All around him, his battallion of crack troops ran riot through the humble mountain village. There were screams of terror and anguish as the armed and armoured warriors broke into houses and forcibly pulled people out into the dirt with nary an ounce of humanity in their manner. A few villagers tried to run but realising only too late that the Sultans men had doused the villages perimited fencing with oils that were now ablaze – the wooden fencing built to keep wild animals out of the village was now in a twisted turn, penning in the very people who had built it for their safety.
“Please! Don’t harm my children! I beg you sire!” cried an old woman whose entire family including what seemed to be a great grand-child, now lay bloodied a few feet away. The old woman was crawling in the dirt before the aristocrat on his glittering steed, pleading for the lives of her loved ones.
He was in no mood to even entertain a glance in her humanity, such was the arrogance and harshness of this new ruler who had for months now torn the small hill kingdom asunder as he established unquestioned dominance over the region and brooked not even passive resistence. As he turned away and continued to shout orders at his men, the old woman and her family beheld each other for the last time as all but the young women were killed outright and the women chained for a life of servitude.
From a nearby hill, a hooded figure on a horse watched with dagger-sharp gaze at the carnage being wrought in this quiet village. Not a sign of reaction would have been notable from the shadowed individual, utterly swaddled in cloth. The grazing horse jerked to life as it was nudged and started moving at an easy gallop toward the burning fields nearby.
This village, the abode of a small group of nomads from a far away land, was the only one of its kind on known lands and even had their own unique culture and language – one that would now be a dead language from the way the soldiers slaughtered the terrified and fleeing farmers and craftsman. They had made the small mistake of not sending tribute when the old Sultan died, mostly because in their isolation they had not heard in time, but by the time news reached them, it was too late. The new Sultan had already decreed his intention and with a list of offending places and people in hand, began to put them all to the sword. Today just happened to be the turn of this particular place.
“There! That old man!” shouted one soldier.
The elderly man he referred to was the village-elder, trying scramble toward a spot where the fencing had burned through and he might have been able to escape, carrying with him rolls of parchment that were his peoples’ heritage.
“Bring him to me!” barked the Sultan and promptly a pair of soldiers dragged the mewling, frail old man and threw him at their lieges feet.
“What is all this?” the Sultan asked as he kicked around the items the old man had been carrying.
“They are all we have of where our people come from my lord…” said the old man as he wheezed for breath, “We have little but our culture and our history and I wanted only to save it from the flames where it would be lost forever.”
“Take all this garbage and throw it in that burning hut and let the old man watch!”, the Sultan ordered the two soldiers nearby. Then a sadistic grin crossed his face and, “After that while its still going, toss him in after it, he can burn with his precious heritage!”
The soldiers moved to follow the orders when suddenly they jerked to a stop and seconds later fell down dead – two arrows embedded in their backs, right through the heart. The few who noticed, started to look around for the source and soon shouts drew attention to a ragged, hooded figure atop one of the still-standing huts.
“Get him! Whoever that interfering fool is!” shouted the Sultan.
The figure moved with startling speed and launched three arrows with deadly precision at the soldiers further away before anyone even knew to react. While the arrows were still in flight, the figure had already jumped to the hot ground and darting and swooping through the flames and bodies, the soldiers between the figure and the king began to fall left and right before the seemingly unstoppable warrior. As the figure drew nearer, the now visibly paler Sultan shouted for help and soldiers started to come to aid him, the first few coming close enough to stand in the deadly warriors way faring no better than their already dead comrades as blades now crimson slashed and seemed to tear the very air with their speed and precision.
As the figure drew nearer and nearer, the Sultan caught a glimpse of less ragged clothing underneath what the hooded figure was garbed in – a familiar pattern, even an emblem that looked almost familiar…
His mind racing as his life flashed before his eyes as the spectre of death approached, the Sultan suddenly remembered! It couldn’t be! She was supposed to be dead! Was this her ghost or a demon-form come back to haunt this world? Could she perhaps not be killed?! All this and more made its way through his mind in seconds and then the name, “The Iron Butterfly!” was the last thing that passed through his mind before it was skewered by an expertly thrown dagger and his lifeless form crumpled to the ground.