Arise, children of the Juggernaut
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us, Evil has risen.
Do you hear in the forest
These ferocious Wulven howling?
To arms, then Warriors of Vorzitian!
Form your battalions!
Let us walk, let us ride!
Conjure ice and fire and lightning
So nothing can hither hide
For we are Lords of Battle
mighty warriors of Balor
we stand for justice and honor
we are Team Juggernaut
Let us show them our valor.
In the days that followed the Prophecy by the God Vozitian, to the Elder Nahar, Castle Juggernaut had become a hive of activity.
Riders had been dispatched to recall all of the Shadow Warriors, including the Elders. It would be many moons before the summons would be heeded. Enough time to make preparations.
The nine "sacrifices" had been buried, each with a gold coin and a Shadow Crystal, placed in their hands, to pay for the Death Collector. The three warriors that escaped, would have to pay for their own ticket to the Underworld.
The warrior Rayzie thundered towards the castle, on his black warhorse Legend, at the head of his honor guard. Half a league out he could clearly see the additional fortifications. A wooden gate, palisade, and a series of towers blocked the approach to the castle proper. All manned by sentries, including bowmen. In the training fields off on the far right, soldiers were being put through their paces. Whilst the upper pasture, on his far left, where the Gauntlet challengers and their retinue camped, had a new corral and a series of large elaborately decorated tents.
Seems visitors would be afforded more comforts. He mused.
Approaching the wooden gates, he took in the scale and raw exterior of the castle, all brooding, dark, and menacing.
Home. He smiled.
"Who goes there?"
"Open the gate or I'll rip your head off and piss down your neck." replied Rayzie, pulling up in front of the gate.
"At ease Corporal...don't you recognize an Elder when you see one?"
Rayzie looked up, and saw a smiling bearded face atop the Palisade walkway.
"Sentry duty Vortex? Nice to know you have your uses" said Rayzie with smile.
[A week later]
There was an excited buzz in the Hall of the Elders. This was a momentous day, and all the principles of the House were assembled. As was proper, the senior Shadow Warriors stood on the right side of the hall. All, to a man, were dressed in their best ceremonial golden armor. Hanging off their shoulders was a red cloak, bearing the crest of the Juggernaut, an up-raised gold gauntlet. This was the status of a Named Man, a true Juggernaut of the House. At the back of the hall stood the senior officers from the standing army, representing nearly 2000 troops in all. On the left, members of the Xtended looked on eagerly. Each wore their golden ceremonial armor, minus the red cloak worn by the seniors.
All eyes were on the Elders who sat at the head of the hall on ornate thrones. Five in all, as one was lost to the Great Sacrifice several months ago. They wore matching gold armor, and black cloaks instead of the red adorned by the Shadow Warriors.
On the floor, engraved in stone and washed up by thousands of footsteps, the Oath:
“Do not kill. Do not rape. Do not steal.
Be mighty. Be respectful. Be fearless.
These are principles which every man of every faith can embrace.
These are not polite suggestions.
As you enter here, now and forever, these are the codes of behavior, and those of you that ignore them will pay the dearest cost.
There are varying degrees of evil.
We urge you, lesser forms of filth, not to push the bounds and cross over into true corruption, into our domain.
For if you do, one day you will look behind you and you will see us three.
And on that day, you will reap it.
And we will send you to whatever god you wish.”
A hush settled on the hall as the Spiritual Leader Bluejet stood.
“Warriors, we are gathered here today to celebrate the rebirth of our great House. We have grown, and won many victories over the years, and have extended our influence throughout the land of Balor. We are respected and feared, and that is only right, for we are the chosen of Vozitian!”
At that, a cry went out amongst the throng.
Stilling them, Bluejet went on “Recently though we suffered a set-back, a defeat in the Gauntlet. Vozitian was not pleased. A fact he made perfectly clear when he visited the Horse Lord in his dreams. The blood he demanded for our failure was great. We all lost friends and comrades in the Great Sacrifice”.
He paused to let that settle in, and then went on in his powerful deep toned voice.
“Did we hesitate though to carry out His wishes? No! For we are Juggernauts and we do not baulk when the going gets bloody. Instead, we fight harder!”
A great cheer went up.
In the crowd of Shadow Warriors, the Mage SamuelJ lent in, and whispered in Mongoosey’s ear “Rousing speech eh Goosey?”
“Yes, couldn’t have put it better myself” he said sardonically.
Bluejet continued, “The Elders all agree that the Xtended have served their purpose.”
For a split second Mongoosey saw fear in the faces of a number of the Xtended. Cull round two?
“And now, that the blood sacrifice has been met, it is time to re-energize our House. So, we welcome into the fold of the Shadow Warrior elite all of the Xtended. Welcome brothers one and all”
Another great cheer, this one tinged with relief too.
“The Gauntlet will re-launch and will be harder than ever before. And different. And more complex!! Our mages have been working hard to create a portal we can use to access the Grey for training purposes, and the fruits of many years of exploration and study by our Elders have allowed us access to many new spells and creatures. All of which can be harnessed in the Grey. Even now, as we stand here, riders are sending messages of challenge to all of the prominent Houses, as well as declarations to independent warriors in the surrounding towns and cities. Come, and be defeated!”
A pause and another cheer
Knows how to work an audience, our Bluejet. Thought Mongoosey.
He continued, quieter than before. “The prophecy from Vozitian was dark indeed though. We will need to be prepared in the days that come, for a war is coming greater than anything these lands have witnessed before. We will need to stand united. Not as a collection of lone warriors ready to be picked off. No…instead we stand together as a band of brothers, a team…a team of Juggernauts!!!!
A massive cheer filled the hall.
Epic, now I do hope there is beer. Thought Mongoosey.
TO BE CONTINUED...