Wind whipped through the dark night like daggers.
Two young and noble-looking demonhunters stood out in the desolate wastes. They stared at the sweeping light shining from the lighthouse ahead.
Lunae was around five and a half feet tall, with flaxen hair and pale skin. Her face was pretty and a pair of crystal blue eyes stood out in the darkness like precious gemstones. She held an exorcist staff comfortably in her hand, heroic in bearing despite being a woman.
Raith was a little taller, almost six feet. He was tall, well-muscled, but agile despite his size. Short brown hair sat atop his head above a masculine and daring face. The demonhunter was charming, both in appearance and bearing, only perhaps a little overconfident. He gave the impression of always being ready to leap into conflict.
Two days was all it’d taken for them to get here. It showed their quality and efficiency.
The lighthouse’s beam reflected in the depths of Lunae’s eyes. “Should we launch a surprise attack?”
“We are demonhunters, and there are a hundred soldiers with us. Why waste time and effort on a sneak attack against some piddling traitor?” Raith’s handsome features might as well have been chiseled from stone. His words dripped with arrogance. “Besides, this is a sizeable settlement, we can’t be sure where he’s hiding. Kicking the bushes might shake the snake from its lair.”
He had a point.
Fifty soldiers would surround the outpost and lay in wait, while the rest of them would kill their way in. Eventually the traitor would be forced to reveal himself, but no matter where he fled an ambush would be waiting. Once his location was discovered the two of them would make sure the mission was complete.
Skycloud’s one hundred soldiers separated into two units. The first group of fifty spread out, five men to a team, and established ten points of ambush nearby. Lighthouse Point was quickly surrounded.
Those who were left marched toward the gate, led by the demonhunters.
No need to pretend, no need to skulk. The pride of the elysians and the self-confidence of the demonhunters shunned such practice.
Denizens of Lighthouse Point had never witnessed such a scene. As the resplendent soldiers of the holy lands strode through the gates its defenders simply looked on in astonishment. They didn’t even call out a challenge or raise an alarm.
“What are – ah!”
Screams erupted! An arrow sprouted from the defenders chest and he toppled from the walls.
Raith had lifted his bow, drawn the string and released. A thunderous power struck the barricade and blew it apart. Shards of wood and metal exploded out in every direction, impaling several guards who had come to see what was happening.
The exorcist bow, like the exorcist staff, was one of the lower level relics in a demonhunter’s arsenal. Both were standard equipment for inexperienced members of the order. Obviously the exorcist staff favored close combat while the bow was more suitable to dexterous and control-focused warriors.
One could tell the demonhunters’ respective styles by the weapons they bore. Lunae’s staff showed that she preferred getting in close, meanwhile Raith’s bow revealed a penchant for long-distance engagements.
A relic’s power depended on two things. First was the inherent quality of the relic itself, and second was the skill of the demonhunter who wielded it. Judging by Raith’s display in breaking down the gate, he could use a relic as effectively as Cloudhawk.
The citizens of Lighthouse Point didn’t expect their small and poverty-stricken home to be attacked. More shocking was that these invaders weren’t from the wastelands. They weren’t beasts or some raider gang. With glimmering suits of armor and magnificent weapons they couldn’t be.
Every soldier bore spotless equipment. Each piece was like a work of art.
Striding over the remains of the barricade Raith surveyed the outpost with a cold grin. “Lunae, gather up all these filthy barbarians.”
The fifty soldiers they brought with them began to search the outpost, grabbing everyone they could find and hearding them together like livestock. Before long over a thousand hapless denizens were assembled in the center of the outpost.
Fifty Skycloud soldiers drew bowstrings. Glimmering arrows shimmered with faint light.
Meanwhile the wastelanders were completely ignorant of what was happening. There were certainly more of them than there were invaders, but none were soldiers. With no fighting experience they were completely overwhelmed by the ferocity and speed of this attack. They could do nothing but huddle together pitifully.
“Wait, wait!” Coppertooth huddled out from the throng. He threw himself to the ground before the two who were dressed as demonhunters. “I was a captain of the Skycloud army, second division, and I offer my respects to the visiting demonhunters. I beg you to see that although these people live in the wastelands they live in the light of our gods. They are not blasphemers!”
Coppertooth’s reaction surprised them.
Asha huddled near the back of the crowd, her eyes red and swollen. These men in their fancy armors were holy warriors? She and the others did not know what was happening. Their piety had to have moved the elysians to come and deliver them. Otherwise, why would these good and noble warriors come to this wretched place? What other purpose would they have in their inconsequential outpost?
“We welcome you, lords of the holy city.”
“Welcome, warriors of god!”
One by one everyone dropped to their knees in submissive deference. An old man whose hair had all gone white openly wept. “Merciful god has not forgotten us!”
