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Chapter 2 - An Impossible Enemy Part 1.

"Today, we face our enemy! Not to defeat him! Not to bring him to his knees! But to slaughter him where he stands! And turn this battlefield into a bloody grave!" Encouraged the Commander of the Fifth Legion. "Even one thousand years from now, this spot will be known for our victory!"
The army, ten thousand strong, thump their shields in response, fuelled by their leaders words and sheer adrenaline.
"This is the hour the Prophets have predicted that the enemy will once again show his damned face in our land!"
The shields beat 3 times.
"And when he does, who shall he face?!"
"Herateas! Herateas!" The army chanted.
"And we will be sure to make it a name to remember." The Commander spoke proudly, turning to face over the cliff at the calm crystal sea as it caressed the rocky face. The sky was painted a misty blue, a narrow blanket of cloud rolled softly by. Ten thousand warriors breathed heavily in anticipation, eager to commence in their battle, the battle that would surely engrave their names in legend. But they must wait, wait until the enemy decides to once again visit their land.
They stood, heavy with armour blessed by the Prophets, shields and spears clasped tight, swords hanging from the hip as a comforting friend. A mass of shining steel, broken by a hundred rippling, red banners, pointing from the sea.

Hours past, shoulders began to droop, knees trembled with exhaustion. Regardless, the Commander stood tall before his men, shoulders back, knees locked, chest out, his hands resting patiently on the hilt of his blade. His mind and vision immersed in the sight of the warm orange sun as it touched the horizon, ever aware that his foe could appear without warning, ever aware that any moment could be his last.
Finally, the sun gave its last ray of the day, plunging out of sight. The soldiers had endured hours of blistering heat, and were finally gifted with the cool kiss of night. However night also brought its own infectious fear. The enemy could see in the dark, man could not. The enemy thrived in shadowed battle, man was hindered. For some, it would be their first act of War. These few individuals were still empowered by passion and desire to bring the adversary to its bloody knees. The experienced among them however, were gradually overcome with memories of previous attempts at victory, and how brutally outmatched they were. Men began to quietly sob, others vowed revenge and once again prepared themselves, the aggressive troops randomly bashed their shields against their body, shaking their head, bouncing on their toes in an attempt to focus and restore some courage.

It was quickly made apparent, that no combat would commence that night. Tents were erected, fires were lit. For the first time since they left home, the men gorged themselves on rare, succulent meat, juicy fruits and fluffy bread. The night of worry was soon transformed into a joyful intoxicated gathering. Soldiers laughed and drank and quickly forgot their reason for being their, losing themselves in ecstasy.

Hidden inside the Commanders tent, the atmosphere was very different. He sat at the head of a grand oak table, surrounded by his finest Captains, anxiously twirling his goblet on the surface, deep in thought.
"Commander, permission to speak freely?" Questioned a young captain nervously, climbing to his feet.
The Commanders head slightly raised from his palm as he glanced towards his comrade. "Go ahead Vixrol, it saves us sitting here in silence at least." He granted before sinking back onto his palm.
"Well sir, if I may be so bold, perhaps the Prophets misread the future this time? Maybe there is to be no conflict." Vixrol continued.
"Don't be so blind Vixrol!" Argued another captain opposite, oil for the lamb leg he was chewing, dripped and splashed from his ageing, messy beard. "The Prophets have not been mistaken yet and if it weren't for them, Herateas would have burnt to the ground generations ago." He finished, taking another mouthful of meat.
"Well if this is true, where is the enemy?" Vixrol shrugged, looking the length of the table, hoping for a logical response. "Is the possibility of an error not what preys upon your mind, my Commander?" He turned his attention to the head.
The Commander stared blindly to his side, chewing a grape. "No." He concluded. Vixrols posture fell in disappointment. "The Prophets prediction is not what troubles me" He informed, raising from his bench.
"Well then may I ask what you are pondering?" Vixrols soft silky voice grew tense and sharp.
"I have a better idea, how about, I ask you all, my twelve finest men, a little golden question." this was not a question.

The captains looked at each other, unsettled by their lack of such a 'golden question'.
"Please Brekos, continue." allowed the most elderly captain, clearly comfortable with the Commander due to his manner of address.
Brekos began to stride around the tent. "Thank you Gorton."
Gorton nodded once with appreciation.
"Alright, now this will take some time to process but please take your time. I can't seem to solve the answer myself so perhaps one of you can help me" he appealed, opening his arm to address his company. "Why, now do not jump to conclusions." His expression stiffened as he filled with seriousness and pure frustration. "Why are we not yet dead men?"

