In the thick jungles of Gresny, the night was always dangerous. The villagers of Stombil kept a vigil all through the night; not sure when the forces of the Darklord would strike and take away their farm produce and women. Women were scarce in the land ruled by Darklord, from the time the genetic mutation had skewed the sex ratio in favor of men; who were as strong and ferocious as the Darklord himself.

Aksai, the chief of the watchkeepers, had to scramble his men towards the northern post as they heard the sounds of galloping horses with the drums beating in the background. He knew Darklord was on his way to strike Stombil.

As they prepared and watched their defenses, they heard the screams of a man as he was being chased by the troopers of Darklord. Aksai knew instantly who he was. Helgar it had to be. Who else?

Helgar was on the run and was in the hiding after he had duped and robbed the old carpenter in the village. The notorious Helgar had molested the carpenter’s daughter before he fled. He had repeatedly violated the village code of Stombil, and Aksai had himself to blame; for having let go Helgar lightly when he could have sent him to gallows. He had tried his dirty tricks with Helgar’s lady the last time; only to be rescued in the nick of time by the vigilant guards.

Now he was facing the wrath of the Darklord, who was brutal and ruthless. He approached the outpost and was just a few feet away from the fencing when they seized him. The troopers started dragging him and were tying his hands behind his back.

“Help me, Aksai. Save me. They are going to kill me.” He was begging for mercy.

“Let him go. He is Stombilite. Where are you taking him?” The guards shouted back.

Aksai looked on and was wondering what Helgar had done to bring upon the wrath and fury of Darklord on to himself. He was bemused to see the treatment meted out to Helgar not by him, but by his archrival.

“He is a disgrace to this land. Darklord will not spare him. He will be shred to pieces by the werewolves. He has butchered the cousin of the mighty Darklord himself!” The chief trooper was heard saying.

“Stay away and no harm will fall upon Stombil. He is ours to have. He has wronged us.” Darklord was watching the scene from a distance, as his men assured Aksai.

Helgar pleaded for mercy again. He begged to Aksai, “Save me Aksai, I’ve sinned. I will take whatever punishment you give. Don’t let them take me. Please.”

“Sometimes there is no happy choice, Helgar, only one less grievous than the others,” Aksai told him.

“I will not let your blood spill onto Stombil and me. You don’t deserve it.”

Aksai watched as they dragged away Helgar out of sight of Stombil forever.


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Photo by Austin Neill

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