!
Also, daelrog, have you actually read what your character is up to in the summer arena? It's a little worrying, to be perfectly honest...
Sorry I missed this but being stuck for two weeks with no connection whatsoever...
Well not much I could do really. Sorry!
5000p. High Elves
That story was pure, undistilled, WIN. If you could somehow make a novel like this, you'd have it made, dude.
Sorry if I'm the only one who picked this up, but the lady winter was a vampire, right? IMO It might have been a bit too subtle, which normally I like.
How dare you speak out against LO! I shall beat you with a giant inflatable duck and then ban you to the lowest level of hell! ~Karmoon
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