Fire, the eternal judge of all things living and otherwise. It giveth and taketh life and death in equal measures with neither ceremony nor grace. A natural force man and beast can try to, but never tame.
Razznik listened to the crackling of burning wood as another building collapsed to the flaming maelstrom. The air choked from burning flesh and angry plumes of smoke that escaped each building. All over, panicked screams rang out from men, women and children alike as they succumbed to the intolerant judge, their blackened corpses crushed underfoot as Razznik passed through the town.
The yet-to-be Demon King holstered his blade as he scanned the city for traces of survivors. He picked up a few around the town. Razznik calmly made his way to the nearest signal, the untameable judge clearing a path for one it deemed its superior to pass.
Razznik stopped at the foot of a tree where a wisben lay trapped beneath its large, fallen branches. The man looked up to his potential rescuer, eyes wide with elated relief. “P-please, help get this off,” he pleaded. “Think me arm’s broken.”
Razznik’s measured gaze peered through his mask at the man. “Your death has been ordered. Plead not to me, but to the goddess Aerith whom you offended.”
The wisben’s countenance suddenly changed as he realized who his executioner was. Brows furrowed, and teeth snarled, he pounded against the branch with renewed rage. Realizing his efforts were futile, he glared at Razznik. “You Shcku-” A sword through his head stopped the swear midway.
Razznik retrieved the broadsword and holstered it without bothering to wipe off the blood. He patrolled the burning town, making short work of any survivors he came across. Eventually, he stopped in front of a building from which the last two life signals came.
To his surprise, the flames seemed to avoid the stone house, almost like they were afraid of something inside.
Razznik eyes flashed as he examined the building’s protective ward. High-Level. It would appear a mage resides here. “Show yourself,” Razznik ordered, voice as cold as ice. When nobody responded, he raised his hand, then clenched his fist.
The protective ward shattered, and flames encroached hungrily on their new prey.
Razznik waited patiently as flames consumed the building. Minutes later, two figures rushed out of the building and threw themselves to the earth as the building exploded. Debris showered the immediate surrounding but shattered against wards before they reached the swordsman.
The ensuing dust settled. Razznik eyes flashed as he spotted the culprits rush to their feet. “Do not attempt escape,” he warned. “Your death. I will make it slow and painful.”
The reputation of Razznik Y’Terlow preceded him far and wide across the continent. The culprits froze in their tracks, the bigger one poised in front of the smaller like a protective shield.
Razznik watched the young kafu (fox-man) protect who he guessed to be his younger sibling. The older one’s orange fur was darkened from soot and smoke, but the younger’s fur was eerily bright white. Almost like flames and soot had avoided him altogether.
Razznik glared at the cubs. Neither should be here. At their age, they should either have been at the training forts in Zakrand, or schools in the capital. “Where’s the mage who cast that ward?”
The older kept his glare steady. Intriguingly, rather than fear, he seemed to be calmly assessing the situation in other to grasp a means of escape. Razznik had to admit he was slightly impressed. “Why should we tell you anything? You will kill us regardless, no?”
Razznik gazed at the child. Wise beyond his years, he was. Who knew what the child had experienced to get like this at such an early age. So much so he could face death so calmly. “You’re correct,” Razznik agreed as he raised a gloved hand. “As a reward your bravery, I’ll make your passing painless.” Mana gathered in Razznik’s raised hand, solidifying into physical flames. “Return to the circle, and pray our paths do not cross in your next lives.”
The fireball shot toward the siblings.
Just before impact, the younger’s eyes flashed blue.
Instinct kicked in, and Razznik sharply retreated. Ice crystals shot up from the ground, then arched low like a living snake and rushed him. “Ridiculous.” Razznik slapped the mass and the entire structure crumbled to frosty dust.
A figure emerged from the dust, arm drawn back for a solid punch. Razznik caught the desperate blow with one palm. The force it carried impressed him. This child was stronger than most seasoned adventurers. A prodigy.
The boy, determined to land a solid hit, arched his body so his left hand rested on Razznik’s outstretched arm. Using it as a lever, he shot up and drove his foot into the swordsman’s face. A satisfied smile played on his lips as he felt something crack beneath his feet.
That smile swiftly disappeared.
