More or less all soldiers were on the fields now. That was the moment Nathaniel had waited for. He steeled his heart, making his face look like a sinister, ice-cold mask. They were enemies. They were trying to kill his people. It didn't matter that they wouldn't succeed or even less that they were only following orders. It didn't matter at all.
On the far end of the field, where the last rows of the army stood, the darkness contained in about a hundred clay pots - each buried in the ground, deep enough that the opening was on the same level as the earth - started to boil. They were buried at a regular distance, one every few dozen meters. When the tiny wisps of darkness escaped their residence, black patches slowly spread on the fields. With every wheat plant the darkness ate, it grew bigger. At first, it was unnoticed by everyone. A wisp grew into palm-size, grew into a meter in diameter, grew bigger and bigger.
Suddenly, one of the soldiers felt that it was hard to move forward steadily. He was swaying from side to side, and when he looked down, he didn't want to trust his eyes.
A dark, thick fluid covered the ground all around him and the wheat seemed to be devoured by it rapidly. His feet were covered, too, though he didn't feel anything strange. He shrugged it off, thought it was because of his boots. He raised his feet to take another step.
"Aaaaahhhh!" His scream rang through the air and he hopped alternately on his two feet in panic, trying to escape the black mass, but it was everywhere. His boots where gone completely, and his feet were corroded until the skeleton could be seen! Unstable, he suddenly slipped and with another cry fell backwards in the black liquid, that swallowed him completely.
When the other soldiers heard his scream, they turned to him instantly, half expecting an enemy attack, but what they saw next made them all pale with fear. Their comrade had vanished inside the black liquid just like that! Where did he go? Why wasn't he coming up again?
"Henry? Henry?!", the man next to the fallen exclaimed, courageously bend down and reached out with his hand to pull the fallen up. But as much as he felt for it, he couldn't find his comrade in the black liquid, not even his corpse!
When he pulled out his hands again, he stared at them dumbfounded. Where was his flesh? Where had it gone without him realizing?! That had to be an illusion!
But the other soldiers felt differently when they looked at the skeleton hands dripping with black liquid. They screamed and backed off in fear until they noticed that the black pool that swallowed their comrade had already expended to their own feet.
Chaos broke out. Rows and rows of soldiers pressed forward, away from the dark liquid that was following their every step. The army could only walk forwards now, as behind them the fearsome liquid was expanding and swallowing soldier for soldier.
The formation in the back was destroyed, people running and screaming and trying to press into the rows in front, that soon also noticed the danger.
When the commander in the front line noticed the commotion, he was irritated. As much as he turned around to look, he couldn't spot anything - no enemies, no catapults, no flying arrows, not even corpses. With a command, he forced the army to an halt. Still, people in the back didn't heed his call and continued to press forward, too afraid of dying that strange death.
"Run!", screams from behind finally reached to the front. "Run! It's magic!" "Careful!" "On the ground! It's the black water!" "Magic! Mages!" "Move!"
When the commander heard it's magic, his heart sank. He didn't know how many mages it took to cause such a commotion and deep fear in his army. Hastily, he send out the magic battalion to the back.
However, when he turned to the field again, prepared to let the rest of his army move faster to avoid the after-mess of a mages fight, he spotted that lonely figure, now only a few dozen steps away. Suddenly, he felt like he might have made a mistake.
"Who are you?", he shouted over the distance. He remembered the dark shadows that seemed to heed the mans command. They had protected him. Maybe those mages in their back were also his doing. "Are you the one killing my man?!"
Now that he was closer, he noticed that the man was dressed like a noble in a black dress shirt and trousers with silver linings. Without doing anything special, he looked rich and imposingly.
"Who am I?", the man repeated slowly, and, with a last look on the back lines, fixed his eyes on the commander. The commander sucked in a sharp breath unconsciously. This stranger had the striking red eyes of a demon, looking directly into his soul. A shiver run down his back as his whole being screamed: danger! Run!
When the man spoke again, his words, though placid, seemed to come out of the deepest abyss of hell. "I am a kind of monster that shouldn't exist, I suppose. For attacking the Icelands, all of your people will die. You, meanwhile, will be the messenger. Tell your king if he dares attack again, what happened to this army might as well happen to his capital city. Only that time, there won't be survivors to spread the word."
When the commander still stared at the demon in front of him stupefied, a messenger came running towards him at his fastest speed. "Commander! The mages can't stop it! It's some kind of mutation and it seems to be alive! They'll try to stall it, but it's too strong! It even grows by eating the plants of the plant mages!"
In the Renat-kingdom the main magic power was to grow and control all kinds of greenery. If the black magic grew by eating plants, the kingdom's mages were utterly useless against it.
Anxious of what he might see, the commander looked back. Half of his army had already vanished. Tens of thousands of lives taken in mere minutes. Through the cracks in the crowd, he saw the mages trying to stop a dark flood with thick roots spouting out of the ground, but they were on the loosing end.
Each root could only last for seconds, and while he was looking the darkness stirred and accelerated suddenly. Like a whip it lashed out at the mages, corroding whatever it touched.
When one of the whiplashes beheaded a mage, the commander came to and angrily shouted: "If we can't fight the magic, we need to kill the mages!"
He had connected the dots. The person in front had to be a mage, as he had said he was a 'monster' and wanted to kill them all. The other mages would possibly need to come out and protect him if he was endangered as he seemed to be an important person. The commander was still convinced that there had to be more than one person to kill so many. "All forces, attack that man!"
The only way out of this was to walk forward and kill this demon incarnate in front of him. Or so he thought.
Just when he took the first steps, he noticed patches of black everywhere in the fields at the high of the demon. They were expending in a pace that was neither too fast nor too slow, but in the time until he noticed them, they had nearly completed a straight line of darkness from the left end of his vision to the right. In horror, the commander's gaze flew back to the red eyes. What had this man done?!
Nathaniel clicked his tongue in annoyance, looking cold and detached. "Did you think I would forget about the front lines? Sorry, I'm not that dumb."