The Amber Tomb
Darkness. When you want to scare your children, what do you tell them ?
How do you describe a creature that will snatch them away if they misbehave and go outside after nightfall.
Dark skinned, winged creatures, with talons instead of feet like harpies coming to snatch them from their beds. You can see them on horizon, shadows flying minutes after sundown, stealing everything they can, and killing everyone on sight. Tales of their mischief , of their evil, go far and deep in human bones. Where entrance to land of strix is filled with spikes of humanoid heads, where nothing but death lingers. Screeches of dying victims being gnawed on in background, fading after they have gave in to the underworld. Imagine all that, with some fog mixed with dust clouds, and full moons in background.
Those are stories humans hear. Stories that fill their little heads, stories they want to set right when they get older, stories of so called heroes who slay those terrible demons.
But we are just normal as others, tho we tend to hide, just cause we want to live.
Hidden villages near mountain roots or at mountain tops , hidden in clouds.
When you look closer, you will see children playing, families laughing and enjoying life.
Fact that we got wings, and have weird skin is scary, but not all of us are beasts.
Most of strix kids already start causing problems for their parents at age of 4, with their flying being developed enough to wonder off. But for some reason, my wings remained small, and immature, comparing to my body. As a son of stone mason I’ve grown quite strong even by age of 10,with seemingly looking a nice pair of black wings,but I still couldn’t use them.
My parents were hard working people, also quite skilled in trade, so I learned everything i needed, and was set for life even then, but its amazing how one night can change your life.
It was afternoon when father sent me to our coal deposit near mountain to get some coal for some smelting over night, and while walking over there i heard noises near waterfall, and noticed some girls taking a bath. As i was sure they couldn’t see me cause of thick branches i got quite close so i could also hear what they were talking about. Although it seemed like minutes to me, night started to fall,and i didnt have coal. I ran over to our mine shaft and with nearest pick started mining as fast as i could, with stones splattering all over me. After
i filled bucket, I started running back, but it was tricky cause coal was falling around, and I had to pick it up again. When i got close to village, fire was everywhere, I heard screams and smelled stench of death. I seen a strong warrior ripping clothes from girl i recently spied on, and just when i swung bucket to knock him over with, everything went dark.
I was woken up by light touch of hand, and sweet voice of my mother. Its as if she was waking me up when i was little .
Ashes everywhere, scorched markings, bodies of my people, oh so many of them, and here and there you could see corpse of humans. While our warriors were outside hunting, they came like cowards to attack women and children and elders. Oh how much hate can one person hold in itself. My father lost his right arm, and my mother had her wings torn off.
Younger girls got raped, and most of them got ruined wings, slashes all over their bodies and broken bones. Girl i tried to save laid dead, apparently she pulled herself and that warrior backwards onto a spear that was stuck in ground. She welcomed death more then disquisting alternative.
I was so furious i took sword and repeatedly stabbed human dead corpse.
“Why!?!? WHY do you hate us so much, just cause we are different” I yelled, while tears were running down my cheeks. I couldn’t contain myself, surrounded by so much death for the first time in my life.
“Cause they fear that which is so different from themselves” said someone.
It was an old strix, unusually pale for our kind, bowed forward with wide white shoulder pads and a white robe hanging down from them, with no wings that i could see.
“But we did them no harm or gave any reason to do so! We are peaceful people "
“You are still young child, your family had stonemasonry in their blood, but your father, and his father fought wars with humans decades ago. I don’t really know who started it, might have been them, might have been us, but bloodshed just brings bloodshed. However, their race is growing stronger and stronger, while there is few of us. That’s why i came as soon as i heard. Where is your mother? "
- I am here grandfather –
- Oh look at you, even broken you look so beautiful my dear Priscilla. Let me look at your wings . Oh dear dear, I am afraid there won’t be any more flying for you missy,I can’t do anything but ease the pain. It appears it runs in family, eh boy? –
- What would you know about that? Is he really your grandfather you talked me about Mom?
Yes dear, and don’t talk like that, be polite to your elders.
