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"How many men do you know? The kings of your land? The rare knight that passes through on their way to some fort or noble's party? Those, dear child, are hardly men. Real men, hard working men are the farmers in the fields. The foot-soldiers who charge into battle without protection other than shabby leather and rusted chain-mail. The militia who charge into any fight regardless of their complete lack of arms or armor. How many of those men return, dear child? Few.

Those few that do return are lost in their ways. Their eyes have seen horrific things no man should see. They've seen the terrors of the other races. The brutal rituals of the Urke. Shamanistic tributes of the Pejo as they worship their false idol. They've seen their friends and family torn apart and slaughtered like lambs at the block. You stand here, surrounded by foolish warriors and glorified men-at-arms. Gold means more to these few souls than anything else in the world.

They'd trade the lives of their loyal soldiers for a few handfuls of coin!. How can you, in good conscious, sit around and feast on the hard earned fruits of those who have died to protect their own lands, their own families when you and your ilk refused to heed their cries and pleas for help? Is it because you are so stuffed with fine wine and food that there is no room left for brains? Are you too soft to protect those who provide you that food you stuff into yourself with every passing second?

Or is there some other reason? Is it that you're too afraid to deal with those who sow havoc among your empire, both inside and out? Do the Urke scare you with their brutal mountain living? Do the Pejo strike such a powerful lust in your heart that you refuse to harm even the most violent? Are you so bewitched by fear and desire that you cannot do anything but stuff your face full of food earned by those real men you refuse to support in their time of need; despite them supporting you every day and night of their short lives?

Are you so decadent that even the base of your pyramid matters not? My price, all I say is that you must protect those who serve you! For if you do not, they will rise against you. Imagine them joining with the others. Attacks within your city walls by your people! The terror! The horror! A wise king knows when to take action and when to not. I advise you that you learn from the wise kings of the past and take action. For without those who would rebel you are nothing. Think, child, about what I told you. They will require an answer before the sun reaches it's climax on the 'morrow."

Several guards, massive men clad in steel and expensive cloth, escorted an elder man, likely in her seventies, out of a throne room that stank of lavish waste. To look at the room was to see the very incarnation or greed and hubris. On the throne, wearing cloths that were fit for a god, not a mortal, was the prince, a young man around his twenties. His belly was barely kept by a loose fitting shirt with vertical stripes. His pants were the same. Short, ear length blonde hair sat upon his head in a messy heap; as if rats had housed there rather recently.

Beside him sat food beyond what any knight or man-at-arms could imagine. Freshly baked breads of a thousands flavors curved around fruits gathered from every corner of the world. Meats seared at every angle, temperature, and hearth sat upon beds of vegetables harvested from every garden and farm in the empire. Cakes so sweet they filled the air with an intoxicating scent laid under blankets of berries sweetened in their own juices.

"What was that about?" Yawned the prince as he grabbed one of the many loaves of bread and took a hefty bite, screwing his face up as cinnamon hit his palate. "Speak!" The bread flew over the head of a nearby scribe. He was a short, stubby man who squeaked in terror as the bead splattered against the wall behind him. "He wants you to protect the villages from the encroaching savage races, Liege!" A laugh came from the prince's mouth and along with it came several chunks of a new bread, grapes mixed in with it.

"And why, Scribe, would I waste my time and my soldiers to protect their land? I am the most important person here. I deserve the most protection, no?"

"A-absolutely my lord! Absolutely! Why, if anyone was to think otherwise they would be," the scribe paused long enough to gulp as a knight cracked his knuckles inside his gauntlets. "Perish." snarled the knight as he drew a claymore with elegantly engraved runes and designs from its sheathe. "They would perish my lord. To believe oneself is above their sovereign is heresy at best," The knight drove the sword harshly into the stone floor of the throne room where it proceed not to bend, but instead slice through the cobble with ease. "And blasphemy at worst. Such things are only fixable by the death of the offender."

The prince laughed in agreement, his face overfilled with gross amounts of food. "Yes, yes! Quite right! Slaughter that man's entire bloodline. We can't have a rebel starting a rebellion because he thinks that we don't protect them enough!" The knights nodded, their eye slits gleaming a sickening green.

