The Protector

“Help!” The peasant’s cry rang through the village. “Somebody help! Demons approach!” Panic began to spread through the village. The nearest garrison was over a days ride away, and previous experience had taught them that no matter how fast the villagers rode, the demons always seemed to be faster.

“What’s going on out here?!” The village elder shouted as he emerged from his hut.

“Elder, demons are marching towards the village. We must find Marcus, he is the only one strong enough to stand against them!”
“What sort of demons?” A look of concern flashed across the elder’s face. It had been years since the last demonic incursion. Everyone had assumed that word had spread that the village now had a protector, one capable of standing up to any demonic force.

“Fell creatures, sir. They ride terrible beasts clad in iron and have magic sticks that kill with sound. We tried to fend them off with simple spells, but they retreated into their iron beasts and laughed at our attempts to push them back.”

“I will light the beacon,” the elder said. “Hopefully Marcus will reach us in time.”

The elder made his way to the center of the village and sat down in front of a large idol and began to chant. After a few moments, the elder became louder in his chanting and the idol began to glow. When the elder’s voice hit it a point where it couldn’t get any louder, and the light of the idol hurt to look at, the chanting stopped. After a moment of pause, the light of idol shot into the sky and exploded into a second sun.

“Do you think Marcus will see the beacon and reach us in time?” The fear in the peasant’s voice made no attempt to hide itself.

“We can only hope,” replied the elder. “If the demons did not know where we were before, they certainly do now. Right now, all we can do is put our faith in the gods and pray that Marcus will get here in time.”

As time dragged on, every villager waiting for either death or salvation, a low rumble began to overtake everyone’s senses. With every passing minute, the rumbling grew and eventually the ground itself began to shake. The villagers all cried out in terror, with some hiding in their homes, others fleeing altogether.

The otherworldly noise reached a cacophonous crescendo and suddenly the fell beasts the peasant man spoke of came bursting over the hill. Large, iron clad monstrosities with large noses and heads that could rotate in a full circle like an owls, the creatures encircled the village. Beings that looked like men pointed their thunder sticks at a small gathering of villagers and, with a clap of thunder, the villagers fell to the ground bleeding. One of the beasts aimed it’s nose at hut and let out roar that rivaled the fiercest thunder storm, and to the villagers’ astonishment, the hut was no more. With the village surrounded, the inhabitants could do nothing but fall to their knees and pray.

As they dropped to their knees, one of the beasts opened it’s great mouth and a man stepped out. Clad in an unknown garment, he surveyed the village and it’s inhabitants with a malicious grin. This man was worse than a demon, he was a conqueror who was now familiarizing himself with his prize.

“My name,” the man said, “is Colonel Charles O’Neil of the United States Marine Corps. I’m here to claim this land in the name of the United States of North America. I do not wish to bring harm to anyone, but resistance will not be tolerated. Comply with my commands and no one else will be harmed.”

“The United States of North America?” A voice familiar to the villagers range out. “That’s a new one. So I guess all that talk of annexing the entire continent was more than just a bluff.” The villagers let out a collective sigh of relief. Leaning against one of the invaders terrible beasts stood Marcus. The villagers knew that with his arrival, they had nothing.

“You should know, Captain, that bluffing is for people who can’t back their words up,” the Colonel said. Several villagers picked up on the tone of familiarity between the two. How could Marcus, their great savior, know this man?

“Which is why I’m giving you a chance to leave now, before anyone else gets hurt.” Marcus pushed himself off of the creature and took a few steps towards the invader. The man pulled a small thunder stick from a pocket on the side of his garment and aimed it at Marcus. “That won’t be of much use against me.”

“What about them,” O’Neil asked and swung the thunder stick around to point at the crowd of gathered villagers. They cried out in instinctual fear, knowing that the man could kill them with his weapon before they had a chance to realize they were dead.

“If you pull that trigger, you will regret it.” The villagers knew Marcus did not make idle threats, and they could tell by his tone that he would protect them, no matter what. This bolstered their courage, and angered O’Neil.

A flash of anger spread across the Colonel’s face, and his hand tightened ever so slightly around his weapon. As his fingers began to slowly constrict around the firearm, Marcus disappeared right before the Colonel’s eyes and reappeared right in the firing line of the weapon. Marcus grabbed O’Neil’s arm and wrenched it from it’s socket, tearing away flesh and bone. The Colonel screamed in agony and dropped to the ground at Marcus’ feet.

“I gave you a more than fair warning,” Marcus said. “I’ve spent the last decade keeping this land safe from people like you. I don’t know how you found your way here, but I gave you the opportunity to turn back and return to the dying world I once called home. What I’m about to do rests firmly on your shoulders.” As Marcus spoke, lightning began to crackle and spark in the air around him and his eyes glowed with an intense fury. A few of the villagers felt a slight twinge of pity for what was about to happen to demon men.

As quickly as he had appeared in front of the Colonel, Marcus was in front of one of the demon creatures. He pulled his arm back and with one powerful punch, sent the beast hurling off into the horizon. He jump to the next beast and performed the same action. Quickly realizing what was going, several men attempted to jump out of the insides of the beasts before Marcus could reach them, but the effort was futile. After just a few seconds, Marcus made quick work of the invasion force with the only person left being Charles O’Neil. Marcus walked over to Charles and lifted him up.

“This is your one and only warning,” Marcus said. “Go back through whatever portal you opened up and tell your superiors to not even attempt a stunt like this again. If they do, I will stand outside the portal and make what I did here today look like child’s play.” With that Marcus and the Colonel disappeared in a flash.

“Elder,” one of the villagers spoke up, “what just happened?”

“I think,” the elder replied, “that those men came from the world Marcus left behind. I’m sure when he’s ready, he will tell us more.”