-You heard your mother Uriel. Now go get that coal again.
-But father, I …
While hitting human corpse once more, I went towards stream again.
-Boy has grown strong. You must be proud of your son ,Liam.
-Strong and stubborn, but I don’t blame him. I was same at his age. This attack came at bad time tho, if they came from hunting just 15 minutes later, we would all be dead.
-Granddad, how come you came?
-I was cleansing some catacombs near closest town to north, when my apprentice came by and told me that he saw company of armed men going towards mountain. He couldn’t know you were there, but it was enough for me to know what was going to happen. Sadly my bones and wings are not what they used to be, so i came late.
-Maes, I have favor to ask of you.
-Don’t even bother Liam. He is too young.
-But there is no life for him here! One day they are going to kill all of us. We can’t move forever. This is not life we wanted for our child. They have cut off my right arm, I can’t be stonemason anymore. He is too young to get burden of supplying for a family. And you know how Priscilla is fragile. We will manage on our own, but we don’t want this for our son.
- Please granddad. He is a good boy, with innocent heart. We would send him to you anyway to learn him how to use his wings. -
-Alright alright alright. Well then, pack him up, and say your goodbyes. Cause where we are going, he won’t be back for quite a number of years. I am gonna go and see if that old crow Myra is still alive.
By the time I got back, my mother and father were waiting me with bag filled with some clothes and food for travel.
-Is everything ok Mom, why are you crying? Does it hurt that much? Didn’t you get something for pain?
-No, she just had her wounds sanitized Uriel. Listen boy, you are going to spend some time with your great-grandfather. He is a good man, and you will listen everything he has to tell you or teach you. He might be able to help you use your wings also.
-But repairs, and rest.. there is so much to be done.
-Nah, there is nothing worth repairing, we need to move again anyway.
-Listen dear, I know you are pure of heart, and I just know you can do this. Listen to my grandpa even when he is mumbling, he has a lot to learn you, and a world to show you.
It will take some years, but I know you will find your path, and i hope we will see you soon.
- Oooh that hag still has so much life left in her, tee hee. Ready boy? Don’t look me with watery eyes like that, do you do anything besides crying all the time? Move it move.
Wait, hold on, someone took my horse. looks around hmm. Well this will be one more exercise for you then. Come on horsie. Pick me up and lets go. -
We traveled east, for quite some time, and most of time i was carrying him like a child , giving him a piggyback ride. He would dose off sometimes, and then scold me for waking him up. He was heavy for such an old geezer, and i had quite a hard time even though i had no problem carrying stuff ever since i was young. Every few hours, we would stop for a snack and drink, rest in my case, but just when i would think that i can catch my breath for a moment or two, he would give me exercises to do. Some were quite easy for me, but some were plain impossible. Sun wasn’t helping either. Without shade of forest to hide under, everything was much harder.
Days, weeks, months passed like this, and we were still travelling, stopping only at small villages to refill supplies. People knew him, and treated him with respect and love. He knew name of each and every child that came to greet him, problems of each family that talked to him.
- They do not fear you, yet they respect you so much. How is that – i asked between sets of exercise.
-Well you see, kindness and love given, come back tenfold. If everyone acted like that, imagine in what beautiful world we would live in. Parents sometimes have grudges against someone, or something, and forget fast about their vows and oaths, so they have to be reminded. But children, if you teach them about love and compassion they will try to act that way , trough their whole lives.
-And in which group do i go under? What will be my story ? Am I a grown up or a child you wish to teach ?
-Heh, you are somewhere in between I must say. You will learn. Now , exercises, no slacking !
Exercises changed a lot since beginning. Small changes at time, but they were so often during the day , that next day it attacked totally a new group of muscles, but shoulders and back exercises for my muscles connecting wings were more often. It has been at least 6 months, and we were still travelling. Muscles are sore all the time, but i could feel how much stronger i have become. After some time pain started to fade, and no matter what he asked of me I could do it with ease. No more tiring up while carrying him around, it was as if he wasn’t even there.
