Chapter 1

As the dawn broke over the hill city of Cerenia, it wasn’t welcomed as usual. Rather this day was dreaded, as the hapless dwellers of the city awaited the terrible in anticipation. There was agitation as far and wide as the eyes could see. Beyond the golden fields of wheat, and the dark green groves, the harbingers of carnage approached.

Banners and swords were lifted high, as the sound of drums filled the air with fear. The army of Himsasha was drawing closer to the city. It was only inevitable for the Cerenians to face this day. It was but next in line to all its sisters, which had suffered the same fate.

Some called him a demon, some a god, while some thought he was a fiend from a different world. But regardless of what he was, it was known that Himsasha destroyed and devoured nations. With the aid of his mercenaries, the Phalanx of chaos, he appeased his insatiable hunger for blood and carnage. On the orders of their master, the Phalanx of chaos would destroy city after city till an entire nation was brought to its knees. They’d never take any prisoners, for their master desired no prisoners but a landscape of eradication and defilement. Such were the twisted desires of this power hungry monster!

This day, Cerenia helplessly stared at the expanding cloud of dust made by the marching horde on the horizon, as it reluctantly swallowed its anvil of remorse and disbelief that it too shall exist no more.

Published in: on September 17, 2010 at 7:30 am  Comments (4)  

Chapter 2

While the phalanx drew closer to Cerenia, the minions of Himsasha gathered infront of his throne to indulge in excess and bacchanalia. The coutroom of Himsasha was enormous and immensely chromatic, painted in hues of gold and crimson. It was illuminated by two long rows of golden lamp stands, a 100 on either side. At the end of the courtroom was the throne, the presence of which dwarfed everything else.

Upon it sat Himsasha with his goblet of gold drinking the blood of the lands he had conquered. His guttural, almost monstrous voice resonated through the hall, as he addressed his minions saying, “In an obsolete world, I am the only one who is complete. Who can oppose me? In front of me the choice of right or wrong does not hold, for what I do can never be questioned, and what I will, has always been done and shall be done forevermore.”

He then proclaimed, ” Every being is bound to me by servitude. My dominion is even above the gods. My kingship is therefore above all and my authority knows no bounds. I am in fact Zeus in the flesh, and this is my temple! Now bow down and worship me.” At this, every knee in the courtroom bowed in front of him, in complete silence and unquestioning veneration.

Published in: on September 17, 2010 at 7:25 am  Leave a Comment  

Chapter 3

Seemingly unaware of all the agitation and the coming misfortune, an old, almost blind man sat at the gates of Cerenia. No one knew where he came from, or how he got there, but he had been sitting there rambling and murmuring for ages occasionally refraining to seek alms. His frame was frail yet sturdy. Such it was that it seemed to suggest that he may have lived a life of hardship and discipline at some point.
If only one had stooped closer to listen to what he rattled all day, would have known that he was in fact once a general in the ranks of the Phalanx of chaos.

He too once was a harbinger of death and suffering. Hundreds had been killed at his will. Like the ones that marched towards the city, he too once had no remorse or guilt about the death of innocents. But now he sat distraught and horrified, recounting the days of his past, petrified reliving each moment.

“There must have been a reason; of course there must have been.” he reminisced in anguish. “They couldn’t have just been killed in vain. They were the scum of the earth, weren’t they? They deserved to die, every last one of them.” But then, with his head bowed in shame, he spoke under his breath, “It was all futile. Every head was severed in vain. No good came of it.” “Hate had the better of me, I was its slave. We were all its slaves.” he gnashed his teeth retrospecting. “There has never been, neither shall ever be a reason for hatred. In the end we all prostitute ourselves to our desires to kill and annihilate.”

Published in: on September 17, 2010 at 7:20 am  Leave a Comment  

Chapter 4

Now almost at the gates, the phalanx had seemingly been unperturbed by the desperate efforts of the Cerenians to fend them off. No Cerenian arrow or spear had been able to break or even intimidate the minions of Himsasha. It was almost as if they had already been cursed to fail. But had Cerenia indeed been cursed? Had it indeed been doomed to fall?

These questions were increasingly bothering the Cerenians. Some were convinced that they somehow deserved the coming annihilation for their iniquities and shortfalls. Some thought that the gods had deemed their destruction. Such was the plight of their esteem, that some Cerenian soldiers even resorted to suicide than dying at the hands of the invaders.

Amidst this inferno of intimidation, the leader of the Cerenian army too found himself cornered by questions and insinuations. As he withdrew into his quarters to get a hold on himself, he found himself getting increasingly subdued by the voice in his head spewing righteous indignation at him and his people. He desperately tried to reason with himself, but no matter how hard he tried, the voice within him continued to incessantly impugn him.

