Credits to Elias Stern / LordDoomhammer for this amazing piece called Graceful Moonlight.
It the olden days there was another,
A sphere of light high up in the sky,
That lit up the world just like a mother
During the dark nights, high up it would fly.
The night was dark but the sky was clear. One could see the stars and the soft light of the moon. The night was dark and the air was cold. He could see the creature’s breath shimmer slightly before disappearing mysteriously. He should’ve been cold but the fight had lit a fire in his heart, each breath spread the warmth all over his body. He could feel his blood pumping in his arms, in his head and in chest. He was alive. No, he was still alive. How could he still be alive? How could he have survived so long against such a monster? He saw its red eyes shine in the dark, looking intently at him as if they were piercing his mind, as if it could see directly into his soul. His breath was heavy as he tried to recover from the exhaustion. His muscles were burning, his mind was getting fuzzy by moments and, even if he was still standing, he knew it wouldn’t be long before he crumbled under the immensely powerful attacks of the beast in front of him.
The only thing that kept him alive and standing was that he couldn’t fail. It wasn’t a question of honor or pride, no, he simply couldn’t fail. He had to protect them. He had to protect everyone. If he died here it didn’t matter as long as he took the creature with him, but he couldn’t be defeated, he couldn’t lose. For if he was… He shivered as images of the burning village flashed in his mind, his wife and child, his friends and his neighbors, so many innocent slain by one single being. No! He definitely couldn’t let it happen. He was the only one that could stop it, the only one that had a chance. He couldn’t lose but he didn’t see how he could win either. They had been at it for so long and he hadn’t managed to injure it even once yet. How do I defeat that thing? How? The question echoed endlessly through his mind as he parried and counter attacked over and over again. How do I kill it?
He had felt its aura long before it had reached the village, the deathly smell that characterized its kind. He had known it was coming long before he had seen its bloody eyes glow menacingly at him. He hadn’t been able to believe it at first; they hadn’t been seen for centuries. Why had it appeared now? And why here? How could it be possible? He had no answer to the many questions that had flooded his mind, answers were not important though, action was. He had known what he had to do almost immediately: he had to go face it. He had to kill it before it killed them. Night had already begun to fall when he had jumped on his horse and had left them, not even looking back once as he disappeared in the horizon. He had ridden for hours before reaching the place where it had appeared and a few more before he had encountered it. The night was dark but the light of the moon offered just enough vision to survive its attacks, at least until now.
It was tall, much taller than him, with long limbs and skin darker than night, red eyes and claws so long and so sharp they could tear a man apart without difficulty. The only reason he had managed to survive until was because he had been a royal knight in another life, he had become the protector of the village after years of faithful services and the armor he had donned all these years was reinforced with magic. His lion shield had been enchanted to resist to the strongest blows as well as the passing of time and his sword was a cursed blade, it was the only way to injure a magical creature. And boy, what a creature he had in front of him. Easily over two meters tall with sharp with teeth and deadly magical power, it was easily a mediare daemonis, a middle class demon. A very powerful creature that was said to come from the burning fires of hell. One must have been crazy or foolish to go up against such a monster but he hadn’t lost his mind, he had no other choice if he wanted to keep them safe.
Claws clashed against shield and sword against scale, over and over, relentlessly. Each time he could see the hellish fire burning in its eyes and felt as if the demonic glare was tearing his mind and soul to shreds. He parried and counterattacked, throwing mad sword thrusts at the dark limbs but never succeeding in wounding them. The demon would smile from time to time, as if it enjoyed toying with him, displaying blood-red teeth as sharp as knives. Suddenly he jumped and rolled to the side to evade another blow, the large arm passed right by him and hit the ground with so much strength it crumbled the rocks beneath it. He used this single instant to get back to his feet and thrust his sword at the creature’s exposed chest but the demon was faster and caught the sword between its claws, turning towards him with a wicked smile.
“Foolish human… You cannot defeat me, not even with your sacred weapons…” Its voice was deep and it seemed to echo in darkness.
No, he thought, not in darkness. It was as if its voice was the darkness and as if it took form as it left its mouth. I’m never going to be able to kill that thing… he thought, his mind slowly going numb. He felt as if his body had suddenly been tossed into water, his movements were sluggish, his breathing was ragged and he had difficulty moving his chest to take in a new wave of oxygen. The world had suddenly solidified around him and he could literally feel the weight of it on his shoulders, forcing him to the ground, dragging him to the depths of the underworld. He fell to his knee, only managing to stop himself from falling to the ground by burying the tip of his sword in the dry dirt under his feet. Images flashed before his eyes, the village in ruins, every house burning up in flames as dark as the night, his family lying on the ground, in each other’s arms, dead. No… No! This can’t be happening, no! His head was about to explode, he couldn’t go on anymore, it had to stop.
