Titan's Interview: 8/9/99
You could hear the breeze pass through the halls of The Citadel on days like this. It's low moaning reminded Titan Bahadur of the fallen; those that had given their all for the cause and didn't survive to enjoy the rewards of their bravery. The golden sun was setting on the mountain fortress, Sol was trying its best to send some last bit of warmth to the ancient warrior. He smiled at his old friend, turned and walked into the stone keep.
The night moved like a thief, stealing the light from the living. Titan, one of two Horde Bahadurs, couldn't sleep. A pain the likes of which he hadn't known before racked him from head to toe. Then, in an instant, it was gone. With it's absence came the realization that he has indeed experienced this torture before. It was the pain of death.
Titan removed himself from his nightclothes and began to pack. He knew that if he waited much longer, he wouldn't make it before the end. He had delayed his trip this long because of his new ward, but could not stop the end from coming any more than he could control time itself.
A knock came at Titan's door. What was meant to be a polite knock, resounded off of the ancient iron bound oak like the toll of a brass bell. Titan stopped and turned to face the entrance before declaring, "Enter." His somber voice moved throughout the air as if it had turned to molasses, reaching the portal in what seemed an eternity after he had spoken.
Bryan Barnes opened the door with a shameful look upon his face. He thought he had awoken half of the Citadel along with his mentor. "I'm sorry about disturbing you this late at night," Bryan began, "but I thought I heard...I thought you might need...something." Concern radiated from Bryan's eyes, but he knew Titan was too proud to admit to needing help.
Normally, this would be the case, but tonight was special. "Bryan, I need to leave," Titan said without jest or humor. Bryan began to interject, but Titan stopped him with a quick gesture. "There is no room for debate on this. Like it or not I have to heed the call of the Fates. My time in this realm is almost at an end and I have something I must do before I'm called back."
Bryan stood stunned at the revelation, but quickly recovered. Titan began moving toward the door to send his ward on his way, when Bryan spoke, "Where you go, I go." Titan began to object, when he noticed something in Bryan's eyes. A determination was there the likes of which the warrior had never seen. Bryan had been committed to various tasks before in his life, but something was different this time. No longer the broken, youth of yore, the Bryan Barnes that stood before him was a man of determination and values.
Titan smiled and in that instant made his decision. "Very well, if you must. Don't just stand there, we don't have much time before the sun peaks over the mountainside," Titan Bahadur said as he turned to finish gathering his belongings. Bryan Barnes didn't question why he had won this argument, he just turned and obeyed the order from his mentor.
Soon the pair moved along the halls of the ancient stronghold making no more noise than the wind itself. Shadows from the torches danced along with the rhythm provided by nature. With much effort, the duo moved past the wakeful guards and on to a hidden ATV. Only one soul saw the pair leave. He stood by an open window watching the shadows make their way to and over the protective walls. His Mongolian robes of state rustled in the wind slightly, but the Horde's Khan didn't notice or care. "Be at peace my friend. You have earned it," was all Cinji Khan said before shutting out the night and turning away.
With much effort, Bryan Barnes and Titan Bahadur had made their way across the continent by any means possible. They stood now by a moonlight grove of olive trees near the shore of the Aegean Sea. They had been growing there for over a thousand years and had stood the test of time. Off in the distance, the peak of Mount Olympus could be seen outlined in a silver sheen. It gave the appearance of a mysterious inner power waiting to be unleashed.
"We are finally here," Titan Bahadur wheezed out through clenched teeth. His condition had worsened the closer they got to his homeland. Through it all he had refused to wear anything but his armor of rank within Alexander's forces. Now he stood before the olive grove unrecognizable as the man that had left the Citadel but a short time ago.
Bryan Barnes looked upon Titan's face in wonder. No matter how often he beheld his countenance, the ancient warrior always looked older than before. On the surface Titan's once proud features had become ravaged and worn, but below still burned the heart of a champion. "Where are we?" Bryan asked when all he really wanted to do was plead with the man to stop and find some help.
