“No! We will not!”
Consul Alyssa Vyre slammed her fist down upon the table, spilling her wine glass. The rich red wine, made from felswoon grapes grown on the slopes of the Iosian foothills and hand selected for the consul's table, was known for it's light aroma and palate. Xarl watched disinterestedly as it soaked into the white tablecloth.
“The duskguard are ready. I have trained them for five years now. They are easily a match for Nyarr's dawnguard. They are ready to see battle.”
The Consul sprang to her feet and began pacing the room. A thin, grey Iosan, she looked like a kindly grandmother. Until she lost her temper. Hardened warriors were known to leave her presence in tears. As she paced, she calmed. Some.
“But why Xarl? Why answer Nyarr's call for aid? Why help these retribution fanatics? Why help our enemies?”
Xarl finally looked up at the elderly Consul.
“Well, two reasons. First, is that this will be the first time Ios has marched to war against an external enemy in centuries. Vyre cannot miss an opportunity to redeem itself in the eyes of the people.”
Alyssa's lips tightened at a reminder of the civil war her husband had begun three decades before.
“And, second, he is still alive. Still out there. I intend to find him. And mother,” Xarl stood, a light burning in his eyes. If one was unacquainted with the Black Prince, they would say it was madness in those bright eyes. “I intend to kill him”.
Xarl walked through the burning village, eating a peanut butter and honey sandwich. Burning ashes rained around him, and he scowled in displeasure as the smell of charred flesh disturbed its sweet salty taste. A duskguard scyir waited to meet him. “We found the spy, sir.”
“Good. Take me too him”
Xarl licked his fingers, ignoring the blood caked under the nails. This was going to take some diplomacy. Goreshade's chief spymaster likely possessed mental wards that would destroy him if Xarl tried to penetrate his mind with force.
The spymaster was a woman. That was unexpected. She did not seem fazed by the recent razing of her village. She did not even flinch when shots rang out behind her, the result of a few last Cygnarian holdouts being taken care of by the duskguard invictors.
“Hello there good looking.” She smiled coyly.
“We are looking for Goreshade. You are his chief spymaster, therefore, we come to you.”
“First, I have no idea what you are talking about. Second, I have no idea what you are talking about. How's that for an answer?”
“You do know what I am talking about. I am Goreshade's son. I am bringing an army to help him in his work. He told me I could find you here, and you would guide me to his citadel on the western coast. Does that help your memory?”
“I have no idea what you are talking about.”
“Then I have the wrong person. Sorry for wasting your time.”
Quicker than the human eye could track, Xarl drew his saber and severed the woman's hand. She fell back, screaming and clutching her spurting stump. He walked away, leaving her spasming in the mud.
“Kill her. We need to keep moving.”
“No, wait! I do know Goreshade. I'm sorry, I just wanted to protect him. I am your father's faithful servant!”
At a gesture from Xarl, Arcanist Liam began bandaging her wounded arm.
An hour later, Xarl walked out of the still smoldering town, wiping the woman's blood off his swordblade. He had always thought the crude methods of torture were woefully inadequate. It was doubt, not pain, that most undid the mind of humans. Plant the seed of doubt, apply pressure, and even the mind most inured against pain would crack.
Xarl's musings ended when he saw the Cygnarian army arrayed against him.
“We need to hit them before they get set up. Charge!”
It was glorious. Xarl led his Myrmidons down the center of the green field, flanked by his elite duskguard. The Cygnarians began opening fire immediately, which was returned by the Phoenix warjack. The Gunmages and Sentinels clashed in a swirling melee. Xarl's Griffon took a hit to its leg and fell, gouging deep marks in the pasture. His Phoenix took several hits from one of the enemy jacks, and its shields flared and failed.
Xarl had to finish this quickly. With a snarl he sprinted towards the enemy caster, who opened fire with his two pistols. Xarl's heavy armor protected him from most of the damage, but one shot blew threw his thigh, bringing him to his knees. The Cygnar caster laughed, and walked closer for the coup de grace, leveling his twin pistols at Xarl's face.
Xarl tried to attack the caster with his mind, but the Cygnarian's arcane shield was too strong. He tightened his finger on the trigger.
Xarl used his telekinetic ability to rip two buttons from his own shirt and hurled them at the caster's eyes. The caster fired wildly, hitting Xarl in the left arm. Xarl grunted and threw his arm forward, impaling the human. The caster looked surprised as he fell down the blade. He tried to say something, but blood rather than words emerged.
With the death of their caster, the Cygnar army quickly collapsed.
Carried on a litter between two sentinels, in gut wrenching agony, Xarl smiled.
“I'm coming for you, father,” he whispered, before falling into a deep, dreamless sleep.