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The Story - Chapter 4 - Shattered Sands

With business concluded in the East and the second castle built, the Horsemen then returned the way they came, taking the long ocean bridge back to the bulk of the land.

This time, they continued to the West, landing in what looked to be the capital city of the humans; Central. More populous then everywhere else they had been combined, the Horsemen scattered, riding down all who crossed their path. Conquest's minions flushed out the buildings, War's flames cleansed all hiding places, and Death's undead scoured the underground for any that had retreated from the surface. Famine tainted the water and the food supply, releasing a plague that would engulf the area for long after they were gone.

Due to the sheer size of the area it was days before the city was cleansed, but at last it all fell silent; all save one area; an inverted triangular temple that seemed to repel the Horsemen and their minions. For all their power, they could not enter or affect the structure- despite the few survivors that had managed to cling to life within it.

The remainder of the city cleaned and Famine's plague hanging over any hope of future survival, the Horsemen left the city; but not before constructing their own profane temple, hidden in the depths of the underground. They continued their trek west, passing massive abandoned castles and smaller structures.

They next landed in another city- not as large Central, yet decently populated; Sydney. The humans here seemed different than those the Horsemen had previously encountered, speaking in strange accents and lacking a general regard for each other or their properties. Crime ran rampant, pollution choked the ground, and general upheaval seemed to be the norm- the Horsemen were almost unnoticed among the chaos.

Now used to the screams of terror and grandeur at their approach, War took this as an insult- and a challenge. Reaching to the sky, into the depths of the void, he located a large heavenly body made of rock and metal, and dragged it toward his position. The object gained great speed as it neared, and was equally unnoticed until it caught fire in the atmosphere. A light akin to a second sun blazed in the sky as the mass of fiery destruction fell, and at last the Horsemen had the screams they had become accustom to.

With a violent flash, the object collided into the heart of the city, incinerating all inhabitants and liquefying even stone in its fiery wake. The few buildings that survived the explosion were nothing more than smoldering ruins, and a massive smoking crater now occupied much of the area.

Before continuing onward, the Horsemen noticed an odd green glow emitting from the crater. It was not from the fallen object, as it had vaporized on impact- it seemed to be coming from deep within the crater itself. Molten rock swirled in and out of view, making it difficult to observe; but a consensus was reached that they would revisit this shortly.

Further west, the land had started to turn visibly more arid; from sun-scorched grassland to sprawling deserts. The next settlement the Horsemen reached was within such a place, inhabited not by humans, but by a race of golem-like creatures made of living stone and metal; the Tok-Haar.

They pleaded with the Horsemen for their survival, offering gifts of marvelous artifacts and golden wonders. War this time provided the ultimatum, noticing their affinity for crafting and mining the earth- their lives for their servitude. They consented, avoiding the destruction of themselves and their progenitor artifact, which they referred to as the 'Elder Kiln'.

War set the Tok-Haar to work on constructing a castle within the very desert they inhabited, as well as to construct a massive underground mine with which the Horsemen could use to study the odd material they had observed in the ruins of the last town. Tapping into their abilities even further, War had the Tok-Haar construct him his own loyal army, automatons made of molten gold and stone. The desert lit afire with his new army, as the power released from his mines caused his castle to begin to part from the ground. The Tok-Har fashioned great chains to hold these new islands to the ground and linked them together to complete the castle. To commemorate this, War dubbed the area 'The Shattered Sands'.

Leaving some of the army behind, both to ensure the loyalty of their creators and to facilitate the creation of more soldiers, the Horsemen and company continued the march westward.

Shortly after leaving the desert, they came to a massive expanse of red canyons stretching far in all directions. The Horsemen's otherworldly steeds had little trouble crossing the terrain, though they were slightly slowed as War's army crawled across it. Little vegetation or life existed here, and no settlements crossed their path as they traversed the baked ground. Finally reaching the other side, the Horsemen came upon the seashore once more- and just to their luck, another human-built bridge across it.

The Riders at the head of the battalion, they marched down the expanse, raiding a few islands that it crossed over on the way. The bridge ended at another port town, comprised mostly of families and what looked like temporary housing. The town fell quickly, but all signs pointed to a further settlement across a large bay.

Sacrificing about half of the forces they had brought with them, War had his new automatons create a temporary bridge with their bodies, allowing the remainder of their forces to cross. They came to a grand walled city, much more heavily fortified then the previous settlements had been. A small fleet of ships was docked in the bay, and battlements lined the tops of the walls. Oddly enough, almost all of it was unmanned. A few humans scrambled to fire ballista at the host, but an arrow from Conquest was enough to stop them- and remove a significant portion of the wall.

War blasted down the city gates himself and instructed his army to cleanse the city. They found little resistance, as for its size, the city was mostly uninhabited. The few humans that they did rout all seemed to be builders and artisans, at work at building the very city they were dying in. War left the empty city to its slow, empty decay, and the host turned back to march across their makeshift bridge.

They stopped briefly at War's castle on the return trip, and left the remaining automatons with the bulk of the army, to guard the castle and work the mines. They returned the way they came, heading back in the direction of Central, where they would then turn to their final destination; the South.

< Chapter 3 - Temple of Ancients | Chapter 5 - The Heart >