The Black Horde

written by Appolus


It all started one hot day in the rolling hills of my homeland, Gadaene. Me (Appolus), my friend and comrade in the army, Nimon, and my betrothed, Lucana. Being adventurous, the three of us were wandering when we were discovered and captured by a group of Sosteran slave traders.......

Chapter I:

They awoke in the darkness of the sweltering hot of the slave cart. At first they were either too dazed or sore to speak, but after a while one of them managed to speak "Hello, is there anyone else in here" The young voice peeped. All she got in response was a short groan from across the cell."Hello!!" This time she screamed in terror thinking she and an old man were stuck in the pitch dark chamber alone. This time she was greeted by a familiar voice. It was Appolus. -at least there is one man here- Lucara thought to herself. But then she heard another voice, it was Nimon. - There's two-. Appolus Let Nimon relate to them his story of capture, since the other two could not remember how they came to be captive. "I was walking near the market when a black form detached itself from the shadows and came at me. I downed one with an arrow but I got hit from behind in the head with the butt of a dagger" from then I can't remember anything...

Suddenly the cart stopped and the rear door was swung open, blinding the captive passengers with light they had not seen for three days. Through the brilliance he finally got a look at his captors. He was shocked to find that he had been captured by a once small time guild of thieves that used to operate out of Sosteran. But from the look of the surroundings of the wagon they were nowhere near either Gadaene or Sosteran. The two men standing in the door were soon greeted by five others carrying ropes, chains, and heavy shackles obviously made to discourage any attempt of escape. Three of the shady business men entered with rope in hand ready to prepare their new obtainment for trade. The slavers were not prepared for the struggle that followed: Appolus and Nimon immediately sprung up and charged the three guards, knocking them flat. Lucara took shelter as far away from the fight as possible, fearing for her life. She watched the shadows struggle back and forth, ebbing to and fro like the rising tide. Eventually she mustered enough bravery to unsheathe the dagger from under her skirt. She jumped wildly forward and stabbed one of the black forms, unfortunately it was Appolus she struck in the back and he fell to the ground like a lump. A fourth guard approached and with quick lasso work snagged Nimon's arm, he yanked and brought the sly bowman down. Three other ropes were quickly fastened to his other limbs. And he was dragged from the cart with along with Appolus' unconscious body. Star was left alone in the silent blackness of the cart alone . . . 

Chapter II:

Appolus and Nimon had little time to contemplate what might have happened to Lucara by then due to the fact that they were now being used as work slaves to build a new palace for the head slaver. Appolus was hard at work stomping in mud and straw preparing mud bricks under the sharp eye of a cruel slave driver while Nimon hauled heavy stone blocks to the foundation of the building. At one time Appolus faltered and lost his footing and he fell into the mud. The driver's punishment was quick and unforgiving and his whip came down hard over Appolus' back. When he failed to rise the driver continued to burn the whip's mark onto his back. Seeing this, Nimon rushed to his companions aid only to receive the same treatment. "Back to work or you will share his fate."The words where hardly out of the slave drivers mouth before he whipped Nimon across the chest again. The driver turned and motioned and several others came with shackles and to take their muddy bodies to cells deep under the slave quarters. Meanwhile, Lucara was peering out of a small slit in the back of the cart that had been caused by her dagger to see what all the commotion was. She was about to turn around when she saw hefty men escorting two mud drenched slaves toward the quarters. She recognized them as Appolus and Nimon. -I knew they were going to get themselves into some sort of trouble, but I didn't think that much!- she thought to herself. I suppose men can't do anything right. Soon night fell and she slowly drifted into slumber. When morning came she woke with a start at voices she heard outside, trying to conceal their presence. In a panic she dropped to the floor and searched for the dagger, She couldn't find it! Suddenly the door swung open and the same gathering of slavers was there to greet her. This time they were better prepared. All of them held ropes and one wielded a Gladius. With the same lasso work as they had used before they snagged her around the neck. She tried to pull away but the knot wouldn't let go, she was slowly being reeled in. Three others rushed in with ropes and began the swift work they had done so many times before. She was quickly bound hand and foot with strong lengths of rope and she was slung more than one of their backs and taken from the cart screaming to the main hall . . .

Chapter III:

