Army of Darkness
Name: Army of Darkness
Server: Guild Server
Current Leader: SazzTam
IRC channel: #AoD-tavern (on galaxynet)
Many mages have been AoD members through the years, though there are several players that remain in AoD until present days:
Veterans: Mephisto, Malred, sub valient, Torpilion, Raistlin, Kannibal, RM, Ra, Baldus, Frozen Wombat, Dahak, Arkran, Melvidar, CrazyIvan, Glenfiddic, Tentayne, Selvena, Sparhawk, Tentayne, maTRON, Stale...
New Players (with great potential): User:Holiday, Dramidj, SazzTam (#1 HALL!), IBCfreak, Sparta(Vana), Sanzo Batusai, EnGels(kick ass vet actually)...
Honorary mention (former AoD members): Ishmael, PFCS, Thinas, c0nz, DonDon, BloodBain, Samoth, Knight, Aegon, Nikademus,JoJeck,Superfreak, Lord Janus, conz, Prime ...
The grounds around the fortress were decaying into marshland, now.
Once, it was a flourishing countryside with a healthy environment and a vegetation to match. Rivalling the tropical rainforests, it was almost an independent, natural circle of life capable of sustaining itself with the mere help of the sun's rays. Before they were blocked...that is.
The blocking of the sun was the first thing that happened after they came. The first action of theirs, giving away their intentions. The first act of destruction. Death is generously distributed where they roam, predators as they are. But a different one. These beings are not Nature's creations, for their killing does not serve a greater purpose. It doesn't seem to serve a purpose at all. Their killing does not leave room for new life to appear, replacing that which was removed. Nothing, and I stress, nothing can live in their wake. The land, now, bears witness to this fact.
They cleared an enormous amount of land to begin with. I remember it ever so clearly. Trees, cut down, grasses burned away. The earth was shaved bald when they were done. Then they built. Rock after rock, spike after spike, bar after bar. Together, they formed the massive monstrosity of a castle, a fortress, on our once vigorous lands. I saw it, and my heart ached, my mind refusing to believe it would sink any lower. How incredibly naive I was. It was then, the smoke came. Masses of thick, suffocating, fetid fumes spouted from the castle's top as though they were burning something, but it would not stop. In the end, even the rays of the red disc gave up and deserted this land, leaving it to the sparse mercy of putrefaction.
The beings that came and destroyed this land have been named long ago, and this name, I tell you, will be remembered. "The Army of Darkness". A fitting alias for this army, and one they seem to have accepted. The fortress is merely referred to as "The Dark Fortress. An equally fitting name for the castle they built. It would seem that everything they even graze, everything their thoughts even dwell on, receives the adjective "dark". For that is their nature.
The transformation is complete, today, resulting in the marshland we now see. No one travels there voluntarily any longer, but themselves, and those of Nature's children that, like the land, were warped by their evil and thus do not fear them any longer. Their escape is no longer possible. They are trapped, and they will remain so. The strong land fought valiantly, but failed. If they could do this to Nature, I dread what they can do to man.
Enter, and you shall never leave.
The once firm ground had become wet and sloppy with time. The green grass that once governed the surface was gone and replaced by a sickening swamp, the color of which was an unappetizing mixture of gray and brown. Finding one's way in the labyrinth of the swamp's many passageways was impossible without either a map, or ancient knowledge of the place. The dense, pale fog that lay over the land in only two metre's height forbade navigation by eyesight, and its lazy floating around in soft waves revealed no intention of leaving...Ever. Here and there, relics of the past in the shape of old, gnarled trunks stuck out of the swamp's depth, their twisted, naked branches reminding anyone watching of a person gasping for air as he penetrated the surface after a deep dive. The trees were long dead, however, caught forever in their morbid gasp for breath. The still waters of the marsh polluted the air with a foul stench of sulfur, added to the feeling of death already present in the area. The silence that you normally expect in a graveyard had followed to this place and thus, the only sound being heard was that of an odd breeze sneaking its way around your ancles, bearing whispers of tales long dead, lives long lost.
