Banners still flew, though the wind had quietened from the fierce storm that had appeared so suddenly before, banners of all colours and of all nations. Each one had sent their children to this place. A crack in the clouds allowed the midday sun to spread its light upon the fields, illuminating the glistening blood that had seemingly attempted to hide from it before under the luscious grass of this place. But the grass was dry now, crackling under foot. The previously bountiful earth gratefully accepted the liquid crimson into its depths in a vain attempt to restore the hydrated youth of before. The dead littered the place, lying in heaps where they had been struck down. They seemed to stretch innumerably beyond sight before the red-tinged sky of the horizon. Ravens waited there, in the distance, black specks against the dark sky. Any normal killing ground would be full of them and other beasts of carrion, but this was no normal ground. The ravens would have to wait for they would not come nearer.
Ramer Bevanov stood defiant; the mountain loomed above him as he surveyed these barren lands. A field of battle, some would call it, though a massacre it had been in truth. That was good, Ramer thought, he knew that now. It was meant to be, it had always been. He had expected something else though, anything else, an angelic chorus or the wailing of the Demented, anything other than this eerie silence, interrupted only by the whisper of the wind. His eyes sought out his own banners upon the fields, the green and lilac of his house depicting the tower of Sreffett - which in itself was little more than a pile of rubble far away from this place – and the red and gold banner that he had raised with reluctance this day, his symbol of a wolf cub before a rising sun. Men had named that the banner of hope, the banner of a new dawn and a thousand other ridiculous names that meant nothing to Ramer anymore. A tall man, with a clipped beard and light blonde hair that was already greying at the temples despite the lack of age that showed upon his face and dark azure eyes like polished stones that stared impassively as if they had already seen everything of note, Ramer let his sword slide from his grasp to fall upon the hard earth beside him.
Alisa raised her head as the bloodless sword thudded onto the ground. Good faithful Alisa, pretty Alisa, she had always been at his side. She was on her knees now, clutching onto Ramer’s leg in the centre of these now-barren plains, this wasteland of death. Ramer looked down at her lovingly, smiling as their eyes met.
“It will come soon, Alisa.”
He knew this now. He had come here with uncertainty and trepidation but now it seemed that he knew everything that was. Alisa looked at him in wonderment.
“Eagle’s Bane is dead?”
“He has gone, yes. You no longer need to call him that, he was Chaalan Fay, once.”
Alisa seemed shocked by that. How had Ramer remembered that? Eagle’s Bane – no, Chaalan Fay – had commanded that they forget his previous name, so all had. How could Ramer know of it now? Initially it had been men who had given Eagle’s Bane his name as a sign of strength and victory, a name that he had revelled in and soon all had come to fear. Ramer had been called the wolf and his followers had taken to calling themselves his cubs, though Ramer did not like these names, seeing no wolf-like qualities within himself.
Suddenly, the sky lightened, dark red hues lightening and becoming softer. The whisper of the wind had become a hum and still the sky lightened. Calmly, Ramer reached down and effortlessly pried Alisa’s arm from around his leg. He knew what was to come, just as he knew that everything he had done to lead him to this moment had been right, a necessity. Looking down at Alisa, he smiled warmly before closing his eyes.
“This is right, Alisa. Look away now; this is not for your eyes.”
Alisa did not look away; instead she began to reach out once more to grasp at his leg before the light suddenly grew more intense seemingly focused on Ramer. Recoiling, Alisa scrambled to her feet and took a step back. Her foot went through the man that was lying there, had been lying there, now her foot went through him with no effort as he seemed to disintegrate – as did all the dead before her – into a fine dust that was whipped up by the wind. Eye’s widening in fear and confusion, Alisa whipped around to look at Ramer. He still remained, though he seemed to hover in the air, small shafts of light now emanating from him. His lips seemed to move and the wind brought his words to Alisa.
“Forgive me, Eagle’s Bane. Forgive me.”
And with that, the light around Ramer pulsed. From the heavens it came, blazing through him, a supernatural force that swept through him and spread outwards beyond the plains. It seemed that the brilliant light lasted an age, but that was not how it worked. When it finally faded, all that remained upon the Tulga Plains was Alisa, standing alone in a barren field.