War: Horseman of the Apocalypse - Love Blooms Eternal
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by Jeff Fuell
Description: Troubled, the legendary Horseman of the Apocalypse feels the need to visit Earth, where he once lived in a former life. There, he meets a woman who he is drawn to. Soon he is forced to make a choice between his vow with God and his love for this woman.
eBook Publisher: SynergEbooks, 2009 SynergEbooks
eBookwise Release Date: January 2010
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [306 KB]
Reading time: 208-292 min.
All Other formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
The riders exploded from a hole in the silent nothingness as they soared across space at an incredible rate, their faces equally locked in a grim expression of determination. Despite the size of the uncommonly large, four-legged beasts they were riding, the riders themselves also of large stature, they seemed to be travelling at a faster than light speed. In their wake, they left a trail of fire that seemed to stretch for infinity.
The first rider was obviously the leader. Dressed entirely in glowing white armor, wearing a crown, carrying a bow and riding a white beast, he led the other four riders to their destination.
The second rider was the largest of the group and, despite the appearance of the fourth rider, was the most imposing. He was dressed entirely in red armor and, in the scabbard that was attached to his belt was a giant red sword. As was his armor, so was his beast also red.
Rider number three was at his side, dressed in black armor and carrying a pair of scales. His appearance was the frailest of the four, but despite this, the figure still reeked of incredible power and strength. This rider's steed, like him, was black.
The last rider, who was a bit aloof from the other four but still keeping close to his brothers, was dressed in a simple black robe. His face was hidden in the shadows of the cowl as it hung over his face, but one of his skeletal hands--an indication of what his entire body appeared to look like if one could see it--could be seen gripping the reins of his steed. The other carried a large scythe. Unlike his brothers, his sickly, almost skeletal, beast did not match the color of his clothing. Instead, his steed was pale. A greenish/yellowish color. He was also the smallest of the four. Not surprisingly, this rider was the most feared when they appeared to pass judgment and struck terror into those who bore witness to him.
These four riders were Conquest, War, Pestilence, and Death.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
As they rode across the stars, approaching the Earth--their adopted home that they had only occasionally visited throughout their history--they sailed into the atmosphere and into a bank of clouds that were waiting for them. To any casual observer, they would appear to be any normal set of clouds. But, for these riders, they were the gateway to where they were given birth, when the first four of the sacred seven seals were broken. The clouds parted and encircled the riders; soon they appeared on the other side, transported to their own realm of the Heavens. The riders soared across the beautiful, sunlit sky until they arrived at their own spacious quarters and landed quietly on the ground, almost as one, with hardly a sound.
Conquest was the first one to disembark from his steed. "Ho, Brothers! I must take my leave from you now while I report to my Father." His voice was surprisingly soft, a voice so very different from the one he used to lead the charge whenever the four of them were sent on a quest by Him. Conquest removed his helmet and revealed his exceptional features--long, brown hair, blue eyes and a perfect complexion. He could easily be called beautiful. He led his steed to its spacious stable where it could graze upon the fresh fruit that was already placed for him and then set forth up the staircase so that he could relay the details of their most recent adventure.
Pestilence regarded his brother as he disappeared. He then gazed upon War. "Well, Brother, it seems that we have some time off until we are sent off on another crusade. What say you we journey into the body of the Kingdom and enjoy our rest while we can?" He grinned as he dismounted and removed his helmet, revealing a face that could be called handsome were it not for the dying flesh that populated various areas. Part of the skin of his forehead had decayed so much that yellowish-colored bone could be seen underneath. This seemed not to bother him at all for, of the four of them, he was the most joyous and full of life.
"I think not, Brother," War replied. "Not now. Perhaps some other time." War dismounted from his loyal steed and removed his helmet. Looking at his features, one would also call him handsome were it not for his narrow, hardened eyes that told tales of the countless battles and bloodshed that he had been privy to; that he had reveled in. But recently, there was also a look in his eyes that spoke of weariness, and as time was going by, it was becoming more and more evident, much as he tried to hide it.
Pestilence approached him and placed his hand on his large shoulder. "Brother, I do not mean to intrude, but is something bothering you?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that, lately, you seem to be a bit distant... troubled."
"Do I?" He grinned. "I do not mean to. Perhaps I need to do just what you suggest and find more pleasure in life besides the art of questing."
"Aye, Brother!" Pestilence laughed. "As enjoyable as it may seem, there is more to existence than journeying across the galaxies and the joy of the battlefield. What say you, Brother Death?" he said, turning his head.