The air felt thick as the world fell silent. The captains did not fail to sense Brekos true question.
"You think the enemy is already here?" Vixrol answered, leaning forward and resting his fingertips against the oak.
"I do not think this, Vixrol, I know this."
"But then why have they not attacked?" Gorton said, sieving through the riddles.
"You and I have faces this kind of foe many time Gorton and every time they have swiftly and easily broken through our ranks." His head tilted back a little "They do not hide, because they do not fear us. They do not wait for nightfall, because they do not need the advantage."
"So?" Gorton insisted, shaking his head and shuffling in his place, his thick beaded hair swaying at his chest.
"They are waiting for something. Not an advantage. Not a command since they do not compose themselves for battle…they want something, quietly."
"Well invite them for a drink, show some hospitality!" Vixrol gestured mockingly.
"Watch your tongue boy." Brekos snapped.
"No sir I will not! You suggestion is ridiculous and has only succeeded in dampening our last hours of peace! You're growing old and confused Commander, perhaps…" Vixrol took a deep breath and hesitated.
"Say it boy…" Brekos summoned. Vixrol did not respond. "Say it!" he boomed.
"Perhaps it is time you enrolled a new Commander!"

The hall was silent once more, all apart from the crackling of the torches which were spaced around the edge. Brekos paced calmly towards Vixrol, stopping within striking distance. Vixrol stepped from his stool to meet his superior.
"F-f-f-forgive me Commander." He stuttered, avoiding eye contact. "It's been a long tense day that I would rather be done with."
"I understand that you are anxious to lead these men and reach your potential. I believe you could do so, after all the Prophets claimed you as the Prodigy Child. A man who could change the world just by existing." Brekos praised.
"Thank you sir." he bowed.
"And one day you will be Commander."
Vixrol smiled, finding the comfort to make eye contact.
"But you will not lead this army."

His eyes narrowed, puzzled as he took a small step forward. He smiled once again. "Brekos I thi-"
Suddenly, Brekos lifted his athletic right leg, and pounded it into Vixrols stomach, hard enough to split his leather bound sandal, launching him towards the doorway. He bounced before squirming in agony, unable to breathe.
"I, Commander Brekos Eastartes of the Fifth Legion, hereby strip you of your rank and rule!"
Gorton shakily sprung to his feet. "Brekos please! Have some mercy he's just a lad!"
"I furthermore banish you from serving our King in war or in peace!"

Vixrol struggled to roll to his knees, propping himself on an elbow, gasping for breath, blood trickling from his moist lips, staining the rug below.
"Now get out of my sight, and should I ever see you again, I will cut that cursed tongue from your head." he panted in anger, looking down at his outcast.
Vixrol turned his head back, his dark weaved plats dangling at his cheek, pink and dripping with upset and pain. The captains stood in their seats, looking down at him in disgust, all apart from Gorton, who could not turn his gaze from Brekos. He however, was shaking with fury.
The breathless Vixrol climbed towards the exit, stumbling out of sight, his hand clutching his stomach.

The patter of horse hoof against sand could be heard, getting dimmer, followed by a drunken chant.

Meanwhile, back in the tent, Gorton spoke out. "We are about to head into a whole hell of shit and you just exiled one of our best warriors, not to mention the sharpest mind in all ten thousand men."
Brekos remained speechless, as did the others. His gasps had calmed to a steady, open mouthed pant.
"Can you not even see reason past your pride man? Or do you envy his title?"
Again, not so much as an utter.
"Speak man!" Gorton begged.
Just as he had finished his cry, he noticed that the Commanders breathing had slowed completely. He was still, not so much as a twitch or flinch. He was still, until he steadily dropped to his knees. The captains briskly dived to his aid, catching him by the shoulder, lowering him to the ground and straightening out his legs.
"What happened?" queried a Captain.
"He's not breathing!" informed another.
"What in the hell is going on?!" Gorton cried.

"My my, this certainly is a most concerning event." declared a soothing, sexy voice.
The soldiers jumped in shock as they were confronted by an elegant, young woman, perched on the edge of the table, examining a deep red apple. A dark silk dress hung loosely from her tiny shoulders, flipping and folding, exposing her impressive cleavage. It waved down her body, cutting off at her gracefully flawless thighs, one hooked over the other.
"Who are you, whore? How long have you been present?" Questioned a captain as he drew his sword, oil still spilling from his beard.
The women burst into laughter. "Whore?" she giggled again. "Oh come now, I have no fault in my mind that men such as yourselves have often longed for a 'whore' such as myself to be presented to you." she teased, tracing the neat  polished nail of her middle finger up her thigh, over her knee, and finally halting as she slightly edged up the base of her dress. "Wouldn't you agree?"

