The cry that issued forth when Lord Mishtar saw the mangled bodies of his wife and infant son lying on the floor of his bedchamber shook the foundations of the palace. His huge shoulders heaving from the sobs that racked his body, Mishtar stumbled over, his crown falling from his head, to their bodies and gently cradled them in his arms. The blood still oozing from their necks, he hugged them one last time and gently placed them on the floor next to each other. Still shaking from his sobs, he surveyed the room around him though it was somewhat blurred from the tears streaming down his cheeks. The tapestries that covered the walls displayed scenes of battles and kings of long ago, most of them so old even the long-lived elves couldn’t identify them. Rage beginning to supplant the anguish, Mishtar drew his huge two-handed sword from its place upon his back and walked out of the room.
His stride lengthening by the time he left his apartments, Mishtar ran past the bodies of the serving men and women who had tried vainly to protect their lady and prince. Hacked to pieces in some instances, Mishtar also saw the tell-tale scorch marks that only could come from those who practiced the arcane arts of magic. The halls of the palace were designed to repel invaders and as such, had many niches and corners that could be defended in time of battle but he saw none of these had been manned.
Turning a corner he came across a sight that caused him to sink even further into his rage, his fists clenched so hard at his side, he was driving his fingernails through his skin. The body of his closest friend and confidant, Mikael, a priest of the god of righteous warfare, was attached to the wall several feet off the ground with huge iron spikes through his chest, arms and legs. Blood pooled at the ground at his feet and soaked his once pure white tabard, which was embroidered with the symbol of his deity. The worst of this horrific act of cruelty was that upon his friend’s pale forehead was carved the symbol of Hextor, the evil god of tyranny and oppression. The firm set of Mishtar’s jaw tightening even more, he strode off looking for any sign of the ones responsible.
Wandering around the keep, barely clinging to sanity as he surveyed the gore that covered the walls of his home, Mishtar distantly heard the sounds of raucous laughter coming from one of the kitchens. The door exploded under Mishtar’s fist as he entered the kitchen, obviously startling the two roughly dressed men carrying daggers and short swords who were tearing the clothes off of a young serving girl, who Mishtar recognized as his new serving girl Kari, and laughing at her protests and screams. Not slowing for an instant, Mishtar followed his fist into the room and immediately grabbed the nearest assassin, a slender man with a large scar running from the corner of his mouth up his cheek. Lifting him from the ground with ease, Mishtar hurled him into the still roaring kitchen fireplace. His screams quickly silenced. The other man, dressed in dirty rags and with the tell-tale circular scar on his neck that showed he had been, unsuccessfully hanged, stabbed quickly at the seemingly unarmed lord with his sword. Easily sidestepping the clumsy strike, Mishtar grabbed a spit that was hanging from a rack on the ceiling and shoved it completely through the assassin’s shoulder pinning him to the wall. Screaming in agony, the assassin thrashed, trying unsuccessfully to remove the spit.
“Where is Kalish?” Mishtar asked quietly.
“Go to hell,” the assassin said, spitting at Mishtar.
“Where is Kalish?” Mishtar asked again, drawing his sword and placing it directly upon the hanging scar on the assassin’s exposed neck. “I won’t ask again.”
The assassin thrashed again, this time trying to stab at him. Without hesitation, Mishtar spun gracefully, his sword flashing in a wide arc and severed the man’s head, burying his sword deep into the wall. Mishtar wiped his sword on the dead man’s clothes and walked out the door past the still crying Kari.
Hearing the fighting in the streets whenever he passed a window, Mishtar paid it no attention. Vengeance consumed his mind as he walked purposefully through the shattered remains of his home. There was still battle occurring within the keep and Mishtar meted out harsh justice to those he found. Mishtar began running through the halls, running around without any real direction, looking for Kalish. Eventually running up to one of the high parapets overlooking the city, he found Kalish laughing as he surveyed the chaos of the city.
“You have taken everything from me, Kalish.” Mishtar said quietly, ascending the marble steps to the open parapet one hundred feet above the courtyard below. “I will now take everything from you.”
Kalish spun around to face his former ruler, fright evident in his eyes. “My Lord Mishtar,” he said regaining his composure, “how nice of you to join me. I hope you enjoyed the scene in your bedroom. I hear your wife moaned quite loudly when they violated her.”
“You see,” he said motioning to the ravaged city below, “your precious city now belongs to my god Hextor. My lord, the Herald of Hextor, will soon be here and the city will completely fall.”
“There will come a time when I will return and retake what was stolen from me, Kalish,” Mishtar said reaching the top, his body visibly trembling in rage, “but first I will make sure you never harm anyone again.”
Kalish turned around and smiled again at Mishtar. “You are a fool,” he said laughing, “you are the city’s undoing. You are responsible for everything. Live in that pain, Mishtar. Live very long.”
Mishtar’s sword flashed, gleaming in the sunlight. The light of the sun darkened in that moment and all sound ceased. The councilman’s body exploded outward from the force of the blow and he was thrown into the air off the parapet and fell towards the ground. Mishtar watched his fall and then saw that upon the stones where Kalish had been standing was an arcane circle that began to glow red as soon as Mishtar struck.
A beam of red light shot into the sky from the circle and a rumbling as if of thunder began. Black clouds swept over the city and lightning and rain unlike any the southern city had ever experienced fell upon them. Mishtar, weeping at the loss of his family and city, walked through the storm. Not paying attention to the battle raging around him and believing there was nothing he could do, he exited the city through the torn gates, the guards that should have been there already having left to fight in the city proper.
He started walking.