The silence was abruptly shattered to pieces by the sound of thundering hooves, travelling at high pace through the swamp on one of the paths still negotiable. There were 28 of them, the hooves. Belonging to 7 horses. A comment one would normally deem too logical to be noted, but you never know with this place. 6 of the riders were similar in appearence. They wore jet black plated armor that jingled like the chains of a dungeon each time the snorting horse planted its metalplated hooves in the ground, scarring the land even further. An ear-splitting shriek left them as they passed by, echoing out in the silence of the marsh. Their black capes were torn and shredded as though they'd spent a good time in the earth before rising, and the lower parts consisted only of jagged strings of fabric that wipped after them as they rode, leaving tiny maelstroms in the dense layer of fog.
The seventh rider was different. He looked...human. Especially in comparison to the knights. His clothes were those of the average tavern patron - Woollen shirt, brown pants of animal's hide, black leather boots and a green cape. They rode in formation. 2 knights on each side. 1 in front, 1 in rear. The seventh rider in the middle...As though to prevent any attempt at escape. The riders swiftly disappeared in the thickness of the fog. It took a suspiciously short time for the mists to settle again, reassuming their usual, lazy swirls - As if they parted only to allow the knights entrance, enveloping them in their track through the swamp. The knights reappeared at their destination shortly thereafter. The destination - the fortress - was truly a dreadful sight to behold. With its countless, serrated spires it towered high above the swamp and it is said that because of its incredible size, people outside the swamp's grasp have mistaken it for a mountain as they could imagine no other thing capable of being seen from their location, over a hundred kilometres away.
Here, at the gates of this, I assure you, quite real bastion of evil the knights stopped. There was a rumbling sound of heavy mechanics working, huge gears turning, chains being drawn. The gates swung slowly open to allow a person from the inside exit. The person walking out was clad in black as dark as the knights' armor, his face hidden by the hood. His voice was weak, raspy and hoarse but seemingly well respected. Despite the person's humble size and lack of apparent means of self-defence, he had an ability to seem superior to the much heavier knights, and they moved on their horses almost as if...fearing him. This, my friend...is most definitely a nether mage. There could be no doubt. He slowly hissed the single word:
The front knight's eyes flashed red underneath his horned, full helm as he turned his head slightly to meet the eyes of the mage on the ground. The knight's voice was no less creepy, yet very different from the mage's. The knight's voice sounded...unreal. It echoed in itself, as it the words were distant and had crossed planes to finally end their journey here.
"Sssssilandril, Masterrrr. We bring a prisssss-oner...Starrrd-ving man, he isss."
The fabric of the mage's hood flapped slightly, indicating that the head inside had turned a bit to shift its vision from the knight to the seventh rider. He seemed to contemplate the human for a little while, judging him. Then, he slowly nodded.
He turned around and walked back into the fortress through the slit between the gates. Within moments, the metallic sound of the gears inside returned and the gate swung fully open. The knights entered and the fortress locked itselv up again. Outside, everything was as before. Deserted.
The Fortress of Darkness was a no less formidable sight from the inside than outside. The main gate that just closed shut led into a larger courtyard in front of the castle. The ground here was more firm than the mushy, treacherous swamp outside, but that sole redeeming factor only kept you alive physically long enough for the environment to truly start torturing your mind. The stench from the swamp outside was certainly here as well, but to a much much nauseating degree. Contradicting all logic, one got the impression that this fortress indeed polluted the surronding land's air...It wasn't the swamp's air that slipped in here. It came from here to begin with. The scent that one's mind had taken a little while to identify as death outside was no longer a mere hint - The same, foul stench now brutally assaulted any outsider's nostrils when entering, and one was left with the feeling of having entered shortly after the deed was done, though long enough for the corpses to start rotting.
Looking up, the moon soared high above the fortress grounds, bathing the courtyard in a dull, lifeless white light. The silence almost rang in the ears as one stood perfectly still for fear of waking something bad up, contemplating this hellish place. But worst of all was the fearsome feeling of captivity that rushed through the visitor's blood when he was lead into the courtyard. The freezing sensation that ran down his spine when the huge gate creaked shut must have been identical to what the criminal feels when the hangman tightens the robe around his neck. The knowledge that escape is a hopeless impossibility. That this is the terminus of all life. That you enter...but never leave.
