“Old or young, life and death, all is forgotten when one enters the fray.”

—Cromish Proverb

The wind had picked up considerably, and with it came jagged shards of ice lifted and pulled from the hillsides. 

“At this rate, we shall perish before we learn who it is that comes for us,” Olvin shouted through the howling winds.

The old man looked up at Ashur. And even though most of his face was covered, Olvin was sure the warrior was smiling.

“No, fate shall not be so kind to us on this night.” Ashur extended his long muscular arm and pointed to a nearby ridge. “They will be upon us soon.”

The hills moved like the sluggish waves of an arctic ocean. 

“Is there no hope then?” Olvin asked.

Ashur did not hear the old man’s words. Nor could he feel the biting wind beating upon his body. His warrior mentality, the primitive beast which lurks within few men, had already taken over. In his ears roared the silent call of battle that only he could hear. 

Death was coming for him. And it was coming fast.

“I thank you greatly for your hospitality. If Sebu grants me a life beyond this night, I shall one day repay your kindness. This, you have my word.” Ashur eased the slasher from its sheath and watched for a moment as flecks of clear ice landed and sparkled along its curved blade. “It is now that we must part.”

“My word! Ye shan’t tell me ye intend on fighting the whole army alone?” The old man raised an arm to cover his face as an icy blast whipped through. “Aye! ‘tis madness, I say.” Olvin lowered his arm and realized he was talking to the open sky. 

With the grace of a nimble lynx, Ashur had already taken down the frozen slope with noiseless footfalls.  So incredible was his speed, the ice barely cracked beneath his feet. 

While the army marched forward in unison, Ashur Kang made it to the base of the hill and began crossing the frozen plain with the near-invisible movements of a winter phantom. 

Death meant little to the rugged warrior for his people relished in the glory of battle; win or lose, live or die. And as the army of the undead grew closer, a kind of jubilation rose within him. A single thought brought this jubilation to near ecstasy: how fortunate the warrior who gets the chance to revisit the same battle—how lucky to have the opportunity to send an army of men to Hell for a second time! 

Old Olvin watched from the safety of his home as the silent figure charged toward the oncoming army. Why an entire army would brave the deadly elements for a single man, he could not understand. More perplexing, how could such a man exist who would so eagerly rush headlong toward his death?

The horrid details of the army came into focus as they finally made it to the open plain. These were no ordinary men; missing limbs and gaping wounds marred each member of the bloody horde. Of course, Ashur had known these men in death. He had sent many of them to meet Obidion the Ferryman. Why or how they had come to return to the world of the living, he did not know, nor did he care. The only thing that was important to him as he dashed across the ice, was to make sure that this time, the dead stayed dead.

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