"There is witchcraft in the northern forests!"
That was the cry as our brothers returned from their latest missionary work. Tired and battered by the weather, scarcely half of the band that set out a month ago had survived. The guards that had accompanied them to ward attack from bandits had been whittled down to a single man, and he had lost part of his arm.
We have always expected some resistance to our missionary work, and sometimes that work must be pursued with the sword and gun. Never before had we seen such a brazen refusal of the Word, or such a devastating response to our crusade.
There is something tribal in all humans. Even in modern civilisation, that instinct continues under a thin veneer of culture and convention. Take that fragile safeguard away, and the animal nature soon returns. That is why our work is so important.
In the hundreds of years that followed the Fall, we have with few exceptions returned to the social structures and norms of pre-industrial times. To make matters worse, the rule of law is all but absent outside the major settlements. Gangs and hordes of savages move at will through the remote hills and forests, occasionally attacking travellers and remote settlements; to scavenge, kill, rape, and burn.
Is it any wonder that the murderous scourge of warlords has taken hold in our shattered society? These warlords come and go, as the fortunes of their battles ebb and flow across the land. When one of them is killed, invariably another will rise to prominence. If not, the hapless followers of the dead leader are absorbed, killed, or enslaved. That is why we offer the continuity and purity of the Word.
There was only one territory that we knew of that had resisted this endless cycle of attacks, but it is one lodged deep in the northern forests. For years it was a mystery to us, but then we sent our missionaries there as part of our religious work. Our brothers had expected to find strong defences and walls. Instead they found a sprawling and open community, whose only protection appeared to be a ring of open ground between the town and the surrounding forest. Aside from a wooden fence to keep animals contained, there was no other barrier to keep danger out.
The brothers it seemed were welcomed cautiously, and after gaining the people's trust asked if they could meet the leader of the community. They wanted to ask his approval to conduct their missionary business there. After much persuasion they were brought into his presence, a middle-aged man accompanied by a woman of indeterminate age. She was tall and slender, with white hair and white clothing that shimmered as though it was alive. The brothers supposed that she was the leader's concubine.
Yet when they approached the leader it was she who spoke, it was she who refused their petition, it was she who destroyed them when our brothers drew their weapons.
The frantic accounts given by our brothers are scarcely believable. We are well used to inventing fairy tales of fire and damnation to further our subjugation of the population, but accounts of shimmering energy fields seem quite far-fetched. The dying gasps of the guard recounted how this single woman was able to destroy our strongest soldiers single-handed using glowing swords of her own. Certainly a blade of unnatural keenness and accuracy has split his sword, so much so that it was possible to place the shards together without a discernable line.
This challenge to our power is intolerable, but it clear this sorceress is powerful. For the moment we must renew our crusade in other areas, and seek our revenge at another time.
-- Brother Juka Lahm of the Order of the Word.
-- Khandoore, centuries after the fall
V4 figure with Nabia Hair and the Space Dweller outfit using a custom texture. M3 figure in Wildenlander outfit.
Scene assembly and final rendering in Cinema 4D R13 Visualise. Post processed in Photoshop CS2