Cracks ran the length of Razznik’s mask then shattered, revealing a pair of blood-crazed eyes on the rugged face of a man in his late twenties to early thirties. Razznik’s brows furrowed as he regarded the cub. “It’s been a while since someone broke my mask. I should commend you.”
“Let brother go!” The younger yelled as several ice-snakes shot from the ground and rushed the swordsman.
Razznik calmly raised the cub he held in front of him. The serpents froze. “I have wasted enough time as it is.” Razznik flung the cub.
The elder crashed into his brother, and both were instantly knocked out by the force.
Razznik raised his hand to finalize their demise.
“Get away from my children, you monster!”
The earth lurched as a nine-feet golem exploded from its depths and punched the swordsman. Behind it, a female kafu inspected her cubs. Once she was sure they were alive and well, she turned her glare to Razznik. “I will make you pay for this.”
Razznik spared a bored glance at the golem as he flicked its fist. Cracks ran up and along its body from the point of contact. The monster of stone crumbled to the earth, raising a dust cloud. Razznik’s eyes shone from behind the dust. “For your sake, I pray you are at least as strong as your children. Else, this will be a short and frankly embarrassing bout.”
“Oh, you do not realize who you just crossed.” The entire village shook as the earth instantly liquefied and began flowing to a concentrated point just between both of them. The woman got down on all fours, maddening growls distorting the air as her body went through a rapid metamorphosis.
Moments later, Razznik smiled at the monstrosities that glared him down. One a behemoth of clay and dirt, as tall as a three-story apartment complex, the other a fox-beast twice his size with sparks of electric discharges all around its body.
“We finally meet Vajura,” Razznik greeted. “I only accepted this mission because it promised your presence.” He drew his broadsword as both monsters charged the swordsman. Brows furrowed in a tight scowl, he warned, “Do not disappoint.”
Kashi violently coughed as icy cold liquid terrorized his flesh. He attempted to move, then realized his arms were bound securely to his back. Ah, he was sitting on a wooden chair, with his feet similarly bound. A little test of strength proved these shackles were more magical than they were physical.
Kashi shook his head, still groggy from whatever had knocked him out. He tried to piece the memories together. The last thing he remembered was being consumed by the dragon’s flames. That’s right, what happened to the dragon?
“I said focus!” SLAP!
Sharp pain rang across Kashi’s cheek. He recognized the pain, the way it slowly ebbed with little goosebumps and an indescribable mix of shame and anger. He’d just been slapped! Slapped, not punched! Wincing, Kashi eyes cracked open. A second to adjust to the light, then he could see the room.
The halben who screamed profanities froze momentarily as Kashi’s bloodied eyes locked onto him. The pail he held dropped to the ground with a crash as he drew his sword. “Who do you think you regard with such uncouth eyes?”
Kashi relaxed his glare. “My apologies. I was unsure as to my surroundings. It appears I retain some grogginess from a recent bout.”
The halben-dressed in leather armor with swirling pools of mana lined along it-snarled a cocky grin. “Oh, there was no bout. It was a one-sided beatdown.”
“Oh, is that so?” Kashi said with a dismissive tone as he turned to examine the room itself. “In which case, I suppose the better man won.” To his eyes, he was in a chamber of some sorts. Weapons lined earthy walls, silent ghoul sentinels placed strategically around to prevent escape through the only entrance: a door situated behind some dwarven statue. Ahead of him, a ceramic plate sat atop an altar adorned with several runes. Some he recognized, others not so much.
The bulk of information, however, came from his other senses. Due to constant training in the lab, his sense of smell and hearing were on a completely different level. Traces of sulfur in the air combined with the slow rumbling of liquids in several locations around him alerted him to his true location.
“Ah, Underground is it?”
The halben frowned.
“Thank you,” Kashi said with a nod. “You just confirmed my suspicions.” He refocused his gaze on the halben. “Perchance, is this the Dwarven Kingdom?”
The halben’s eyes widened with shock and fear. “Knew we should have finished you!” He raised his sword for a strike, further frightened by Kashi’s measured gaze.
“What do you think you’re doing!?” a new voice bellowed from behind.
Kashi looked over his shoulder to see a blond Masonian standing at the entrance. The man was dressed in a white robe which swished on the earth as he approached, golden eyes flaming. Judging by the way the rude halben backed away, this man seemed to be the leader.
