The Gods Truly Are Gone

The rain splattered the dry, hard packed dirt of the small outpost. Hans shifted tiredly in his armor as he and Henrich stood watch at either side of the main gate to the camp. Henrich's rifle sat loosely in his hands as Hans leaned on his greatsword, the tip digging into the dirt.

After several months in the relative safety of Divinity’s Reach, the two were transferred to a Seraph outpost in Harathi Hinterlands to help protect the outlying borders of Kryta and keeping the Centaur advance at bay.

"You still awake over there?" Henrich grinned, a small grunt was the younger's only reply. The shorter chuckled and lifted a hand to wipe water from his eyes as it spattered harmlessly off of their uniforms.

"I kind of wished we would have stayed in Divinity's Reach..." muttered Hans, standing up from using his greatsword as a leaning post, the piece of steel standing independently in the earth.

"Do you now? Well... out here we might see some action. In the Reach... all you got was complaining nobles or the occasional bar fight. Not much else." Henrich shrugged, lifting his rifle to inspect it, then wipe the water from it - a completely fruitless action.

"Yeah, but at least we didn't have to do much... I liked the patrols through the city." Hans pouted some, going back to clasping his hands near the hilt of the sword and leaning against it once more.

"Oh yeah... that hot little cart merchant is going to miss you, isn't she?" Henrich teased, a grin playing at his lips.

Hans flushed under his helmet, sparing a side glance to his brother, whose grin simply widened.

"Oh please, she /always/ stopped us and gave us an apple for the road... she was crushing on you hard, little bro." Henrich laughed warmly, enjoying the flustered look he received in reply.

Henrich's laughter died down, but the smile lingered a while longer. "Well, after we're done here, you can run back to her, hmm?" Henrich would elbow his brother, but they were too far apart.

The younger blond just sighed "No." came the terse reply.

Henrich let the subject drop, the sound of rain and thunder echoing across the land being the only real noise around the area.

It was too late before the alarm was raised, hooves against the wet ground muffled and hidden under the booming roar of thunder and the hissing of rain. Shouts rose just above the noise of rain as the soldiers scrambled into action to fend off the advancing centaur.

Hans retrieved his greatsword from the earth, gripping the hilt and preparing for impact. Henrich pulled the lever forward on his rifle, an unmistakable click masked under the boom of thunder, a bullet now nestled in the chamber.

Other Seraph poured from the gate, lining up in front of the gate, riflemen and archers getting down on one knee and placing their marks on the stampede of incoming centaur. The commander held up his sword, “Hold!” He shouted, the firm command cutting through a crack of thunder.

Hans swallowed thickly, rain getting in his eye and obscuring his vision. He could only make out the vague shape of centaur hurdling forward. 50? 80? He couldn’t tell how many there were, but it was certainly a force to rival the small camp’s number of Seraph.

“Hold!” Came a second command.

Some lost their stability in the mud, losing their marks, while some recruits shook too badly to keep their sights trained properly. Still, others simply had to wipe rain from their eyes.

The thundering of hooves was now loud enough that it was easily heard past the rain and thunder. Hans and Henrich spared a glance towards each other, the older giving a tense nod towards the younger before looking forward once more.

Hans slowly planted his boots more firmly in the mud, his muscles slowly tensing, his sword lowering, ready to be brought upwards at full force.

“FIRE!” Yelled the commanding officer, slashing his sword forward.

Arrows and bullets shot forward, sending the first line of centaur toppling into the mud, only to be trampled by the next wave.

The opposing forces clashed like a train wreck, slamming shields and bodies together with such a force that the entire Seraph line was shoved back a few feet before having to dig themselves in.

Hans braced himself against the shield of the centaur assailant, his thin frame holding a strength and power that seemed extraordinary for someone so lithe. Giving a mighty yell, Hans shoved his opponent away, giving him time to coil back and launch forward with a mighty swing that sheared the centaur’s front leg clean off. The beast shrieked and toppled into the mud, where Hans was swift to bring the bloodied and muddied blade down. The centaur grew still, red now mingling with dark brown earth.

