Warnings: blood and gore, supernatural themes, alcohol references, sexual content, strong language. EreMika; Aruani; Yumikuri.
Five steeds galloped in the night, their hooves violently ripping the grass and dirt from the ground.
The riders' hooded capes danced in the wind like whips, a pair of minimalistic wings opposite to each other embroidered in them. Their gloved hands viciously gripped the reins, their eyes, determined and focused, stared at the black mass ahead of them, the pair of torches they brought along providing just a dim halo of clarity. Their chainmail armor, underneath their uniform's sleeveless tunic, gripped their bodies uncomfortably like slender metallic fingers. The horses grunted with every guttural, strained breath.
"Sir, the outpost is in sight." A deep voice, belonging to a dark skinned and broad shouldered man, announced.
"I see it." The Lieutenant replied in its raspy voice, pupils adjusting to the dark, spotting the location.
The sighted outpost's torch light made it recognizable in between all the trees and darkness. It was a settlement hid by flora; a few tents with uncomfortable bed-rolls had been raised, along with a much larger one raised for the purpose of discussing battle tactics against the Savages or to just review the situation until the present date. A wooden watchtower, with sloppy architectural design, was also present in the camp.
"I'm going to check on Hanji, wait for further instructions." The Lieutenant said after tethering his horse, much like his squad-mates.
"Yes, sir!" the other four soldiers replied in unison, some more energetically than others.
After acknowledging his comrades, he directed himself to the large tent.
The tent's ceiling formed a stretched hexagonal shape, providing for quite a spacious place. Inside, the center was occupied with a rectangular wooden table with a vastly illustrated map on top, some differently colored sculptures atop all the illustrations. The sculptures were both red and green, defining respectively the Savages and the Scouting Legion. They also varied from shapes and sizes, symbolizing squads, outposts or strongholds. The tent was also furnished with only the necessary furniture, like chests, stools and chairs, weapon racks and bookcases.
Inside, he could also find a woman, taller than himself, with dark brown hair, tied in a messy pony tail, chubby cheeks and a pair of big brown eyes adorned by thick eye lashes. She had her palms pressed firmly against the table's surface and a focused look in her somewhat joyful-looking face. Her head shoots up at his appearance.
"Hanji." The lieutenant greets.
"Dragged your ass here, Levi?"
"The dark made it hard for us to find the camp." He joins her by the map "What's the situation?"
She smirks at his straight-forwardness and proceeds to explain,
"Savage encounters are getting more frequent. They seem to have established camps throughout the woods and their numbers constantly increase. I don't know how they do it."
"Fighting is their way of life; if born from a Savage womb, once you come of age, you are taught how to fight." He interrupts to clarify. She nods.
"They are attacking our own encampments, destroying our supply routes and hassling the farmers that live on the outskirts of the walls." With a magnifying glass in her hand to aid her poor eye sight, she gestures it throughout the map and points at locations that illustrate her explanation. She drops the instrument when finished and looks at him "They are becoming a serious problem and, if they continue their constant bashing against us, this may turn into an all out war."
"And I doubt the king and court would invest their money in Scouting Legion affairs." He says, knitting his eyebrows together.
She nods again, "But they eventually will, if they don't want to end up dead."
He huffs in agreement.
"So, we're here to scout the closest camp?"
"Not a camp, a stronghold." she points at the sculpture atop the mentioned location. She glances at Levi when she hears him click his tongue.
"Erwin is out of his mind. Even if it's just a scouting mission; it's a huge risk for ten soldiers to approach a stronghold."
"It should be alright, if we take caution." She turns away from him and approaches the rack, picking up her belt, a dagger and a few pouches strapped to it, "Give me a minute to gear up." After fastening her belt, she picks up her bow and quiver next.
Levi leans against the table and stares impassively at the floor. Hanji takes his silence and relaxed demeanor as his consent to her request.
"So this is why he didn't give me many details regarding the mission." He hisses.
"Strange, I clearly remember writing in the letter that my team needed back up for scouting a stronghold." she grabs her cloak, formerly ungraciously bundled atop a chest "I guess Erwin tricked you."
