Topic: The Crusader

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    kzfreeman
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    Hello everyone! I love this game, and while it is difficult for me to choose a favorite hero, the crusader would be one of them. I like to write, and thought the crusader’s and the highwayman’s short one-page comics were the best, with the crusader’s being particularly soul-crushing. It inspired me to write a short story about him and how came to meet the accursed new owner of the hamlet. It would be interesting to write the whole DD experience from his POV, but this short backstory is all I have so far. Cheers!

    Decapitation of the queen shall set us free! The foul winds whispered it, the delirious vestals spat it, and we rode out to do it. Dreams of her Majesty’s death plagued my nights to no end, and so I left my wife and son behind to join the crusade against her rule. I met who would later become my brother, Dismas, somewhere upon the Old Road. I heard him before I saw his solemn shape in the dark, sitting beside a carriage which he must have raided. Bodies lay strewn about him and the horses must have fled, for when I stalked near, walking over carcasses sunken in their own blood and mud, the rain pouring down on his shoulders and spilling over his dark brow, I saw the man was weeping, holding in his arms the corpse of a dead woman. When he at last heard my footsteps, he slashed at me. I felt a hot sting and my flesh opening. In his delirium he slung a pistol and missed a point blank shot aimed at my face. The force of it staggered him and I raised my bulwark of faith to stall his menacing approach.

    “Halt, brother,” I managed.

    This seemed to stir his unnerved mind out of whatever madness had gripped him and he looked at me with eyes in which no light shone. He said nothing and offered me a bandage. With a bow, he departed, not looking back, and somehow I knew our paths will cross again.

    A year later, the cohort I had joined to rise against our Majesty’s rule was met with the main force of her army. Their numbers consumed the countryside in a black, roiling mass of raised spears and thick shields. For a while we stood beneath the roaring sky where our folly was revealed when the first crooked dagger lit the landscape and stabbed at the earth. Atop a hill and surrounded by raised spears was where I first saw her upon her war-charger – a blood-drunk fiend riding the wave of her own tyrannical madness.

    I heard the sky open, its downpour pinging against armor and a wave of men moving as one hateful scream towards us. They crashed into us from all sides, shaking the ground. I could not see the end of them. Men shouted and cursed as the field became a blacksmith’s dream, brutalizing our senses and grumbling in our minds. In this I heard it clearly, the cackle of the insane god which She worshiped, a thing I knew and heard whispered of only as the Heart of the World. In that moment, all of us felt just how keenly the deity wished us dead.

    We had somehow managed to make it half way up the slope where she waited, when first I heard her behind roes of armor, laughing. Her spiked crown was a solemn light beneath the storm as we clashed with her fortress of bodies. We had trampled the grass with our numbers, releasing a haze of dust and blood-mist. Grime-layered and spiteful, their men at arms spat their curses at us. Their faces a blur to me, their eyes black pits of malice. I heard her screaming yet could not make out the words. Then I saw her. She raised her golden spear, the sigil of her rule flapping at its end: a tentacle grasping the sun. The rabid mouth of her horse snapped wildly, foaming, its eyes as mad as the tyrant who sat upon it. It stood on its hind legs, wailed with a roar. She pushed her hand back and in sequence with the beast rushing forward, flailed her fist so that her fur-edged cloak spilled over her shoulder.

    I had expected her to let her men slaughter us, but as the eldritch god which she worshiped must have willed, she decided to kill us herself. She charged straight at us. Her own men trampled and broken by her hatred. I heard bows loosen behind me. Arrows rushed above in a hail of black lines against the sky. They bounced off of her gilded armor, hitting instead the men around her, punching through necks, through foreheads, impaling. She laughed through it all as her men screamed. A few strides behind, a personal retinue followed, their mouths hidden behind high and heavy gorgets, eyes sealed within grilled helmets. Their morning star’s bigger than our heads. Their roar came as one as they rushed us. I felt the fire in my breast rise as the bolstering aspect of her personal guard infected even me.

    Voices combined into a brain-blasting force, hitting us before the queen come upon us. Scrambling, we readied our spears to repel the charge. Her beast simply jumped over the obstacle, trampling. The Queen had been a power-mad psychopath from afar, and now become a butcher up close. Her swift appearance among us reminded me of what I should never have forgotten: than overconfidence is a slow and insidious killer. Her golden spear seemed unstoppable, pausing in its rotations only to punch cleanly through someone’s skull. No one else dared approach, as the last of us huddled up. The sun had become blood-red upon her banner.
    The rain stopped. The swollen sky parted and the red sun made a halo around her head as her eyes caught mine.

    She pointed her spear at me and shouted, “All but that one!”

    It was within the dungeon of Her keep that I met a man of a singular cast of countenance. Tall, broad, and forever clutching in his hand a crumbled piece of paper he claimed was the letter sent to him by his ancestor.

    His promise that the only way to destroyed the queen was to destroy what animates her, had not manged to convince me to add my sword to his cause. He told me of a hamlet to which he must return to, and that I was to be instrumental in the success of his quest.

    He handed me the letter from his ancestor and said, “I found this letter within an otherwise empty chest.”

    I had been unsure up until then, and still I know not why the letter and not his words had persuaded me, but the first few still illuminate my mind, it read, “Ruin has come to our family…”

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