One day as we travelled, we came to a top of a flat hill. It was near sundown, so it really was a sight to see. Finally an area with trees, and probably around 3-4 hours walk from there a town with big white buildings. He asked me to put him down, and without turning around i did, along with the things i carried, while still gazing at sundown and listening to creatures changing their roles. Day hunters going to sleep, and night ones waking up.
Suddenly i felt a strong surface-wide thrust on my back , pushing me towards the edge, as if mountain itself was moving behind me. It was so strong that it kicked me off the edge, and few meters away into the air.
I turned around, and seen him stand with his hands in front of him, with light glowing on them.
- What was that for!? Are you crazy? Do you want to kill me ?
- But how could I, I merely pushed you a little, I did nothing that could possibly harm you.
- I could have fallen and die, luckily I can … I CAN FLY ! Wow!! Look at me, I can fly !!
I couldn’t get enough of it, spinning left and right trough the air, still getting into it, soaring trough sky and doing flips , hard turns, screaming , and scaring away all the predators of the night. It is my night , and my alone !
- Now, listen to me, don’t go too far away from me, and we shall fly to the town you see in distance in half hour or so .
- But.. How can you fly ? I thought your wings were torn off ?
- If one has will, there is always a way .
By saying that, he had spread wings of pure light, so wide and so beautiful.
It was as if demon was flying next to an angel. I so dark and big, and he so thin and white.
Like he said, we arrived to town in matter of minutes.
This is our destination that we have traveled to. Here you will learn ways of light, as I did, and many before me. If you turn out to be pure enough, you will become a paladin. Let me do the talking for now. after few steps, he turned around and said. – And Uriel, since i know nothing could stop you tonight, try to come back before dawn, a busy day is ahead of us. – With that said, he flew away.
- Welcome brother Maes. When we seen your wings from a far, we never thought you have another traveler by yourself, and by all that, of ..your kind. Sadly we have prepared one bed only, Cedric, be so kind and prepare one more bed for our new…friend?
-Apprentice, and hopefully one day a brother, and by all means a friend. Your apprentice, that Cedric boy, they are of same age almost i think. Hopefully they will become friends too.
Now Uriel, I have some reports to give, you carry our stuff to room which we are assigned to, brother Orruns ,if you would be so kind to show him way.
Next few days, I didn’t seen him much. Maes was busy, and when he would come to give me lessons, I couldn’t get any other information from him, and he would focus on giving me instructions to certain spells, and always asking me right ways to do things, asking me how i feel about some sort of things, what would i do in certain situations.
I could tell when my answers pleased him, and when not. He wouldn’t get angry, but he would become sad, which bothered me more. So i learned and learned.
Also, most of time i was training with Cedric. He was strong built, with maybe too much care for his looks then he should have, he envied my wings, and i was jealous on his sword skills.
We would fight and fight, and never once I have won.
But I learned, and trained as much as I could. First few nights, when owls woke up, I would be there also, to fly with them, but as time went by, I would get more tired of reading so much during day, that I would usually just jump onto bed and fall asleep.
Maes’s bed was empty most of time, sometimes i would hear him coming late into night, and yet he would vanish before the dawn again, leaving his bed as if untouched.
His lessons were getting harder also, spells that i learned were quite complex, but that wasn’t the problem. His questions started getting weirder and weirder. Situations I could never dream of coming into appeared before me. What is right way to do things. What is the right answer to do something. – All the power of the world doesn’t mean anything if you don’t bring right decisions. You are powerful as it is Uriel, and while continuing on path of paladin you will become even more powerful ,but within that power lies great responsibility. If you ask for power alone, this is not a place for you to be. Power to protect, power to defend is always given by the gods, but not to destroy. Don’t forget that -
As years went by, our conversations were longer, much more calmer then before, we talked about life itself, about philosophy, about stuff that was far more abstract then fight itself.
