Phantom Host

Lynch: A Sprinkle In A Drought

On the first day of the first month of the fiftieth year of Nefer, death visited the red valley and robbed everyone. The emperors order: slay them all! Thats why the Death Marchers came, thats why the butchering occurred.

Marshal Valas Marching band had finally discovered the red valley hidden among the Cirrus Mountain range. Theyd searched for over a year throughout the Cirrus region, and found it on this fateful day. The valley was hidden in the innermost cluster where the mountains rose so high, they were kissing the clouds.

The band found no way but to climb the steep mountains to reach the top. Once they stood at the top, they saw a great depression on the other side, cradled amidst the tallest mountains. It was the fabled red valley where the Amaryllis city should be hidden.

They searched day and night for a path leading to the bottom of the red valley. The harsh terrain claimed the lives of many soldier marchers during their grueling search.

They risked their lives and continued to descend deeper into the depression. And at last, they had found a path. It winded downward into the red valley as if forever spiraling and descending straight into the belly of this flat world.

Few natural fortresses in navarium were as great as the red valley. The marchers believed that the Amaryllis city was veiled somewhere inside it.

Before long, they found themselves at the lower parts of the valley. It resembled a bowl with a flat base. The flat base was covered with dense forest, they saw nothing but tall trees, and no sign of any civilization at all. But the bowl was red, Amaryllis plants covered everything like a great carpet. Little trumpet shaped flowers bloomed as far as the vision went and glowed under the gloomy gray sky with an ominous shade of blood.

They discovered the city down on the valleys floor, at the center of the forest. A dome camouflaging shield was concealing the city within it. The city was pretending to be a part of the forest.


Lynch had arrived in the city about twelve hours ago. Mark-al-Din, Fioz, and the others were with him. It was a rough trek through this harsh terrain, and it was even more taxing climbing up the tall mountain. But theyd found the downward winding path that eventually led them to the Amaryllis city.

It was the last outpost of the menace. The final standing of the rebellion that resisted the emperors authority, and needed to be wiped out.


The fanciest villa in the Amaryllis city sat by the lake at the southern edge of the city. It belonged to the city chief who now lay dead on the stony lawn of his burning house. Lynch stood solemnly beside him, staring at the enormous puddle of blood forming near the chiefs headless shoulder. Mark-al-din had ripped off his head with nothing but his bare hands. Nearby, bodies rose ever high with each member of the chiefs family and relatives adding to the pile. Blood poured out of the pile and crept towards the dead chief, almost seeking him out. The larger stream was merging with the small puddle that formed by the chiefs torn neck.

What makes them want to protect their leader so much? Lynch wondered. That even in death, theyd wish to join him. Would I do the same for my emperor?

Once upon a time, maybe. But not anymore. No more!

The people of the Amaryllis city proved to be unruly fighters. They managed to defeat a number of their talented marchers. Among them was Crodix, the eldest son of Fioz. He was a promising new member, quickly rose through the ranks, and made himself an elite among the marcher band.

Taking him down was no small feat for a bunch of backwater revolutionaries.

”They love their chief so much, don they? ” Fioz had cried holding his sons body, grief and hatred twisted his face.

”They can watch him die then, before they are all executed. ”

Oh, how his family screamed, Lynch recalled and begged.

The puddle grew deep and wide in front of Lynch, shining from the light the nasty tongues of flames emitted from the burning house. His reflection fell upon the puddle.

Lynch was a thin man in a frayed marcher outfit. His red eyes were glowing out of his black skull mask. The dark proithene armor covering his torso was stained with blood. He wore dirty maroon leather pants and boots. A shredded red cape flowed with the mountain gust from his shoulders.

In that puddle of blood, his reflection was a forlorn ghost, like sand slipping through a gripped fist. A being that should no longer linger among the living.

”Why do you linger around the remains of an open fight? ”

Lynch turned. It was Ash. His boyish face was curved in a confused smirk.

”I thought you hated being in these… um, ” he fished for the right words, ”public dealings? ”

Dealings. Dealing death to the public, you mean?

Lynch left an inward sigh.

