The Centurion Cycle: Book Four ~ The Road to the Future

Chapter Twenty~One: The Blue Devils

Everything happened as Armageddon expected. Three of the four rebellious generals agreed to meet him in the village of Dor… halfway between Domus and the border of the new duchy of Aquanos to discuss a settlement. Each side agreed to bring only five legions with them for protection, leaving the rebels with only fifteen thousand men, with the sympathetic Famulus, to hold their supply lines.

In the weeks before the meeting, Armageddon moved his force of twenty five thousand men at an easy pace, to ensure that the rebellious generals arrived first. When he and his newly named Blue Devil legions, named so for the color of their skin, proof of their addiction to anima, finally arrived at the meeting spot, the village was surrounded by rows of sharp stakes, a hastily built stockade in the center. The Field Marshal of Demons smiled on seeing the enemy's legions crammed into such a small space.

While the rebels had been busy fortifying themselves, Armageddon had sent the rest of his men on a forced march southward so that by the time he arrived, his men would be ready to retake control of the border, cutting off the support the Aquanos Famulus had been giving to the rebel Centurions.

Within a week after the start of the talks, the rebellious generals found out what Armageddon had done, but that just led to more arguing amongst themselves. One was unwilling to leave the relative safety of the fortifications his men had spent so much time to set up, while the other two tried to flee in the night only to be caught in a major battle with Armageddon's men, who slowly pushed them back into the village. By then, their numbers had been cut in half.

Armageddon sent the rebel generals one final offer… surrender themselves and their officers, and the rest of the surviving men would be allowed safe passage to the Gate.

Once again the Field Marshal of Demons was not disappointed. The bonds encouraged between the lower ranks and their superiors, made it highly unlikely that the privates, corporals, and sergeants would allow their leaders to give themselves up.

And so, on the day after his offer was rejected, Armageddon sent his Blue Devils against the rebel Centurions in the fortified village. Even with a two to one advantage in numbers, the rebel Centurions fought that much harder knowing they were facing their own death. As a result, it was not until the sun was past its peak that the fate of the battle was decided.

Three special units, led by commanders Armageddon had selected personally, succeeded in capturing the rebellious generals alive and unharmed, along with most of their staff. The resulting vacuum of authority resulted in a loss of coordination between the different rebel legions, tipping the battle into Armageddon's favor. At the end, less than three hundred of the rebels were left to surrender. Those that did soon found out that the Field Marshal of Demons and his Blue Devils, took no prisoners as they were sliced up, one by one, their Anima handed out as prizes of battle.

Now back in the capital, with the civil war in Domus almost over, Armageddon dressed himself in his blue lacquered armor and horned helmet to face the three generals.

Taken to the Arena of Judgment, as was their right as officers, the Generals were to face Armageddon in single combat.

With the vast amounts of anima he had consumed, Armageddon was stronger than any Centurion in living history. His blue skin was taut due to the mass of muscles that covered his body. Added to his towering height and blue glowing eyes, the Field Marshal of Demons truly looked less than human.

In addition to giving him great strength, the anima Armageddon had consumed also gave him the natural skills and talents of all the Centurions whose life force he had consumed. If all the marks earned by those men in life were tattooed onto Armageddon's back, the artist would have been forced to use the Field Marshal's entire body and still would not have had enough space.

As Armageddon faced the generals one by one in the arena, each one fell to his strength and skill. Not even the hardened steel the men wielded could withstand the terrible swings he made with his double-bladed sword, hacking the rebels into a pile of mismatched puzzle pieces but leaving their anima cores intact, gifts to be presented to his master.

Only three men of importance resisted the emperor. One, General Dodain, the general who had refused to attend the settlement meeting that proved to be his comrades' doom, had disbanded his legions in the south, going into hiding in Aquanos.

The second was the Commandant of the Academy, having refused to hand over his Legatio students for Xavier's breeding plans. In the last report the emperor heard from his agents, the waterfall cave entrance to the Academy had been caved in to keep his men out.

Finally, and to Xavier's most troublesome annoyance, was the insistent neutrality of the Lord Commander of the Gate. Grecoron's forces continued to stand aside, allowing more traitors to escape through the mountain pass. That rebellion was Xavier's next target.

