0: Prologue

“He who wields the power of song shall bring the end of the world. He who wields the flames of hell itself shall lead their people to prosperity…”


The summer sun beamed down on the lands of Mexico, not a cloud to be seen or a breeze to be felt. These conditions brought the native people from their stone and straw huts into their farms surrounding the island city of Tenochtitlan, slaving away in the intense sun in order to feed the populace for yet another year. Further beyond these farms stood the large forests, a natural defensive barrier while also a source of forage and game. The beams of light struggled to penetrate the large canopies to the dirt ground of the forest floor while nature itself continued it’s endless cycle without hesitation; birds sang to find a mate, plants harvested the energy of the sun in order to grow and reproduce, mammals and reptiles scurried through the trees or floor in the search for food. Everything lived in harmony.

That is, until the hastened stomps of bare human feet pushed against the floor, sprinting through the maze of nature in the search for the clearing of the nearby city. A long spear held in one hand, the end ignited as some eternal flame which danced with the movements of the wielder. A thin, brightly coloured poncho covered the body while a large metallic helmet, designed, coloured and decorated to give the form of a bird’s head was donned on the head of this individual. Muddy brown eyes fixed forward, watching through the wall of bark to figure out the next move to make while traversing such a natural terrain.

The sound of feet thudding against the floor was accompanied by another unnatural sound; the sound of tree branches experiencing more weight they were used to, leaves fluttered and rustled as the protruding branches slightly bent towards the ground, resisting the extra load of weight and the forces of gravity that accompanied it. This sound followed closely behind the person, moving closer and closer with every step before finally reaching above them. It was just moments before this predator struck down at it’s prey, using their knowledge of the forest as an advantage. Finally, the predator made it’s appearance, using it’s own spear as means to catch on to the thin trunk of a young tree, the six protrusions which formed a double triangle beneath the sharp edge of the main spear hooked around the the trunk. Wind chimes hung from each protrusion, giving off their own tune with each minuscule movement. For now, with fast and efficient hunting movements, the only sound these chimes made was the sound of danger. Mixing together as a myriad of conflicting notes, eventually leading to the formation of white noise as the sources came closer and closer to the prey. Finally, there was only one strategy left to survive this attack;

The hunted man pivoted on his heel, swinging his own spear and holding it with both hands above his head in order to catch the swing of the hunter’s spear, the white noise of the dangerous tunes quickly extinguished into silence while the eyes of both individuals locked. Brown versus green. The beak of the bird helmet slowly clanged against the helmet of the hunter, resembling that of a dragon head while the rest of the hunter’s attire seemed similar to the hunted, save the difference in some colours and patterns.

 

A few hours had passed since the skirmish had begun, the city of Tenochtitlan was left in high alert as strange white skinned people were noticed marching towards the city, accompanied by the people of enemy nations, this could only lead to one thing. War.

However, the concerns of Montezuma II was quickly grabbed as the dragon helmet man entered the city, his spear held over his shoulder as a certain head bearing the bird helmet hung from the end. The fires of the spear was extinguished as it was thrown to the ground, followed by the beheaded body of the bird helmet man. This grotesque, barbaric sight brought one thing, and one thing only, into the minds of the Aztec people. This one thought was quickly made audible through the mouth of Montezuma II himself;

“We’re doomed.”


 

“…So now that you have taken a year out, you’re trying to return back to the military?” The inquisitive voice of a reporter confirmed, sitting within the kitchen of an ex-soldier, a small notebook at hand with unintelligible scribbles littered across most of the pages as questions were asked and answered. “Now that is true devotion to the Empire.”

“I’m flattered,” the soldier replied after a small awkward laugh, his large hand rubbing against the back of his head nervously, “I’d probably be a bit rusty, so I’m going to start off with menial tasks, such as escorting. I do hope to return to the front lines as before.”

“Are you able to tell us what your first task will be?”

“I’ll be escorting some young graduates on an expedition, I can’t say where. But I hear it’s something big. I’ll be leaving next week.”

“Alright, thank you for allowing us to interview you, Captain Phage.” The reporter slammed his small notebook closed as he raised from the wooden chair situated at a small wooden table placed perfectly in the middle of the room, quickly finishing the slightly cold tea which was placed before him before preparing his coat to leave. “I hope you enjoy my article.”

The Captain followed, in the man’s movements, raising from his chair in the opposite position of the table, leading the reporter to the front door as a way to politely see him out. “I’m sure it’d be a great story, sir. Hopefully the best of 1880.”

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