Lord Froy rounded Kashi, then stopped ahead of him, just before the entrance. Froy stood off to the side so Kashi’s view of the altar wasn’t broken. Froy’s eyes flashed with clear hatred and rage as he regarded daeben. “Well, well, it would seem this where your story ends.”
Kashi’s entire countenance exuded boredom as he gave the priest a once-over. “You. You are not the real leader, are you? You smell like a lapdog.”
Kashi winced. The blow had caused his head to smack against the floor as the chair toppled over. His gaze remained the same, even as the ghouls raised the chair. He glanced at the halben. “That is twice now.”
The interrogator involuntarily took a step back. Realizing what he’d done, the halben raised a hand to lash out in revenge.
The interrogator paused mid-swing. “But this rat’s disrespecting you. You’re not just going to take it are you?”
Froy rubbed his face with his palm. “This little shcuck’s responsible for my brother’s death. I will personally skin him alive. But not before. We cannot have him pass out again.”
Kashi raised a brow. This poser really wasn’t the leader. He highly doubted the leader of the Chaos Order would play his cards so openly. A collected leader might be difficult, but a prick bent on revenge was easy picking. “I suppose I could save us all here a bit of trouble.”
Froy and the halben turned to him in unison.
“This whole torture scene is already played out,” Kashi remarked. “You question me, I say I know nothing. You resort to torture, I maintain my position. You torture me some more, I give you wrong information. As a result of losing a good number of men to this information, you try to kill me. You fail. I slaughter everybody here. I escape. I suggest we skip a few steps.” Kashi’s calm gaze met theirs. His tone remained level as he continued, “I am privy to information you desire. I know more about your god Razznik than all of you combined. His entire lifetime, the choices he made, regrets, wishes, locations of artifacts he himself deemed too dangerous.” Froy’s eyes betrayed the frightened doubt that crept up his being. “But I will tell you nothing. This is my final position.”
Froy blanched as he stared at his captive. Where did this daeben get his confidence? The locks that bound him were perfectly intact and he was surely at their mercy. What then warranted this arrogance? It irked him. “Nadir, your sword.” The halben held out his sword, which Froy seized as he approached. He stood in front of the daeben, eyes burning with fury and spite. “Let’s see how long you last.”
Froy drove the sword into Kashi’s midriff. A snide grin corrupted his features as blood pooled around the sword. However, aside from a momentary wince in acknowledgment of the contact, Kashi’s composure remained as nonchalant as ever, cool eyes regarding the masonian with a hint of surely, this isn’t your best?
“Bastard! Let’s see how smug you are with your head off!” The sword violently arched down.
“Stop this instant!”
The blade paused against Kashi’s neck. Its razor-sharp edge drew a bit of blood, but still, Kashi’s gaze remained level. “Would you mind?” Kashi said as he arched his head to see who was behind the priest. “It would seem your superior wishes to speak to me.”
Froy’s eyes flashed with rage. “You-”
“Do not make me repeat myself.” Whoever this voice belonged to, it was calm yet authoritative.
For the first time since waking up, a smile curled up the daeben’s lips. “I suppose you are the true leader.”
“Of this sovereign, yes.” Kashi’s eyes widened as Froy stepped out of the way. A being of flames hovered above the bowl placed at the altar. The figure wore a formal robe with a mask that covered his face. “It is a pleasure to finally make your acquaintance, Kashi of the Dark Elves.”
The flames reflected in Kashi’s eyes regurgitating memories that had been buried deep within. “Likewise priest, likewise.”
Some time ago,
Hektor stifled a cry as jets of stray flames melted his arm guards, the molten mass scalding his skin in turn. He tore off the metal plates before they could do further damage. A quick check of his fingers revealed no damaged nerves. He cursed as he glared at the center of the stream. Kashi had been completely swallowed by that flame. If it could damage his armor so easily... Shit! “Kashi!” He shot forward, determined to at least attempt cutting through the flames.
Arrows tore out of the flames and struck the earth ahead of him. The message was clear. Hektor took off his helmet and tossed it to the earth. He approached as close as the heat would let him, cursing at the daeben’s stubbornness. “KASH!”
The dragon ceased its attack, convinced its quarry should be long dead. Its neck coiled upwards as it strained to see past its own flames.
