A short story based in Armello. What happens to heroes who save the day, in a land filled with madness and evil? Nothing good.
Armello was a land united. Where the clans served their lion King, and together the people prospered. Each of the four clans watched over its holdings, but when the King called for council, or asked them for aid, they answered.
But then the Corruption awoke once more. Thought to be silenced for over a century, this dark, evil force once again surfaced and threatened the world as we know it. It infected the minds of everything it touched, turning them into its pawns, and unfortunately it eventually reached the King himself. As he was driven mad, and the land crumbled into civil war the creatures of darkness left the shelter of their lairs and terrorized the innocent once more. The King’s armies, driven by his mad will, did little to bring peace or restore order. The clans too failed to see a way for lasting peace and turned on one another.
Somebody had to become the next King. Perhaps the old King could be cured?
But this is not the tale of these clans and the King. It is a tale of strife among the common people. Those, who had to survive these terrible times. And how they had to cope when no Hero was around to save them.
It came in the night. With a loud flap of its wings, and a shriek that would make any sane man run. Like a blade struck into someone’s back, the Bane landed in the centre of the village and began its rampage. Everybody fled for their lives, while the creature destroyed all it saw. Buildings fell, and those who were not quickly enough to flee died in the rubble. The Bane saught prey, nothing else, and it did not even have to eat. It simply desired to cause as much despair as it possibly could.
In one of the barns a feline and dog hid, watching from the straw pile inside of which they lay. The dog seemed terrified but the cat had that dangerous glimmer in her eye which meant only trouble for the dog.
“These are the end times!” the dog yelped, as quietly as he could. “Where are the heroes? The guard?!” he despaired, covering his ears again as the Bane roared.
The feline did not seem to be as terrified. She seemed to be observing the Bane, its macabre dance of destruction, and plotting something. “I think I have a plan.” she remarked, and her companion looked to her.
“Patches. This is not the time for your insane plans! That there is a Bane. It will kill you the moment it sees you! We should be running away! As far away as possible!” the dog spoke in ever louder whispers.
The feline reached for something from behind, or under her. It was hard to tell with so much straw surrounding them. It looked like a massive egg, covered in cloth. “This is how we will kill it.” Patches remarked, as always not showing any bit of doubt in her voice.
The dog looked in disbelief, “An Egg?”
“No, a stone.”
“Ah yes… We are doomed.” and the dog put his face in his hands, awaiting just that.
“Don’t be silly!” Patches patted the dog on his back. “It’s no ordinary stone. I stole it!”
The dog, as one could imagine did not seem any more relieved. “A stolen stone is still a stone. How do you plan on-”
And patches uncovered her stolen treasure. It was a large stone, perhaps quiet heavy. Surrounded by an eerie green aura, white runes and symbols covering its surface. That was no ordinary stone for certain. There was something clearly magical and powerful about it. What exactly dog did not know.
“What… what is that?”
“I dunno!” Patches answered. “But I know what it can do. I saw it in one of them stone circles, and read somewhere that Banes never dare come near them… I figure they are either scared of them… or it kills ’em! Whatever the case, this is our weapon.”
Briefly dog was shining with hope, which quickly extinguished itself, as the Bane’s merciless attack continued on the buildings in front of them. “How do you plan on using that exactly?”
“Glad you asked!” and Patches crawled out of their hiding place. Dog tried to stop her, the Bane might had spotted and chased after her. The creature did seem too occupied, and the next thing dog saw was Patches pushing a small, improvised catapult, constructed out of random pieces of farm equipment, crudely connected and dubiously operational. “We will load this up, and fire it at the Bane!”
It seemed Dog stopped listening at some point, because he hid himself even deeper in the straw pile, with only a bit of his nose and tail still sticking out.
“Don’t be a scaredy cat! This will work, I swear it!” but Dog would have none of it. He would had gladly remained where he was, if not for Patches using one of the tools at her disposal. A pitchfork to the bum did not only get Dog out of hiding, but it also gained the Bane’s attention as he yelped. “Now come on!”
Dog followed Patche’s lead, and they pushed the catapult just in front of the barn, facing the Bane. The dark creature sauntered over, shrieking, toppling over carts and whatever still remained standing nearby. Eventually coming to a stand-still before the duo.
Dog, despite his fur color, turned a pale white, while Patches loaded up the catapult with the strange stone. The Bane lumbered over, ready to strike at the daredevil cat and her poor friend, until it noticed the stone. It fell silent for a moment, an eerie silence broken by one jovial command, „FIRE!”
The catapult collapsed on itself, but not before the load it was given was propelled forward. The Bane shrieked, but not to terrify those around it, for the first time it shrieked in its own terror. As the stone collided with the being of shadow and corruption its green aura turned white. A bright explosion that was as beautiful as it was blinding to behold. As the light died down however the Bane was nowhere to be seen, neither was the stone. Only a few eerie shadows lingered in the shade of burning houses, but those too soon disappeared… Whatever happened to the Bane, whatever the stone did, it worked.
When the villagers realized the Bane was gone, defeated by Patches and Dog a time of great celebration erupted. Though the Darkness was far from gone such a brief victory was something that brought just a bit of hope to the people. As news of the Bane’s demise spread throughout the land many wondered what were these strange stones, and how could they be used to protect whole villages…
Weeks have passed since that terrible night, and though rebuilding the village came slowly there was clear and visible progress. Patches and Dog aided as much as they could. Patches with her strange and sometimes mad ideas, and Dog with his collected, peaceful mind.
During mid day, when the two of them rested after a morning of hard work their respite was interrupted by one of the villagers, running into their little hut. He was holding a backpack that appeared to be full.
The Dog and Cat looked to one another, but the villager appeared to be very stressed, worried, he looked to the two heroes. “You must leave.”
“Leave?! Why’s that?” Patches asked, with a note of protest. That was just the way she was, never to be bossed around.
“The King’s men are here.”
“To reward us…?” Dog asked, but he looked to the bag again, and noticed a bedroll sticking out from under its flap.
“To capture you… They were asking about a stone… You must leave, quickly, before they catch you.”
“Why would the King want us-” Patches began to ask, but the villager interrupted her.
“I do not know, but there is no time. Who knows what they will do to you both if they find you. Take these, it’s what little I could get from storage, and run.”
The Cat and Dog thanked the villager and ran out the back. For a moment they circled the village and saw the King’s soldiers. It was not a small group, but a whole company, with cages and chains waiting. Dog could even swear he saw a few of the villagers imprisoned already.
There were too many however, and if the villager was right who knew what fate awaited them if they were caught.
The duo took all that was left of their belongings, and the single bag of supplies and went deeper into the forest, as far away as they could…
Such was a dark time in Armello. Where heroes were named villains, where good was evil. And though Dog and Patches escaped, and could still aid others in their time of need, who would finally bring lasting peace to the land?