The man stood in the shadow, his face outlined in its strange tranquility. Those glaring red eyes seemed rose in color, calm-full of acceptance.
" I am the Man, the walker of these between planes."
He cast his hand across the masses, the bandages wrapped around it flailed with the wind. Snow powdered the podium, his black coat glistened slickly. The Man cast his whitened hair into the wind, stroking it away from his forehead carelessly.
In front of the podium, where once great speeches had been proclaimed, the masses gathered in the snow, huddling for the warmth of the man before him, the heat he radiated like a living sun. To them, he was the proclaimer of faith, the answer-man…a Prophet. In his own mind, he knew that there wasn’t such a thing, but the thought was entertaining…sometimes he almost believed his own lies.
" I am the one that the Feld’ran saw fit to speak. The last one alive; truly alive with the faith. You hopefuls," He turned a smile towards the crowd, his face full of patronage. The high, aquiline cheeks were flush with the cold and exertion.
" We do the work of God! We do the bidding of those that would believe. We lead them! Our brothers, sisters, their children…we are the sword of the Lord, the piercing strike of faith."
Those that don’t believe as us, must be given the chance…the chance to redeem their souls. Those that take from us!"
He put the stump of his left hand into the air, two fingers flexing on an otherwise mangled appendage, “Must be willing to give to us! Those that deny, must be given the answer.”
He lowered his gaze, watching the blood puddle from his bandaged limbs. The wrappings wouldn’t stay on. They had tried everything, but the sword wounds tracing his limbs bled like a stuck vrabbif on its period. The bastard had come out of nowhere, frothing at the mouth, eyes clear and stark with madness. The growth of beard did nothing to obscure the vulpine appearance…hunched, vulturous shoulders lean with hard living…muscles strung beneath wasted skin. The cry though, the utter of sanity, from his lips…that was what chilled him- more than the snow or the cold would ever achieve. The parched, cracked lips gave birth to the sullen words of fact. “I am your end.”
He brought his face up, staring into the crowds. He raised both arms high above his head. The amassed voices chattered with excitement. “I bring you one, Lord, one who spits at your name and denies you. One whose chance is nigh, one whose mind must be enlightened or perish.” His words tumbled out like sweets, he relished every syllable,
" Bring forth Camuss Airau." The name brought joy into his chest, or perhaps it was the knowledge of what came next.
“Camuss Airau.” the pause was coldly calculated for the onlookers, " Do you swear fealty to the Lord above, his agents the Feld’ran, and us, the instruments of his faith?" The smile-that-wasn’t-there seemed to grow in intensity ‘Go on, give me a reason…please?’ He spat again, a little ribbon of blood drew its way through the snow.
" Go Fuck your God." The bastard, The Man feigned surprise, casting a head towards his followers and shaking it with fake remorse. “You see? There are still those that deny…we must bring them the light.” Camuss could almost hear the gloating ‘got you finally didn’t I? you’ve lost this world and all you cared for
“Camuss Airau, In an effort to let you see the Lord’s work, I offer this; a duel, you and I…sword to sword. let the winner be decided by God.” The Man reached down and unshackled his hands…if it weren’t for the guards holding rifles to his temples, he would taken the man’s throat, digging into the neck, seeking his voice box.
" Do you accept?" The liar offered his hand, not the mangled one, in a friendly, benevolent gesture. Camuss thought about the cold steel on his face, then gripped the hand with all his strength, pulling himself up carefully. once he was positioned near the Dark Man’s head, he heard a whisper from behind smiling eyes. ‘Die to serve me, loved one.’
Genesuu gestured to the ring formed from an old marble pane. Two people down there brought out a box and his sword, the sword he had been given by the old spirits, the steady pale hand in the lake. That same sword was coated with dried blood, ribbons of flesh from his foe still stuck off of it like curing jerky. Camuss knelt before his sword. The box wasn’t opened until the two of them; looking for all the world like a shepherd leading a lamb to slaughter, walked down the gangway into the ring.
He immediately went for his blade, guards took up their arms and his body was traced in a spider web of laser sights. Genesuu held up his palm and the lasers dispersed. The Dark Man opened up the box on the marble. His sword was some kind of saber, engraved with runes and in pristine condition. The pommel spoke to ages past, a skull of some long forgotten creature that complemented the tightly bound, black leather wrap trimmed with expert craftsmanship. He flicked the saber, letting the sun catch its channel.
" This is the end of your life, but don’t be concerned…our final home is in a graveyard… to be trod on by those to come after." Camuss said nothing, letting the spirits commune with his soul. He raised his blade from the ground, drawing close to the man before him. The Dark Man did the same, his gait one of assured victory. Camuss lashed out first, swinging wildly and missing. The other man slashed upward, also missing. Camuss brought a fist, gripping the pommel, into the other man’s brow. a satisfying crack issued from beneath the matted hair. Genesuu stumbled away, holding his hand to an eye socket. his sword lowered until the tip traced lines in the snow. When he finally brought his hand away, the Dark Man’s eye was substantially redder than normal. Camuss licked his lips, then lunged. Genesuu reeled back again, the sword catching his sleeve, rending the bandages afresh, letting loose new blood from the stitched mass underneath. The other man threw a forward thrust, which Camuss managed to avoid by twisting his battered carcass. He grabbed the sword blade, watching the surprise register in Genesuu’s maroon eyes, before ramming the hilt into his gut with a juicy thump. ’ Suck it, you bastard….suck your own dick.’