Sure i trained, but not just physically, mentally also. I was growing up, and I cherished every moment of it. Cendric and I became best friends, and when we weren’t training or learning, we were fishing, playing chess, and helping around town. Whole community was so full of love and compassion that I felt that my cheeks hurt from smiling after day spent, when i would lay in my bed.
After 4 years of training, I started going on missions. Crypts, cleansing poisoned wells hidden in mountains, slaying creatures and banishing them, and always praying for every creature that I harm in process. Life was in everything, and each bit of it had its own way of presenting itself. I am just a guide to the light. Hate for humans was forgotten, although at time i grew very fond of it, dreaming that as i flew i would slaughter any who would harm my family again.
When I finished my 10 years of training, I became a paladin. Took my vows, and became official brother of light. Maes told me how proud he was. But even that i became paladin, didn’t stop me from following him around, learning from him, as I felt that i could never learn everything about mysteries of the world like he did.
5 years after that and from Apprentice I was promoted to Sentry.
Then in one year after several accomplishments i even got my Guardian tittle.
My master taught me so much. Maes is trully a great being, and I wish I realized that earlier as a kid.He has grown so old, too old. Sometimes he would stop in middle of sentence looking at Sun, directly into the middle of it. One day, he told me he is going to visit his grand-daughter and that I should come with him too, since its been decades since i seen my parents, and that after it, he is going to make journey to a place where he was born. I was 41 at the time, a fully grown man by our standards, and was also happy that am going to see my parents.
I said goodbye to Cedric and others, and made a promise that I will come back soon.
Maes gave a lovely speech, and told that he is going to retire, and that it will probably be last time that they are seeing him. Everyone was sad, but also happy that his life was filled with nothing but light.
Finally, we left. Soaring trough night sky like a beacon, we were flying with him giving directions. I didn’t ask him how he knew where we need to go, neither he bothered explaining. Eventually, after 2 days, and plenty stops, we arrived.
Such a small small village, i think it was 10 tents all together, and such a quiet one, with no kids around flying like it usually was.
Following him as we landed, he entered one, but it wasn’t so easy for me, as tent was small and my wings caught on edges of it so i almost crushed it whole down.
- Uriel ! Oh god you’ve grown so much ! Come ,give me a hug.
- Mother, you are so skinny ! oh your hair still smells so beautiful, same smell as when i was a kid. This brings so much memories.
- Son, you’ve become a man. Give your old man a hug.
- Well, your smell is not so beautiful, but it still brings back memories hehe. Hows your arm?
- When weather changes, it hurts like hell but otherwise is fine.
Maes seemed like he had some troubles. He repeatedly told he was having some headaches.
- Priscilla dear, could you give your old granddad some soup to warm my belly. I am not feeling as good as i thought i would. This travel is getting the worst of me.
Night itself went peacefully, but morning was sad. Maes died last night in his sleep. A good way to die, after drinking warm soup, and sleeping in company of your family.
I have put him in a white sheet and promised to burry him somewhere I know he would like.
I spent few more hours with my parents, talked about what they have been doing in that time, they had so many raids by humans it was scary. Attacks are getting more and more often, and they have to move more often. Humans are becoming more daring by day. I offered to find them place near paladin camp, there they would be protected, but only if they decide to follow it.
They happily agreed, and so with good news, i went on to bury my master and to go to paladin camp.
I buried him on that same hill, where i first laid eyes upon my new home during a beautiful sunset, like one we witnessed then.
Slowly I finished, and with some minor spells of sort I knew sealed his tomb, laying a sacred symbol of our order across his grave.
As i came, I greeted everyone and told them how life left our brother, our leader, our mentor.
Tears were shown, but it really was a good way to die for a paladin. Surrounded by loved ones.
I went to discuss matters of my kind with elders, for them to seek refuge like many before them within reach of our order .
Orruns was speaking at the time, and apparently he became new leader of our order, so he was reassuring brothers that there is nothing to fear, and that no big changes will be made.
When I made my request, brothers agreed, but he didn’t look so pleased.
