The warlord Apollyon takes control of the knights of the Blackstone Legion after murdering his rivals, who fight for and protect the people of the land of Ashfeld, allowing her to sow the seeds of perpetual war and create stronger men to rule over the weak. During the Blackstone Legion’s attempt to bring another, dishonorable lord-turned-mercenary, Hervis Daubeny, to justice, his second-in-command, known as the Warden, helps to stop the Blackstone siege and battles the champion of the Blackstone knights. Upon defeating his opponent, the Warden is made a knight of the Blackstone Legion by Holden Cross, Apollyon’s lieutenant and leaves with him. During his time in Apollyon’s army, the Warden helps to defend against the Viking raiders of the Warborn, but soon realizes shortly after meeting with Apollyon that his commander cares nothing about protecting people and seeks to manipulate his enemies into endless battles. Starting with the Vikings, Apollyon and his warriors including Cross, the Warden and fellow lieutenants Stone and Mercy, attacks their settlements and sacks their strongholds in the northern land of Valkenheim, leaving only enough food and supplies to fight over, and sparing those who would eagerly fight for those scraps or are strong enough to do so. Sickened by this and by the senseless slaughter he helped to bring about, the Warden deserts the Blackstone Legion, soon followed by Holden.
Afterwards, in Valkenheim, the Viking clans fight amongst themselves, killing one another for the dwindling scraps left by Apollyon. One of the survivors of her final attack, a warrior known as the Raider, begins uniting the warriors of the various clans under his banner, alongside his warlord friend Stigandr, valkyrie warrior Runa and berserker Helvar, first by killing the brutal raider Ragnar, who steals what little remains from those who cannot feed themselves, and then Siv the Ruthless, who seek to conquer and plunder their own people. After killing his rivals, the Raider and his rapidly growing army retake a Warborn stronghold from knights of Apollyon’s army, and then set out to the land of the Myre to raid the Dawn Empire of the Chosen, a group of powerful Samurai, to resupply and feed their people after finding treasure in the stronghold. The Raider then leads the assault on the Samurai, and succeeds in overrunning their forces, causing them to retreat back to their greatest city. In the chaos, Apollyon strikes and kills the Dawn Empire’s ruler, killing his Daimyos that refuse to fight each other and setting free the ones she believes will kill one another and in turn become stronger.
Into this chaos is brought the Orochi warrior known as the Emperor’s champion, the strongest and most fearsome warrior in the Dawn Empire. After learning of the devastation of the Viking raid, she, fellow samurai Ayu, the Shugoki Okuma and Nobushi Momiji attempt to reunite the Daimyos under one banner, using the vikings as a common enemy to rally against. It is also during this time that the Emperor’s Champion learns of Apollyon’s manipulations of the various factions and rallies her allies to stop Apollyon, invading Ashfeld to attack Blackstone Fortress. During a scouting mission with Momiji, the Orochi is met by the Warden, now leading a rebellion against Apollyon with Holden by her side and, after dueling her, realizes they are allied against the same enemy. Both armies besiege the castle on separate fronts, with the Orochi searching for Apollyon. After finding Apollyon, the Orochi duels with and barely manages to kill her, but not before learning that she wanted to create eternal war to weed out the weak and create the strongest of men, making them evermore bloodthirsty like her. In the aftermath, the armies of all three factions attacking the Blackstone Fortress; Knight, Samurai and Viking alike all turn on each other, resulting in a terrible war lasting seven years. Realizing the war’s futility, Ayu, Holden and Stigandr meet after their respective leaders send them as envoys to end hostilities. Though all three people realize that the prospect of peace may be futile and they may all die in the attempt, they all agree that peace is worth fighting for and that it will make for an unforgettable tale.
The Fan Review Score is: GOOD (39% of Fan Vote)