Death had now dismounted his steed and placed him into his stable where it began to graze on an assortment of rotten fruits and vegetables. He turned to face them and then drifted in their direction. He did not seem to walk, but drift, as though his feet were not touching the ground. If they were doing so, his robe was hiding the fact. Once he was in front of them, he pulled down his cowl and revealed his skeletal features and eyeless sockets.
"Only in death is there peace, Brothers. Only the eternal sleep brings the joy of true freedom." His deep voice sounded like it was far away, as if coming from down an endless tunnel.
"I suppose so," Pestilence said, looking at him. As he did so, a dark light momentarily twinkled in the empty eye sockets of Death as he regarded him... and then he drifted away and up the staircase, the trail of his robe flowing behind him, his feet making no sound as he moved forward until he was gone from sight.
"You know, Brother," Pestilence said, "despite all the centuries that we have been riding together, Death never ceases to make my blood run cold. I do love him as a true brother and comrade... but I do find that I am always wary of him."
"I think he has that effect on all who bare witness to him," War said, grinning. "I sometimes feel as if I am gazing into my grave when I look into his lifeless eyes."
"It's good to know that I am not alone in my opinion!"
"Of that, you can be sure. But, despite his deathly appearance, he does have a warrior's heart... and he does play a ferocious game of chess."
"That he does! He has beaten me many a time. But I am worried about you, Brother. You seem tired of late. What troubles you?"
War stared off into the caverns and then back at his trusted companion. In all of the centuries of his existence, he had rarely opened up to another person, even his own brothers, whom he trusted with his very life. He had hoped that what he had been feeling lately was just a phase of sorts, but if it were, it was showing no signs of dissipating. And as his station as one fourth of the Riders of the Apocalypse, he could not afford to have these strange feelings he could not seem to evade. Still, despite the strong companionship that he felt from his brothers--his truest friends since the dawn of his creation--he was beginning to wonder if there were more to life than waging war on one endless battlefield after another, wondering if there were something more to his existence than the wanton hostilities that he inflicted.
"Tell me, Brother," War asked, "do you ever wonder if there is more to life than that which we were made for?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, every quest is the same. He passes judgment and then we carry out His will. It is an honor to serve Him, of course, there is nothing better, but... do you ever wonder if there is more?"
"Like... living a life of more purpose, finding joy not only in the bloodshed that we revel and in He whom we serve, but in other aspects of life, also."
"Such as..." War tried to find the words to express the emotions that he was feeling, but was failing to find them because he was finding it difficult to contemplate what he was feeling. Also, he was trying to explain them to a person who found no fault in his existence at all, who could find vivacity in any little thing--which was his nature and he admired him for it, wishing that he could be more like him. Life would certainly be easier and less burdensome. "Forgive me, Brother. I am tired and talking nonsense. You go on to you're revels and I may join you later."
"You should join me," Pestilence said, as he playfully knocked him on the shoulder. "You hardly ever venture into the Kingdom. I am sure that you would find the remedy to whatever ails you there."
"I am sure that you are right, but maybe some other time. You go on." War forced a smile that he hoped would appear genuine.
"Very well," Pestilence laughed as he proceeded to walk toward the staircase, "but don't think I'm giving up on you, Brother. I'll bring you out of your current state yet."
"I'm sure you will," War laughed as he watched his friend go.
When he was alone, he looked into the red eyes of his steed and petted him affectionately. "Life would be simpler if I were a horse, even one with such ferocious an appetite as you, Stegaron." He grinned and the horse snorted in response, as if it were saying, 'Don't bet on it.'
He took the horse by its reins and led it to its stable so that it could graze on the plentiful mixture of foods that were offered to it and then proceeded to the staircase so he could retire to his own luxurious quarters. Once he was there, he removed his armor and sword and gently placed the pieces on the iron stand where they were stored. As he was doing so, he regarded his heavily muscled body in the mirror, looking at all of the scars marking it, mementos of thousands of nameless battles. He sighed. "A lifetime of victories on endless battlefields. The best life for a warrior born, but surely not the only aspect of that life. There must be something more then that which is offered. Can you tell me what it is?" He received no answer from his reflection, only his own, tired gaze looking back at him.
He retired to his bed and lay upon his back with has arms folded behind his head while staring at the ceiling. There was much to think upon and, as usual, he would most likely be met with no answers.