The sword went through the armour as if it were just silk. His knees buckled as it severed his spinal column and exited out his back, hilt hard up against his chest. He hung there, held from collapsing to the earth by the sword that had been driven through him as if he were paper. As his sight began to waver, he forced his gaze to follow up the arm of his slayer. His eyes widened as he found himself staring at nothing more than a mere slip of a girl clad in vermillion armour. Not armour, a crimson tunic perhaps. No, not a tunic, just blood, a cloak of blood dripping like honey. She put her bare foot, toenails painted with splatters of blood, against his breastplate and slid him off her sword. The last thing he saw as the reaper’s scythe bore down on him were her eyes looking at him, into him, through him. Burning into his soul, flaying it from his body. With his last thought, he prayed for the Devil to take him to the depths of hell. He now knew there was somewhere that even Beelzebub feared to tread.

She slid her sword into the crown that has fallen and lifted it on to her head, blood flowing up and over, turning gold to rose, diamond to ruby. She strode through the battlefield towards the keep, the battle beginning to wane as both sides began to realise what the solitary interloper had done. Some swords were lain down, knees dropped, chargers reined in. Only one stood in her path to challenge her. A young boy, farm fresh, shoved into battle, over eager to prove his worth, too inexperienced to smell the danger, to see her for what she was. She didn’t break stride as she took his head, his sword falling, clean cut in two.

Approaching the keep, she walked up the stone roadway, sword in hand, red crown on her head. A vermillion carpet of blood spreading out behind her. A blood drenched carpet of honour, of welcoming, of arrival. Emissaries of heaven or hell, ambassadors of the underworld or the upper realms, it was hard to tell. According to the stories, the myths, the legends; they all traded in blood. It was their currency, how they kept score. They weren’t coming though, they weren’t interested in here any longer, hadn’t been for a long time. Lost interest, if they’d had any to begin with. A place too violent, too blood soaked even for the deities of war. No, the carpet wasn’t for them, it was for her, she rolled out her own welcome as she went. Spreading out behind her, a carpet of blood like treacle, like molasses, flooding and covering the flagstones.

This place, this world. It was now her’s.