Grimdark Magazine Battle-Off: Eternal War – Armies Of Saints by Livio Gambarini
Eternal War – Armies Of Saints by Livio Gambarini
This is an excerpt provided by the author for the Grimdark Magazine Battle-Off Competition
Eternal War – Armies Of Saints by Livio GambariniKabal hated being wrong, but he was far quicker to accept it than others. He had always seen humans who dabbled in sorcery as little more than voyeurs, reckless fools who poked their noses beyond the veil of the Spirit World to, once in a while, strike a deal with some thin being without putting their own lives on the line.
Yet, the spectacle before his eyes made him realize just how wrong he was. Spectres were flying over the ranks and clinging to the garments of the Guelph Patron Saints, followed fleetingly by the giant fauns that bore the Grim Reapers and the yellow waves of panic that spread through the souls of the Florentine soldiers. This was the work of some human sorcerer, someone with iron nuts!
The spectres were gone almost as soon as they came, but the damage was done. By the time the Patron Saints opened their arms once more and their benign influence began to flow again, the lines of allied troops had already been broken.
Even Schiatta's soul turned a patchy yellow. Kabal wasted no time in wrapping him several times in the light blue drape, creating a dark green of authoritarian determination. This colour didn't last long on the playful soul of his Pater Familias, but it did endure just enough to allow Schiatta to say something to the mercenaries in his entourage, who galloped off to block the path of some of the fleeing soldiers.
Then the enemy Patron Saints began singing in Latin. An extraordinary chorus rang out with the power of thunder and the sound of bells chiming in unison, causing the earth to vibrate and the allied saints to tremble in the sky, like flags fluttering in the wind. First a demon attacking the banner of the reserves and then a perfect spiritual offense - what would follow? Kabal looked around seeking one of his kind to speak to, but the Spirit World was so dense with emotion it was becoming ever harder to see anything.
Then, a cloud of moving red light appeared out of the fog and Kabal held tightly to Schiatta's soul.
It was the horseman who was leading the enemy's charge, a frightening creature who glowed like a martyr in a procession. His shield, spear and helmet crackled with scarlet drawings and symbols, and that light merged with three torches of white energy around his neck and wrists.
Were those relics?
The horse whinnied as it reared up on its hind legs. Schiatta grabbed the reins as tightly as he could, fearing he might be thrown from his mount. Pain shot up his back, but he managed to remain in the saddle and calm his steed.
A large wedged-shape formation of Ghibelline cavalry had taken advantage of the turmoil to cut through the line of shields and was now galloping up the slope to the Wheeled Altar. Schiatta forced the pain from his mind and drove his horse left.
Behind him, he could hear the captain of the defenders screaming "Lucca!" Schiatta hardly had time to get out of the way before a wave of soldiers on horseback flew towards the Ghibelline assault. Was his son in the midst of that mayhem? Schiatta galloped down the slope, moving parallel to the charging soldiers. He looked as hard as he could.
Both Captains had spread out their forces and the lines were now galloping towards each other, spears out, shields up and flags blowing in the wind. An instant prior to impact, the Captain of Lucca's horse stumbled, leaving his master's spear to strike nothing but air. The Ghibelline spear was far more accurate, striking the gap between the edge of the shield and the visor of the other man’s cylindrical helmet. Sparks filled the air. The spear plunged right through the Captain with a thunderous sound, driving him out of his saddle and sending him rolling among his soldiers. At least five spears wielded by soldiers from Lucca converged on this Ghibelline destroyer, but they broke into pieces against the red shield and grand golden helmet as he drew his sword from its sheath. The two sides clashed furiously, leaving Schiatta unable to make out anything further.
“Cavalcante! Where are you?" The lump in Schiatta's throat grew bigger as the first death cries echoed amid the confusion of swishing swords, clashing shields and thrashing hooves.
Finally, he could see his son, Cavalcante. He was fine, but now he was alone, facing two mad Ghibellines armed with axes. His was in real danger. Nearby, a blonde soldier escorted by three shield-bearing soldiers was waving in the air, pointing to his son. His back was turned, so Schiatta couldn't see his face, but a family standard was flying from his spear.
His horse tried to run again, but Schiatta pulled the reins hard and tried to make out of the coat-of-arms. It was divided vertically into two parts, with a chessboard pattern on the right and half a black eagle on the left. Schiatta's heart was in his mouth. He forced his horse to ride in that direction, trying to fill his lungs with air to drive out the din of battle.
“Farinata degli Uberti!”
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