”A Stealth Marcher must always work without drawing attention to themselves, ” Lynch said. ”Feelings never influence job requirements. ”

”Oh, so you don really mind being out in the open. I get it. ” Ash nodded. ”Wait, why are you here? Instead of you know, sneaking around and stuff… I don think Ive ever seen you engaging in open battle before! ”

”Does it really matter anymore? ” Lynch said.

Ash frowned.

”What do you mean? Are you saying your job doesn matter? ” Ash said.

Lynch gazed at the boy. Then looked away.

”Whos left to kill? Isn that the job? ” Lynch said.

The boy seemed speechless.

”I- I guess you
e right, ” Ash muttered. ”Ive never thought about it this way. Its all of our jobs then, isn it? ”

Ash looked around, taking in the mutilated corpses piled on here and there all over the city. Save for the ones to be interrogated later, no one was spared. The chaos of the war damaged most of the buildings in the city. Better part of it was on fire, breathing black smoke at the Autaxium high. It still surprised him when taking in the sheer scale of the destruction that the marchers were capable of dealing where they attacked. Every single time.

”The job of a band of marchers is to slay the rebellion that threatens the Empires dominion over the flat world. But if they
e all dead, and theres no one to rebel, then we have no work left to do, ” Ash said.

He inhaled slowly as if something had just dawned on him.

”What will become of us, Lynch? ” said Ash.

He sounded desperate.

Lynch observed the boy. He was a mere youngling, freshly arrived at manhood. Traces of innocence still lingered on his face despite having slayed countless rebels.

Not slayed. Burned. And turned to ashes from the terrible fire hurled by the peculiarly shaped sword that hung on his back. The weapon was a cage made with four swords forged from the precious metal flenese. The weapon forgers had masterfully trapped bright inside the cage. On one end of it was the hilt, and a spike on the other.

”Do you like… doing this, Ash? ” Lynch said.

Ash looked as if Lynch had asked the stupidest question.

”Indeed, I do! I mean, its difficult work marching all over the world all the time. But thats what marchers do, don they? What profession could be nobler than to uphold the emperors reign? To be his trusted sword and fight for permanent peace? ”

It was sickening to listen to the hollow words the boy was vomiting.

Such words were a regular meal in every loyalist household, supplied by this dynasty to produce the illusion of greatness. All to uphold this ravenous idea of permanent peace.

But how could it be peaceful when everything had been slain and it was all quiet everywhere. Just like a graveyard.

How could anyone desire the peace of a graveyard?

Lynch left a long sigh, forgetting the presence of the boy for a moment.

Ash looked taken aback. He spoke hesitantly.

”Do you not like your job, Lynch? Being a death dealing marcher, I mean? ” Ash said.

Lynch considered the question. It wasn an easy one.

”No, ” Lynch said honestly. ”No, I don think I do. I haven for a long time. ”

Lynch sensed the unease growing inside the boy. He could almost taste it.

Strong emotions often caused a navarian to unknowingly emit the bright from their body had they access to it, and was burning it.

Ash was still young and had yet to gain proper control over the bright. So, the bright was being emitted from his body unconsciously and began producing a strong smell of burning metal.

But Lynch couldn blame the poor lad. Times were changing. Whether Ash liked it or not, this flat world would not remain the same after this day of the final genocide. Lynch could feel it in the air. Something was smelling foul. And he felt certain that it wasn from Ashs nervous bright burning.

Lynch was a child of mere eleven years when a man named Nefer saved him from a fate much worse than death. Hes been fighting for that man ever since. He saw him ending the reign of the cruel tyrants and ascending to be the ultimate power in the flat world.

That man, a rare commander of bright and gloom, the Dux, had established a brand-new dynasty and took the title of emperor. He had become the absolute authority in the flat world.

He was supposed to bring hope to navarium. Thats what Lynch had believed in. Thats why hed fought for that man for all these years. Killed, for that man…

Lynch noticed the boy fidgeting.

”You can speak freely, Ash, ” Lynch assured.

”Do you really not like being a marcher? Or do you mean that you don like serving the emperor? ” asked Ash with surprising caution.

All of a sudden, a voice boomed from behind.

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