God watches over everyone, that is true, and so shall we, but strix are unique sort to be seen, so close to our camps, some other refugees might get scared. –
- They will learn to love each other, as you learned to love your two strix brothers I hope.
-Ah, of course they will. I still don’t think it is a wise idea, I think merely giving them a bird from our camp to be a message carrier if something would go wrong, would be just fine, don’t you think ?
- They have spent their whole lives running, hiding, moving from one place to other. God knows how far they might be when they get attacked next time, and not even myself am not sure if i would get there on time.
-But surely our fastest flyer would be there fast, no ? I am sorry, but as a head of this council i must decline.
- Luckily as a member of this council I say we should put it on a vote – Cedric rose and spoke, giving me a reassuring wink.
- Ah, our brother Cedric. Yes, I forgot about you being a member of this council.
Very well, I can’t decline a council request. All for declining this request raise hands. –
Some did, but not many, mostly Orruns’s underlings, and Orruns himself.
-Well, it appears that we are outnumbered. That being said, I accept request of our brother Uriel, but know this, all of bloodshed and commotion that get caused go on you brother.
- Thank you oh great council. I will be happy to bring good news to them.
Moving went peacefully, and soon my race joined our encampments.
There were some odd looks, and fear on beginning, but as time went by all refugees were mixing together, and getting along better. Human refugees opposed most threat, but neither Strix or them made any move to do so. They were all tired of wars, and just wanted peace.
Maybe fact that there were an armored Strix paladin, and armored Human paladin with a gleaming claymores on their waists walking around camps helped, but who knows.
Cedric and I both were inseparable as ever, but Orruns kept sending me on missions on different sides of world from him.
One day as I came to give my report, I seen Cedric in front of Orruns room, with troubled look upon his face.
-Greetings brother, what wares you? There is no problem so big to keep such a frown , friend.
-There is a human envoy here, talking to our master Orruns inside. His request is…disturbing.
He wants your kind being kicked out of refugee camps and our protection removed from them. As you know Orruns is really not a fan of your kind, but he did defend our orders honor, and didn’t let our guest to say whatever he wants, nor did he tell anything about removing your kind from refugee camps. However, that being said, he agrees on certain aspects with him, and i dont like how this conversation continues further.
- What? How dare they. –
I charged in opening doors in my way
-How dare you human ! How dare you disturb peace of those who seek nothing but sanctuary?
How dare you trouble those seeking just peace and love after years of running from war. Where did you find odacity to come to our order after all you’ve done.
-Peace? They do not deserve peace. But I see now. A strix paladin, and here i thought those were only rumors. Oh i just had to see it with my own eyes. Though i was told you were much much older. Now it all makes sense, why otherwise would such a reasonable man as your master accept this foul race into camps.
-Stop it at once ! Tho I would never harm a human being for such a teasing remark, you should consider that you are guest here and choose your words more carefully. And that strix you were talking about was my great-grandfather, and he was leader of our order till recently when he passed away.
-I am sooo sorry to hear that, excuse me while i cry . Well there is nothing for me here obviously, from this moment everything i might say would be just like pissing in an ocean. -
He made a slight courteous bow towards Orruns, on which he responded with a nod, and after that he made a sarcastically sad frown at me and left.
-Brother, how could you –
- No more Uriel! Silence! I told you what will come if those….creatures are to settle there. Luckily this went without any harm done to anyone, so let it just be as it is.
Give me your report, and your next mission is already assigned, I just remembered there was one thing i need you to do. It will keep you well away from all this while i settle things here . It is a perfect mission for a nocturnal creature like you.
- I am wielder of light, not a nocturnal creature.
- Nevertheless your dark vision will come in handy. Here you go, off you go.
I couldn’t help but notice how calm was he after all this that happened, but as a brother paladin I am certain that there wont be any bloodshed if he can help it.
A mission indeed was a good one for me. A score of undead creatures kept pestering an innocent village, yet apparently most of them had wings, and their lair was in a place unreachable for anyone else but winged creatures or someone with flight skill.
