In clanking chains they brought him. Three men holding tight his bindings, another three standing guard as the doors to the great hall swung open.
The sound of his metal plated boots sang with every step, reverberating through the wide room. His one good eye, storm gray of colour, examined the room with a stare as intense as the great thunderstorms of Idrasyl, his other eye a milky white of Undiriel’s moon. And yet there was something so ungodly about the man. His grizzled dark beard, his weathered skin, a raven feathered helmet and long black hair gave him an appearance of an old rabid wolf, unstoppable, intent on nothing but killing.
Those gathered in the hall backed away from the chained wolf as his guards led him towards the throne at the opposite end of the room. Their whispers carried like snow on a winter breeze. He could smell fear in the gathered crowd as they approached the throne upon which sat a man, the very man he had been longing to meet for such a long time. And now he’d been brought to him in chains, a harmless dog about to be put to sleep. The moment he saw him, his eyes locked on to the man, the great emperor, the undefeated conqueror.
Once he reached the foot of the throne the guards pulled on his bindings, stopping him in his tracks. A man to the side unrolled a piece of parchment, but he didn’t care, he couldn’t read anyway, all he cared about was the man sitting in that chair.
“Salvar Gaal Akendar.” The herald spoke, his voice ringing in the silence.
Salvar, he knew that name. It was his name. Akendar, the scourge of the empire.
He did not pay attention as the herald slowly announced to the room a list of his crimes against the empire. All he did was stare at the man in the throne, the emperor, the conqueror of the world so they say.
The emperor was younger than Salvar, but he could see in his eyes experience that surpassed his age. But there was also innocence and arrogance. He thought himself undefeatable, untouchable, a descendant of the gods, the false gods. He believed himself safe among his guards with Salvar in chains, a dog on a leash, only able to bark and snarl. But he would prove him wrong, show him that he is just a man, the false gods would not help him this day.
“The sentence for these crimes-” the herald’s voice brought him back to reality. “-is death by beheading.”
The hall clapped enthusiastically, gleeful expressions surrounded him. No matter, he would soon wipe those smirks off their faces. He was on a mission, and he was determined. He would not be stopped; he would not fail, not when he was this close.
As the cheers of the crowd went down, a cold laugh rumbled from Akendar’s throat. Suddenly all the crowd wend dumb, their smiles gone, replaced by fear. The chains holding Akendar went slack as the guards holding them backed away. The laugh lasted unnaturally long, until even the emperor tensed in his chair.
Finally, once the laugh ended, Akendar spoke:
“You are all fools.” He said, his voice sounded like a dagger scraping stone, bitter and cold. “You don’t seem to understand. I am not trapped in here with you.”
Suddenly, at the back of the room, two guards slammed the metal doors shut with a bang, making the crowd jump in surprise. “You are trapped in here with me.”
In a flash of movement, Akendar grabbed the chains in his fists and pulled hard, making his handlers fall to the ground. Without hesitation, he kicked one of them in the side before he could get up, and stomped on the other one’s head, the force of the heavy metal boot smashing his skull. Before the other guards could react, they were stabbed in the backs by two other guards, enemies in disguise. As the dead bodies fell to the floor, the crowd went into a panic, surging for the doors only to find them barred from the outside. In all the mess Akendar held his hands out calmly, and one of the traitorous guards cut them loose with a swing of his sword, handing another to Akendar.
Gripping the sword tightly in his hand, he scanned the room. On one side, panicked civilians were attempting to break through the doors, on the other side, four armed guards stood at the foot of the throne, shaken but ready to protect their emperor. Their master stood above them, also armed.
Glancing at his men he nodded towards the panicked crowd. Immediately they turned and attacked the crowd, killing left right and centre, bathing the floor with blood.
Meanwhile, Akendar approached the throne alone. Two steps forward, one guard charged him. He sidestepped easily and slashed his unprotected back. Two others flew at him as their comrade fell dead to the ground. He parried one blow and kicked the other guard’s shin before he could swing, then pushed the first one away and slammed the back of his fist in the side of his face, sending teeth flying. The other one swung again but Akendar blocked him, spat in his face, grabbed him by his throat and threw him at his comrade. The two collided and fell down in a heap. Now only one guard stood between him and his prize. This time Akendar charged. He ran at the guard and smashed his shoulder into him, sending him flying into the stairs behind him. Akendar raised his bloody sword and brought it down on the guard. He tried to block it with his hands, but they posed little resistance.
His path clear, his looked up at the emperor, blood spattered across his face. The emperor wore no armour, but he had the advantage of height, standing on the raise platform. No matter, some stairs weren’t about to rob him of his prize. With a wicked grin Akendar approached the emperor who swung with all his might. He was fast, and Akendar was almost unable to block but he did. His enemy was quick to recover, pulling back towards the metal throne to protect his flank, smart. Once he was close enough Akendar swung his sword in an upward swing, but his enemy evaded with apparent ease then made a quick jab at Akendar’s throat. Only managing to scratch his skin, the emperor backed away fast, once again taking up a defensive position. After exchanging a few more blows, the emperor moved in such a way that the throne found itself in between the two men. On the other side of the room, the slaughter was coming to an end. Some of the people had managed to hold their own for a moment, but they and everyone else now lay piled upon the marble floor.
Seeing his inevitable doom, the emperor threw caution to the wind and attacked Akendar, hoping that if he killed him, his men would flee. Akendar accepted his attack with gladness, parrying his every blow, slowly tiring the emperor out. He fought well, but Akendar fought better. An old wolf he may be, but a patient one, and he was fighting a young pup who though himself better.
After a minute of dodging and parrying, he noticed his enemy’s swipes had slowed down, and with a sudden burst of speed, he caught the emperor’s had mid swing. His eyes widened in surprise, he was about to speak when Akendar thrust his sword upward, sliding it right through the emperor’s ribs and into his heard. Then he pushed him away. His sword clattered to the ground as he stumbled back and collapsed a short way down to the foot of the stairs.
As the last breath of life left him, Akendar approached and looked down. “Where are your gods now oh great emperor.” And with a growl, he smashed his head with his foot.
Years he had waited, years he had planned and fought. And now his mission was finally over. He had proven to the world the emperor was a mere man, and the Empire could be defeated. The world might not love him, he was no hero, but he cared not for that. Now they knew the Empire could be defeated, but that was not up to Akendar, he had done his job, and he knew he would not leave this city alive, not with only two of his men left to help him. His people would scatter and survive, they could take care of themselves, and they no longer needed him. He had completed the task Kogan had set him; his life’s purpose was fulfilled. He was ready.
He ducked and picked up the late emperor’s engraved sword. His two loyal men approached, they knew as well as him there was no leaving, the doors had been barred from the outside by a third party, and the next to come out of those doors would be a small army.
“A good way to go.” Said one of the men. They were all thinking the same thing.
“It was an honour.” Said the other.
Akendar nodded. “We dine with Kogan and the forty-seven tonight.” He said. “What we have done here today will shake the world to its foundations, and tales of this day shall be sung for generations to come.
And with that, they were ready to face death.