What I have done in this battlefield was done for God. All the men I have killed were God’s enemies; therefore my enemies. I might have some regrets for my deeds, killing another man in cold blood is never a good feeling. Especially when you see their eyes lose their shine and their souls being whisked away to heaven or hell. I don’t know if I will ever see my wife and child again. It has now been over eight years since I left Sweden in the king’s name.
The putrid stench of the battlefield makes me feel nauseous. The distinctive smell of burning flesh and blood is overpowering to say the least. My blue coat is ripped and stained with blood and other sickening fluids. But even after all I have seen, my friends and allies dying next to me, enemies being blown into smithereens, grown men crying over loss, I still do not fear my fate. If I die, it was God’s wish for me to pass away into eternal rest.
I reload my flintlock musket while hiding in a trench created by my battalion’s grenadiers. Enemies can be everywhere, so I have to be effective with my reloading. One second too much spent on reloading can bring you ten seconds closer to death. I was in the infantry, pushing my way through the barren wastelands that were once great fields used to grow crops of all kinds.
’‘GUSTAFV! BEHIND YOU!’’ I hear one of my mates call my name and warning me. I twirl around to see a gargantuan Polish soldier with a bayonet on his musket. He was a grenadier.
The grenadier thrusts his bayonet towards me, intending to gut me. I sidestep to the left, barely avoiding a grimy death. I raise my musket and swiftly aim at his heart. His eyes widen as I pull the trigger. A crack pierces the surrounding area and the polish soldier fall back onto his back, writhing in what seems like indescribable pain. I kick away his musket from him and run away, leaving him to his fate.
I reload again. Two bullets left. With a victorious shout, I charge towards the enemy. Bloodlust clear in my icy-blue eyes. While running, I place my musket on my back with its strap firmly around my shoulders. I pull out my hirschfängare from its sheath. The small blade with dried blood reflect the lowering sun in an eerie shine. Another Polish grenadier charges towards me with his bayonet. I jump back, sidestepping to the right and thrusting my small sword through his throat. With a gurgling sound, he collapses.
Many of the things I have done in the field are moments that I will never forget; such as taking a life for the first time. The rest of my regime follow my lead and set out after me. I laugh maniacally as they run by my side. The enemies must be scared by our ruthless assault. Their captain is shouting something to a soldier next to him. The soldier next to the captain stares at us in fear.
We are the infamous Carolean Army, lead by our glorious leader and King Charles XII. The things that are said about him are also said about us. We cannot retreat, only attack, win or lose. Our tactics are simple; get close enough to the enemy so that you cannot miss when you shoot. That way, failure is almost nonexistant.
The Polish soldiers line up in a row as a last resort, many of them are shaking as they see us Swedes come closer towards them. I place my sword back in its sheath and grip my musket again. I cock it, still sprinting towards my victims. A wicked grin embrace my features as I see one of the soldiers in the row tremble in fear and lose focus on his aim. I lessen my pace into a jog and raise my musket, aiming for the scared Polish soldier.
I squeeze the trigger, but a crack from someone else’s musket fills the evening air. A sudden thump and a heat coming from my chest affirm my fears; I have been shot. My jaw drops in shock. I raise my left hand to the smoking hole in my chest. The bullet went straight into my heart. I can feel my strength gradually disappearing, death’s cold grip taking its place. I drop to my knees from lack of strength. I can suddenly feel the small drops of rain slowly wetting my face and running down my neck. I tilt my head back to the row of Polish soldiers.
The soldier who had been shaking stares at me in disbelief with his musket smoking. He was the one who gave me this lethal injury. It’s visible on his expression that I was his first kill in war. I presume that my mates are calling my name because I can hear them shouting something. I don’t know what is being shouted because all I can hear is my own fading heart beat in my ears. I fall down onto my back, coughing up some blood.
This was it. This was my death. My death wasn’t peaceful; I didn’t pass away of old age in my house as I dreamed to do. No, I died in a dirty battlefield covered in mud, blood from others and my own. I sigh and close my eyes. I’m too tired to feel any pain, but I know that it’s there because of the thumping and heat in my chest. The thumping that I now know is my heart stops gradually. I take one long, last breath as I collapse into the darkness surrounding me.
’‘Rise, Gustafv...’’ I hear a disembodied voice, even though I’m dead. This can’t be happening... ’’I mean you no harm...’’ The voice is male. It’s masculine and demanding, but at the same time soft and understanding. I open my eyes to see a void surrounding me. But what freaks me out even more is that there is no floor. I was lying on thin air, on some kind of invisible floor. Beneath this floor I could see the battlefield. What I suspected to be my body was glowing in a faint white aura. I stand up to see exactly where I am, and how I got here.
’‘Hello..?’’ I call out for the strange voice, expecting an answer.
’‘You have done despicable things, Gustafv...’’ The voice said with a hint of venom in its tone. I gulped and straightened my coat, which was mysteriously clean again, with no hint of the beating it had been forced to endure over the years.
’’I did what was right for my king and my God!’’ This voice is irritating. ’‘Show yourself, fiend!’’
’‘You and your king’s idea of what God wants is horribly mistaken. Countless lives have been ended because of your idiotic view of religion!’’ The voice hissed, as if through gritted teeth. ’’I am the link between your world, heaven and hell and countless other worlds. I am the one who ends the lives in time. I am the true balance.’’ The voice growled at me. I start shaking my head in a slow succession, moving my hand to my sword to be ready.
