Chapter I – The Vision
Gar’hiel didn’t sleep much at the best of times let alone when a battle was due to take place in two days time. He sat up in his cot and wiped the beaded sweat from his brow. The bear fur that lay across him kept the cold off his flesh but did little to keep the chill from his soul. He slowly stood and went to the water urn and filled a goblet. The water was slightly acidic but cooled his throat and it seemed that the mere act of it all some how steadied his nerves. Nerves? He pondered. He didn’t get nervous but the nightmare had shook him to the core and he knew he wouldn’t sleep again that night. Just like the last seven nights. Each time he had drifted off to sleep it had been restless and filled with such realistic visions that he had woken gasping and sweating. Tonight had been no different. War had been a part of Gar’hiels life since birth and so too had the visions. He could see more than any common man. He could see into hearts and, if it was a curse he still was not sure, he could see, partially, into the future.
“What is it Gar’hiel? What do you see?” Captain Armraus asked his long time friend and Librarian of the Legion as the two stood on the parapet of HellPass.
“I am not altogether sure… I see fire, red and black fire… I hear screams and I see our Legion engulfed in fire…” Gar’hiel replied, his forefingers pressed to his temples.
Armraus had never known the old librarian to talk so darkly. Even in the pits of despair his friend had always been the beacon of light. The push and drive behind the spirit of the Legion in battle.
“I cannot shake the thought… I… I fear something terrible is upon us.” Librain Gar’hiel exclaimed.
Armraus stared off into the dark surrounding forest at the base of Hellpass Castle and said quietly, “Well then, we must speak with Grandmaster Du’Raken and tell him of your vision. As you know, my friend, the surprise attack on the Blood Knights on the morrow is a pivotal point of this war and part of our plan for supreme victory so he must know of this.” Armraus said. “Come, I will go with you and, together with the Grandmaster, we will decide what the right move for us will be.”
The two legion veterans walked down the long black metal hallway into the heart of the mountain HellPass was built into. They headed for the Grandmasters office as they knew he would be pondering over maps and scrolls.
The statuesque sentry at the Grandmasters door stood to attention and nodded his head, ever so slightly, as a sign of recognition and respect to the high ranking armoured pair but said nothing as Armraus knocked twice on the tall, narrow, metal door.
Grandmaster Du’Raken was surprised to see his Captain and Librarian at such a late hour but also because it was customary for them to be attending and heading up the great feast with the Legion before a major battle.
“What’s this? No wine, meat and merriment for my two comrades on the eve of battle? Are you unwell?” The Grandmaster quipped as he looked up from his papers, a wry smile crossing his thin lips. When he saw the look on Gar’hiels face the Grandmasters smile faded.
“Gar’hiel you look like you’ve seen a ghost.” Du’Raken said.
The veteran warrior and Grandmaster of the Legion was much older than the other two Legionaries but still just as fit and able, if not more so despite his long white, but well groomed, beard and aching bones. To be Grandmaster of the Legion a man needed to be all things and more, which Du’Raken certainly was. He was a tall and barrel chested man with a vicious scar that split straight down the centre of his, otherwise, handsome features. His wise and steely eyes looked into his librarians very soul and he knew, instinctively, that something was amiss.
“Grandmaster, Gar’hiel has had a vision of some concern.” Captain Armraus declared when he saw that his friend made no attempt to speak.
“That’s nothing new Captain.” Du’Raken said coldly, his eyes not leaving Gar’hiels face.
“Sir, it’s like no other and…” The Captain was cut off by the Grandmaster who slammed his bare fist onto his large wooden table causing wine to spill from his goblet and splash onto his parchments. “Well, spit it out Gar’hiel, can’t you see I am in the middle of planning the battle for tomorrow?”
Gar’hiel didn’t address the Grandmaster ,as is tradition, before speaking he simply uttered one word… “doomed.”
The Grandmasters eyebrows raised so high they just about disappeared into his receding, white hairline.
“I beg your pardon? Have you gone mad? How dare you fail to address me and then speak but one word, and such a word. On the eve of what will be a defining battle against our sworn enemy you enter my office at the eleventh hour and say doomed to me your Grandmaster.” The Grandmasters voice grumbled in a sinister but controlled tone.
Gar’hiel shook his head as though trying to shake away the visions that seemed to be consuming him. Captain Armraus saw the glint of tears in his friends eyes as Gar’hiel coughed and said, “I’m sorry Grandmaster, it’s just that these images… these images are so vivid that it’s as though they’re happening here and now before my very eyes.”
“Well, they’re not, now come to your damn senses and tell me what you see!” Grandmaster Du’Raken bellowed, becoming exasperated.
Librarian Gar’hiel swallowed hard and then went on to explain, in detail, what he saw and what he believed would be the Legions fate the very next day in battle.
Captain Armraus and Librarian Gar’hiel we’re dismissed shorty after.
Feeling at a loss for words, Armraus simply placed a comforting hand on his friends shoulder. They walked together in silence for a time before Gar’hiel stopped and looked into his battle brothers face. They’d fought together many times over the fifteen years they’d known each other. They’d had each other’s backs and saved one another’s hides on more than a dozen occasions. Now, Gar’hiel feared tomorrow would be the last battle for both of them but he didn’t voice his thoughts. “Goodnight my old friend, may tomorrow find you blood, honour and victory.” Then Gar’hiel, the Legions longest standing and most loyal Librarian, walked away in the direction of his quarters. Armraus watched as the silhouette of his friend slowly sank into the shadows and he couldn’t help but notice that this was the first time he’d seen his comrade walk without purpose and with heavily burdened shoulders.
Armraus joined his men in the great food hall once more and tried to enjoy the banter and wine but his thoughts kept returning to Gar’hiels vision of the battle tomorrow. The engulfing flames and screams. War is hell, the veteran Captain thought but even he felt a chill creep through his bones.
“We shall see.” The Captain muttered to himself before taking a long gulp of sweet wine.