“Do you see now, it will only end in death and suffering… And that will all be my doing. You cannot stop me, it is already too late!” The demon spoke again, boring its eyes into his, breaking every wall and piercing every barrier to touch his soul.
As soon as it happened he felt a searing pain, this time his head had exploded, it couldn’t be otherwise. He had died and gone to hell where the demon was tormenting him. Hahaha. You are a mine and so are all the others, I will crush you like the insects you are… This time the voice was in his head, it echoed endlessly, sending flashes of unbearable pain and images of his family. His wife, bloody and crying over their son’s body, all torn up and burnt. A sword pierced her heart and a single cry echoed in the night before she fell to the ground next to the young boy. Now die! The voice added and he felt a searing pain in his mind as the demon’s consciousness retreated from it.
He felt it was an eternity before he finally opened his eyes again, he was still on his knees, his body completely paralyzed by intense pain. The demon was towering over him, its dark form expanding in two large wings on each side and its eyes glowing a deep dark shade of red. The creature was holding a large silver blade in its hand, its edge seemed like it was made of a different material than the center and glowed with an eerie purple light. The sword was much longer than what he had ever seen and the edges seemed to be made like teeth of a saw, as if it had been forged to tear apart instead of cutting. The creature lifted it in the air and displayed a wicked smile.
“Now die.” Its voice sounded mocking and amused as it brought down its large and dark arm.
As the deadly weapon was about to hit him an image flashed in his mind, the last look of his wife as he had left and the fear in his son’s eyes. He felt a sudden warmth in his chest as his blood started to boil again, anger coursed through his veins. He couldn’t let it win, it was simply not a possibility!
“No.” He managed to reply, planting his foot on the ground and raising his shield once more to protect himself.
He parried the blow and quickly took a step back, readying his sword once more. He would not fall now, he would not let his loved ones get slaughtered by this monster. He saw surprise flash in the demon’s eyes as he got back up and could have sworn he had seen a hint of fear.
“Impressive…” The demon’s voice was still as calm and deadly as before, there was no hint that he was worried by his opponent just getting back up. “You have a noteworthy resolve for a human.” The creature added before thrusting his sword forward.
He parried with difficulty, feeling his arm go numb as the sword hit his shield. The lion head resounded for a few seconds as the shield shook powerfully under the assault. He could only try to parry as best as he could as the creature attacked relentlessly, over and over again with a blood lust and rage he had never felt before. Its aura was overwhelming and had he not known that they would all die if he didn’t kill it he would have succumbed to it and been utterly destroyed. Dust flew around them as the danced furiously under the moonlight. One might almost have viewed this scene as poetic if they hadn’t known it was a fight.
He tried to fought back, parrying and counterattacking as fiercely as he could, but he was still getting overwhelmed and he knew it was only a matter of time before he would be defeated. Even with the sacred weapons that had been given to him by the royal smith himself he couldn’t match the creature’s natural raw power and strength. It was from another realm and very few men had fought one and lived to tell the tale, all of which were far stronger than he had ever been. Still he hung on, still he fought back. He couldn’t let them be killed, he was the only one who could protect them.
Another unbearably strong hit on his shield, then a clash of swords that sent him a few feet backwards, his arms were starting to give out. His armor was dented and bent everywhere, his shield was close to breaking, he could feel it, and his sword never got close enough to lend a hit. Blow after blow he was pushed back and toyed with, as if the demon was taking pleasure n chipping away his spirit and soul, piece by piece. Another block with his shield, it effectively cutting of the trajectory of the ethereal sword but this time his legs gave out and he was sent flying backwards, landing painfully on his back.
As he tried to get back up he felt something wet on his side. A large gash was open in his top and blood was flowing from the wound, tainting his armor with a deep red color. The demon had finally managed to wound him seriously. He felt the cold spread in his left side, the arm with which he was holding his shield was starting to grow weak. Damn it! He thought, it can’t end like this. I can’t die now! Ugh! A wave of pain coursed through his body and he winced as he tried to get back up. The demon was looking at him, slowly walking to him, as if it enjoyed this moment.
“Sadly you are still nothing but a human…” It said as it stopped before him, preparing to strike.