"Do not interpret my gaze as lust, fiend." defended the bearded man.
"Hold your insults mortal!" instructed the new arrival, her voice, though sweet, was surrounded by a demonic echo.
The torches lashed and quietly fizzled out. In any other situation the world would be in shadow, though due to hundreds of campfires and the thin cloths used for the shelter. Gorton froze in horror. Lining the red and white striped sheet, were the shadows of dozens of men, hanging in the air, like the silhouettes of a criminals at the gallows, with no evidence of a rope or frame.
"What sorcery is this?" Gorton mumbled, stepping back.
The woman skipped from the desk, her luscious shimmering curls jiggled as she landed. "I know not what you refer to, human?" she paraded towards Gorton, her toes barely skimming the ground. "Do you refer to the meaningless casts that float before you?" she brushed the back of her fingers along Gortons wrinkled jaw. "Or do you refer to the spark we feel when our lives entwine?" she whispered submissively.
She lazily closed her eyes, her lips apart. She became weightless as she pulled herself up by the back of Gortons neck, slowly and steadily. Once she was at his eye level, she leant forwards, pressing her plump inviting lips gently against his.

He felt an odd tingling sensation cover his body. It was familiar to him. Like the first time he had kissed his late wife when he was a young man in his prime. Every trace of fear and rage drained from his being. He felt new again. His lips perked willingly, surrendering to his desires. Then, his skin felt tight, however his body felt stronger. He winced in aggravation, only to then find himself more entranced by this strange woman. As soon as he had totally lost connection to the real world, the woman broke the kiss, closing it with a soft, flirtatious nibble of his bottom lip as she pulled away. Gorton opened his eyes once more, his skin still feeling tight. The other captains stood in awe.

"Well Captain Gorton, I bet you have broken a heart or two in your time with a face like that." she complimented, coated with surprise.
"Forgive me my lady." he chuckled. "But I am well past my time of pleasure."
"Oh I would deeply disagree."
Gorton turned his attention to a mirror-like golden tray, settled on the table, a bounty of fruit upon it. He hastily hurried over to it, grabbing it and spilling the fruit across the table, an apple rolling to the dirt. He positioned it in front of his 'heart breaking face', firmly holding it at both sides. It was too dark to see any reflection. Then he noticed his hands. They were someone else's. No, they were his but, different. Without warning, the torches once again burst into life, blinding him for a brief moment. As his vision returned, he saw himself. Though it was not as he recalled, he was slimmer, bolder. He dropped the plate in disbelief and backed into a thick wooden trunk, the support beam for the tent. "I…I am…" he threw his head back, shifting his eyes towards the woman. "I am young again." he weeped, tears tumbling down his hairless cheeks.

The woman swayed with self gratification, linking her hands behind her back. "I'm glad you like it my darling, but now I wish for something in return."
"Which is?" he pondered.
"Will you come with me?" she tilted her head in a cute fashion. "Come and rule by my side and be mine for eternity?"
Gortons mood snapped right back to how it was, furious and full of blood lust. "Absolutely not you devil! I may have fallen for your appeal but I will never desert my duty!"
"oh?" she moved a hand and placed it on her hip. "Well then I suppose you can't own me anymore."
The woman abruptly pranced towards the other bearded captain, and stood up on a single set of toes, bending her other leg, again, closing her eyes and leaning in for a kiss.
"NO!" Gorton howled passionately, pulling his dagger from his belt and flinging it with new found strength into the captains ribs. though it did not stop, it penetrated his entire body, leaving a hollow crater through him. Blood spewed out of his wound, cascading down his armour into a puddle. He looked down, unable to feel. With his last ounce of life he looked to Gorton with cold, empty eyes. The woman nudged his arm, sending him tumbling down, landing in his puddle, spraying it onto the womans feet.
"Such a messy creature." she said as she kicked his head, barefoot, smashing his skull.

Gorton glanced down at his hand, shaking with fear and yet he felt like a King. Was this woman really capable of giving him such gifts?
"Darling?" addressed the woman. "Are you coming?" she began to make her way out of the tent.
He looked up at her, indecisive, his eyes jolting from left to right, unable to come to an answer.
"Darling…" she said firmly.
This is a draft version of chapter 1 which i have not yet had chance to proof read.

Let me know what you think :)

Feather to filth is the story of a God, Wrath, who has been stripped of his holy rights and is banished to Earth to protect mankind. When he fails, he is once again punished.

Paperback - [link]

Ebook - [link]
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July 8, 2012
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