The strong line the Seraph had created was easily shattered, now it was just a brawl for survival as the battle had spread out around the immediate area in front of the main gate to the outpost. Hans huffed and took in the battle, searching for his brother, only to be swooped up into another fight between two more centaur.

Go for the legs.

It was the easiest way to get them on his level.

Hans allowed the heavy momentum of his sword to work with him, pulling him towards each new enemy, the long and heavy blade acting as his extension as it slide effortlessly through flesh and bone, drinking in the blood of centaur.

A pile of about 5 centaur lie dead and Hans staked his greatsword into the dirt, his chest heaving under the scale armor of his uniform, his tunic heavy and soaked from the rain. He turned to see how the battle was coming, and… neither side was faring well. The Seraph were holding their own, but many already lie dead in the mud, mingling with centaur bodies.

Hans’s eyes finally found his brother, the older expertly letting out volleys from his rifle, the lever sliding easily as empty shells flew out the chamber, forgotten in the mud. Hans watched in dismay as he saw the curse form at Henrich’s lips - the rifle had jammed. Hans rushed forward to help his brother, but froze when a spear shot through Henrich’s chest. The crude weapon easily sliced through the scale and padding of Henrich’s armor.

The older brother gasped and looked at the spear in shock for a second before sinking to his knees, his rifle slipping from his fingers. Hans yelled defiantly and charged forward blindly, a Shout screaming past his lips, empowering him and making him see red.

The centaur stood no chance as Hans butchered him alive, leaving little of the hooved beast to be salvaged or recognized.

The greatsword splattered into the mud, forgotten and unimportant now as the younger rushed to his brother, who lie sprawled out in the mud. Hans crashed to his knees and pulled Henrich into his lap, gently slipping off the older’s helm. Hans cast off his own and tossed it aside carelessly.

His tears mingled with the rain and he held Henrich close. “Henrich, hold on! Hen...Henrich!” Hans begged, his cries for a medic drowned out by the thunder and fighting.

Henrich only grinned, blood spattering his mouth as he tried to talk. Hans shook his head, aqua eyes wide in disbelief. “Don’t leave me.” he pleaded and pressed his forehead against his brother’s. A weak hand brushed his cheek and he opened his eyes to look down at his brother who regarded him with a pleasant expression.

“Hans,” croaked the older, his weakened smile never faltering.

The younger shook his head, tears streaming down his face, though getting lost in the heavy rain. “Stay with me, Henrich. Don’t you dare die. I can’t lose you… I can’t.” Hans whimpered, hugging his brother close, desperate for the warmth and strength from the other, but dismaying as he found only a cold frailty.

“Don’t worry… Just a nap… I love you, Hans.” Henrich muttered softly, before shuddering his last breath, his eyes closing in finality.

Hans’ breath hitched in his throat as he lightly shook Henrich. “Henrich? No...no, no, no! Henrich!” He cried, wailing pitifully and clinging to his brother desperately. Sobs wracked his form as he clutched his brother close, not having sobbed this hard at even his father’s passing.

It wasn’t fair. Why wasn’t it fair? Hans let the malicious thoughts sink into his core as he cursed every single god. They were useless to him, never there when you needed them. He’d be better off putting his faith in Charr warmachines, or Asuran colleges at this point.

The last crumbs of the centaur forces retreated, hobbling away as fast as they could, not bothering to drag back their dead in their haste to get away with the remains of their forces intact. The Seraph finally relaxed, some cheering at the victory, many others just numbly going to assess the fallen.

Hans ignored them and sobbed over his brother, refusing to let him go. Many left him be, knowing better than to keep Hans from mourning his brother.

By the time the rain had stopped and the dead and wounded were accounted for, Hans sat numbly, his brother hanging limply in his arms. The commanding officer - Commander Renden - approached, taking off his helmet and kneeling next to Hans.

The man pushed back his jet black hair and his usual steely glare regarded Hans with a gentle sympathy. “Your brother will be buried with honors, Adler. He brought bravely. He died a hero… never forget that.” He clasp a firm hand on Hans’ shoulder who nodded weakly, “Yessir…” was all he mumbled, and Commander Renden accepted that without a word.

Hans eventually stood and carried his brother back into the camp, setting him down gently inline with the other dead to be wrapped and prepared for burial.