Stone Cold by HammerFall for Conleth
Aramgah-e Shah-e Cheragh (Mirrored Mausoleum for Imam Reza’s brothers) in Shiraz, Iran.
Forest Portal, Australia
photo via kbb
The festive, cosy Christmas interior of St. Michael’s, Hernhill, in the English southern county of Kent.
I watch the children pray,
while God just turns away
Out in the ruins they seek shelter
These streets were once my home,
but those golden days are gone,
now I’m fighting to survive
~Stone Cold by HammerFall
“I got your message.” Two paladins stood on the rocky beach. Icy waves lapped at their feet, but neither flinched. They sized each other up. Watched, as if planning an attack. Neither seemed willing to break that stare, but finally the paladin in blue did, by tossing a letter at the other’s feet.
The paladin in red bent to retrieve it. He unfolded it to reveal its contents, a stylized L in red ink. “It could have been sent by anyone.” He glared at the blue paladin.
Conleth burst out laughing and moved forward, arms open, to hug the red-armored paladin. “Aradrius Finn, it is good to see you again.” The Scarlet soldier was engulfed in a tight hug. “It’s been…” Conleth hesitated, running a hand through his hair. “Too long. How have things been since I left?”
“Tough. The dead have been decimating our forces. The High General is dead, and so too our old enemy, the Lich King, and still we sit in this frozen hell, slowly dying to Scourge attacks.” Aradrius looked pained, so much so that Conleth tightened his hand on the Scarlet’s shoulder. “I’ve seen old friends, our brothers who followed us from Lordaeron, rise to join the Scourge in their relentless attacks on this island.”
“It isn’t the Scourge that attack this island, Aradrius. A so-called ally of the Argent Crusade seeks to wipe you out. The Knights of the Ebon Blade. Free death knights.” It was Conleth’s turn to look pained and turn his head from the Scarlet.
Aradrius sneered. “Scourge filth is Scourge filth. Who they claim to serve makes little difference. Would you trust a child to a worg’s jaws?”
“No. And I do not trust the Ebon Blade.” Conleth scowled, and his hands tightened to fists at his sides. “I have information that there are free death knights hunting the frozen wastes. Eating our people. I was worried about you.”
“As you should be. We’re dying, and our dead rise to fuel the enemy.” Aradrius scowled heavily. “Those that aren’t eaten, I suppose. It’s…overwhelming. I think I’m losing the Light, Conleth. My faith…it isn’t enough to get me through this trial.”
Conleth gave the Scarlet a shocked look. “Come with me, then. The Brotherhood of the Light will take you in. They continue the Scarlet Crusade’s work. Its real work, not this fool’s errand that Abbendis pursued.”
“Maybe…” Whatever else Aradrius might have been about to say was cut off by the horrible screech of a dying gryphon and a man’s terrified scream. As one, Aradrius and Conleth looked up to see one of the gryphon riders falling, two death knights on his heels.
It was Conleth who raised his hand. Holy Light engulfed the falling rider, and when he hit the rocky beach, he rose to his feet unscathed. Conleth drew his sword and shield, and he practically glowed with the Light as he stared up at the death knights. “Come then, beasts of the Scourge! The Light grants you a swift death!”
At his side, Aradrius drew a large mace. The Light around him seemed different, less sure, but he watched Conleth and seemed to steady himself. Loudly, loud enough to be heard on the nearby ramparts, he yelled, “To arms! The Scourge attacks!”
The death knights leapt from their gryphons, but hesitated a moment. “We have no fight with you, Argent. Leave, and let us wipe out this abomination.”
Conleth’s face turned red, and he sputtered a moment before yelling, “Bullshit!” He rushed forward as more Scarlet soldiers rushed to aid them. Blades clashed. Plagued bolts collided with paladins’ shields. The Holy Light permeated the ground, making the Scourge filth scream. One death knight lost his head to Aradrius’s mace.
The other laid on the ground at Conleth’s feet. He was missing an arm and his throat was torn, but Conleth knew the wound was not fatal. No, it took more than those small injuries to kill the undead. He raised his sword. For a moment, he just stared at the black blade on the death knight’s tabard, then he sneered. “Light’s justice be done.” The sword descended.
Conleth stood there for a few minutes, breathing heavily. He kicked the death knight’s corpse. “Scourged filth,” he muttered.
“That was one of your Ebon Blade, you know.” Aradrius waved the other Scarlets from Conleth and joined him by the body.
“I know.” Conleth still sneered down at the body. His sword still dripped with the death knight’s putrid blood. “I never claimed to trust or to like any of them.”
Aradrius laughed. “So, what does this Brotherhood of the Light do now?”
Conleth looked over at the Scarlet. “Hunting down our fallen brothers and giving them peace, Aradrius.”
The Scarlet scowled. “What?”
“A demon corrupted our brothers that the High General left behind. Plagued them and turned them all undead. A fate worse than death.” Conleth stared down at the corpse, and for good measure kicked it again.
“You’ve been making sure our brothers stay dead, as the Light intended?” Aradrius sounded dubious.
“Yes. Among other things. The new continent of Pandaria calls. The Plaguelands are slowly being cleansed, and I yearn to see sights not fouled by the undead.”
“It’s been years since I even saw Lordaeron.” Aradrius sounded wistful.
“You don’t want to see it, Aradrius. It’s still in the hands of the Scourge bitch and her lackeys. She’s showing her true colors, though, and even the Argent Crusade admits concern. I will be there when we finally reclaim our home.”
Aradrius smiled. “Well, I want to be there, too. When do we leave?”
Conleth looked at the other paladin in surprise for a moment, then turned to engulf him in a tight hug. “As soon as you’re ready.”