"He must have figured I would complain and purposely concealed the details."
After noting the Squad Leader finishing tying the dark green cloak around her neck, Levi lazily moves from his position and walks towards the exit, Hanji following close by.
"Our Commander does have the habit of performing such deeds, though I like to think that he doesn't do it out of malice, but rather for the greater good."
Without irking his lips in any way, he snorts in agreement.
Outside, he is greeted by the site of eight other soldiers either shifting their weight from side to side in nervousness, drinking from their canteens water or wine, idly talking or standing watch. At the sight of their superiors, the soldiers silenced themselves and seized any activity.
"You lot ready?" Levi asked to the soldiers in general, scanning their facial expressions one by one as they nodded and straightened themselves "Good. Get in your horses, let's move out."
Shadows were friends of the Scouting Legion.
Often performing recon missions that required stealthy maneuvering and sharp planning, the usage of darkness was paramount. So they had become accustomed to a black veil blanketing them and anything around them, accepting the darkness as a blessing, rather than a curse, like most people depict it as.
They were scattered in a semi circle, eying the main gate of the stronghold. The horses were obviously left behind to some relative distance. Their hoods were loosely covering their heads. Crouched down, camouflaged by foliage, dressed in dark colors; they were nearly invisible.
Hiding in the dark, they scout.
Like most of Savage constructions, the stronghold in sight was nothing compared to any majestic stronghold belonging to a lord. Their defensive was weak; traps consisting of a disarray of wooden spikes close to the foot of their walls, as well as an abundance of poorly disguised pit-traps. The walls were wooden, a few watchtowers separated segments of the wall and a large wooden gate allowed entrance to the stronghold.
The gate was opened.
They could see Savage warriors, dressed in their typical barbaric-like armors and armed with rudimental weaponry, surrounding some sort of stage in the farthest North of the camp. A lot of other Savages were paying close attention to their gate, but they didn't seem to be on patrol duty, but rather seemed to be waiting for something to arrive.
At this, Levi furrowed his eyebrows analytically. Not so far away, together with her team, Hanji also seemed to be in the same state of puzzlement, as he managed to make out her facial expression in the dark. Around him, his squad mates also commented in hushed tones. He returned his gaze to the front gate and continued watching.
He felt a pair of silent taps on his shoulder and his hand immediately rushed to grasp his sword. Turning his head to see what had crept up on him, he relaxed when he recognized one of Hanji's squad members.
"Message from Squad Leader Hanji, sir," he breathed out the words, oblivious to the scare of death he had provoked on his superior "The Squad Leader thinks it's the best solution to infiltrate the stronghold so to better investigate the anomaly."
Levi judged that the anomaly would be the commotion happening inside those wooden walls.
"Good job soldier, return to your position." He dryly ordered and crouched over to a tall blonde with golden eyes. He tapped the blonde's shoulder once,
"Eld, I need to speak to Squad Leader Hanji. You are in command while I'm away."
Levi's back was starting to ache from staying crouched for so long, yet he still managed to cross all the distance that separated him and the woman. She nodded at him upon his arrival.
"You're insane." He emotionlessly commented, sitting beside her and stretching his back "Did you forget those Savages guarding the gate?"
"What are you talking about?" she tilts her head.
"Your stupid plan." He replies "How the hell did you intend on infiltrating the stronghold?"
"You could create a distraction and take the guards out of the way."
"We can't risk that.
"Then, why not skirt the stronghold. If we find some breach in the wall or higher ground, we can get inside. Send someone if you find something."
It seemed like a decent plan. They did need to get inside to see what the Savages were planning, they couldn't find anything just from standing out here.
"You take the west." He started stepping away.
"Alright!" she gestured for her soldiers to come closer.
"And be careful." He advised from over his shoulder. If he had looked, he might have laughed at the appalled face the woman had made. But, alas, he wouldn't have understood the reason for such a shock.
As he arrived to his prior position, he noted his squad-mates huddling closer to receive their orders.
"Are we going in, sir?" a brunette with curly hair and a face with forced relaxed features spoke. His hand was loosely over the pommel of the sword strapped to his belt.
