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Past Prime

 He was called Death’s Shadow. He stalked the battlefield clad in the ebony iron forged by his ancestors and passed down through the centuries. He wore the crimson face of a horned demon with ivory fangs. Its sneer was the last sight his victims saw before cold steel separated their heads from their bodies. He cleaned the blood from the blade with perfect indifference.  

He was simply another form of death killing was his sole preoccupation and purpose. He knew no master nor recognized any earthly authority. Pledging his blade to celestial powers beyond our comprehension. 

He floated with the winds of war across the landscape until he finally fluttered down to earth like a spore and landed near a village burning on the junction of a great river. The night was lit up by the flames reflecting on the rushing water.  

Rumors preceded an invincible army whose soldiers wielded magic weapons. While watering his horse, he came across a group of these soldiers. They were puny, and their oversized uniforms had no decoration, no ornamental signs of their skills as warriors. 

He stared down ten of them, certain he would take all their heads. He held up his sword, a bead of blood rolled down from the point to the handle, and he charged toward them. The sinewy peasant soldiers stood firm and gripped their slender sticks.  

The horse went full speed galloping hard enough to make his raven hair flow in the wind behind him. He closed the distance fast. He was close enough to see their long gaunt faces. They pointed their sticks, and before he could even get close enough to swing his sword, sparks flashed, and there was a thunderclap.  

He felt hot iron punch into his chest. His horse squealed and collapsed into the dirt on top of him. He lay there feeling the weight of the animal crushing him while he choked on the blood surging from his throat.  

The last thing he saw was one of the grinning peasant soldiers standing over him, gloating about his kill. He took the rouge death mask off his face and put it on his own.  

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