Also there was bound to be darkness inside a mountain since undeads need no light, so it was well suited. It is just what i need now, slashing with my claymore on mindless hordes of undeads.
I love to fight, I love being wielder of light, I love carrying out justice to those who only mean harm. If there can be no other solution, enemy will be crushed. Chills went down my spine. I know Maes would be really sad right now on my way of thinking, but just today let the power surround me, let them feel my wrath.
It took me 3 days to come there,I flew night and day with little rest, but with little trouble i found the mountain mentioned, and once I was there I visited village that was closest to it and asked for directions.
Villagers didn’t really understand what I meant, or they were too scared to talk to me, but none of them told anything about any undead creatures.
I went into some sort of tavern and asked innkeeper who spoke Common well but he told me there wasn’t any harm to this village for quite some time and that of winged creatures I am first to visit this village.
I checked his motives, but he wasn’t lying apparently.
I flew outside to mountain, all the time neglecting the fact, reassuring myself that master wouldn’t lie to me, checking for any option that villagers might be charmed, but at mountain i found nothing but a bear, 3 wolfs, and a fox with her cubs (for some reason they were dancing and singing a ringadingding) , but other than that, it was a huge pile of rocks with hardly any caves or entrances, just one small shaft where someone tried to mine rock.
Rage filled me slowly and i hurried back to camp. Even at full speed and almost without any rest, it took me 1 day to come at edge of forest, but i had to take a moment just to prepare myself for worst. I flew at top of the hill where my master was sleeping, and paid my respect while breathing heavily. I seen fires at the camp, and I didn’t have time rest anymore.
Flashes of light i could easily see, and as i flew closer i could hear distant sounds of steel clashing one to other.
Even though I was flying as fast as i could, by the time i got closer, it all faded away, and sound of battle died, only fires were rising up.
My worst fears weren’t even close to what happened.
Strix bodies everywhere, smell of burned feathers mixed with scorched meat lingered in air.
Some human corpses, but almost none. Rest of the encampment was guarded by paladins, some with tears in their eyes, and a few corpses with with armors laying around.
I guess some just couldn’t handle the horror in front of their eyes no matter the orders.
Some humans stripped strix corpses and stretched them on lances, some of them tortured girls and some raped them, and there were few that roasted younglings making japes it tastes like chicken.
I lost it. No matter the words, no matter the orders i knew that I would receive, i lost it and charged in with all the strength that i had in me.
I had advantage of surprise and i tore, bit, slashed with everything i had.
Those few around fires came first, and before they could get their pants up i slew rapers.
I don’t remember how much of them I fought, with tears in my eyes, and blood splashing over me, I felt so much anger and so much power and the taste of blood on my lips became even sweet. More, more, crazed I felt nothing , i flung my claymore with both hands, with one hand even , recklessly slashing without parry, getting more excited after each wound I received and with each life I taken. After some time i realized i was hitting a dead man repeatedly until i turned around and seen none of them alive. I slew even two of my brothers that were protecting gate.
But why didn’t it matter to me, i just want to avenge my kin, how could they do this to me?
I turned around to those remaining outside encampment 3 of them looking at me with mixed fear disgust and worry.
- Brother, are you ok? Just calm down.
He came towards me with hands like he was trying to calm an animal. He came so close I could see my reflection in his shield.
I took a deep breath and lowered tip of my blade.
- No need to worry about me brother. – I made a reassuring smile .
He lowered his shield and made a trembling smile.
The moment he lowered it, i approached and stabbed him trough.
- No need to worry about me brother, I never felt better.
With light fading from his eyes I pushed him away towards two of them approaching and slashed with his sword , leaving mine inside of him.
They were no match for me, years of training , learning made me what I am, or what I was.
They made me do this, its all their fault, what kind of paladin lets something like this happen .
- HOW COULD YOU – i yelled, while repeatedly slashing one of them on shield.
He was so weak, he just kept going down like a nail being hammered to the ground.
I could smell stench of piss approaching from behind and with my other hand, i slapped the trembling idiot approaching from behind. My mauled fist crushed his teeth and he didn’t even have strength to hold his sword, tip of it trembling from fear .
