World of Titans > The Legend of Vashilov > Legend of Vashilov: What Came Before (1)

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Legend of Vashilov: What Came Before (1)

By Scen

::Two months before the battle at Ulen::
::Village of Ulbyon::

"Fools. All of you, fools! The Titans hold the blessing of the Goddess! They plucked the great Dragons from off their perch and took the world from them! They are worthy of our respect, our fear, our worship. You are dogs and traitors to strike at those who pay them rightful homage. May you rot in Tyr's worst hell for --"

Ilyavicz tore out the man's throat with his sickle.

"... I don't believe in hell, friend," Ilya said, as the mayor of Ulbyon fell to his knees, a flood of red spilling down his chest. "Though I suppose being reborn *here* is hell enough for anyone."

Ilya turned and watched his men burning out what was left of the village of Ulbyon. The Gryphon had been wise after the rebels had sacked Tsengrad, and had begun sending guardian beasts to protect other major agricultural centers in Scande. At Marrecz it had been Dalos, the man-scorpion, a surprise for which the mob had not been prepared -- and they paid for it in blood and lives. Here, at Ulbyon, it had been a pair of ogres, but Dobrynov had bested them both.

Dobrynov, resting a spear over his shoulder, approached. The men around him cheered, as he was still fresh off his masterful defeat of the Gryphon's ogres... but he wore a troubled expression. "Ilya... we can't keep on like this."

Ilya ran a cloth over his sickle's blade, cleaning it of the blood from his executions of the prisoners. "I do not know what you're saying, Dobrynov... what can we not keep on like this?"

"We lost half the men at Marrecz," Dobronov said. "What's worse we lost Vladimir to the man-scorpion."

"Bah," Ilya scoffed. "Vladimir... one man, like the others we lost, no more."

"More than one man, our leader," Dobrynov said. "Ilyavicz, you and I were both in the Blackguard. We both know soldiering. You cannot tell me you are so quick to dismiss the fall of a leader in battle and its effect on the men."

"When the leader falls, others are promoted to take his place," Ilyavicz said. "You and I have, quite naturally, risen to fulfill this role."

"Come now, Ilya," Dobrynov said. "Neither of us have what Vladimir did... his motivation and appeal to the men."

"Appeal to the men? Are you blind!? Did you not see how they cheered you as you crushed in those ogres' skulls!?"

"I've not the head for tactics that Vladimir did," Dobrynov said. "... And besides, I would not want the post of leader. And you?... no offense, comrade, but... well. Subtlety and calmness of thought were never your finer points. You will fly into a rage at the slightest insult. Neither of us can replace Vladimir. And without a new leader, fresh troops and a new plan, we cannot continue."

Ilya sighed. "Well. What do you suggest then, Dobrynov? Are you advocating just giving up, after all we've done? After Tsengrad, and the harrowing at Marrecz? Vlad's death, all for nothing?"

Dobrynov cast a glance off into the hills. "They say there is a wise man who lives at the foot of the Talon mountains. A mystic and sage, whose father was a serpent and whose mother was a priestess of Bleu. He can read the future from the stars, clouds and winds, and keeps the Titans and their beasts at bay with his Goddess-given magic. Perhaps he can help us."

Ilya laughed. "My brother Dobrynov... I may have some idea where our stores of vodka may have disappeared to after Marrecz. Here, let me smell your waterskin to be sure of my suspicions..."

"I am serious Ilya," Dobrynov said.

"You are crazy!" Ilyavicz said. "We are men, mortals!... those that can wield magic, they are not always our friends and they are *never* to be trusted. For all you know this mystic of yours has no trouble from the Titans because he is aligned with them!"

"Bleu is no friend to the Titans," Dobrynov said. "She will deliver us, I know this. And perhaps this her sage will be her vessel for doing so."

"I do not like it," Ilya said.

"There aren't enough of us left to withstand another surprise from a man-scorpion, Ilyavicz," Dobrynov said. "We have not much left to lose."

Ilya sighed. "Fine. All right, fine. I'll go prepare the men, and we will march into the hills. But I *will* say that I told you so if this mystic of yours ends up being the death of us."

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