The battle had been brutal. Perhaps one of the most brutal to occur in a chain of defeats beginning with what the armies of British believed would be their heaviest blow yet against the Dark Lord, until six infernal knights rose amidst the madness of war and began their unholy campaign; slashing through every knight that would challenge them, and every tactic or magic their enemies could conceive, and pushing Lord British’s armies back across a warpath once made wet with the Legion’s blood – now being drenched with the blood of Sosarian Knights. The Knights of Mondain, they had been dubbed. Six armored monsters of immeasurable strength, that even if struck down would rise to fight again. They violently reversed the tides of war and now it was the Sosarians who were forced into retreat in battle after battle until only a fraction of their once glorious army remained in a final, desperate fight.
There had been no finer force in the history of Sosaria that so effectively battled against the kind of unnatural abominations that filled Mondain’s Legions, yet all their skill and wisdom could not match the incomprehensible power of the arcane mysteries Mondain unlocked in the course of the war with the help of his extraordinary gem. The battle had not been long; the Sosarians were permitted to wreak a momentary havoc upon the Legion until the wretched Knights determined to step in. After so much loss and devastation, what remained of Sir Nathaniel’s army stood together as silence fell over the field and the Legion and the Knights surrounding them stepped back from fighting. The two armies rested.
It did not take long before one of the Six Knights approached the wary Sosarians. In his unholy armor he stood towering above most of the soldiers on the field, marching with heavy steps as his once-white platemail, paled from faded stains of blood, clanked and rustled noisily and stopped midway between the two armies. Seeing now that the mysterious warrior wished to speak, Sir Nathaniel approached alone.
The Sosarian commander spoke grimly. “If thou wishest to speaketh of the terms of our surrender, then permit me to say this: we will not submit ourselves to the tyranny of Mondain. Not now. Not ever.”
The pale knight spoke, his voice lightly echoing behind his helm. “Thou wouldst fight to the death. I would expect no less.”
“Then what dost thou want?” Nathaniel remarked calmly, but bitterly.
“A second duel to compliment our previous spar,” uttered the pale knight.
Nathaniel was silent for a moment, attempting to understand what was meant. He gestured dismissively. “Speaketh plainly, fiend, or kill me! I will not guess at thy riddles.”
“No riddles,” spoke the pale knight. “A battle between two champions. I shall represent my legion. Thou shalt represent thine. Whosoever wins shall be declared the victor of this battle. If thou art victorious, thy knights shall be permitted to leave.”
Nathaniel sneered. “How can I be victorious… thou hast proven impervious to death and in possession of an unholy power. Thine only desire is to make of me a mockery.”
“It is true, I cannot die. But overcoming me in battle shall be sufficient for victory. My strength may be unstoppable. However the choice now is to commit thyself and thy peers to a certain death, or to fight in single-handed combat for a chance at life. If thou art defeated the result will be the same. What sayest thou?”
“Thou leavest me no choice, thou cruel terror. I will consent to these terms.”
The pale knight lifted his sword. “A wise choice, ‘old friend’. It is better this way.”
Nathaniel stood stunned for a few seconds, before quietly stammering, “..Alastair?”
He only barely managed to regain his senses in time to evade the pale knight’s greatsword crashing downward towards his head. Striking the ground, the force of the sword caused an explosion of dirt into the air and sent Nathaniel tumbling. He quickly gathered to his feet and met the pallid knight’s second blow with equal ferocity, blocking the strike with one of his own. The force of the two strikes sent both swords reeling backwards and from there the two warriors of legend went to work.
Nathaniel could hardly believe that his old friend, whom he had witnessed dying on the battlefield by his sword, was now alive and the worst foe he had ever faced in his life wielding strength that took everything within him to withstand. Yet, as the two warriors crossed swords and scored hits against each other, there was no doubting the familiar style of Alastair’s fighting technique which Nathaniel had come to recognize after years of sparring. Alastair had always been a competent warrior, but not one of particular note.
But now… with the unreal power of Mondain behind him, he was an unstoppable force. Nathaniel landed strike after strike, but no matter how grievous the blow the Pallid Knight would push forward, never losing strength while fighting a slow battle of attrition against the accomplished knight, Sir Nathaniel. Weary from a seemingly endless duel, Nathaniel’s guard went down just long enough to earn a mind-shattering blow from his former friend. He attempted to stand at first, but then rested on his knees.
Through heavy breaths, Nathaniel spoke, “Thou traitor… fiend… art thou going to finish me? Thou hadst ample opportunity…”
The Pallid Knight looked down to his defeated foe. “Thou art experiencing first hand the fate of this kingdom. The unavoidable fate of a slow, painful defeat. For even if the Knights of British vanquish every soldier in my lord’s legion, we shall take every strike and every blow and we shall march into the court of British himself, and rid Sosaria of this usurper for all time. Thou wilt be known in the stories as the traitor, the villian, the enemy of justice and order and the children of future ages shall hate thee for generations to come. Call me not traitor, brother, for I bring the light of our lord’s justice down upon the lies and the crimes of the usurper, the false king, thy king, Lord British.”
Sir Nathaniel only shook his head, disoriented and in despair. “Thou art a monster, and thou shalt be sto-“
“We shall not be stopped!” the Pallid Knight interrupted. “I have seen every trick and strategy and magical concoction thou hast devised, and nothing thou hast attempted found success. If one of the most accomplished knights of Sosaria could not defeat the servants of Mondain, then who dost thou suppose shall?”
In a fit of rage Nathaniel screamed, thrusting himself to his feat and attempting a strike against his odious foe but this swing was parried with little effort and the enraged knight was sent hurdling to the ground.
The voice of the Pallid Knight was now low, and ominous. “There is only one way to defeat us, Sir Nathaniel.”
From where Mondain’s Legions were gathered, the soldiers parted way as a cart pulled by an ogre crawling across the ground lumbered towards the Pallid Knight. Upon it stood an armor stand bearing a set of gleaming, golden platemail armor similar in dimension to the armor of the other cursed knights. Nathaniel looked back from where he lay and then slowly stood.
“Sully mine own soul with the unholy magic of Mondain? Never.”
“Sir Nathaniel,” the Pallid Knight began, “Thou art the most gallant and noblest knight I have ever known. Yet is thy conviction a match for the will of Mondain? Perhaps not, and thou art right to be afraid.”
Nathaniel spit out some blood. “Deceiver. For what cause wouldst thou deliver unto me the weapon of thy bane, except to deceive me, and maketh me thine unwitting slave?”
The Pallid Knight stood silent for a moment, and then spoke. “It is true that I have betrayed thee. But in all of our time together, I have never deceived thee. We endure equal risk alike in this matter. Yet my purpose is not to beguile thee. It is to see, for once and for all, if thou art truly willing to do what it takes to defend thy liege, thy kingdom, and thy people. Show me of what honor thou art truly capable.”
A suspenseful silence fell upon the whole of the battlefield as Sir Nathaniel stood scowling at the Pallid Knight. Defeated and broken, he faced certain death in every conceivable scenario, save one. Die a glorious but empty death, or roll the dice for a chance to save his kingdom. He turned now to gaze upon the enchanted armor.
Hatred and angst alike burned brightly in Nathaniel’s eyes.