Chapter Three
The Order of The Knights of The Last Days

   The sun hung over the horizon as the ship bobbed up and down over the waves. The crew of the ship were Order of the Knights of The Last Days, hurrying themselves to keep the ship in good shape as the port town grew larger with each bob. Gazing in the distance with his piercing green eyes, Captain Romulus listened half interested as a solider read from a torn and tattered atlas about the town they were racing towards. He pulled his shaggy red hair from his face as the wind blew hard against him. The salty smell invaded his nostrils, but he stood there, unaffected. His eyes remained on the port town.
  The solider squinted to read the handwritten print against the light glow of the setting sun. He spoke in a dull, monotone voice, “It says the town is called Korinthos, once a booming port town before the disasters.”

  “Anything else?”

  He nodded, “Yes, Captain. Korinthos was the heart of trade for the kingdom of Hazar-Shual, a now fallen kingdom. Since the disasters and the fall of its empire, it is now a den for thieves and black market sells.”

  As the sun finally set, Romulus smiled to himself, “I’m sure we’ll be welcomed with open arms.”

  The chill of the night was heavy tonight. After being weeks out on sea, the ship finally made port. The thieves lurked in the shadows as the beggars grew silent. The sight of the Knights making port was a new sight to the torn down town of Korinthos. One of the thieves in the shadows looked over at his friend. Beads of sweat formed above his brow, his breathing became heavy. His friend put his hand over his mouth, in fear that they could get caught by the legendary Knights.

  “I knew there was a Knight outpost outside of town,” he whispered to his friend, “But I thought I’d never see the day when it would be used.”

  His nervous friend nodded silently. Suddenly his eyes grew wide and he pointed franticly. His friend peered out onto the boat and his eyes widen.

  Coming off the ship was the tall officer, with shaggy red hair, and piercing green eyes. His fellow Knights stopped what they were doing to salute their captain. Ten years ago Captain Romulus promised himself he would never come back to his homeland. He sniffed the air; the salty smell of the sea filled his nostrils. He bent his toes to feel the steady and firm flat port and he relaxed.

  This isn’t home, he thought to himself, No this town is filled with scum worse than filthy mages.

  “Captain Romulus, sir,” inquired the young Knight from the ship. Being on land gave him a more ranged voice. He saluted his superior and Romulus acknowledged him. “All of the cargo and crew is accounted for. The outpost is holding information just for you, sir. We move out on your orders.”

  “Well then,” he spoke in the accent of the land, “Let’s not keep our fellow Knights waiting. We leave for the outpost now.”

  “As you wish, sir.”

  The young Knight blew his whistle to alert the Knights to follow their Captain. Romulus scanned the port one last time; the moon kissed the town in a romantic setting tonight. Doubtful, he thought. I can smell the sulfuric aftermath of magic.
 
Romulus was met at the end of the dock by a square jawed middle aged man with clean cut chestnut brown hair and beady brown eyes that seemed to be placed between a continuous row of crows’ feat.
  Lieutenant Aleron didn’t bother saluting Captain Romulus, instead kept his arms clasped behind his back and feet apart; and the Captain didn’t either. The two locked eyes and walked in sync with each other. A silent grudge was sensed by those whom they passed. Behind the two officers two small lines formed, one behind the Captain and one behind the Lieutenant. A total of sixteen soldiers marched behind two commanding officers.

  “How does it feel to return home, Captain?” whispered Aleron in his guttural voice.

  Romulus glared at him, “This is not my home.”

  “You know it is, Romulus. It haunts you more than any other secret,” Aleron chuckled to himself in a wheezy laugh.

  “If anyone should know about haunting secrets it’s you, Aleron.”

  “Yes, but no soul alive knows what they are.”

  “Except for you.”

  Aleron gave that eerie chuckle again, “As I said, Captain, no soul alive knows.”

  Captain Romulus kept his eyes away from the Lieutenant. There were whispers while on the ship that Aleron was trying to conduct magic, but Romulus ignored the accusations. Now that he was on land he could see how easy those accusations could come up, and how possible they might be right.

  Romulus headed his legion down the gravel road that was to lead the way to the nearest outpost where the Order of the Knights of the Last Days rallied information to one another and were able to spend the night if need be. Romulus himself was anxious to be able to take a bath and a change of armor.

  The Knights exited the port town and could see the villa that is the outpost in the near distance. Romulus thought to himself what noble family once lived in that villa before the disasters. It didn’t matter to him, the strongest were surviving and by far the strongest were the Order, especially the ones able enough to withstand his and Aleron’s training.

  The sound of waves crashing slowly subdued as the legion grew closer to the walled in villa. The air filled with the squeak of armor and heavy footsteps. In the distance, torches sparsely decorated the wall. The wind grew still on this road, making the silence near deafening. Aleron walked with his head slightly bowed and hands clasped together in front of him. Romulus occasionally stole glances at him to see if he was even awake or just sleep walking.

  They finally reached the iron barred gate, and were greeted by a fellow Knight. In the darkness he looked young, like a fresh recruit. The gatekeeper silently scanned their mass and gave a nod, without saying a word then called for the gate to be open. His voice was deeper, much deeper, than Romulus expected.

  The iron barred gate groaned as two other Knights slowly opened the heavy gate from the inside for Captain Romulus and his men. When the gate came to a silent halt, the legion marched forward inside the walls of the Knights outpost. The fresh scent of a rose garden rose thick in the air here, as a presence of tranquility washed over Romulus for the first time in weeks.

  Lanterns hung from the front of the villa and ran down the opposite sides of the wall, aiding the moonlight to give off a near colorless scene. Romulus and Aleron led the men, who held a controlled anxiousness to rest, closer to the outpost when the two front doors opened. The two officers stopped in midstride, causing their soldiers to nearly run into each other.

  From inside emerged a fellow commanding officer, as Romulus expected. However, this wasn’t some regional Captain or even a Lieutenant; it was someone of much higher rank and influence. Just by the poise of his strides and intimidating posture when he finally stopped a few meters from the group. His armor had a certain gleam to it, as if newly forged, which provided a light of radiance on his olive complexion. His hair was shaggy and lengthy, not too dissimilar to Captain Romulus, with the exception his hair was parted to one side. It was said that he parted his hair to cover up a gruesome scar that never healed. His cold eyes casted shivers down the young soldiers’ spine, even in the dark.

  Captain Romulus saluted his superior, “General Khan, we come from the mainland to receive information on the supposed uprising.”

  The General held his stance, yet his voice held icy venom, “The uprising is no threat, Captain Romulus.”

  Romulus tried not to shiver as the General spoke his name. The Captain remained silent as the General turned his back and spoke, without turning around, “You and your men need rest.”

 A soldier from behind Romulus spoke foolishly, “But you said the uprising was no threat.”

  The General didn’t even break stride when he turned himself around and walked right up to the solider. The Captain barely had time to evade the General. The young soldier felt himself grow cold inside, out of pure fear when he saw the dark eyes of General Khan, “I said the uprising is no threat. This is not a simple uprising; this is a revolution.”

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