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- Prologue - Broken
- The howling wind in his ears. That was the first thing. The howling wind, the
- rustling of trees, the odd click and twitter of a bird.
- Sargon Swart opened his eyes a crack. Light, blurry bright through leaves. This was death? Then why did it hurt so much? No, he knows what death is, he felt it before and something even worse lately, and he was sure there is nothing to do with his whole left side throbbing. He tried to take a proper breath, choked, coughed up water, spat out mud and blood. He groaned, flopped over onto his hands and knees, dragged himself up out of the ravine, drenched in water, gasping through clenched teeth, rolled onto his back in the moss and slime and rotten sticks at the water's edge.
- At least this time it was just water, normal water that isn’t impossible to swim or madding futile to try to break surface tension, it was normal and cold water. And so, he lay there for a moment, staring up at the grey sky beyond the black branches, breath wheezing in his raw throat.
- ‘I’m still alive’ he croaked to himself. Still alive, in spite of the best effort of his previous master, his own stubbornness and whatever that damned thing at end was. Soaking wet and flat on his back, he started to chuckle. Reedy, gurgling laughter. He had done it, he himself didn’t believed that he wouldn’t awoke chained again, but now here he was. He laughed until the lancinating pain stuck like a blade and took away his breath.
- A cold wind blew across the frozen plains, and Sargon’s laughter turned into coughing of pain. Alive he might be, but staying alive, that was another question. He sat up, wincing at the pain. He tottered to his feet, leaning against the nearest tree trunk. He scraped the dirt from his face and took a look at the damage, was that moment that he stopped, twitched his eyes and gritted his teeth.
- What greeted him was a smooth skin, covered in bruises and bare healed gashes from the fall, or should he say rise? Dimensional Magic didn’t care much about orientation. His side, blue and purple stains all up his ribs, tender to the touch, by some miracle nothing broken. It hurt bad, but he was sure that he could move his feet, and that was the most important. He’d need to move if he wanted to do more than die in a different place.
- But what alarmed him wasn’t the mess he was; if anything, he expected far worse, he had felt each and every one of this wounds in his escape. No, he was looking for his course and impenetrable hide that since he remember covered him the head from toe, it had been hard as metal and source of terror to his enemies when their blades bounced harmlessly. His ungodly muscle, that could twist their best armors into scraps, with his bare hands, now gone. His legendary sharp claws, his flaming wings, the demonic horns made of solidified mana and soulstone, all was gone and it’s place a pitiful human body and he was even smaller than the ones he had fought before. A cruel joke he was sure.
- Meanwhile, everything he once had was quickly crumbling into dust, as his body wasn’t the only one to suffer from it. He could still see the last glimmer of his armor tremender power, even in decaying scraps the ambient magic reacted wildly at its presence. They didn’t even made to the ground and was already a puff of ash that raised into the air.
- Was that moment he heard a crack and under the black rags that was his shirt, he found a very old friend. A shining trapezohedron, red as blood and covered in cracks, mesmerizing to watch the impossible colors seen to swept around. From the very beginning, his forged body, his weapons and trinkets they all served the purpose to accomplish his mission, all of but this small crystal.
- His hand trembled as he tried to keep it together with both hand, and even as he took that fateful step he still held on it dearly, maybe naively, maybe hopeful he himself couldn’t really explain why, but he know what it was. A promise between master and servant, when they first meet each other, a promise to hold beyond life and death, a memory of a time beyond the present, made into a crystalized into this small trinket.
- And so, just like that, the red crystal broke and all these moments broken with it. His hands clutching air, as his mouth trembled, as he saw the dust flew along the ashes of his items and are sucked back into the Tannhauser Gate lines still glowing faintly in the ground, until the dust is gone and the last of his energy is sucked with it, Swarty almost passed out, but he gritted his teeth, clenched his fist as strong as he weakened body would allow and closed his eyes, hardening his resolve as it was clear that this was his master choice, for this moment forward he would be his own master and all be damned in front of him.
- When he opened his eyes again, he found everything gone, but there at the center of the of where was once was the Tannhauser Gate, a knife and it was glad to see it. In Sargon experience You could never have too many knives, but the outlook was still bleak. He was on his own, reduced to a mere man, in a unknown woods crawling with whatever manners of abominations. He had no idea where he was, but he could follow the river. If he could find one. At least he remain his humanoid form, so wouldn’t be difficult to adapt.
- He moved one step after the other, there is only forward now, a revenge promise to accomplish and a fated duel to break at the end of the world.
- Sargon plunged through the trees, bare feet slipping and sliding on the wet earth, the slush, the wet pine needles, breath rasping in his chest, blood thumping in his head. He stumbled and sprawled onto his side, nearly cut his chest open with his own knife, lay there panting, peering through the shadowy forest.
- He should’ve trying to get back to the campfire, it was night already and he was quick to discover that his human eyes aren’t adapted to night-vision, a stupid decision in retrospect he had fight humans before, he should have known better than to run to the pit black. But ‘they’ were all around, the ‘Muskers’. He could feel them moving between the forest, he could literally smell their musk scent, hence the origin of the name. Making him wonder if he had underestimate the human nose. Sounded as if there was some shouting somewhere on his left, fighting maybe. Sargon crept slowly to his feet, trying to stay quiet. A twig snapped and he whipped round.
- There was a spear coming at him. A cruel-looking spear, coming at him fast with a
- on the other end of it.
- He threw himself to one side, slipped and fell on his face, rolled away thrashing through the brush, expecting the spear through his back at any moment. He scrambled up, breathing hard. He saw the bright point poking at him again, dodged out of the way, slithered behind a big tree trunk. He peered out and the Flathead hissed and stabbed at him. He showed himself on the other side, just for a moment, then ducked away, jumped round the tree and swung the axe down, roaring loud as he could. There was a crack as the blade buried itself deep in the Musketeer skull. Lucky that, but then Sargon reckoned he was due a little luck.
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