The seventh rider's breath condenced into a quick, fugitive fume every time he emptied his lungs, and you could see his form shaking visibly in the cold as he sat there, alone in the world on his horse. No signs of breath left the spiked helmets of the knights that escorted him, nor did they seem affected by the cold. Straight ahead was a series of smaller gates, grates of rusty metal to be precise, guarding the entrance to many corridors and hallways that, presumably, led deeper into the castle. The Knights dismounted, landing on the ground one by one with their armor making sounds similar to swords being drawn - Hundreds of sharp edges sliding against one another. The seventh rider did wise to follow their example. A grate was raised, disappearing into a crack in the ceiling. They left the courtyard, diving into the darkness of the corridor ahead. When he looked back over his shoulder for fear he'd never see light again, the horses were already gone, as though they never existed.
The hallway widened after a while, both to the sides and upwards. It certainly wasn't just a narrow pit they'd entered. The first signs of actual civilization in this enormous castle were beginning to show in the shape of rows of torches on holders along the walls, and large paintings decorating the sides. The paper of the paintings looked ancient and fragile, as though it would crumble to dust by the touch of a hand and only kept together now because of the stiffness of the layer of paint. They depicted many different things, but all with one thing in common - They had to do with the Army of Darkness, what it stood for. What it had accomplished. And all shared the same sinister shadow. There were several bloody battle situations, and often, the enemies of one picture were to be found in others as well. Though he never made it to study one painting for long as the knights walked quite fast through the corridor, he did manage to catch several distunguishing marks on the enemies. There were troopers who looked so similar in clothes one would think they'd been equipped by the same nation or empire. There were angelic beings with a background almost similar to the Army's, yet they fought against it. But most important of all, there were knights that seemed to be the direct counterpart of the Army of Darkness. Clad in bright white armor, their swords were surrounded by a holy aura on the battlefield. The pictures involving these were particularly bloody...The Army seemed particularly aggressive here.
Caught in the historic pictures, the seventh rider had completely lost his attention to the surroundings, and when the rows of pictures stopped, he widened his eyes in surprise over finding himself completely alone. The monotone ringing of metal from the knights that escorted him was gone...They had either mysteriously vanished like the horses outside or they's slipped away in the shadows ahead without him noticing. Either way, he was alone. Though not for long. He spun around so fast his green cape circled after him in an attempt to locate the voice when a few low words had echoed in the room.
"Welcome to the fortress, starving man."
In that instant, a torch was lit. The light it gave was just enough to reveal the form of three people, apparently sitting. Then another torch. And then another. And for each torch lit, the forms of more and more people sitting by a table the shape of a half-circle were revealed as the darkness was slowly penetrated. It was then, the man realized he'd left the corridor long ago, and the knights had disappeared because their job was completed. He was at his destination in the castle...A conference room. Taken aback by these people's sudden appearence, he merely bowed while stuttering:
"Tha...Thank you. You surprised me, sir. I...I hadn't noticed you. Dare I ask who you are why I have been taken here?"
The people at the table were now so illuminated that you could see their faces and their numbers. There were 20 or so. Very different people with different clothes, but all wore black in some variation. Only some carried weapons. The one in the middle was he, who spoke, and this man also replied now. He looked old...As if he'd been around when the pictures of the corridor were painted. But his age did not by any means remove any of the man's authority or the aura of power he radiated. His expression was composed and wise.
"I am known as Stale. For the time being, I lead the Army that belongs in this fort, human. The people you see around me are members of the Army. They may introduce themselves at will."
The seventh rider nodded his head slowly, his eyes still widened. He had a feeling the people gathered before him were a crowd to be respected...That he was facing the center of evil. His arms were covered by goosebumbs and his voice still failed him as he spoke.
"I...I see, sir, but...Why am I..."
Here, he was cut off. Though not by Stale. The voice that interrupted him was incredibly soft and caressed his ears as well as soul. He looked around to find the owner, and spotted what appeared to be a young woman. Amazingly beautiful, her skin was as soft as her voice and her eyes innocent and drawing. Yet there was something about her that made his heart skip a beat in raw fear. Her beauty was too extreme...As though it constituted a trap which meant certain death should your mind prove too weak. She was like the softest silk, covering the sharpest thorns. Watch and enjoy. But touch and be stung.
