Author : Jules Jensen

Dancing white light fills the citadel through the many holes in the ceiling. Mournful wind howls through the massive chamber, rustling the ragged clothes on the corpses of men and women that cover the whole floor.

One remains alive. He sits on the floor at the end of the huge room. His black leather armour and the silver blade at his side have seen better days. He looks to be thirty or so, yet aged beyond his years to the point of frailty.

The large doors at the end are already open, and do nothing to stop the casual entry of four men. Each of them wore silvery armour, their backs adorned by strange cylinders and engines that look to weigh forty pounds.

“King Evander.” The man in the lead says, lacing the title with scorn.

“Betrayers of the light.” The man on the floor says, not even looking up.

His machine-packing enemy snorts at this outdated notion that accepting technology means he’d betrayed the light that granted humans magic.

“The Emperor of Steel and Thunder has asked for your execution.”

“That is a grand mistake.” King Evander gets up off the floor. Despite his withered appearance he manages to look regal.

The man leading the other three holds up a hand, signalling to his allies that he will do this alone. Then he starts to run, stepping on the floor between the many limbs of the dead followers of King Evander.

The cylinders on his back roar to life, and he launches up into the air, sailing towards the King. He raises a long thin sword that has some wires connecting the hilt to his back.

Evander is ready for it, though. He holds perfectly still, closes his eyes, and then there’s suddenly a sphere of red light that encircles him. The flying man’s sword smashes into the barrier, and electricity crackles sickeningly from the blade across the magical shield.

The King smoothly motions with his arm, as if he were pushing an invisible person aside. The shield explodes outwards, sending the other man flying back. He flips over in the air, the pack struggling to balance him, and he lands hard on his feet. The King wastes no time in rushing forward, sword raised, deadly calm on his face.

The man with the flying machine draws a strange thing from his side that’s no more than a handle and short cylindrical barrel. He points it at the charging King.

A thunderous boom echoes in the citadel. The King falls to his knees amongst his dead followers. He gasps and holds his chest.

“The Emperor was right. This was an easy mission.” The man in the glimmering metallic armour says with a grin. “Only fools like you and the ignorant peasants that serve the Emperor think that magic is a necessity of the world. The time of technology is on the rise. Your death proves that…”

The man trailed off as he noticed the King slowly start to stand up, despite the fatal wound.

“What is this? What’s going on?” The man asks, angry and confused. He points his weapon at the King, and there’s another echo of deafening thunder. The King jerks a little, but does not go down.

Movement all around them make the men with the flying packs exclaim in terror. The people on the floor were getting up, even though they were dead.

As was the King. Who was smiling.

“Killing me has only made my magic, and my army, stronger.” The King’s voice was cold, full of quiet rage and strength. “It is time for magic to rise, and technology to fall.”

The Emperor’s men don’t stand a chance. After falling at the hands of the King, they too rise, mindlessly ready to obey their new leader.

King Evander sets out immediately, intent on taking back his lands and his people by any means necessary, even in death.