But then he gradually began to see through the facade and realized that the battle he had been fighting within himself was not with himself but in fact with an unseen yet distinct entity. He became increasingly aware of the fact that the voice that had been indicting him and his people was actually an unseen agent of discord which had in all probability been appointed by Himsasha to break his people from within.

At this, he became exceedingly indignant and said,” I can see you now, you are the one who torments the souls of my people, and makes them feeble from within. You are the one who drains them of their strength and weakens their will to live. But now I see you for who you really are and I will not listen to another word you say. Your lies can do me no harm. Not anymore!”

He then stepped out of his quarters, and gathered his people to address them, knowing in his gut that this shall probably be the last time he’d ever do so. But he wasn’t afraid anymore.

Published in: on September 17, 2010 at 7:15 am  Comments (1)  

Chapter 5

“My brothers! My sisters! Sons and daughters of Cerenia”, he called out. “The day we’d thought we’d never see is now at hand. All that we have lived for, and for which those before us died, now may be snatched away from us forever” he said.

Though there could be seen a hint of remorse in his eyes, the general kept his head together and continued to address his people, “In the past, we have faced enemies in all forms. Oppressors, betrayers, and even forces beyond our understanding. However, our fathers stood this very ground unperturbed and stared right in the face of every adversary.”

“Today, let’s remember their legacy and together break these chains of inhibitions, and stand this ground. Let us do away with every venomous blot that drains us of our will to live. For it matters not whether we live or die, but what we choose to do now.”

At this the men of Cerenia picked themselves up, took hold of their swords and their shields. They let out a cry in unison, which bore witness to the sheer spirit of defiance that the words of the general had been able to stir up within them.

Together, they braved out of their hiding and headed straight towards the phalanx of chaos, which had already breached the gates and had begun its dance of destruction. It was almost as if the entire city had descended into battle. Their fear had given way to courage, and their inhibitions had been dissolved in a spirit of resolution. Sword against sword, spear against spear, man against man; this battle was long and lasted several days.

Yet, the inevitable had to happen. The minions of Himsasha did what they had been bred to do. The city of Cerenia, once an inspiring and beautiful sight perched peacefully on a hill, now burned and lay scarred, devoid of life.

Published in: on September 17, 2010 at 7:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Chapter 6

The city had been burning incessantly for days before the fires began to dwindle and the scale of the actual carnage could be seen. The loss had indeed been great. Charred remains of the living were still somewhat vivified with the ambers of the dying flames, while the sky was covered with a dark cloud of ash.

Thus after the flames had had their way, the face of the sun was now hidden from the land by an ash cloud, which heralded a time of darkness and an untimely winter! The entire landscape was now covered with a layer of grey, while the air had become a thick curtain of ash and snow restricting the view to only a few feet.

The handful who had survived the raid, questioned their fortunes as they breathed in the dense cold mist which still reeked of blood and smoke, and walked through the streets covered with the butchered and battered remains of their loved ones. Their blank stares screamed aloud whether it was worth living now?

Published in: on September 17, 2010 at 7:05 am  Comments (2)  

Chapter 7

One would have expected wild and incessant wailing from a city as afflicted as Cerenia. But the lament of Cerenia was rather reticent. Their tears had run cold, and their eyes barely blinked as they searched for the remains of their loved ones, mostly buried beneath the ashes. They moved slowly and silently through the thick mixture of ash and snow. Their mourning could be felt but not heard. Their anguish could be heard but not seen. It was as if they had been completely desensitized, or were just finding it hard to calculate a reaction to such a loss.

When the dead had been piled up for their final journey, one of the elders from the people spoke, “Here in this pile are our fathers and our mothers, our brothers and our sisters, and our sons and our daughters. Did they deserve this death? I can’t say. But it is certain that Cerenia has paid a price. We have paid for our misdoings. Surely such a thing should not have happened otherwise. It is we who must have been at some fault! Our lacking has therefore brought this misery upon us. Such is the fate that we have been given. Such is the life we must lead.”

As he spoke, a young man from the group broke his silence and shouted, “No.” The old man, visibly startled, looked towards the youth who had dared to disrupt him. Strongly but woefully he said, “The truth is that our freedom was targeted by a tyrant, a power-hungry fiend, who only desires is to watch the world burn. Why must we then demean the sacrifice of our fellow Cerenians by blaming ourselves for this calamity?!”

Though the lad sounded a little rough, the Cerenians somehow began to see a thread of reason in what he said. They gave him their undivided attention as he continued, “Look at what we’ve become – just walking sacks of bones! Where is our ability to reason and think for ourselves? Why must we accept a fate that the enemy would have us accept? Why should we burn for his pleasure?…. I for one choose to deny my enemy that pleasure. Who says that Cerenia is conquered? It may be burnt but it shall rise again. With the sweat and blood of every one of us, this land will sustain life once again. So what if we only see bones around us right now. Let’s breathe life into these bones!”

Published in: on September 17, 2010 at 7:00 am  Leave a Comment