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Fallen Empire

A Twilight of Lurra Tale

By Matthew FrommPublished 7 months ago 3 min read
21
created with Midjourney

“This ends today.”

Despite the thunder from the iron basilisks and the screams of dying man and horse alike, his final gambit bellowed through the din. As he awaited his foe's retort, the young Emperor Maximilian IV unclasped his burning cloak. Bloody mud caked his pauldrons, and he tore them away with trembling arms; they served little purpose now.

On the surrounding lowlands, despite the basilisk's holy fire cleansing Imperium’s lush plains, his Imperial Legions buckled against the Khan’s overwhelming hordes in their desperate, final stand. The Emperor fought the urge to retch at the destruction of his Empire.

Tegujyn the Butcher said nothing. Dressed in simple black armor, he rose from beside his dying horse. No adornments heralded him as the conquerer of half the world, a demon who already ended one century-old dynasty this campaign. He slowly drew his swords, one the curved blade of his homeland, the other the thin azure blade he wrenched from the dying hands of the Imperator of Meridion.

“That blade was my cousin’s. I intend to return it to him,” Maximilian readied his longsword, but his voice betrayed his bravado. Tegujyn remained silent, rolling his neck. He was smaller than the Emperor expected, but his pale face carried the scars of a warrior as well as a domineering tactician. Stunning eyes of amber stared out through his simple but stout helm.

The basilisks hissed again in the distance, and the Khan scowled as the fireballs passed overhead like comets.

“Your cousin died bravely. Needlessly, but bravely,” Tegujyn said in thickly accented but fluent Imperial.

“As will you.”

“So noble, Emperor. I commend your arrogance. Few mortals would suffer facing me alone.”

The Emperor’s chest tightened as fear threatened to consume him. Below, renewed screams filled the air as another assault broke against spear and fire.

“We are but men, you and I. I’m tired of killing. Lay down your swords; go home. East of the mountains is yours until you die of old age under the stars.”

“So quick to bargain, yet you know nothing of our power,” Tegujyn said. He glanced down at his horse, life now drained from it. He kept his swords lowered, “I had him from a foal – bred only to bear me on this great campaign. Ironic.” Tegujyn’s chest heaved, exhausted, calculating. He opened his mouth to speak the words the Emperor so longed to hear...

The Khan’s neck twitched.

“End this!” Maximilian bellowed, recoiling at the unnatural motion.

Dreadful silence greeted his plea.

Tegujyn’s eyes of amber drained to black. A different voice, an unholy voice, screeched its command,

“Kill them all!”

Tegujyn rushed with possessed abandon.

Maximilian parried away the first assault. Tegujyn roared, and the Emperor barely parried the second assault. He struck again and again, until…Tegujyn lunged wildly, and Maximilian’s longsword bit deep into leather and flesh.

Tegujyn collapsed, his eyes returning from black to amber, and Maximilian swore he wore a look of relief.

On the fields beyond, the dying screams persisted.

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A/N

My own entry into my 500-word fantasy challenge! (details below, don't worry, I've recused myself from the prize by order of the super strict competition committee of one). Still plenty of time to enter your submission for a chance to win the prize money.

You can view all of my works here:

MicrofictionShort StorySeriesFantasyClassicalAdventure
21

About the Creator

Matthew Fromm

Full-time nerd, history enthusiast, and proprietor of random knowledge. The best way to find your perfect story is to make it yourself.

Here there be dragons, and knights, and castles, and quests for entities not wished to be found.

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

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Comments (16)

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  • Celia in Underland5 months ago

    Oh I read this and just realised I hadn't commented, I have no idea why not. Probably got interuppted by a cat or a snack or something. I am so sorry. So well done and completely all encompassing. You are the master of the battle scene,

  • Mother Combs5 months ago

    love this

  • Sian N. Clutton7 months ago

    Different to my usual reads, but captivating none-the-less! Good job!

  • D. D. Lee7 months ago

    I enjoyed this!

  • Heather Hubler7 months ago

    Oooo, I was not ready for it to end even though I knew it was just a snippet. That had my heart racing. Loved it!

  • Very good

  • Veronica Coldiron7 months ago

    You have truly mastered the fantasy genre, and it's hard to capture a battle scene to begin with, but to manage it in this short a word count is just genius! Great story!

  • J. S. Wade7 months ago

    Great story. You smoothly packed so much great detail and imagery into a short short. Your action is fluid and balanced. You are highly skilled at this. 😎

  • Celia in Underland7 months ago

    Bloody hell! Phenomenal! I nearly fell of the sofa, I kept leaning forward! Compleyely taken in and the ending line, as well as the horse is utterly devestating. You've got me hooked on this here fantasy thing! 🤍

  • Hannah Moore7 months ago

    There's something very visceral about this.

  • My heart broke for Tegujyn's horse 🥺💔 This was an excellent story for your own challenge!

  • Lamar Wiggins7 months ago

    👏👏👏 That was quite the ride. I'm starting to think you were reincarnated from that era 😅. The language flows so naturally. Well done.

  • Amanda Starks7 months ago

    THIS WAS EPIC!! You did a good job building up your characters despite the word limit. I'm already invested in Tegujyn and his backstory.

  • Ian Read7 months ago

    Definite dark fantasy vibes. It had me on the edge of my seat and even had me wanting more.

  • D. J. Reddall7 months ago

    A compelling scene, carefully seeded with details that suggest a wider and deeper world is about to be revealed.

  • Mark Gagnon7 months ago

    I really enjoyed this story. Why recuse yourself? The best story wins.

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