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The Terrible Tale of Sir Death

A common story in the west.

Once upon a time, the world was broken. War and strife filled the lives of everyone. God was invisible and paganism ate the souls of the unwary.

It was during this terrible time that a foreign knight came to our lands from the east, mounted on a white horse, wearing black armour and wielding a ferocious array of weapons.

His aspect was cruel and scarred. His body was like tightly woven steel ropes and his teeth were made of iron, fanged and ferocious. He called himself Onslaught though he was known to most as the Death Knight or Sir Death to some.

He said he followed the evil sorcerer of Death - called Humct - a nightmare demon who takes those we love away from us. Indeed this Sir Death took many away from us for he served many different lords in his time and each asked him to do what he did so well.

Always he searched for war and slaughter and always he found it. During those wicked days there were many lords who sought war or domination over another. Sir Death became champion for one and then another and wherever he went victory followed and so he was sought after ever more. Of course there was a price to be paid for his victories as those involved with him were cursed by his presence and often died on his sword when he was hired by their rivals in a later struggle.

So utter did the violence in the land become that good knights lost their virtue and began to follow this harbinger of doom. His free company swept the lands far and wide and many evil barbarians came to join him.

At last, his depredations grew so great that the Saints and Bishops of the Holy Church saw their only salvation in his destruction. They planned accordingly.

Their first stratagem involved honourable combat but Sir Death knew no honour and had the ill grace to kill all the champions sent against him. He hacked them, cut them and smashed them. Occasionally one wounded him but he only seemed to enjoy the struggle all the more and soon no-one could be found with the courage to oppose him.

Their second plan involved sending the Sisters of Piety to convince him of his errors. The sisters strained mightily at their task, using every conceivable ethical argument and theological tactic to impress Sir Death with the purity of their cause. He was unmoved. Even the full use of their Gift of Tongues failed to stir his interest. A back-up plan using the Choir Boys of Innocence also failed to have any effect.

Despairing, the Saints hired assassins from across the known world to dispense with Sir Death but he spotted and slew them all with ease, as if he could sense them coming. The assassins complained that he didn't even bother with a bodyguard and seemed pleased when they showed up, as if their attempt to kill him relieved some great boredom. Soon, no amount of money could procure his demise.

Armies were summoned and a Crusade was called. Valiantly they marched to fight and valiantly they were crushed beneath the mailed fist of Sir Death's army which instituted a crusade of their own and killed all who opposed them.

Sadly, the great Saints and Bishops of our land sat to contemplate their failure. All seemed lost. Bishop Gantayer cried openly "Who will rid us of this turbulent knight?"

And then a woman was brought before them - a pagan priestess of healing who claimed knowledge of Sir Death. She said she'd felt the Death he brought growing in the world and had come to stop him. She knew the warrior personally having ridden with him in the distant past, in the days of her youth. She said that only the healing magic's of Life could defeat his evil. The Bishops disliked dealing with a pagan but swallowed their pride and agreed to help her reach Sir Death.

Across a battlefield of blood and slaughter they led her and in the midst of the heaviest fighting they spied Sir Death. He stood among his foes like an icon of ire, smiting left and right and a cold gloom of despair surrounded him. The healer almost fainted at the grim sense of separation that tugged all the souls of the living when they neared Sir Death. Flowers in the field died around him, even animals sickened in his presence. Finally he hacked his way through a line of knights and faced his old companion. As was his way, he nodded a greeting and kept on killing but the priestess performed a great magic, called on her Goddess and linked her soul with his. He stopped his endless combat and froze, locked in a soul embrace. She poured fourth her joy in life, showed him that he too was human, part of life and not a cold blade of separation. He staggered.

His childhood memories flooded his mind for the first time in decades, he remembered the comfort of sleep, the touch of a woman, the joy of friends. He remembered what it was to be alive!

With great compassion she showed him that his existence was meaningless, that a being of Life should not exist to promote the abstract that was Death. The warring armies stopped and held their breath as she embraced him, held him through his armour and the offal that covered him. She poured out her feelings of love, compassion and tenderness in a tidal-wave of joy and it struck him to the quick. Sir Death knew at that instant that his life had been an extreme, a segment of the whole, a whole that he had cut from his heart with a ruthlessness that had surpassed any other before or since.

The priestess smiled with the joy of victory as she saw the realisation in his black eyes, the sense of a soul awakening from a deep sleep.

Then Sir Death rammed his sword through the back of the priestess and through his own body with all the force he could muster.

As his own heart tore and her stunned face spewed forth her lifes blood down her chin all heard him say with his wicked metal grin. "Bet that was a surprise!"

And the priestess mouthed; Why? as she choked.

He spat through the blood in his mouth to reply and though the pain must have been overwhelming, his voice was rock-steady and heard all across the battlefield;

"You have shown me the life I chose to forget. I show you the Death you chose to ignore. I have seen my error. Humakt cannot be with me until I have accepted his final separation and now _you_ understand. Life must always submit to Death but Death submits to nothing!"

And they both died.

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May 31, 2000

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