The New World Order
“I heard that the Grand Abbey was destroyed by one of those, chimera, things,” Peter said as he thrust his pitchfork into the stack of hay.
“Where ever did you hear such a ridiculous story? Have you even seen a chimera,” retorted Brian as he flung a heap of hay into the bed of the wagon.
“It was the other night down at Misty’s,” said Perter defensively.
“Ah, of course, and how many cup in were you? I suppose you heard this news from the Father Abbot himself,” Brian said with unapologetic mockery in his words.
Peter scowled and stopped loading hay into the wagon while he launched his response at the other man. “I’ll have you know I was stone sober…mostly anyway… and I heard the news from some drovers that were bringing their flocks back into Evermist.”
“Oh some drovers were they. Well then that has got to be the perfect truth of it. Tell me did they say anything about the chimera that did it. Surely the must have seen the beast,” pressed Brian with an antagonizing inflection.
Peter huffed and bit his lip to stifle the caustic outburst of derogatory insults he reflexively wanted to use to punish Brian. Peter took a long deep breath before he next spoke. “I believed them. The seemed like honest men. I did no need to be skeptical of them in the least. They sported enough wounds on their bodies to convince me. They said that an attack from a small group of chimera was the reason that they were headed back early. They saw the rubble on the way.”
“They could have been set upon by bandits or highwaymen. They were just looking to seem interesting is all. I am sure of that. Men just need something to talk about,” blurted Brian as he returned to filling the wagon with hay.
“I do not think that they were playing at any sort of falsehood. I know that we have not seen any of the chimera come around our home but that doesn’t mean that they do not exist. How do you explain the red rains? Even more curiously what of Brother Donaban?” said Peter with a sly confidence in his voice.
Peter’s last statement was enough to gather the undivided attention of his fellow farmer. “What of the Councilman?” asked Brian as he lackadaisically held his pitchfork.
“Well when was the last time you saw him? He has not been in the village for…I can not remember when. In fact I can not recall the last time I saw any brother of the Vermillion Council. Can you?” asked Peter while he wiped the dirt and sweat from his brow.
Brian gave a valiant effort as he tried to think of some way to discredit the other man but the only thing that he was able to conjure up was an awkward silence. “Come to think of it, I do not know the last time I saw a red cloak,” Brian reluctantly stated.
“There has to be some reason for the sudden disappearance of the Councilman,” Peter said matter-of-factly. He let a smile tug at the corner of his mouth as he finally felt like he was beginning to break though the other man’s skepticism.
“I do not claim to know the workings of the Vermilion Council. I am sure that the red cloaks have some reason for what they do. They always have a reason and they not well known for sharing their motives,” retorted Brian as he withdrew back into his comfortable shell of disbelief.
Peter’s fledgling smile faded away as quickly as it had appeared. He snorted and tried to think of a way to impress his concerns upon the man at his side. After several long breaths and more than one attempt at mentally framing an argument Peter grunted and returned to filling the wagon with hay. The two men continued on in their tenuous silence for some time. All the while Peter continued to think and mull over a way to break the willful ignorance of his friend. Peter had nearly settled on a plan of attack when a commotion at the edge of the village drew his attention.
“What is all that noise?” Brian asked aloud.
“I do not know but it sounds urgent,” responded Peter.
The two men left their pitchforks stuck in the bale of hay they were working and hurried off in the direction of the disturbance. Peter and Brian saw other villagers moving towards the outskirts of their small community. It seemed as though nobody truly knew what was happening. When they reached the source of the upset, the two farmers stopped and gawked at the sight before them.
Standing atop a small rock that protruded from the earth was a man in tattered garments. His clothes were soiled with dirt and the traces of dried blood. Ripped chainmail clung to the man’s body. The traces of Rayward’s crest could be made out on some of the rags that draped from the portly man’s shoulders. He had freshly healed cuts running up and down his face but the man wore a bizarre and inexplicable smile.
“My friends, fellows, brothers and sisters, listen to me. Listen to me,” cried the man in a voice that carried an unchained and wild quality about it. His eyes flashed with a primal and chaotic intensity. “The red rains have come. You all know this to be true. With them have come the chimera. Some of you do not believe but I promise you the children of the dragon are real. They are strong and mighty. My friends the chimera can be the end of man.”