"Let the lord-lieutenant speak, Aurou." censored a petite girl with golden eyes and puffy cheeks.
"We're going to skirt the stronghold and search for a safe way in, or some orthodox way that allows us to see what they are doing."
He heard Auruo breathe out in exasperation, discontent for his orders. Petra, the girl, censored him yet gain; a few seconds after Petra's interaction, he heard Eld and Gunther, the broad shouldered brunette, scold the pair and reminding them that they were just a few feet away from a Savage stronghold.
He didn't know if Hanji had made any discoveries, but on his part he had made none. Or appeared to have, since he was already halfway through the skirting operation and, upon close inspection of the wall and terrain, he had found nothing.
But perhaps this was his impatient mind speaking.
Meanwhile, some chanting as well as shouting had started inside the stronghold. He could hear loud drums beating in an energetic rhythm, the smell of smoke from a large fire tickled his nostrils.
"Quite a party." Auruo whispered sarcastically.
"That can't be good." Petra commented to herself, fleshing out the thoughts inside the present soldiers' heads.
A vein was protruding in his temple, shaking slightly, as if alive. His patience had run dry, it was imperative that he made a decision now; it was obvious the Savages were preparing something big that would shift the tide in this battle. It could turn it into a war, for all he knew, and missing this piece of information could be shattering for the civilized men.
Now he was desperate.
The wall had no breaches, despite the weakness of the structure. If they had hooks or siege ladders they could climb the wall; with that in mind, he could make a make-shift hook with rope and arrows, but if they rappelled the wall and penetrated the stronghold like that there was a large possibility that they could be caught. Too many attentive by-passers, too much light from the fires and too little room for stealth. Even if they just watched over the wall, so only their heads would be in view, there was a possibility that the arrows wouldn't be able to sustain all of their weight.
Thinking about it like that, no matter how hard they shot the arrow, or how tight the rope would be around it, there was always the possibility that it wouldn't be safe enough to climb with its aid.
As he looked around, he found a painfully obvious solution to their predicament.
"Climb on the trees." He commanded and they rapidly obeyed.
Levi picked one close to the wall, like his comrades. The tree was relatively smaller, with sturdy main branches that divided themselves into thinner ones, giving the illusion of a wooden web. The multitude of leaves also provided for good cover and if he climbed high enough, he should be able to see. He should even be able to jump over the wall, though he was almost sure he would shatter his legs' bones.
Putting those useless thoughts aside, Levi approached the tree and grabbed the nearest branch with both hands, lunging himself upwards with ease.
"Shouldn't we advise Captain Hanji, sir?" Eld asked, a tree next to Levi's. In the same tree, Gunther was helping Auruo up.
Levi pondered; would it be necessary? The trees were such an obvious solution, Hanji probably thought of it immediately. Although, he was almost sure, not because it was obvious, more like because climbing a tree would be more exciting than sneaking in, according to Hanji's standards.
"Go. And take position there, do not waste time returning to me." Better safe than sorry, Levi thought.
Levi kept climbing on, cautiously picking where to place his hands and feet. His built muscles easily hoisted his body upwards, farther away from the ground. When he felt satisfied with the height, he carefully turned his body in the direction of the Savage concentration and relaxed against the trunk. One hand was safely secured around it, while the other was gripping the branch where he was sitting; one leg was dangling over and the other was bent, close to his chest and its side pressed against the trunk.
Female breathing, beneath him, caught his attention. It was Petra, struggling to pull herself upwards towards a branch. Being the unexpected gentleman he was, he positioned himself in a balanced way, secured his strong hand around her gentle wrist, startling her who probably didn't even realize he was there, and pulled her up, feeling his bicep and triceps tense with the pressure. By pulling her up beside him, he noted she really didn't have much to grab unto to steady herself, aside from his own body, that is. Unless he had, while still grabbing her, swung her to the other branch, adjacent to his own, where she would be safely next to the trunk for support. Since he didn't want to make her go through such a stunt, which would have probably been a very dangerous and incredibly intimidating experience for her, he realized having her side glued to his own, her small hand gripping his cloak was probably the only type of safety she could muster.