-I can’t believe what passes as a paladin these days,..brother. You need to be carefull where you piss, otherwise your armor will rust.
-Mercy please .
- Mercy? Where were you when they cried for mercy. Where were you when they were getting killed, torched, massacred, tortured, raped, where were you when they were EATEN . YOU LITTLE WORM . You will find no mercy from me, just mercy of quick death. –
With that said, I have cut his head off, and finished the one behind me, then moved to the palace.
No remorse, no sadness, just anger and more anger pilling up inside of me.
I realized that the blood dripping on ground was my own, but I didn’t care, until moment that i got dizzy and knelt with one knee to the ground just to remain conscious.
I need to stop this bleeding otherwise i won’t even be able to walk to masters hall, nor kill anyone anymore. I tried to heal myself, but I failed. No light came from my hands, my touch brought nothing to me but pain.
Ah, so that’s how it is. I have fallen in the eyes of gods, not worthy of their powers anymore.
Fall from grace my master called it. But how far have I strayed from my path. Too far.
I don’t seek light anymore that’s sure, just more blood and death.
-Maybe darkness would be more suitable? – a voice appeared. I am not sure was it just in my head, or the one speaking was somewhere near.
-Ha, what a foul creature are you, seeking allies in the fallen?
-What or who I am is not of any concern now, you need power, and I can give it. –
-And what do I need to trade for it? Life ? Soul ? Do i need to sacrifice a living child, or a whole village? -
-Oh no, I ask nothing, I am on your side, I am here, just to give means for…justice. –
-What sort of ruse is this ? Do you take me for a fool? My master thought me all about what happens to those that go to dark side, depending on deity they make different dark oaths to some creatures that in return grant them powers. Those oaths, trades, contracts are never like this. Damnation awaits me I know.
-You think too much for someone who just slew more humans then you can count, and even your brothers by light. However you look at it, you are on path of damnation, you have " fallen " if you will, but I would take this for opportunity. Being evil is much more fun. Leaving death in your wake, or in your case bringing justice, your justice to the world. I don’t ask either loyalty nor compassion nor understandings of my goals. No oaths, no sacrifices, no rituals ,nothing. You are on a path where just being yourself would benefit me.So I ask nothing more.
Well, maybe one little thing bothers me. A little bit of favor.
-Let me hear it .
- Uriel…your name is just..not suitable I think .
-Well it has so much light in it. It presents something you are no longer, don’t you think?
-Light of the lord,..Yes, I am no longer light of any lord, nor flame of god. What would suit your needs?
-Hmm, I am not really good in this, but I think Seth would suit it well.
-So Seth it will be. Now grant me my powers creature, and be gone so I can finish what I started.
-Not so fast Seth. You want to get to elders hall don’t you? You won’t get there even like that, using all the power i grant you for healing, and then dying like idiot in matter of minutes.
Weapons are not permitted in hall of elders, and with no excuse will you get inside.
Throw your weapon, and cast aside your armor, all powers that you need will be granted once you enter there, otherwise they will massacre you just from auras you would radiate getting there. As for healing – i sensed burning sensation all over my body with steam rising from each gap – there you go. Now hurry, before words of slaughter get inside.
-How do i know i can trust you to grant me powers?
- You don’t. But you know you can’t do this alone. What other choice do you have ?
- If you don’t i will strangle each and every one of them with my own two hands, and then i will find you and do the same to you –
-Go my antipaladin to be, forge your powers on hatred and anger. – With that said, voice faded.
I flexed my muscles, I wasn’t hungry for nothing but more death, I wasn’t tired, as if I woke up from a night sleep . Filled with strenght I moved inside.
Courtyard was empty, with no guards in sight, but as it said, guards were still on posts in front of hall of elders. At all times, there were over twenty guards in this room, some drinking , some eating, but I would get torn apart before I could get inside to hall of elders if I charged like i wanted to.
- Brother Uriel, what happened to you? Where is your armor and weapon? – one asked as i passed by.