As the man spoke and babbled on his perch his words ignited a wide array of responses from the onlookers. Some of the villagers murmured softly to each other, the sound of babies crying rang out, some men burst into laughter at the unwashed fool who spouted gibberish.
“What do you know of the chimera? I have never seen one. They are just a story as far as I am concerned,” said Brian to dirty man on the rock.
The bestial man looked at the skeptical farmer and laughed long and loud. As he laughed the man on the rock reached within his torn and shredded robes and withdrew a mangled breastplate. He threw the piece of armor onto the ground for all to see. It had once been a magnificent but now was little more than a piece of scrap metal. People could still discern the design of Rayward’s emblem embossed on the armor.
“I know of the chimaera because I have met them face to face. Once a knight of Rayward I and my brothers-in-arms were sworn to defend against them. We fought the chimera and we failed. They can not be stopped. The children of dragons have a strength that will not be equaled,” said the man amid burst of unhinged laughter.
“If they can not be stopped then what hope is there for us?” cried one of the women of the village in fear.
“Do not fret my sister. The chimera are strong and brutal but they are not without mercy. I now serve them and hail them as lord and master. By their grace I live. They offer the same to all who obey and recognize their reign,” responded the former Rayward knight.
“Oh come on with it. You do can not truly fall for this story conjured up by a beggar with some ruined scraps of armor,” Brian said with exasperation as he pointed at the breastplate on the earth.
“If you do not believe my servant they you will believe me,” came a wicked booming voice from behind the gathered crowd.
Men, women and children screamed in terror as they looked upon the visage of Koin. The looming chimera began walking up to the assembly of villagers. The husk of man who had once been Sir Kenneth smiled and spread his arms wide while balancing on his rocky pulpit as the green scaled goat monster came forward. The former Rayward knight let the presence of the chimera set in for a moment before he spoke. “You see, the chimera are real and they are nothing short of magnificent,” rejoiced the man. He noted the sense of shock beginning to fade from the villager’s one woman broke from the crowd and began to run for the horizon. “Do not flee, sister,” Sir Kenneth called after the woman.
The woman did not stop her sprint away from the approaching monster. Koin leapt into the air with it’s powerful legs and sailed over the congregation of villagers. The chimera landed with a heavy crash upon the earth and crushed the frightened woman beneath it’s massive weight. The chimera glared back at the terrified group of humans as it spoke with a commanding voice. “No one shall leave. You will make an offering of loyalty and should you please me you will buy my mercy on this day. Should you fail to satisfy me, then…” Koin trailed its words as it lifted its cloven hoof and revealed the mangled pulp that were the remains of the woman it had just killed.
To a one every person in the village fell to their knees and pressed their heads to the earth. Sir Kenneth laughed with a high shrill voice and flailed about gleefully. The man then gave a low deferential bow to his overlord.
“It will take more than bending a knee. Your offering must be greater,” Koin spat at the villagers.
“What would you bid us do?” asked Peter with a frail and hollow voice.
“I have no care for doubters. That one disbelieved in my very existence. I should like to see him suffer for his foolishness,” Koin said as he pointed to Brian.
The farmer looked at the rest of his neighbors and fellows with primal fear permeating every element of his being. “No, I am sorry. I did not mean to doubt. I know…” said Brian as he began to cry. He looked at the other men and women gathered around him. Brian swallowed hard as he observed the others clutching their sickles, pitchforks and other farm tools in a menacing fashion. “Please…” Brian gasped helplessly. In less than the span of a heartbeat the rest of the village set upon Brian. The cries of the man lifted into the air as he was butchered by his fellows. The death cries of Brian mingled with the maniacal laughter of Koin and it’s disciple.
After the bloody task was done and Brian lay still and cold on the ground all eyes turned back to Koin once again. “What would you have us do now,” Peter asked Koin with regret laden words.
“Your offering pleases me. You have purchased my mercy today,” Koin responded with a sadistic grin.
“Thank you,” Peter sobbed as his red stained hands covered his face in guilt.
“Now let us talk of the debt that you owe for tomorrow,” said the chimera with an evil sparkle in its jet black eyes.