Archon Septimus Seraphim stared at the figure before him--a figure from a thousand legends and nightmares--a tall, slender figure with bone pale skin and long dark hair that almost seemed to be a man. But Septimus knew better. This was an Erl--a Dark Lord, if he wasn’t mistaken. He rather doubted that most Erls went clad in rich armor, a mix of black and grey, edged with gold.
The Erl stared at him calmly, contemptuously, with his bright green eyes. “Flee and live,” intoned the Dark Lord in a deep voice. “Fight and die.”
Septimus glanced at Sir Ashareus Kerabim. “Where are Tiresias’ squad?”
Ashareus bit his lip nervously. “I’m… starting to think they met with… the Dark Lord.”
Septimus nodded. “I see.” He glanced around at his men, then nodded. “On my command, rush him.”
The Archon stepped forward and regarded the Erl for a moment. “Dark Lord, I bid you prepare for your doom,” he stated. “We are true knights of the Seven, pure hermits who serve the Holy Light, and we shall slay you for your wickedness, and your impiety. I, Archon Septimus Seraphim, do swear this.”
The Erl stared back at the Archon. “You stand between me and my daughter, Archon. Continue to do so, and I will make sure you may never do it again. Flee and live. Fight and die.”
“Oh, indeed,” declared Septimus with a snort. “I fear you have it wrong, Erl. I have given you a chance to renounce Douma Dalkiel, and embrace the Holy Light. You have not taken it. And now--you die.” He raised his hand. “Now!”
Six men leapt at the Dark Lord from all directions. What happened next occurred in a few seconds. The Erl drew his sword, and cut down four men in one swift motion. He then stepped forward, sheathed his sword, turned around, drew it again, and cut down the remaining two men. He then turned and looked at Septimus and Ashareus angrily as he sheathed the blade again.
“That was wasteful. And most unchivalrous. But mostly wasteful.” The Dark Lord stepped forward. “I do not care how many poor souls you hurl at me, heedlessly. If they try to kill me, they will die. My skill is sure. My power is great. And my cause is just. Keep me not from my child, little hermits. Flee and live. Fight and die.”
Septimus stared at the Dark Lord for a moment, then glanced at Ashareus. “Kill him!” he hissed. Ashareus bowed, then rushed forward, stabbing at him. The Erl gracefully stepped to the side, then drew his blade. His stroke caught the Eremite between the shoulder blades. Ashareus fell to the ground with a grunt. He made a wobbling attempt to rise, then slumped once more to the ground, groaning to himself. The Dark Lord tapped his fingers against the hilt of his sword.
Ashareus shut his eyes, and was silent.
The Dark Lord turned towards Septimus, sheathing his blade. The Archon slowly drew his own sword, noticing as he did so, that his hand was trembling.
The Dark Lord regarded him calmly. Septimus took an unsteady step forward. The Erl’s hand went towards his blade. Septimus stepped back. The pair regarded each other for a moment.
Then Septimus threw his sword down and ran. He ran from the Dark Lord as fast as he could, for as far as he could go.
He realized sometime later that tears were streaming down his cheeks. He had no idea when he’d started crying. However, to his immense distress, he simply wouldn’t stop, no matter how hard he tried.