The Emperor was going to send one final warning in the form of his creature. Already ten legions loyal to his majesty had begun to surround the Gate, cutting off the fortified mountain pass from its supplies, and preventing more Famulus or any of the few remaining free Legatio from escaping by that route. With the only original Field Marshal, Marcus, remaining, Xavier hoped that Grecoron would finally see that his position was hopeless.

Those were the things occupying the emperor's mind when Armageddon left the arena, having finished off the last of the generals and cradling the three anima cores in his left arm.

Leaving his box seat, Xavier joined his creature, taking him in hand, bringing him back to his half-built palace to personally wash the blood from his Demon's body and to partake in joining the rebel generals' anima with his own.

Stepping out of the now red-stained water, Xavier walked to the table where Armageddon had left the cores. Taking a knife, he cut a small circular opening in each of the three bulbous organs, from which he pored out the precious blue elixir into a pair of silver lover goblets from Qul Tos.

By accident, or by some subconscious guidance, when Xavier walked to where Armageddon was drying himself, he handed his creature the larger goblet of the male aggressor, instead of the smaller, more slender cup of the female. Armageddon, however, did take notice.

Once both had drained their cups, their lips stained with the blue-glowing fluid, Armageddon took on the role the goblet he had been given symbolized. Nearly charging his emperor, he knocked Xavier's goblet out of the emperor's hand, dropping his own in the process. Soon he had Xavier pinned against a concrete pillar not yet sheathed in marble.

To Xavier's own shock, he did not resist, his eyes frozen on the small goblet on the floor that moments ago had been in his hand. As Xavier felt his creature rip the clothes off his body and bend him over, he could not help but wonder if the goblets had put both of them under their sorcery. For the first time in his life, Xavier felt weak in the hands of a lover… and that scared him.

After he was done, Armageddon left Xavier on the floor, the resulting bruises soon disappearing from the emperor's anima-rich body. The Field Marshal of Demons dressed back in his armor, strapped his curved double-bladed sword behind his back.

"Where will you send me now?" Armageddon asked, looking down at his master as he squirmed on the floor.

Xavier did not know how to respond he was so filled with both anger and fear. "You… you… you…" the emperor exclaimed in a weakening whisper.

Sensing his master's unease and the danger it posed to him, Armageddon bent down on one knee, his head bowed to the floor. "I am your loyal servant."

Xavier stopped writhing on the floor, attempting to stand up, only to feel a sharp pain in his innards, forcing him onto his knees.

Unable to stand, he remained on his knees, forced to raise his head to stare at the blue face of his demon. "Go to the Gate and crush Lord Commander Grecoron and his men!" he spat in pain.

"Good… Grecoron will be more of a challenge," Armageddon grinned as if showing approval for a well-behaved child's behavior, as he looked down on his quivering master. For a millennium, armies coming from the north had smashed themselves against the Gate. Now Armageddon was being presented with a chance to attack from the south, something never done in the centuries of long and relative peacefulness that had existed in Domus. That was, of course, before Xavier had declared himself emperor.

The Lord Commander was well protected by his men, Centurions whose oaths were to no Field Marshal but to the defense of the Gate itself. It would be interesting to see how such men would fight when facing Armageddon's Blue Devils, men with only one rule of combat… obedience. "When do I leave?"

Trying his best to not show the sharp burning that was nearly overwhelming on his face, Xavier wiped the sweat from his forehead before responding. "Tomorrow… I want the Gate closed before any more traitors can make their way north and escape. Once they are trapped inside our borders, we can deal with them at our leisure"

"Then I should go at once," Armageddon replied, standing and readying to leave.

"Go!" Xavier shouted, wanting his creature out of his sight, fearing what would happen if he let himself show any more weakness than he already had. He knew what had happened… what was supposed to be the satisfying of both his and his creature's mutual anima induced lust had instead been a rape… something nearly unheard of between Centurions… Not that it did not happen, however it was a taboo subject. Any Centurion claiming rape would be seen as a Famulus or Legatio. Such dishonor silenced most lips and would silence Xavier's as well. How could he, as emperor, dare claim that he had allowed his creature to take physical advantage of him? Even with just this first taste of fear toward his own creation… Xavier dared not make a move against Armageddon, for deep in the back of his mind he remembered his early days in the Home Guard. Back then he knew which of his superiors he could not cross. Now, after years as a Field Marshal, Xavier had a new superior. What an irony that he was the same person who had removed the last man who dared tried to become Xavier's master… Senator Perils.

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