A smile blossomed on the porcelain features, and the smell of…burning!? He looked down to see Genesuu’s other fist light with flame…blue flame. ‘Too close, love…’ The fist punched a hole in his chest, catching his flesh on fire and cracking what few ribs remained unbowed. Camuss fell backwards, his feet buckling from trauma. His legs were boneless, splayed out on the marble like sticks.
Genesuu crowed his victory as Camuss brought a hand to his chest, feeling broken skin and his own, nearly open, ribcage. He left it there, feeling his waning heart thump ever faster. The Dark Man spoke something about Feld’ran and God…proclaiming lies to the masses. It was lost on him, his body began to shut down. He looked up into the sun as Genesuu pressed the flat of his saber against his forehead. There was some murmur from above and the saber blade reeled back.
It came down in a flash, aimed at his neck. He moved quickly, taking the blow in his shoulder, where the blade bit into the top of his battered ribs. Fuuuuuuuuuuuck…. Quickly, he did what the spirits had mentioned; calming his mind and zeroing out all traces of the physical. Genesuu was still there, a swirling and pulsing mass of veins and heat. Camuss felt an energy in his head, his eyes bulging until he closed them. Blood dribbled down his cheeks, salty in his mouth…the only bond to the reality he wasn’t occupying. The power surged into his heart, tearing across his organs like dancing arc lightning. And then he was back, Genesuu’s sword being pulled from his flesh, the sucking of his own fat and sinew resounding in his ears. The scream of his death hurtling towards him. Camuss rolled onto his back placing both hands out to catch the blade in his shoulder. His fingers screeched while he cried out with vehemence.
Genesuu’s blade glowed white then blue. The Dark Man’s brows rose quizzically, his mouth worked in surprise. Too late. The blade burst, casting shards into each combatant, but most of them directly into the Dark Man’s face.
The Man reeled back in horror, his bleached locks dyed with spraying blood. The fluid gushed from between his fingers. He tipped forward and back, his wet hair slapping his back and the ground alternatively. Camuss grinned, slumping backwards along an almost -broken spine.
“I fucking win, where’s your God now?” he whispered to the screaming figure.
Genesuu glared through a hole in his fingers, blood stained his teeth as he grinned back.
" God’s dead, I am all that is."
They locked eyes, both mesmerized by the insinuations in those glares. The followers rushed forwards clambering over the sides of the ring, flocking to their master’s side. The sun beat down as they turned on him, the snow starting to glisten with day. Two of them, once people he had helped protect, raised the sights to his forehead. He closed his eyes, a grin still stuck on his face. Seconds later, he was splattered with liquid and meat. Two reports issued into the sky. opening his eyes slowly he saw HER, the witch, holding a steaming gun. She wore a ragged CIREN uniform with insignia torn from it. " Harius is alive! Camuss! Harius has done away with the rebels, we are united against these fucks." She dropped as two bullets hit the snow, crouching swiftly and returning fire. Still yelling over the fire, " We have a camp! Azure Fields…we need you there. We are going to end this!
He watched through crimson haze as the CIREN clad Remnants and soldiers dispersed the men and women of the Truth. Two burly men pulled him gingerly onto a makeshift stretcher. He cast his glance about, fading in and out. Armadiis put her hand on his, running her nimble fingers across his tattered ones. The stretcher moved slowly, eventually reaching the outskirts of the city that the Truth had survived in for so long. He felt another hand grip his; the strength was firm, but inexperienced. Lanou… Finally another grip caught his attention, one strong and tight. He opened his eyes. Vanderkien stared back. " You truly are my best student, but you have shit tons still to learn." This was said with a wry grin while the whitened eye, a blind pupil, roved aimlessly. “Lots to learn, but that last thing…you’ve got to teach me that”
Vanderkien left, and Armadiis returned. He reached at her hair, watching those sightless eyes focus on him. He knew she was seeing what he had for that brief moment, but she saw it all the time. He pulled her face close to his, took a quick kiss, then whispered…" Azure Fields. Azure Fields….this ends before the God’s Woods…just like Semnen said…" He pulled himself up, groaning as his back protested, until he was face-to-face with her. “His blood shall turn the Fields crimson. his seed will litter the ground. Take me there.”
As the party receded over the hills, taking some prisoners with them, leaving their footprints to be dusted by the wind, Genesuu looked out from the forest as his followers wrapped and tended to his face. He spoke in a low, vibrating roar, " We will meet CIREN at the fields…and vanquish the rot that they represent…Airau will watch me tear down his allies, and bemoan his loves’ fate." He watched the stretcher crest a hill then move out of sight. Turning his head back to the huddled masses, he allowed his eyes to flare as he spit shards of his own sword, “Followers…God has given me a resolution…eat and sleep…for tomorrow we make for Azure Fields…”