Multiverse War

Chapter one: Following The Trail

Following the trail and rumours the adventurers left behind, the Emperor's soldiers pushed on. Too bad the Emperor's niece, may he live forever, joined the adventurers on that fool's errand...she was always the rebellious one. Otherwise they would have been just another band of glory seekers who died looking for myths and old legends, Commander thought.

They were looking for the Stone Portal, there were so many stories about it, but nobody ever saw it...And none came out of these wicked woods alive. Commander Vidislav wondered if the stories of sightings of those strange creatures in this area had any truth in them. One thing is true: they saw no settlements since yesterday, no trappers or hunters either.  
Probably some savage tribe survived here in isolation and killed those who dared enter their territory... But he realised what was bothering him, like a constant itch at the back of his mind: The forest is silent...Where are all the animals? I will have to verify this with my scouts once they get back.

One of his forward scouts came back: "Commander! There is a big cave entrance ahead, it looks like there was a lot of fighting around it! I saw older skeletons and body parts scattered around!"

Vidislav felt safe. The Emperor granted him more than a thousand soldiers and almost 300 light cavalry. More than enough for breaking a tribe of wildlings or even deal with some wicked creatures from ancient stories they heard as children huddled together around fire.
Upon reaching the cave he stopped to take it all in: leg, torso, few heads...body parts all over the place. He looked at blood marks on the rocks and odd, long scratches in the rock itself..
sword didn't make those. What kind of savages fight like that and what kind of weapons do they use?

He couldn't help but think of those stories again. Huge insects, some bigger than men, female warriors commanding fierce beasts, blood sucking creatures...it all sounded too insane to be true.

He assembled a scouting party and sent them to investigate the cave. After sending several men to take up positions high in the trees around, he decided to set up a defensive camp...
A good commander adapts fast to surprises but a better one does everything to control the battle and avoid them.

Commander didn't even finish setting up the defence perimeter when he saw the scouting party run out from the cave, panting for breath. The captain stepped forward:
"Commander, the cave is very large. After following a wide tunnel for about 300 meters, there was a sharp turn. Just as we were reaching it we saw bright bluish light fill the tunnel and heard distant storm."

"But there was no storm, Captain. We are outside and we didn't hear a thing!"

"Commander, I...I clearly heard the lightning and so did everyone else in our party. After the initial surprise, we turned the corner and saw a huge, very old, monument..a gate of a sort but you could pass around as well. As we went closer, we realised the ground was covered with bones, animal and human alike! We heard scratching and light steps further, in the depths of that large opening and decided to head back fast! Commander, it was worse than up here, dismembered bodies everywhere...so much blood"

Commander looked at his men, who were listening carefully. He saw no fear but they were uneasy, they were wondering the same thing as him: How much truth was in those old stories?
"What kind of nonsense is this? Assemble the strike force, I am going in. Captain, you are in charge. Make sure you secure our rear...sentries are in place but anyone could be hiding in these woods."

Captain put together a group of heavy infantry and crossbowmen, supported by a small group of Shield Maidens Emperor Olaf sent him. Commander, realising the Captain picked his best men, shook his head in disbelief: If there was a wild tribe in this area, they certainly wouldn't choose to live in a cave!

As the Commander stepped in the cave, he was beginning to understand his men’s concern. There was an overwhelming feeling of menace emanating from its depths. What are these ancient drawings and who made them? The light of their torches was dancing on the walls, bringing the ancient figures to life. They triggered even more visions again, this time more vivid. The memories of the old stories started hitting him like a cold wave, and through the mist of time he almost saw the creatures. Advancing in the cave, they were going deeper in the unknown. Time seemed to flow differently...How long have we been in here?

At last, after a final turn in the twisting tunnel they reached their destination. The revelation was almost too unbearable, the power of the monument grasping the Commander suddenly and making him forget the visions. The Stone Portal was greater than what he had imagined, and by the look of its eroded stones, much older. The ruin was erected on the cave floor, its material appearing at first to have grown seamlessly from it. Yet no cave could produce this kind of shapes and patterns...He stepped up the stairs leading to the Portal, a magnetic force pulling him despite his better instincts. As his men were watching him silently, he drew closer to the Portal and touched the round shape with ancient rune inscriptions. He traced the ancient lines with his finger fascinated, giants, animals, huge insects, strange gadgets…so the myths are true!

 

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