Finally, with great effort and a wave of pain he managed to raise his shield to try to protect himself. The demon was about to strike when suddenly the light of the moon changed, it went from the usual bluish shade to a deep red one, the reflection of the light on his shield seemed to take the creature aback. Its eyes widened with surprise and fear and it took a step back. He used this moment of distraction to get back up and, stumbling to keep his balance as his wound hurt, he got back in a fighting stance, readying his sword to strike once more. The demon got its balance back, suddenly looking at the moon and letting out a furious roar.
“How?! How could you…!” It turned back towards him, the fire in its eyes burning with much more intensity as it let out its rage.
The demon raised its sword once more and launched a furious series of attacks. However he was ready for this and he managed to block the first two before the creature’s unmatchable strength blew his shield away. He was wounded once more on his right arm this time and almost dropped his sword as his hellish opponent caught him by the throat and lifted him up from the ground. Then, before he could even have a moment to notice he couldn’t breathe, the creature readied its sword again and struck. He felt a deathly cold pierce his chest as the silver and violet blade plunged in him before a hot searing pain took over.
This time he couldn’t suppress the cry of pain as he felt his mind explode in a myriad of pieces. His vision went blank for a second before he saw the fire once again. Its eyes that had been burning with an intense and hellish fire up until now were dark, the fire had turned black and seemed to suck out any light around as if it was consuming it.
“You are just a puny human, you are not even worthy of my efforts…” The demon said as he looked directly into his eyes.
It was all over. He had lost. He was going to die here and so were all the other, massacred by a ruthless creature that took pleasure in inflicting pain in others… Damn it… How could I let this happen…? He thought with dejection as he felt his consciousness slip away. He felt the weight of his sword in his hand and as he felt like his soul was slowly getting sucked in by the darkness in the creature’s eyes another image flashed in his head and realization dawned on him. This was his chance! He just needed to get close enough to land a blow, this was it… He felt the pommel of his blade start to slip away and swore inwardly. Come on! You can do this! He grunted, trying to make his hand move.
Everything was happening in slow motion now, he felt his fingers move, gripping the blade as he caught it before it fell. He then looked into the demon’s eyes and tried his best to display his determination. He readied his arm, tensing at the pain he felt and he was about to feel. The creature’s eyes narrowed a split second before he struck. Its mouth opened and slowly his opponent looked down at its chest, following his arm, the pommel of his sword and finally the blade which had sunk all the way in its chest. After what seemed an eternity it looked back up and stumbled on its feet.
“H- How…?” Asked the demon, its voice was soft, almost a whisper as incomprehension took the place of surprise.
He saw the creature look up at the sky and the reddish colored moon, its eyes now back to their normal hellish fire and filled of fear. He felt all the anger and the determination he had swell up inside him and forced himself to smile. His breathing was ragged but he still managed to get the words out, the first one since they had started the duel.
“Humans… are not weak…” He said and the creature looked back at him.
“No… no…” The demon’s voice was but a whisper now. “No, no, no… NO!!!” Its voice became louder each time it repeated the word, not believing what was happening.
He felt the grip on his throat loosen and fell to the ground. His vision was getting blurry but he still saw the creature fall to its knees as it pulled his now blood-red blade out of its chest and threw it on the ground. A dark liquid was gushing out of the large wound, forming a pool around the creature’s knees. Come on, die you bastard! He thought, almost praying to all the gods he knew for it to die. The demon looked at the moon for a moment, its breathing getting heavier, before raising a raging fist and letting out a deafening roar. It seemed like an eternity before the sound faded away and he saw the monster slowly fall to the ground, face first.
Its body jerked a few times before becoming completely still. At what seemed to him to be the same time as it drew its last breath a flash of light momentarily blinded him. As his sight came back he noticed that the silver and violet sword had disappeared and that a pool of blood was forming around him too. Breathing was getting more and more difficult, he didn’t have the strength to move anymore but still a small smile formed onto his face as he realized he had killed it. Finally… He let out a painful sigh. Thank you, thank you… He didn’t know who he was thanking but only the gods could have allowed such a miracle to happen. He had defeated the demon… Now they were safe. You are safe… The world around him went dark as the thought crossed his mind. He felt his consciousness slip away as a comfortable cold slowly took over his body.
He was dying and he knew it, but he didn’t care, they were safe and that was all that mattered. They were safe. As the man that his village would later know as a hero lay there, unmoving, the moon’s light slowly went back to its usual bluish color. A small breeze blew over the two corpses, slowly blowing away the demon’s body as if it was sand. That night would later be known as the first night of the red moon, when a demon had been defeated by a brave human who had managed to protect everyone by sacrificing his own life. None knew what happened to him after that though, his body was never found, only his shield with the mighty lion head engraved on the front side, planted in the ground where the fight had taken place.