“Now, that is hot,” Kashi’s voice complained.
Hektor’s face exploded in a relieved grin. “Kashi you al-!” The words caught in his throat as the flares were swept away by the night wind.
Flames on the daeben died down as he dropped his arms from his face. The top had all but burned off, leaving only a badly burned tunic in place. Angry patches of red-dyed Kashi’s flesh where flames had burned down to the bone. However, it wasn’t the gruesome image that gave Hektor pause. It was the terrible grin the daeben sported.
Red eyes flashing, Kashi’s grin struck fear into all present, especially as half his cheeks had been seared by the heat. The daeben glanced at his health bar.
Just below a quarter gone in one strike. But it had already begun to increase, evident by the rapid rate his wounds were closing.
Just as he thought. It was still too early for regular people to face dragons in open combat. Especially, a Lvl.130 Lesser Drake. A wyvern of the same level was more their speed. However, a quick glance confirmed his thoughts: No space to flee. Between the ghouls and this dragon, he would be toast if he turned his back for just a second.
Next, Kashi evaluated his strategic position. He and the dragon had created a sort of border between the felines on his right, and the ghouls to his left. The felines had their backs to Meilfour but did not dare turn back, much for the same reasons as himself.
Neither did Kashi want them to.
That would only attract the dragon’s attention and lead it to the city. A city which he was loathed to admit-was severely unprepared for an aerial attack. No, he had no choice but to take on this dragon right here.
These thoughts flashed through in less than two seconds-enough time for the dragon to register his survival. Its subsequent explosive roar let Kashi in on what it thought of that.
“Hektor!” Kashi screamed as he jumped back, effectively dodging the dragon’s bite. “Keep those ghouls busy!”
Hektor grinned. “Crazy bastard.” He looked over his shoulder at the ghouls. “Hows about an attention grabber eh?” His right arm glowed as he transferred Sram’s energy to the ax. He let out a loud War Cry which drew all their attention towards him. The ax swung a violent arc in their momentary confusion.
Streamlined energy tore through their ranks with neither pause nor mercy. Taking a page from Kashi’s book, Hektor dashed towards them, glancing arc bolts off his ax. He jumped high into the air, eyes gleaming against the backdrop of the night sky. The reaper incarnate raised his ax high, then tucked into a death ball. The ball of death crashed in their midst. Cracks sped along the earth as it lurched. Blocks of earth exploded sending the ghouls flying in all directions.
Safety measures kicked in, causing the ghouls to self-destruct. Pillars of flames rose high into the sky as the earth trembled with each explosion. Pandemonium ensued as the ghouls were caught by friendly detonations, which in turn forced them to explode.
A mass of red rose within the erupting flame geysers, unruly strands fluttering madly in the winds. A pair of red eyes flashed underneath the crop of hair, mimicking the flames that surrounded it. A sickening grin spread across Hektor’s face as he drove his ax skyward. It caught an advancing ghoul in the chin and lifted it high in the air. “My name is Hektor, the man who will be crowned the god of war.” The ax rotated in place, then slammed down against another ghoul. The obsidian edge cut clean through both ghouls and slammed against the earth. The force sent cracks running, at the end of which rocks jutted out of the earth and crashed against ghouls. “Remember it.”
Though Kashi could not spare Hektor the attention in accord of the dragon trying to eat him, a proud grin still spread across the daeben’s face in acknowledgment. To think this was the same boy who stepped on a splinter while fighting on a boat. “Well now, cannot let myself get outdone, can I?”
The dragon charged, its breath still not ready.
Kashi rolled to the side as it charged past. He caught a mass to the corner of his vision and pressed against the earth. Its tail swung overhead, the draft almost lifting the daeben off the earth. Kashi seized the opportunity. He jumped onto the tail as it returned to place.
The dragon released a pained cry as two arrows dug into the end of its tail. It turned to see its quarry clinging on for dear life. It swung its tail this way and that, but the stubborn pest was determined. Enraged, it slammed its tail against the earth.
Kashi grinned. He had been waiting for this moment. He released his hold before the swing gathered momentum. Dust clouds erupted around the point of contact. However, he burst out from the plumes then made a beeline up the dragon’s tail. The dragon seemed to have caught on because it jumped and beat its wings angling for a sharp take off. Kashi however, was having none of that. A hail of arrows tore through both wings.