"You are here as our prisoner, sir...Taken our acres for the last time...you have. I am Savannah...Should you need the name."
By the sound of these words, small pearls of sweat formed on the man's already pale face. Quite understandable, he had very little wish to stay in this fortress as a prisoner.
"Prisoner?! But...I came here as a diplomat. I...It's my mission to find an alternative solution. The negotiations have barely started, and..."
"And now they have already failed."
The voice that interrupted him this time was musical and clear, though sarcastic and scornful. When the rider turned his head to see, he discovered typical elven features - Pointed ears, slanted, narrow eyes. Though the black clothes were there, as well. The mage presented himself as the darkelf "Thinas".
"The second you entered our fortress your official title changed from diplomat to prisoner, I'm afraid. I would bring you my condolences, were they sincere. You death will be amusing."
The man looked back to Stale in an attempt to gain sympathy, as Stale had introduced himself as the leader.
"Am I...Sentenced, to death?"
Stale's reply was swift and straight forward. He merely stated, quite "matter-of-factly":
"Not if what you have to offer is pleasing enough for us to send you home with a 'yes'. We never send the enemy's messengers home with a 'no'. You see, we gather that the guild in question will take it as a no from us if the messenger doesn't return at all."
The man swallowed a lump, then asked:
"...W...What do you require, then, sir?"
Again, Stale's reply was swift.
"We want the land we originally stole back. No military intervention."
Those words made the head of the prisoner sink to below his shoulders. The image of the marshland outside returned to his inner eye, and the stench of death to his nostrils. It would seem as though that was his future, now. They knew damned well a requirement like that was impossible to accept. He raised his head again and took a deep breath to be able to even stutter the inevitable reply.
"...I'm not a mage myself, my Lord. I have strict instructions as to what circumstances I'm allowed to accept...And what you propose is not among them. I...I cannot accept that on behalf of the guild I serve."
Stale shook his head lightly.
"I didn't think so either. Then your are sentenced to death. Even if we wanted to, we can't allow you to leave now that you've been here and seen the inside of the fort. The only exception of that rule is the case where our reply is yes. And darkness' reply is rarely yes...If it replies at all."
The leader of the Army of Darkness made a gesture with his hand, and pronounced the single word:
The sharp, cutting ring as of knives returned when two of the knights that escorted him here returned and approached him again. He turned around and was led out of the conference room and back into the corridor. Chances were he was about to witness the inside of an Army of Darkness dungeon. Not a promising prospect. Before he left the room entirely, though, he stopped, his back still turned, and silently said:
Stale looked up again with a slight frown as though annoyed he'd been disturbed.
"Do you practice last wishes here?"
"It depends on the wish...And you may want to word yours carefully."
"You have been here for as long as I remember, sir. Your cursed marshland has polluted the environment of this land for centuries. No one outside is old enough, let alone alive to remember the times before any longer. Your presence is a mystery. You're the evil that's just...there. No one knows why. No one even knew there were minds behind it. I find myself sentenced to death. My wish is to know. Like the crook who always reveals his evil scheme to the good guy just before the planned execution, I would like to know why. Who you are. Why you have come here. When you came here. Why you kill this land...The story of your Army. That is my humble wish. I will take the story to the grave when it's told."
During the wording of his wish, the mages by the half-circle table all either tilted their heads or dropped their jaws. This was new. No one had ever showed interest in that before. They'd always just met resistance where they travelled. Not questions as to why. Just bloodshed.
A long silence pursued. The story was to be found within these halls. If this man, this prisoner, were to die anyways...The story would indeed remain within these halls. What, then, did the Army lose? His wish was humble enough, and understandable.
Stale nodded his head thoughtfully even though the man couldn't see it with his back turned.
"So be it. Begone."
The two undead knights reached out and grabbed the man's arms forcefully, their steel plates ringing as their grip tightened. Their hands were freezingly cold and their strength enormous.
It took long for the prisoners screams to die out, as the corridor worked as an amplifier for the tortured cries.
Just the way they liked it.
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