He was startled at her initiative, at first, but then understood she was just touching him like this in order to avoid falling over. With that, he pressed his body more against the trunk, his hand tightening its grip, and slithered his other hand around her shoulders. He felt her relax, as much as she could when one was a couple meters away from the ground.
He checked Auruo and Gunther and noted that they were well hidden and safely positioned as well.
Looking forward, he could finally see what all the commotion was about. A large number of Savages were surrounding a stage; there was an enormous tent, richly decorated in Savage fashion, it was impossible to look inside. Outside, there were the drummers he heard, who had ceased the ferocious beating on the instruments, and two pillars with burning logs strapped to them, blazes flickering in the wind, as if frolicking to the wild drumming.
He could also see a woman, dressed in a black robe too loose for her thin figure. Her spine curved painfully and upon looking more carefully, Levi could see how bony the woman really was around her wrists and fingers, how dirty and wrinkled her skin really was, reminding him of pieces of old parchment.
But it weren't the numerous warriors that made him hold his breath. It wasn't the horrid old woman.
It was the family of farmers idly walking inside the stronghold.
A man, a woman and a little girl.
Petra muffled her small gasp with her own hand. Levi couldn't believe it either, swallowing saliva to moisturize his dry throat, jaws pressed firmly together.
They were walking very slowly, often dragging their feet or stepping over themselves. They bobbed their weight from side to side, their shoulders hunched, their arms hung lifelessly and moved according to their motions. The man's neck failed to sustain his cranium, making it dangle lazily much like his arms; like him, the woman's and the child's necks also proved useless to support their heads, although theirs were slightly craned upwards and to the side, their facial muscles were relaxed, leaving their mouths opened and, probably, everything inside disturbingly dry. Looking harder, he noticed with dread how their eyes were completely white.
Upon gazing upon the farmers, the Savages began a different kind of chanting, accompanied by a different violent tune from the drums. The woman was speaking some dialect none of the Soldiers understood.
And the family followed the sound of the hag's raspy voice, walking through the corridor of ecstatic warriors that had formed to greet these hypnotized visitors; as the three innocents walked by, the savages danced or jumped in their place, spread their fingers trying to touch one of the family members, but pulling back at the last second, either because they had been scolded by a fellow warrior, or for some other reason Levi couldn't grasp.
They all looked about to burst in excitement.
And that made him furious; enough to make his lower jaw tremble, his nose wrinkle and his eyes darken.
He had always hated to witness unnecessary bloodshed.
But he didn't move from his spot. Instead, he unconsciously tightened his grasp on Petra's shoulder, probably enough to induce pain, but the girl didn't seem to notice. Possibly too awestruck to physically feel anything.
One by one, each family member knelt down close to the profane woman, who was gesticulating strangely with her ugly hands. Seconds, minutes, passed and she firmly raised her arms, the sleeves of her robe sliding downwards and exposing old and withered arms with prominent elbows. Some Savages, carrying rope, hopped towards the dazed civilians.
Suddenly, each family member seemed to have woken up from a dream. Levi couldn't see them clearly, but he could imagine their shocked, wide eyes, their lips parted in a confused and utterly afraid way, erratic breaths dashing in and out of their systems. Salty tears pooling at the corners of their eyes as they screamed the first questions that came to mind;
"Where are we?! Who are you?! What do you want with us?!"
The father, the symbol of strength and security in the household, would demand. His voice quivered, failing to sound threatening and instead seeming pleading.
No answers were received, and so survival instincts kicked in. They needed to flee. Flee, run for dear life, don't look back and hope that these things were poor runners. Panic was clouding the adult's minds, the child was paralyzed in fear, but still they would try to run away. They could be caught and killed… they would be caught and killed. But they needed to try.
But they couldn't; their hands were tied behind their backs with sturdy ropes and so were their feet. They moved around, pushed their muscles to their limits, to no avail.
"PLEASE, LET US GO! PLEASE, LET US GO!"
The mother, the symbol of fertility and duty in the household, would cry. She whimpered her begs for a while as tears washed her face.