He woke with a start as he hit the stone floor with a jarring thud. He opened his eyes slowly. It took him a moment for his eyes to adjust to the darkness around him. When he was able to make out his surroundings he tried to sit up but he didn't have the strength. He felt a throbbing pain in his back and reached back to touch his flesh, yet all he felt was dry mud and ruined muscle. He looked at his hand and saw his own blood dripping from his finger tips. His head slowly turned and surveyed the room. He saw Nimon not far off laying on his stomach, still unconscious from his ordeal. Moments later he once again drifted into sleep. When he again awoke he once again saw the slavers shade hovering over him. He was quickly brought to his feet by two others. Appolus was dragged to the far side of the room and shackled there hand and foot. Nimon's limp body was dragged over next to him and shackled in the adjacent set of chains.  "Sondja fjsagh sofh difj joiasd!!"One of the slavers scoffed in a foreign tongue. As soon as the door was closed Appolus revealed from a fold in his tunic a small lock pick he had acquired from Atunshabna several weeks ago. He quickly undid his shackles and slipped over to Nimon. When Appolus undid his comrades shackles, his limp body fell into Appolus' arms. Appolus sat and placed Nimon's head in his lap. Soon night fell and Appolus stood from his companion's side and took a small bundle of blackish powder from the tattered cloak he wore. He hurled the contents at the far side of the prison and upon contact a wall of white fire exploded and consumed the wall. He exited into the  bushes behind their cell and headed for the cart. He snuck near the watch fire that was burning about ten yards from the front of the prison. He sat poised around the corner of one of the slave houses. Silently stalking to the edge of the light he stopped and crouched. For a lack of weapons he would have to rely on tactics. He picked up a small round pebble and slid back into the shadows. Appolus pulled a canteen of water he had been saving and coated the pebble in it. He took out a small handful of the strange concoction and rolled the stone in it. With what strength he had he hurled the stone into the night and a loud plume of flame exploded near the mudpits. In the confusion that followed Appolus dashed toward the cart and darted inside of its dark interior, hoping to find Lucana inside, still there after three days of imprisonment. Unfortunately, he could not find her, but he decided to lay low until the camp had settled back down. Once again, he drifted back into welcome slumber When he woke he saw gray rays of light on the far wall of the cart, it was time to move. He set out again. This time he went down to the stable to grab a horse for his temporary escape. He knew he had precious little time to accomplish his task and he charged recklessly into the room and with a quick punch, knocked the guard unconscious. He unhitched a horse and saddled it up. He took to the woods near the camp and traversed around the grounds to the prison. He tied his mount to the bushes outside and slipped through the hole he had made. He shouldered Nimon's unconscious body and laid him over the horse. Appolus once again mounted and rode to the cover of the woods. Once out of site of the slave camp he set up a small shelter and left Nimon and the horse there.

Chapter IV :

She was dragged to consciousness by the sounds of a group of men speaking in a foreign tongue, she didn't know why at the moment, but it sounded familiar. She rolled over on her other side and saw a group of tough looking men talking and looking at her occasionally through blurry vision. She tried to feel her face but her hands were still bound, even though her feet were now free. Star spent a moment trying to wriggle out, but her hands were swelled too large. Undaunted, she continued to try until her hands started to bleed. Eventually she stopped and realized that she was in a cell. One of the guards walked closer and she realized why that language sounded familiar, it was the language common to the Black Horde. She stammered backward with the realization and the guard continued to come closer. He was quickly joined by one of his companions and they kept coming. They reached the cell door, unlocked it and came in. Lucana could see their intent in their eyes. Suddenly there was a loud noise at the door and the whole far wall exploded into white flames. Star lifted her bound and bleeding hands to her face to shield her eyes. She saw a large form enter the room, as her vision cleared she saw that it was a man in a tattered cloak holding one of the dead guards by the scruff of the neck. The figure dropped the corpse on the ground and strode in. The Horde guards, being a superstitious bunch, backed away in terror. The unknown man strode in and she could see he was covered in blood from several large wounds on his chest. His shock of hair was stained with mud and blood, and his cloak hung by one shoulder. One of the guards challenged him and she was surprised of his speed despite his wounds. He moved deftly and swiftly, and with a well placed dagger killed the guard instantly. He bent and picked up the guards longsword. The other four men were on top of him quickly. But with the same great speed he dispatched them all, bathing everyone and everything in blood, including her. He strode over to her cell and she recognized him as Appolus. "Appolus, I didn't know you were that skilled with weapons, especially in this condition" she surveyed him once again and saw blood dripping from all over him. "Well I prefer not to get this messy, but when my friends are the ones at risk, I make an exception. Say, would you know where I could wash up?" "Sorry, but I woke up only moments before your entrance, I don't know of any water source" "Well, this isn't a time to get into conversation, we'll talk elsewhere, let's go, now!!" Appolus took Lucana by the arm and hurried her through the maze of corridors to a clearing outside the slave bunks. He jumped into the saddle and Lucana mounted up behind him. "Hold on to me tight, this is going to be a bumpy ride!" Appolus called back at Lucana.
Since she didn't have much of a choice, she swung her tied arms around his waist and clung tightly to his tunic. Appolus grabbed the reins and spurred his horse. Behind them they could here the sounds of guards yelling and running. They galloped into the forest and headed for the river. They plunged into the river and headed upstream towards Appolus' makeshift camp.

Chapter V:

After they were confident they had escaped the camp, they left the river and trotted into the woods north of there. Appolus had constructed a lean-to and placed Nimon in it to cover him from rain and discovery. The weary riders dismounted from their steed and washed themselves in the nearby waterfall. Appolus surveyed himself in disgust, his chest was completely torn to pieces and he had lost a lot of blood, and he had several arrows protruding from his back. Lucana saw his wounds and coaxed him to sit down and let her heal him.