’’No... It cannot be... Liar!’’ This can’t be happening... They were wrong all along... The things I’ve done because of their twisted interpretation...
’’I am Death.’’ The strange voice, who apperantly was Death itself, snarled at my pathetic rambling. ’‘Since I can feel your regret for your deeds, a spirit willing to change, I am feeling quite generous at the moment...’’
I gulped again, gripping the handle of my sword tighter. ’‘Wha... What do you intend to do with me?
’’A chance for you to redeem yourself. A new chance.’’ This would be perfect... But I doubt that it’s a clean deal between mortal and immortal.
’‘What’s the catch?’’ I asked with more confidence in my voice.
’‘You will not return to your own world. I will be the one to choose where you will go.’’
’‘What if I don’t accept this deal?’’ Defying Death itself wasn’t the best of ideas, but I had to know my options in this matter.
’’If you refuse, I will take you to Lucifer himself.’’ I shudder at the thought of being brought to the Devil. Maybe this ‘different world’ thing, whatever he meant with that wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all. I mean, I’m pretty sure it would beat being punished for all eternity in hellfire.
’‘Well then, I accept your deal.’’ I straightened my back and took a deep breath through my nostrils. Nothing happened, since I’m dead but it felt relaxing to do so.
’‘Wonderful!’’ Death exclaimed happily. ’’Do mind the drop, though.’’
I had no idea what he was talking about, and I was about to question him, but the invisible floor vanished and I was now falling towards a thick forest. I screamed at the top of my lungs and shielded my head with my arms. My tricorne hat fell carelessly to the ground, almost floating on the wind.
I cursed silently as I saw the tree tops awfully close now. I grunted in pain as I fell through the hard branches, my momentum was decreased significantly but I still impacted the ground hard. My entire body ached from the ‘graceful’ landing I’d performed, I decided to stay put for a while, not daring to move my body if I happened to actually be injured. I can feel a small pat on my head as my hat gracefully lands back in its rightful place. That’s when I realised how exhausted I really was. I rolled over onto my back and sighed.
I was in a new, strange world that I had no knowledge about. I didn’t know if I could find my way to any kind of civilization, or if there even was a civilization here. I place my hands beneath my head and laid down. Okay... I really should get to know this place better, but that could be dealt with later. I should find out if there’s any dangers lurking around here in this forest. I tip my tricorne down over my face to block out the sun cracking through where I had dropped.
I still had my sword, musket and by the look of things, Death had been generous and provided me with a full pouch of ammunition, specifically ten bullets. And my trustworthy hat was perched upon my head. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all, as I didn’t have to shoot and kill to survive every day here, I hoped. I sighed again and closed my eyes, falling asleep almost instantly.
I was rustled awake by a cold wind stroking my chest, making me shiver from the sudden cold. I grabbed my hat and returned it to its original position on my head and grumbled. Okay, now I had to go and scout the area surrounding my position. I cracked my neck and knuckles as I started walking in a random direction.
My stomach growled and rumbled. I just realised how starved I actually was. Maybe I can find some wildlife to hunt and get meat of some sort. Or if I should be lucky enough to find some kind of berry that’s edible. Another growl from my stomach pushed me to hurry up.
I run off into a slow jog while loading my musket. Nine bullets left if I use this one. I placed it back across my shoulders and started walking at a slow pace. I have never seen such strange plants! One of them was even glowing! I didn’t know if it was because of sorcery, or me finally snapping and going insane, but the colors were so vibrant and alive, almost as if they were... drawn in some strange method I’ve never seen before. As I stared at everything I witnessed, I heard a feminine scream. A woman was in danger! Not on my watch! I took off in full sprint to the source of the scream.
My growling stomach screamed at me to stop and take it easy, but a Carolean never leaves a damsel in distress, no matter the circumstances. We Caroleans have our honor. Where other soldiers and armies loot, we stand by our pride and ignore those primal calls to steal. We only loot when we are truly desperate for supplies.
Another scream from the same voice made me double my efforts to get there in time before something could happen. A roar from some kind of beast sent a chill down my spine. It sounded like what I would suspect the demons from hell would sound like. I had no idea what a demon would do in such a place like this, but I would still do my best to take it down. A Carolean never fears life, death or anything in between.
I ended up in a clearing in the woods, quickly surveying the area for the source of the roar and the scream. My eyes widen at the sight of the beast. It looks like some kind of giant cat, but with its back towards me I could see its very visible bat wings. The hair on its head was blood red. It had some kind of strange tail. It was jet black and divided into segments that resembled the shell of a beetle. A stinger was at the tip. I didn’t know what to make of the source of the scream, it looked like some kind of yellow... horse with wings... The horse’s mane was long and pink. It looked much too small and fragile to be used for riding.
I whistled once, getting the attention of the giant hellspawn. ’‘Here kitty, kitty! Let’s play...’’ I took my musket to my hands, cocked it and readied my stance. The horse-creature stared at me, horror struck over its tiny head with the oversized eyes.
With a roar that could freeze the blood in the veins of even the most hardened soldier, the demon charged me. This wouldn’t end very well...
A/N: Okay, and we're off! The beginning of the story is as dark as it will get. The dark theme is only in this chapter. Pre-read and edited by frieD195