The dragon cried out from the sharp pain and dropped back down to the earth. But if the pest thought it had bested it... With a sharp cry, it whirled around in place at a speed that did not reconcile its size.
Kashi winced as he was flung off the rotating monster. He righted himself mid-air, then landed on the earth, skidding to a halt just in front of the felines. Kashi cursed at his missed opportunity. Dragon-kin were immensely intelligent creatures. The same trick would not work twice. What’s worse, the damaged wings had already begun to heal. “Oh, fuck,” Kashi cursed as it reared its head high and back. Kashi crouched low and raised his arms as a makeshift shield. This was to reduce the area of impact as much as possible.
As predicted, purgatory flames shot forth, then spread out, encompassing the multitude of felines.
Kashi cursed at his miscalculation but then paused in shock. He could not feel the heat. He opened his eyes to the last thing he expected. Steady streams glanced off a translucent shield. His first thought was Jade, but when he looked behind, he received his second shock in as many seconds.
The felines, prepared this time, had shielded themselves with the help of the mages in their ranks. Kashi’s particular savior was a Chetah dressed in an informal Hanfu. The Chetah snarled as he fought to keep the powerful flames at bay.
Kashi watched as The female Chetah who had fought him before walked toward him. Asha. The ghouls called her Asha if he recalled correctly. A half-smile curled up his face, though his muscles tensed. “Reconsider that truce offer?”
Asha held out her sheath. Kashi grabbed it and was subsequently pulled to his feet. The momentum took him beside her, so he faced her people while she faced the dragon.
“You seem to have experience fighting dragons,” Asha said.
Kashi noted the slight tremor in her voice. Between the loss of her men and the impossibility of their foe, it was no small wonder she managed to keep her cool. She had true qualities of a leader. Much like Adachi. “In a sense.”
Her body shook, eyes downcast as she gritted her teeth. “For this battle, my men and I will answer to you. Use us as you see fit.”
Try as she might she could not squash the increasing tremors in her voice. She impressed Kashi all the more for it. He recognized the hate in her eyes the moment they met. Even now, she would probably like nothing more than to take his head off with her sword. But she was considering the fate of her men over her personal vengeance. What’s worse, she was asking the man she loathed for his assistance.
People just do not understand just how much pride is required to bow one’s head to another, even more, so one’s enemy. It is much easier to use pride as an excuse to get yourself killed. At least that way, you won’t have to live with the shame.
In that one moment, with that sentence, she earned Kashi’s trust and respect. Voice low and even, he replied, “If that is your wish. I will not promise a lack of casualties. But the bulk of your men will come out alive with one hell of a story to tell.”
The flames stopped their onslaught, but black smoke still choked the environment. Not all of it was natural though. Kashi noticed the mages had chanted a spell for a smokescreen. They may not have faced dragons, but they were used to fighting losing battles.
“I accept your conditions. What do we have to do.”
Kashi explained his strategy.
Moments later several arrows tore out of the smoke in an arc then swooped down against the dragon. It roared in pain as it staggered back and shielded its head with a wing. Several arrows powered by [Drill] tore straight through the smoke, then bore holes through the wing.
Enraged, the dragon released another wave of flames. Not as powerful as the previous as it had not fully charged up yet. Once the flames ended, War Cries rend the night as Diatte led a string of warriors past the smoke.
The terrifying Sphinx (lion-man) charged straight for the surprised dragon. It jumped into the air, beating its wings desperately to gain altitude.
To its terrified surprise, missiles tore through both wings with chilling precision.
The arrowheads opened up like the jaws of hungry beasts as they were tugged downward. They clamped against the beast’s wings. Desperation taking over, the dragon beat even harder but more arrows only tore through and clamped even harder. The wind generated blew the rest of the smoke away. It revealed several columns of felines holding onto rope lines attached to the arrows.
They held on for dear life, determined not to let their quarry escape.
Panicked, the dragon fervently tried to gain altitude. When it realized their hold was too strong, it poured out what little flames it had onto the ropes. Gusts of wind snuffed the flames before they made contact with the lines.
Kaga set down his hand as he nodded at Diatte.