Hundreds of soldiers ran in mindless, crazed circles as they screamed. They were picked off one by one until only a single one was left alone when reinforcements arrived. He was quick to run towards his fellow enki warriors; his eyes crazed with the sights he had seen. "Run! Run for your lives! We can't take this thing! Find the general! Find the Ambassador! Find someone who can! This thing's...a monster! A pox upon us for our terrible deeds! It's punishment from the Voir come to punish us for our lords' corruption! We must run before it's-"

A voice, deeper and darker than the ocean depths itself, yet smooth, like honey over silk, broke into his sentence. "Sent by the Voir? My dear, foolish, dead enki. The Voir don't own me, nor do they have more power than I." A laugh finished the sentence with a clear ominous undertone. The owner appeared from the shadows behind the soldier who had spoken. He was a massive beast, his shoulders reaching eight feet into the air and his head even higher. Silver fur covered the muscles beneath, that, when he flexed, seemed as if they could shatter even the finest diamonds with ease.

His eyes, as warm as tree amber, glared at the gathered warriors with the freezing aura of a glacier with intelligence and malice beyond that any animal should have had. The wolf took a step forward, smiling as the soldiers tried to retreat but instead ran into a wall of voided eyes and emotionless faces. Their comrades, resurrected to serve the sinister wolf, groaned as the nearest grabbed the living and attacked. They gnawed at their flesh, devouring every scrap they could find.

The wolf watched, amused, as the living tried to retreat past him, only to run into a pit filled with tar and spikes. Their own battlements sealed their fate as the undead continued to attack, pushing the living warriors closer and closer to the edge of the tar pit. The closest took a step to far and toppled over, taking two others as he tried to grab onto them to prevent himself from falling. His greedy hands still grasped or something other than air as the spikes impaled his chest and skull, sticking him like a hog.

"Finish them. Push them into the pit and devour those who fight." The undead, heading their master's words, groaned in response and moved forward as a single unit. As the wolf walked away, content with his minions, a shadow morphed and changed beside him. It took the form of a human in heavy armor, just like the knights who guarded the prince. "Mortem," it spoke, its voice like sandpaper rasping against sandpaper. Unpleasant to say the least. "The human prince has fallen into our trap. His knights march on the farmer's homestead. Are you sure that the several hundred zombies you've placed there are enough? Even with the Droza the Lich supporting them, they only reach a power level akin to a small platoon of mortal soldiers."

The wolf grunted and waved the shadow away with his tail. The shadow nodded and knelt before melting into the ground. "Those knights are weaker than Droza. As long as he has the undead to provide shields he should be fine. If not, oh well. He wasn't that hard to make. The hardest part was finding a mage I thought strong." A sigh escaped the wolf before he stopped, his nose catching the scent of a living creature and his ears hearing her heartbeat. "Come out, Pejo, you cannot hide from death."

"But I'v been doing it for three thousand years." The pejo laughed as she exited a bush, her body lean, lithe and beautiful and branded by a creature far above the wolf. Cat ears twitched above her head as she listened to the smallest change in the area and swishing side to side behind her was a panther-black tail. "What do you require, Tarbu? Has the Harbinger decided he needs something?"

The Pejo laughed. It was a light hearted, beautiful sound. It was no doubt that any male who came across this female would try something, anything to get her attention; but Mortem knew better. She was a tease, a prophet, and the first of her species. A master smith, assassin, and jeweler. And she was the favorite plaything of the beast that had created the very existence of Mortem's universe.

"He'd hardly need your help for anything, Pup. You should know that by now. He just wanted me to tell you that your favorite lich was destroyed in a stunning display of magiks and might. He hardly got one spell off before he was decapitated, burned, and scattered across the battlefield as fertilizer. Yes, well, we found it humors. That is all." Before Mortem could react, the pejo was gone her smile the last thing to vanish. "Ulfurinn!" Shouted the wolf, his anger just as fatal as the worst poison.

In seconds the shadowy warrior appeared, his knee and sword in the ground. "Lord?"

"Slaughter the knights and send their heads to the prince as a git from Death himself. I want him to know that I'm coming for him. While you're away, find me a plaything. I need the entertainment."

Of Monsters and Men. Which side is worse? Better? It doesn't matter. What matters is whether you are willing to chose a side and try to find out to who and where you should pledge your loyalty. Choosing the right side could produce riches for your entire life. Choosing wrong could result in terror and pain beyond that of your wildest nightmares. Choose wisely.

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