"You know, Appolus, One of these days, your going to get hurt and I won't be there to patch you up"

"Naw, I'll never be that beat up" Appolus let out a little laugh.

"Regardless of that, I need to get rid of these arrows, this is going to hurt, a lot, hold on.." Lucana proceeded to slowly tug on the arrows stuck through Appolus' back and shoulder. Appolus groaned a little and winced at the pain, the arrows had been crafted of a Sosteran design and had barbs protruding from the edges. Lucana bandaged his many wounds with the remains of his cloak. After sufficiently bandaged, Lucana and Appolus began to chew on some dried beef from the pack of a guard Appolus had killed.  Nimon, smelling the food, finally woke up.

The night came and they slept, deserving the slumber they recieved...

Chapter VI:

He jumped suddenly from his slumber, awakened by the sound of armor and horses. A voice pierced the silence, shouting orders in an unknown tongue. A volley of shouts and then marching. Rising quickly, he strapped on the shards of his cloak and grabbed for his gladius. He ran quickly to his friends and roused them and shoved weapons into their hands. Still drowsy, they staggered toward their mounts and prepared to fight.

Nimon shouted at Appolus "Who do you suppose they are, and why are they so bent on not letting us escape?"

"Lucana filled me in on the details: they are a remnant of the Sosteran faction, The Black Horde, they recognized our allegiance and are determined to kill us, or worse." Appolus yelled back at Nimon.

Appolus spurred his mount and headed east, to a small hill they could more easily defend against the slow Sosterani infantry. Appolus rode to the crest of the hill and surveyed the enemy: to his dismay, he saw over a hundred well equipped mercenaries ready to kill. Appolus trotted back down to Nimon and Lucana's position. He approached Lucana and prepared to break the bad news.

"Lucana, we are currently faced with over one hundred Sosteran Legionaries, I don't want to risk your life.." Appolus trailed off momentarily, caught up in the beauty of her eyes, he lifted his hand and stroked her mud-soaked hair, "I want you to ride a safe distance away to the first city you can find...don't worry about me or Nimon, we'll hold off as long as we can, then, hopefully, we will come and find you." Appolus noticed small tears gathering at the edge of her eyes and he hugged her tightly, fully realizing how slim the chances of him surviving his next battle. He had luck on his side all his life, but this time, his luck might run out. He carefully wiped the tears from her eyes, fighting back his own. "Lucana...never forget, I'll always love you, but now you must go" Lucana rushed to her horse and rode furiously off into the west. Appolus watched her disappear over the next ridge, then strode as proudly as he could to join his friend, ready to fight, newly imbued with the power of his feelings for Lucana. As the soldiers gave their battle cry and rushed for the hill, he recited a Gadene love song. The first wave of soldiers rushed forward over the hill, and as the gladius passed through his chest, he thought of Lucana's beautiful brown hair, and her gorgeous blue eyes, and he was at peace....

Chapter VII:

The air was rank with the smell of death, and the bodies of several dozen soldiers lay dead on the ridge. The rain had begun and the blood washed down the rocky incline in streams, poisoning the grass as it flowed. Suddenly, the groan of a solitary soul pierced the silence that had settle over the forest. Slowly, a head peeped out from under one of the cumbersome Sosteran shields. And ever so surely, like the phoenix from the ash, Appolus' mangled form rose from the earth. A Gladius was directly through his chest and a half-dozen arrows pierced his body in different places, but he did not notice the pain. He carefully searched his surroundings for his companion, unfortunately, he found him. Nimon's contorted corpse lay twenty meters off, held fast to the trunk of a tree by an uncounted number of spears. Appolus bounded to his friends resting place and pried his body from the tree. Appolus spent half of that morning weeping over the death of his best friend.

Later that day, Appolus reached the nearest city to the slave camp, he had traveled all day Westward along a forest path, finally sighting the wall, he cried for joy. Once he gained the gate he immediately inquired for a young girl, covered in mud that had arrived earlier. Several just shrugged and went their way, hasty to avoid the bloody newcomer, but after a few dead ends he was told a beautiful young woman that fit the description went to the city Hospice earlier. Appolus eagerly ran to the Hospice, he ignored all wishes of the healers for him to be cared for and went directly to the bedchambers. From across the room he heard Lucana shout out to him, and without thinking twice, leapt into Appolus' arms, kissing his face wildly.

"Lucana, I didn't think I'd ever see you again..but here you are." Appolus choked on his words and broke into tears.

"Appolus, I don't care if your completely blood-soaked, I love you!"


Appolus and Lucana returned to their village in Gadaene. They were met joyously and were immediately married. They lived happily until the unfortunate event with the sorcerer, when Lucana was killed, which set in motion the events surrounding the beginning of Appolus' wanderings.......

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