“Now!” Diatte screamed. He and twenty other swordsmen spun in place, then flung their respective weapons skyward. The blades pierced the dragon’s underbelly, drawing a pained cry. The weapons were yanked down with the aid of ropes attached the hilts. Showers of red bathed Diatte and the swordsmen.
“You’re up,” Kashi called as Asha ran towards him.
The Chetah jumped onto Kashi’s outstretched palm, then forced a jump skyward, using the added momentum of his swing. A funnel of wind formed beneath her then launched her even higher. Asha topped out just above the dragon. She righted herself, then landed on the dragon’s back. “This is for my clan.”
Asha drove her blades into the beast’s back. She ignored its pained cries as it tried to shrug her off. She let herself be flung by one of its shrugs which landed her on its wing. Her swords pierced through the wing membrane. She then ran across then over to the overwing. This she also ripped to shreds, then jumped off as the beast collapsed to the earth.
Asha landed on a blanket of wind which thankfully broke her fall. She shot Kaga a grateful nod, then immediately joined Diatte in flanking the confused dragon. They swiftly attacked from both sides, ripping through its cartilages and leg muscles.
The dragon, realizing its end was fast approaching prepared one final breath attack. At the very least it would take as many of these pests along with it. However, a certain daeben had seen this move one too many times.
Arrows tore through its exposed throat, causing the flames to explode inward. Smoke belched from the dragon’s mouth as it collapsed to the earth, reeling from the aftershock.
Kashi watched as the felines descended on the beast, slaughtering it soon after.
Diatte’s laughter could be heard a mile away. “You guy’s seeing this? We beat a dragon...A bloody dragon! I’d like to see those Order scum try something li-” BOOM!
“Diatte!” Asha screamed as an energy blast sent the Sphinx flying.
Kaga broke his fall, then rushed over. “He’s alive! But he needs a healer. Quick!”
Kashi glanced around. The felines looked ready for another bout. But their mages had undoubtedly used up a lot of mana fighting off the dragon’s breath. The warriors, though fueled by adrenaline would no doubt fall to fatigue-as would Hektor. A quick glance at the ghouls confirmed his fears. Though Hektor had slain more than a good number, they just kept coming. There seemed to be no end to them.
A wry grin crept up Kashi’s face. Should be flattered. I’m evidently that important.
Kashi turned his gaze to Asha who seemed to have something important on her mind. “My apologies.”
“Wha-” Her confused question was cut short by a swift punch to her abdomen. The attack caught her off guard. “You bastard...” she cursed, her voice failing as she slumped onto his shoulder.
“Retreat!” Kashi commanded as he tossed her over to the nearest feline. “You’ll find a healer in Meilfour.” When they hesitated, his aura darkened, suffocating the lot. “I said retreat!”
Kaga echoed the order as he gathered Diatte and slung him over his shoulder. The soldiers finally responded. They began a hard retreat for Meilfour.
“Hektor that means you too,” Kashi called as he took out a quiver of arrows from his inventory and set it on the ground.
“But!” Hektor protested as he dodged an energy blast. He whirled around, grabbed a ghoul by the skull, and literally crushed it with his bare hands.
“That’s an order!” Kashi affirmed as he stabbed six more quivers into the ground. These were all the reserves he had. “Cover their retreat!”
“Fine!” Hektor rotated in place, and numerous small arcs of energy shot out in random directions. Using the opening created, he dashed out of the ghouls’ midst. “Oh, shit,” he swore as he glanced above the daeben.
A thousand arrows rapidly rotated in place, letting out a shrill cry as the warrior crossed underfoot.
Kashi glared at the pursuing ghouls. “Not one of you passes.” Eyes closed, Ferulic’s spirit activated, exponentially expanding his sensory range. He could hear every single last one. Their breaths; the swishing of their garments against armor; each being’s distinct footstep. He layered <<Homing Arrow>> and <<Keen Sense>> automatically locking onto all of their respective hearts.
Kashi’s eyes snapped open, the closest barely a meter away. “Perish”
Hektor paused momentarily as the earth trembled with exaggerated fear. He turned, eyes wide as columns upon pillars of flames exploded high into the sky. The wild torrent spread down the valley, consuming all in its angry excitement. What really caught his eyes though was his leader.
Kashi’s hair had come undone, and it fluttered brilliantly against the inferno’s backdrop. The daeben stood his ground even as flames flickered around. The flares seemed to avoid him, choosing instead to cut an arc around him.
