Enormous gates clicked shut behind Knight Forspilder and his men as they entered the sanctuary. The view was splendid. Tall pillars wrapped in cloth of red rose high into the shadow shrouded ceiling, arches towered high above. It was unbelievable that the building was as structurally sound as it was, but then again, the tall teetering design was meant to convey this feeling. The strong scent of incense floated in the air and their footsteps echoed in the spacious basilica.
Forsplider shuddered slightly. He remembered how he and nearly a hundred other Grunden youth had been inducted into the Knighthood program standing in this very hall. 97 young Grund received the blessing of God that day, only two survived to become Knights, himself and one other, who became his closest friend. Knight Sóthfaeder gave him a knowing look
The Knights wore their battle attire, heavy steel armor coated in a brown layer of demonhide, making them extremely resistant to flame and heat, but also muffling the sound of their movement.
Before them lay the grand table, a meeting place of sorts, but also the main place of worship for the city’s citizens. The aura of solemnity and quiet enveloped the soldiers like a thick cloud, and they didn’t dare speak a word until the Faethern and Grunden priests sitting at the table addressed them. One Faethern in particular stood out. He sat at the head of the table and wore a ornate looking necklace made of gold and silver.
“Welcome, good Sers.” The presiding Faethern priest, actually the Bishop of Maeyth, spoke, his wings spread a little behind him. “You have done the Order an unbelievable service. God blesses those who carry out his plans with faith and duty.”
The knights bowed, each with one fist pressed to their chests.
A Grunden priest sitting on the Faethern bishop’s right hand spoke with a thin wavering voice. “The council has decided that the Knight’s Circle should be included in all meetings from now on, especially since a new issue has arisen.” He looked back at the former.
The Faethern priest continued. “I congratulate you on the victory over our demons, and now Maeyth can be considered free of demonic tyranny, take a seat. All of you.”
The Knights all sat down in the empty chairs, somewhat uncomfortable with being seated as equals with the high priests and bishops of the realm.
“Again, I congratulate you, but your victory is short lived. Our spies…”
He nodded to a shadowy figure leaning against the wall, who nodded back.
“Our spies have discovered a disturbing demonic presence throughout the world. And only just recently another infestation has erupted in the West.” The priest unfurled a weathered parchment map onto the table.
Three areas on the map were circles in red ink. A red star marked their location, the capitol of Maeyth.
“Here we are.” The bishop pointed to the star, then he slid his finger up towards the closest circle.
“A once proud city, Roklavia was vain, and while they had a firm belief in a form of God, their greed ensnared them. It is now a city of demons, infested with hellhounds.”
His finger left, across the sea, and rested on the circle there.
“Lexindon, also fell the same way. Greed and pride lead to nothing but damnation, and both of these cities are living proof of it. However the last location is still somewhat of a mystery to us.”
He obviously was referring to the last circle.
“The Valkorian Empire has stopped all business and outside dealings whatsoever, and after some investigation it appears that an invasion is underway. Some ungodly beasts enslave the people there, and as some refugees who escaped described them, they are demons.”
The bishop stood up from his chair and began pacing around the table.
“Whatever afflicts this world so? Nations falling left and right, wars plunging them into constant chaos. The lack of belief, the lack of faith…humility! Humility is the answer! What these lost peoples do not have is humility and the burning fear of God in their hearts!”
He shook his fist in the air in frustration.
Knight Forsplider decisively answered the priest. “We can eradicate these beasts as easily as we did our own!”
The priest looked at him with a glare. “‘Easily’ you say? Would you say losing thousands upon thousands of soldiers was easy?”
The Knight looked slightly confused. "But Father, if they lay down their lives for God…was it not a great victory for heaven?
Now the bishop almost betrayed a look of confusion. “Victory? Why…of course God was pleased, but in the larger scope of things, we did not look ahead at the challenges to come.” He composed himself. “God is always testing us, Ser Forsplider. We can never rest, because he might require us at any moment.”
The Knight nodded, satisfied with the answer.
“Good Sers. God requires us to destroy the darkness and evil wherever we might find it, and his creation has been blighted, diseased to the point where there is only one logical solution, I’m sure it is obvious what our mission is, gentlemen.”
Knight Sóthfaeder slammed his fist on the heavy wooden table, causing all the clergy to jolt in surprise. “Whatever demons there may be, we are ready! Point me in the right direction and I will crush any foe before me. This is my sole purpose, is it not? Already my life has started to feel stale and meaningless in the past few weeks. This is what us Beorngrund were destined to do!”
The bishop didn’t say anything, an obvious reaction to the knight’s upstartish behavior. After some pause, he answered Sóthfaeder.
“We have a slightly…different plan for the Beorngrund.
As the Reich slowly and naturally expands, we will be in need of leaders: governors, police, judges and so forth. The council has come to the decision that the Knight’s Circle will, in the first stages of development, take charge of civil matters and also be training Batch 4.”
The Knights blinked in disbelief. Forsplider was the first to speak. In a grave tone he asked. “What is Batch 4?”
The same priest who spoke earlier piped in with his weasely voice. "The new knights, the Aedgrund.
The bishop scowled at him. "Yes. I’m sure you remember, when the first Beorngrund were formed we then enlisted Grundfolk the next two years. Three batches. Batch 4 is going to be slightly different, as our technology has improved.
The Knights sat deathly silent. They were being replaced. Thrown out like refuse on the streets.
“I know what you’re thinking right now.” The bishop assured them, looking each one of them in the eye. "The Beorngrund are not being disbanded, you are simply being…repurposed…no. Reassigned. We would not simply forget the warriors of God’s Reich. This is why you have been invited to this meeting. You have stepped up in the Reich, and soon each of you shall have a lofty title fit for the heroes you are.
The Knights’ continued silence clearly indicated that the council’s decision had struck a devastating blow.
“Alright!” The bishop sat down in his chair. “It seems everybody is informed on the new plan. Beorngrund, you are dismissed until tomorrow. You will receive your assignments in the morning. It is time to serve God in a new way! Be glad!” He smiled somewhat eerily, watching the Knights as they rose from their seats and trudged toward the great doors.
The doors slammed shut with a resounding thud and click as they locked behind them. Their thoughts were unified by one common feeling, sadness.
One of the younger knights sighed. “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m going to the pub.”
The others nodded and began talking once more. The pub was an excellent idea. Screw the council’s stupid decisions. Tonight was their night.