The hag had gone off, long after awakening the family, leaving the three innocents alone with the beasts. But they made no effort to hurt or touch them. They kept their distance from them, leaving the farmers in the stage as they kept their constant jumping, dancing, screaming and chanting.
The drums kept beating.
Then, Levi heard an ear-crushing roar, belonging to no man or animal he had ever heard. Petra grunted against his chest and he himself almost led his hands to his ears, to muffle the sound, but remembered if he did so, he might lose his balance. Instead, he contorted his face in pain.
He stopped looking at the family when he glimpsed, from the corner of his eye, the cloth from the enormous tent being spread open. Levi gave it his full attention.
Time, sound and anything else defining the present faded away to him.
De didn't know what was inside that tent, he never knew, but he figured it was something mundane… objects or people. He even remembered the heartless, old bitch walk inside, so he was half expecting for her to return. But she didn't. It couldn't be her. She was small and frail looking; and what was moving all those layers of cloth that composed the opening of the tent was big, robust, enormous in both height and weight.
It came in full view and Levi couldn't believe his eyes. Or he would, if he belonged to a legend you'd sing about amidst the warmth of a tavern.
It was indeed tall and robust; at least three meters tall, would be taller if it didn't hunch its back and if it had proportionate legs. Its facial features were compacted together: small eyes too close to its pig-like nose, lower jaw bigger than the upper jaw, exposing randomly sized but sharp and big teeth, ears were large and pointy. His skin was a dark green and charcoal colored hair grew vastly in his arms, legs and upper half of his back, but none on his head. He possessed broad shoulders, with powerful muscles bulging in his arms, neck and legs; his belly was oddly round, probably signifying a large appetite. It was also nude, shamelessly displaying its manhood.
Glancing over at his comrades close by, Levi noted they were as disbelieving towards this beast as himself.
The monster roared again, lifting its powerful arms and the Savages roared along with it.
This was apparently an ally of the Savages.
The beast looked over at the three farmers, its eyes shimmering under the fires, its head tilting slightly to the right curiously. It lowered itself, supporting its taller upper body with its big hands. It breathed in the face of the child and she almost passed out at the proximity of those big, yellow teeth.
Beside the child, the parents watched, horrified. Petrified. Silent.
A little itch on Levi's brain whispered to him what would happen next, but he didn't believe it. He couldn't.
The beast stood to its original height and opened a distorted smile.
'It won't do it. It's late, it must have had its full already.' Levi thought 'It won't do it.'
The beast's grotesque hand carelessly grabbed the child, her whole upper body filling his hand, the girl's feet squirming epileptically.
Levi almost shouted. Instead, he merely watched as the monster slowly lifted its arm until it hung over its open, disgusting mouth, rows of putrid teeth probably connected by lines of vile moisture. It unclenched its hand and the girl fell, screeching a high pitched tune and scorching the Lieutenant's memory, and Levi knew this would be his lullaby tonight. She hit her head along the smooth part of one of the monsters sharp canines, the hit not silencing her squeal, before the creature unceremoniously snapped shut its jaws. One of the girl's legs never got to fully enter the beast's mouth, so an explosion of blood erupted from the middle of the shin of the girl down to her foot, the scarlet liquid painting the teeth and dark green lips.
The rest of the leg dropped dryly on the floor, close to the parents. Blood drooped out of it and formed a horrid crimson lake that reflected the mother and father.
A family portrait.
Petra's body shook from time to time, her hand over her mouth muffling her cries. Levi felt like stone.
The drums kept beating.
Well, that wasn't supposed to sound so much like the end of the first episode/chapter of SnK. It's completely different, yeah, but there is still chomping. And no, that's not a titan (;
So this just happened. Let me know if Attack on Titan set in Medieval Ages with themes from German Romanticism writing is as cool as it sounds or if it's just in my head and it's just plane moronic. If it is cool though, then ladies and gentlemen I will go crazy writing this. I have so many ideas and an actual coherent fucking PLOT, it's absurd... I haven't posted anything in a while and I have to say I am somewhat excited to be active (really active) in so if this ends up just catching dust.. it's going to be embarassing for me xD
Thank you for reading and please, drop a review!