Hektor chuckled to himself as he ran behind the retreating felines. Whatever happened, he knew it would all be part of the madman’s plan.
A flicker of movement did not escape the daeben’s senses. Kashi kicked up then grabbed a quiver. A blade smashed against the mass as he raised it above his head. He looked up to the red eyes of a half-burnt ghoul.
“I believe I said no passage.” Kashi pushed against the blade with so much force it caused the ghoul to spin in place. Kashi himself somersaulted. The heel of his boot caught the ghoul’s face at the apex of the swing. He crashed it against the ground, upon landing.
The body went limp and he kicked it back into the inferno, causing another chain reaction as it exploded near onrushing ghouls.
The chaos of it all, the wanton destruction dredged up memories.
Razznik glared at the priest. “What the fuck did you just say?”
The priest, an old Masonian in charge of Aerith’s temple glared right back. “I said you must offer those children as sacrifices! Your quest is not finished otherwise.”
The kafu cubs ducked behind Razznik’s legs, frightened by the priest. “These cubs are under my care. Vajura’s dead. The quest is complete.”
“No. Your quest was to cleanse the entire village. The existence of these cubs is proof of that failure.”
Razznik swallowed a deep breath to calm his rising temper. “Fine. I do not need this quest reward anyway. Already obtained something more valuable.” He shrugged off the cubs’ grips. “Stand on your own and follow. I’m not your babysitter.”
“Stop, you infidel!” The priest reached out and grabbed Razznik’s shoulder.
Something flashed in Razznik’s eyes. The next second, the priest vomited blood as a broadsword pinned him to the altar. “Don’t touch me.” He glanced at the advancing city and holy guards.
The white cub stared at the priest’s corpse with apt intrigue. “Is the bad man dead?”
Razznik snorted as he drew out his sword and flicked blood onto Aerith’s idols. “Lesson one: Listen closely brats, I never repeat myself.” He parried an incoming guards strike, then cleaved him in half. Blood fountains bathed dyed him red as he prepared for the next attacker. “Lesson two: There’s no such thing as good and evil, only the strong and the weak.”
The cubs followed behind, amazed at how easily he tore through the guards. What’s more, he hadn’t used ay magic yet.
“No matter where you end up, remember Might Makes Right. I’m not talking about something silly like physical strength either. If you’re not stronger, be smarter. If you’re not smarter, be faster. If you’re not faster, cheat. Justice neither favors the strong nor the weak. Neither does it favor the victor nor the loser. Justice IS the victor. The last man standing IS Justice. The concept of good and evil is a ridiculous paradoxical paradigm used only by humans. It is a farce you should ignore if you wish to live long in this world.”
“Is that the kind of advice you should be giving youngsters?” Razznik stopped at the temple doors. To his side, Aileera regarded him with a knowing smirk. “You really did it this time.”
Razznik’s grip tightened around his sword. “Are you going to get in my way?”
Aileera glanced at the cubs. “Whatever the reason, you’re willingly looking over someone other than yourself. Why would I spoil that? My guild will sit out this pursuit.” She bent low and smiled at both cubs. “Ignore the big angry man. He has no friends.” Razznik snorted. “Always endeavor to be good. Grow up, make friends, and you’ll realize there’s nothing more fulfilling than spending an afternoon doing absolutely nothing with a close friend.” She patted the elder cub. “Take good care of your brother and this big oaf.” She got to her feet and fixed a hard glare at Razznik, voice suddenly business-like. “You know what happens the next time we meet.”
“Hmph.” Razznik glanced at the warriors rushing up the steps. “Let me show you why you should have fought me when you had the chance...” With arrogant steps befitting a god, Razznik took the stairs, sword poised to greet the challengers.
Hours later, Aileera stood at the heart of a burning city, chaotic cries ringing out in all directions. She directed her guild members to offer assistance to the wounded as she gazed into the sky. She had seen it for a second. That madman had finally gotten his wish. Aileera glanced at the most wanted list in her menu, and sure enough, her suspicions were confirmed.
Name: Razznik Y’Terlow
Last Confirmed Level: 1000
Rank: #1 Most Wanted
Capture Status: KILL ON SIGHT!
He had somehow broken past the level limit...