In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
Lupe awoke to the sight of blood. His first thought was that he had died and was now in hell, then he felt the throbbing, splitting pain in his head and knew that he was still alive. Lupe moved his left arm, wiping the blood from his face while feeling the marks on his forehead left by the assassin's insane weapon. He looked around in blood-free eyes wondering where all the blood around came from. Then he saw the symbol on the wall.
It was a single line, perhaps five and a half feet long, running vertically down the tent wall. It was held in place with two of the wooden stakes that the assassin had used as a weapon. Three quarters of the way to the top of it was another strip, this one maybe four feet long, held in place by another two stakes. There were two more strips maybe three feet long or so, starting at the base of the symbol and diagonally converging at the point where the two longest bars intersected. The two were held by the base with two more wooden stakes, the center was a large ovular mass of the material. The center mass had a hole in it, which had the converging point spike driven through it.
The material looked to be made of leather, the same material as the tent perhaps? Only it seemed to… Glisten perhaps? Lupe turned from the macabre sculpture, to see Bernardo on the floor along with Goito and Geoffred, Alroy was also standing there. Alroy seemed to be staring at something on the walls; Lupe turned to look and realized what it was…
The walls were covered with cuneiform hundreds of Egyptian, Chinese, and hundreds of others. The markings covered a huge swathe of the tent, they were everywhere; the walls, ceiling, even the tacticians table was covered in hundreds of the small reddish markings. "Reddish?" Lupe mumbled, "oh no!" He ran over to Geoffred, searching his physical being for… there it was. Lupe found the blade wound on Geoffred's skin, he searched the rest of his body and found the signs of his fight with the assassin. Moving as swiftly as possible he ran to the tent flap and cut several strips of it with his sabre, each was about three feet long and a foot wide at the largest. He brought these back to Geoffred and wrapped one around his eyes, and then he used the other strips to bandage all of his wounds.
Afterwards, he enlisted the help of Alroy Brady to transport Geoffred out of the tent and into Goito's personal tent. It took several minutes but they wiped the blood from his body and then left him there. By the time they were back at the tent Goito and Bernardo were already awake, upon seeing the mess inside Bernardo became frozen in horror, and Goito ran vomiting into the snow outside. Lupe walked to his brother and set his hand on the massive shoulder. Bernardo muttered, "It was him again, wasn't it brother?"
Lupe sighed and spoke, "Yes, the beast has awakened once again."
Goito had just re-entered the tent, hearing the brothers conversation he shouted, "What the hell happened here?! Last thing I remember is razored disks and some fancy trick by that assassin, then it all went black. What the hell happened here?"
Lupe left Bernardo and said, "I will explain momentarily, however we must finish this job first."
Lupe led Bernardo out of the tent, he and Goito then carried out the dead commander and his guard. They also carried out the assassin's corpse, what was left of it anyway…
Then they destroyed the tent poles, bringing soldiers across the camp towards them. Shouts echoed through the night as more and more men found their friends and commanders butchered by the assassin. Meanwhile Lupe tore a branch from the fire and threw it upon the collapsed tent, sending the symbols and the monstrous effigy hung on the wall into the skies, to be forever forgotten.
Then Lupe led the survivors into Goito's tent where Geoffred was just awakening. Lupe removed his blindfold and said, "I'm sorry my brother, but I could not have you awakening until we had finished."
Geoffred stared solemnly into the distance before saying, "It happened again didn't it?"
Lupe could lie to his brother by spirit, if not by blood, he merely nodded telling Geoffred everything in that one simple movement.
Goito could not stand this anymore, he understood burning the tent, they could never remove the blood anyway so no point in keeping it. He understood secrecy; he knew these three Italians would tell him what happened if it was required. Well he had just seen a tent soaked in blood and a paganist effigy made from a man's skin, hung on the wall with the man's own weapons.
He had complied with everything that must be done; now it was time for these three to give him some answers. "Alright, what the HELL happened in there?" Goito asked.
Lupe sighed and began, "It was a very long time ago, maybe twenty years ago. We three had not even met yet at this point. Geoffred had a… Very brutal father. He wanted his son to be stronger than any man before him, and whenever Geoffred failed those expectations he was severely punished." At this Geoffred removed his military dress jacket and his shirt, exposing his back.
The man's back was… even worse than the mess that had been inside the tent. Goito and Alroy both recoiled at the sight, feeling sick to their stomachs. The skin of Geoffred's back was a criss crossed network of thick, brutish scars. The longest was perhaps four feet long and an inch thick. They varied both in length and girth, but the smallest was still larger than a man's palm. There were hundreds of these things; every inch of his back was covered in scar tissue, there was even scar tissue upon scar tissue. Parts of Geoffred's back looked like they'd been whipped, whilst others looked slashed with some type of blade, others still looked like parts had been cut off with some type of knife. The worst thing about the skin was not the scars, it was the healing patches. Most of the scar tissue looked like it had been… Burned so as to seal the horrible wounds.
Geoffred recalled every single wound; he recalled the whips from when he had been unable to keep up with his father while working. He recalled the segment of skin cut off, simply because he had cried during a beating. Worst of all was the scar on his chest, a single whip marking.
That lone whip marking symbolized both the best and the worst day of Geoffred's life, for that day his father had allowed Geoffred's blood to flow instead of sealing it with the flaming brand he usually used. That day his father had paid the price for all the monstrous things that he had done to his son. For when Geoffred saw the blood, HIS BLOOD, something inside of him snapped. He blacked out and when he came to the house was covered in bloody symbols which Geoffred had never seen before and there were shreds of muscular tissue left in various locations. Geoffred felt he would vomit so he ran out of the house, after being sick he turned and saw IT…
IT was his very first Effigy, when he went into one of his fits he lost all control, he became a beast wholly and fully insane. After killing all who had shed his blood… He would recover the bodies and do something with them. Lupe and Bernardo had dubbed these things "Effigy" they were skin, flesh, or bone arranged in a lunatical order, surrounded by macabre symbols of unknown origin always writ in blood. It was his father's bones, tied with wire and lashed to the roof, wearing a cloak made of his own skin.
Since that day Geoffred had made 16 separate Effigy, including this one. He had not known that it was him making them until he had reached number 14, when he was 10, then he had met Bernardo and Lupe. The three of them had become quick friends, Bernardo was 12 and lupe had been 11. They had seen him make his 15th Effigy after being struck by a thief, causing his lip to bleed, they had later told him what he had done, and he was guilt ridden over it. He had promised to never make another one, a promise that had lasted over 15 years. Until now, that is.
Alroy and Goito absorbed all of this while quietly observing Geoffred, shocked that a man so short could possibly be that strong. Lupe's story finished, he beckoned Geoffred to put his shirt back on. Suddenly a man entered the tent, he was wearing a courier uniform and he had been sent to find if anyone worthy of command over the army was even alive.
Satisfied, he reported the casualties to the new general before rushing off to report the good news to… He didn't really know who to tell considering the casualties, but he was happy anyway.
As the army marched off to battle positions, most were unaware that all but one commander and the general were dead, having set off to their positions an hour ahead of everyone else.
The battle had been prepped and nothing could stop it now…