The Moment of Truth

An abstract from the Book “Aeron’s Downfall”

      Sarantair raised the broadsword before himself, let his eyes rest upon the finely crafted surface of the blade and took a deep breath of cool moorland air. Exhaling, a wave of relaxation spread throughout his body and mind. Years of service leading the Moonshadow Troop had taught him so much and yet only now did he feel he was truly beginning to understand what Dareth of the Frayhaern Guard had so often spoken about.

     A gentle breeze played across Sarantair’s face and lazily cast aloft loose strands of his jet black hair. He effortlessly controlled the blade’s position as it shifted slightly in his hand. Its weight and form as familiar to him as the body he used to control it. The leather and chainmail armour he wore fitted into the contours of his raised arm as naturally as his own skin around his flesh. 

     As Sarantair watched, the broadsword’s blade reflected the warm, golden light of the afternoon sun cast from across hishoulder. The sun’s rays illuminating the Frayhaern Runes etched into the blade’s surface, reflecting off the razor sharp edge and diffracting it into a small jewel of brilliant colour. 

      He remembered the distractions of earlier years, his mind never restful, racing with the desire to understand, to become what he was today. So many years of longing, pain and confusion. Yet now, stood upon the moor, his mind clear and calm, it was as if the gifts of the goddess had always been his to enjoy. 

     Sarantair slowly turned the broadsword until the blade’s edge aligned with his eye, cutting through where the jewel of light had been a moment before. He became more aware of the fragrance of the moorland heather all around and the warmth of the sun on his back. Above, the excited cry of the Moonshadow Hawks caused his mind to stretch skywards. His growing awareness and connection with his surroundings enlivening his senses. 

     Out of focus, beyond the blades edge the grey indistinct shapes continued to shift and change like a distant shimmering cloud. Scattered glints of sunlight momentarily highlighting some and then others, causing them to appear to sparkle and reminding Sarantair, they were moving towards him. 

     “Thy will is the anvil, mine anger the fire, thy sword the hammer,” he recalled from the Sermons of the Goddess that all warriors of the church such as him were schooled in as keenly as the wearing of armour and the wielding of swords. 

     The perfect hammer with which to smash my enemies, he thought to himself and smiled, still looking at the blade’s keen edge. Out of the corner of his right eye a glint of sun off chainmail caught his attention. “Steady yourselves” he shouted without a sideways glance. The troops gathered around him had begun to stir as the Talghaern horde approached ever more closely. 

      Sarantair shifted his gaze from the blade to the middle distance and looked for the first time today more attentively upon his lifelong enemy. The Talghaern hordes were racing towards the ranks of Moonshadow Troops with all the fury and hatred they could muster. Charged by their devotion to the dark god Bal’shir the Talghaern had always been mindless to anything except war and destruction. 

     As Sarantair watched he began to see more clearly the closer Talghaern who were leading the charge towards him and his troops. The glints of sunlight he had noticed earlier were now brighter patches of light reflected off the single steel shoulder plates that marked them out as the Talghaern Berserkers. 

     Sarantair had met these beasts many times in the past. Their skin was dark as blackened embers and as thick as tanned leather, matted hair fell from their heads and shoulders, often platted in some ritualistic and symbolic way that Sarantair had never cared to understand. Each Talghaern stood taller than the average man and being beasts were as strong as any man would wish an enemy to be. Rows of sharp teeth protruding from their immense jaws and guttural roars making then even more loathsome. 

     Their method of attack was as brutish as their nature. Mounted on each Berserker’s shoulder plates were three crescent shaped blades like axe heads and in front and behind assorted studs and spikes. Incensed with blood lust and a desire to serve their demon god the Berserkers would smash headlong into and through their enemy, crushing and killing any one before them. 

     The lands within the Waning Ocean would never be safe until the last Talghaern was run through and the poison of Bal’Shir’s followers purged from every corner of Malartú . To his dying breath Sarantair would hold his line to prevent the city of Aeron falling into their hands this day. 

      The moment of battle was drawing closer. He could hear the thunderous noise of thousands of hoofed feet pounding the ground which had began to tremble as if in fear of the advancing Talghaern. Screams could be heard from the city behind him but his men stood fast, would always stand fast. 

     Sarantair squinted and focused on the Berserker that was directly ahead of him less than fifty yards away now and closing. He saw it lower its shoulder ready to make the charge into the lines of the Moonshadow Troops, into Sarantair. 

     Raising his free hand to the Broadsword’s hilt he made firm his grip with both hands, lowered the blade down and behind the line of his body. The Talghaern raced on towards him, roaring with hatred, seething with the desire to crush the follower of the goddess. Just a few steps away, its sight and noise filled Sarantair’s senses. 

     Almost upon him the Talghaern’s dark eyes locked with Sarantair’s, it thundered forward the last few feet and in the final moment lunged the triple blades and spikes at his midriff, roaring in crazed glee as it anticipated gutting and crushing the unmoving Sarantair. Overhead the Moonshadow Hawk cried out. The moment of truth had arrived. 

     Sarantair felt the gift of the goddess surge through every muscle and fibre. Time held for an instant. He watched the beast overwhelmed with desire and its dark god’s madness, its mind now lost to the reality around it. As it lunged towards him he twisted his body out of line, swung his blade swiftly across his own body and skywards. The Talghaern stepped passed him, Sarantair instantly turned and swept his blade downwards cleaving the beast between neck and shoulders, sinking deep, splitting and crushing bone, severing muscle and sinew. Blood poured and the runes glowed. 

Aeron’s Downfall – Coming when it’s ready…