Stonewall, Saints, and the Void...
Saint of War, God’s General,The Sword of God,The Twice-Pierced Saint, The Ravensward
The Saint of War is a terror to behold. A giant among men, made all the more grand atop a fierce black warhorse whose hoofbeats sound as the pounding of the war drum. Severed heads dangle by long braids from the saddle horn. He wears heavily battle-scarred plate armor and an open-faced iron helm, crafted in the old fashion. When he moves, the grinding of the joints in his armor sounds as the clashing of battalions. Often accompanying him are two ravens, called in an old forgotten tongue the Alaisiagae, “the Dispatching Terrors,” Beda on his left shoulder and Fimmilena on his right.
Vernostan was a leader of great worth and skill. His leadership on the battlefield was rivalled only by his commitment to his God. Many times had he led the armies of God against the heathen hordes; many times had he led them to victory.
Legends say that on the eve of a great battle against an overwhelming foe (which foe that may be of course depends on who is telling the story), Vernostan was visited by two ravens. Ever early to the feast, he thought. But aloud he said to them: “I see you, heralds of God. And within you I see my victory.”
One of the ravens alighted on his left shoulder. “Should you assay against this host now, so too shall you see your Death yet achieve life everlasting in service to God,” it said, with the soft voice of a woman sorrowed. The other raven perched on his right shoulder and spoke with the hard voice of a woman afraid: “Should you stay your hand and lay down your arms now, so will you live until withering old age claims you and you have lived long in service to your king.”
Vernostan pointed his sword across the field. “Let the host come,” said he. “They will find naught but death here.” The two ravens stretched their wings and flew into the sky. The one who spoke with the soft voice called back to him: “You make this decision for more than just yourself. Many shall die today who were not meant to.”
And ever after this was known as The Decision of Vernostan, when the hubris of a General threatened to defy Fate.
Yet did Vernostan raise his sword and challenge the horde. And they came at him, roaring their rage across the fens. The armies clashed in a terrifying scrum. Bone and flesh rent beneath falling iron. Blood mixed with the rain and the mud. Many died in those first moments; many more died in the moments that followed. Bodies piled at Vernostan’s feet. His sword cut through armor and hide, sundering spirit from skin.
He looked about him as the battle raged and saw his men falling in greater numbers than that of the enemy. Fate was turning against him, and he knew not why. Some say it was foul magics that day which turned the tide; perhaps that is why those who follow War and those who follow Magic are never at peace with one another. Some say it was treachery within which corrupted Vernostan’s army. Whatsoever the reason, his army was falling. Men he had fought with for years were dying by the hands of barbarians scarcely capable of standing against such might.
A strange silence descended then. Death was coming for them all. Vernostan knew the feeling well. He prayed to his God. And his God spoke to him in his heart: “Serve me as your men serve you.”
Vernostan raised his sword high above him, then thrust it straight into the ground at his feet. He held his arms out wide, a sacrifice prepared on the altar of the battlefield. “I place myself into your heathen hands—but my men go free!” he roared. And spears and swords thrust through his armor and into his body and into his heart. But yet no blood ran forth. And yet did Vernostan stand tall and unharmed. And they pierced him once more, but to no avail; he did not fall.
The barbarians spread wide and stopped their battling. Some say lightning like no other illuminated the field. Others say that all the sky darkened and night fell early that day. But no one could doubt the presence of the Hand of God at work.
The Saint of War pulled his sword from the bloody muck. And with it he struck many heads from many bodies. And behind him, as his sword arm rose and fell, his fallen soldiers themselves rose, newly knighted into Holy service. And the barbarian horde was crushed utterly, dead to the last.
Some say his army follows him still, and that those who die on the battlefield in service to God may also find their place within its ranks.