"This is where I first met my wife. This is where my life truly began...and ended," Titan said as he began to move through the dense growth. Bryan followed suit and soon the two broke through a clearing hidden in the center of the trees. After so much time, the clearing was almost nonexistent, but enough remained so that the Horde's Bahadur could pinpoint the hollowed ground without effort. Luna's soft rays cascaded through the grove as it illuminated the trees within.
"This is where...I laid them to rest," Titan said gesturing to the ground with a trembling hand. Mother Nature had taken the graves and the markers into her bosom long ago, hiding them from man, so that nothing but the memories remained. "All of them...I should have been here...I should have..." Titan, so overcome with emotion could no longer stand. He slumped down to his knees and wept openly.
Bryan Barnes knelt down next to his mentor trying to comfort him. The sharp "crack" of his knees as he knelt down beside the warrior brought Titan back to his senses. He looked upon his young protege, unashamed of his display of emotion. "I've never told you or anyone of my crimes, my curse, my...duty to the gods," he said in a soft voice. "But before the Fates finally cut my thread, I must tell somebody."
"Don't say that, even jokingly," Bryan said as he laughed half-heartily. He knew Titan's wasn't joking, but something in him refused to believe that after searching so long for someone to look up to, he would be snatched away so quickly.
Titan turned and grasped Barnes by both shoulders, "Listen to me now, I haven't much time left." He supported his massive frame by will alone under the weight of his armor. The lines in his face reminded Bryan of a dried riverbed. "You have to understand what happened...I have to know that I will not leave this world again without leaving behind...the truth."
Bryan could only nod his understanding as Titan held him under his gaze. "I was one of the generals in Alexander's army...[wheeze]...I could think of nothing else but the call to battle...[wheeze]...And it cost me my family," Titan gasped out. His breathing was becoming irregular and labored. "I was so consumed in the struggle to claim as much of Alexander's empire as I possible could, I wasn't here when the raiders came..." tears again began their way down his hollow cheeks. "All of them were slaughtered...Because I chose wealth and power over my family's honor. When I returned...[wheeze]...And placed their body's here in our grove...[wheeze]...I swore I would atone for my crimes if it took the rest of eternity."
Titan reached down to his hands and removed a golden ring from his right hand. Etched into the surface of the massive ring was the inscription, 'U.C.W. Slammy Award Winner'. "Here Bryan..." Titan said as he placed the ring into Bryan's hand, "Take this. It is all I have left to give you. Always remember...[cough]...The Horde is your family now and family comes before all things...Even your own desires."
"I...I...I can't take this. I need to get you some help," Bryan Barnes stuttered, shocked by everything that was happening. A million thoughts and emotions stirred around inside his mind and heart. All of them we warring for dominance, but none surfaced as the winner. Bryan struggled against Titan's 300+ pounds, trying desperately to lift the man to his feet.
"It is too late for me...My time here is done. I only pray that I have fulfilled my promise to the gods...[wheeze, cough, cough]..." With that Titan's eyes closed and his head slowly slumped forward to his chest.
"No..NO..YOU CAN'T GO YET! I WON'T LET YOU! I..." Bryan shouted struggling to bring life back into the giant. Just then a strange thing happened. The trees began to move as if in a strong wind, but no breeze blew. A radiant woman steeped from the trees as if from nowhere. Stunned, Bryan Barnes could do nothing but watch in awe as she smiled over the pair.
"You have done well, my husband. Welcome home," the figure spoke as she caressed Titan Bahadur's head. She turned to Bryan and smiled. Her countenance bespoke of love and caring. "Fear not for him, or yourself. He will always be with you, watching, giving you strength when you haven none. Mind what you have learned, for in the end, it will save you."
Unexpectedly, the woman touched young Bryan Barnes and, without warning, he fell into a deep sleep. He awoke the next morning refreshed to the gentle caress of the sea winds. He was still in the grove, but Titan was gone. All that remained was the ring in his hand, Titan's hammer at his side.
©1997-2002 The Horde®
Last Revisied July 5, 2002