Raith’s eyes turned a bitter cold. With a wave five glowing bows released their arrows. Every one of them hit the old man, striking him so hard that he was flung up into the air and nailed to a distant wall.
The old man’s mouth trembled as blood leaked into his snow white beard. He struggled for a few seconds before going limp, all the while confused and unsure of what was going on.
Why? Why did they do that! Why would holy warriors slay the faithful in cold blood?
Coppertooth’s face went ashen grey. Asha stared in disbelief. Everyone’s faces changed when they realized what happened.
“They killed him! The soldiers from the holy city just… killed him!”
A handful rose to try and flee, but they couldn’t outrun arrows. The lethal and perfectly accurate arrows cut them down. In a blink dozens more were dead.
“Lowly worms, your rotten faith only sullies our mighty gods!” Raith took up an exorcist staff, and devoid of expression, approached their holy tablet. With a single swing he reduced it to dust. That which represented the faith and hope of the town, destroyed. Cold, heartless, he spoke again, “Who gave you heathens permission to pray in their names?”
The crowd huddled in shocked silence, as though struck by lightning. Already in awe of the demonhunter’s frightening power, his cruelty made them speechless. Everything they thought they knew of their faith was a lie. They couldn’t believe their eyes.
Raith placed his bow aside and addressed the frightened masses with savage tones. “I already know you are harboring a traitor to my people. Where is he? Speak quickly!”
“Impossible! There’s no way!” Coppertooth sputtered, trying to force the words out as quickly as possible. “How could we have a traitor here?”
Raith dismissed him with a wave. “Kill them.”
The soldiers drew their bows. Another round of screams rang through the outpost.
A dozen more bodies littered the ground, pouring blood into the dirt.
Like the worms they were said to be, everyone lay prone on the ground. They shivered uncontrollably for the Skycloud soldiers seemed to kill at random. Anyone could be the next victim.
Asha’s wide eyes stared at the nearly one hundred fellow residents who now lay dead. Unarmed men, women, the old, the young. Before this moment they had admired these soldiers, had yearned to become a part of their world. But now? This domineering young tyrant had destroyed the emblem of their faith, as small and pathetic as it had been. A demonhunter, who they had worshipped as an agent of the gods, treated them with only cruelty and contempt.
Asha wept bitter tears. Wastelanders were born into sin, but was there no path to redemption for them? Why were these noble men and women refusing to even give them a chance? Why would the representatives of the holy lands slaughter innocents?
Raith did not look at them as humans. They were like beasts that needed to be exterminated. However many he killed would not be enough, and no matter how cruel he would not feel guilt. In fact it filled him with pride, for to him he was cleansing the world of their filth. “I will count down from five. If no one answers I will kill more of you until I get what I want. Five. Four. Three. Two!”
It was to be expected that someone would break when the threat of death was so clear.
Coppertooth’s face was crestfallen. He didn’t know whether there really was a turncoat, but he knew how zealous the people of the elysian lands were. They couldn’t admit it, they couldn’t! If they did, they would all be killed. If this traitor was never found perhaps a few of them could be spared.
If, on the other hand, this traitor was found, or if they admitted to hiding them – intentionally or not – them and everything they’d built would be destroyed.
But it was too late for him to stop it.
“Someone came from the wastelands today that might be who you’re looking for. Coppertooth greeted him himself, and I saw Asha lead him away into the camp. He’s in the lodge! That’s all I know, I beg you not to kill me.”
Raith’s lips twisted into the model image of a sneer.
Lunae took several soldiers with her to search the lodge. Several minutes later she returned empty handed.
“It’s him, but he’s already gone.”
Raith’s grim scowl made the man with loose lips turn pale. He staggered backward a few feet before throwing himself to the ground.
“T-this has nothing to do with me! I told you everything you asked!”
“Yes! Indeed you did… but I never said I would spare you.”
An arrow struck the citizen in the center of his head and pinned him to the dirt. A pool of blood quickly pooled around him.
None of the slaughter registered on the female demonhunter’s face, for she could see nothing wrong with her compatriot’s methods. She was focused on spreading her senses wide, her hearing as accurate as sonar within several hundred feet. She was instantly familiar with every nook and cranny of the space around them.
The traitor knew they were there but none of the ambush teams had raised the alarm. He had to still be hiding somewhere nearby. Good news for the demonhunters since Lunae’s perception was exceptional. She would find him before long.
Raith, however, had never been a patient man.
He wanted this mission completed as soon as possible. Rather than slowly making his prey uncomfortable, he would do something drastic to force him out of hiding. Rage was always the best tactic.
The traitor would have to show his face. Raith would make sure of it.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Damn the elysians...
Changed Luna to Lunae