- It was so heavy brother, and I was tired of wearing it, so these ragged clothes will have to suffice for our elder council, and since i can’t carry weapon inside, I left it in my room, for some newcomer to polish.
- Oh I wish i could see Orruns face when you get in there in those clothes. But it is what we tell about , its not the armor nor anything material that makes the man, its what is inside right brother, naked to the world, no lies and all, right? And that newcomer is sure to see what a real weapon looks like. They ought to ,I bet he is even trying to swing that huge thing around your room, right as we speak.
-Yes…no lies and all brother. Exactly as you said it. So, may I pass? I have a serious report to turn in.
-Sure sure, you don’t even have to ask. You will have to tell me how he looked like when you get out, I wonder what kind of face he will make.
-Oh i have few in mind.
I entered inside, and within a moment my eyes adjusted.
As always, small light shining only on their hands, hiding their faces as if their voices won’t help anyone who hears it more then once differ one from other. But for me it made no difference, my vision in dark was sharp and I could see all their faces.
How foolish all this seems, just thinking about how I cherished all this hours ago, makes me laugh.
-MY BROTHERS , HOW GOOD IT IS TO SEE YOUR FACES AGAIN. I have great news for all of you. Strix are gone, no more of a trouble for us, so all can rest. We can all fulfill our higher role, cause this was a right thing to do. Not killing them, we simply turned our head away, and cleared courtyard and all is gone. NO MORE PROBLEMS ! -
Some of them tried to talk, but I wouldn’t let myself be bothered. I just continued louder.
LET US ALL PRAY FOR OUR SINS AND ALL SHALL BE FORGIVEN.
But, some faces are missing, oh yes,not all of elders are here. Where is my brother Cedric, my sparring partner, where is our librarian, where are the rest? –
-Where they are is no concern for you, but you may no longer call them nor us your brothers.
I can sense no aura from you, I see you have strayed from your path. There is no place for such like you in these halls. – Orruns said.
- So you kept your powers? I wonder how? What sort of God gave you to wield a light in his favor. Where is justice for those who betray their brethren. WHERE IS JUSTICE FOR THOSE WHO LIE AND MURDER. I will ask you one more time, where are they ? If you want a quick death you will tell me.
-Oh don’t make me laugh, with no armor or weapon, with no power, what is little bird gonna do to us? We made amends for walking on swords edge, but it was all for greater good. Gods understand us, but apparently you are not so righteous in eyes of gods.
Don’t you feel shame presenting yourself to us like that? In those filthy rags stained in blood, is there no dignity left in you? –
I spread my wings and in few moments got to the top of the hall and in one circle i closed all windows, leaving no light in room. Murmurs started, commotion in their seats, looking around like old fools. Their days of fighting were over, few were younger, but most of them should’ve been dead long ago. I felt power surging trough me, i seen darkness thicker then one of light surrounding me, i felt something enveloping me, shrouding my skin, and moments after a black scythe appeared in my hands.
A scythe? Seems suitable.
I knew i had only a few moments of commotion to react, so I charged at ones that were still in their seats.
They fell like nothing. Screams, growls, coughs, echoed trough the hall, stench of death spreading. It was amazing.
Some of them still had some of wits to summon light in their aid, so they could see what was happening.
- Why aren’t guards coming in? Why aren’t they helping us ? – some of the younger council members asked.
- Cause more then walls envelops this hall. Not everything needs to be shared with brethren. THEY JUST NEED TO KNOW ORDERS. RIGHT MASTER?
He gleamed with light, surrounding himself in every shield and enchantment he knew.
Like a beacon of light , but somehow room was too dark for him to shine trough all of darkness.
Apparently my friend helped more then he promised. For now.
After some time, there was none alive but him.
I landed on edge of light, slowly walking trough the center of the hall towards him .
I could almost smell his fear.
How is it to know you are about to die? Are you scared of the dark? Are you scared that big bad strix is going to hurt you?
-You monster ! You don’t deserve to live , I can feel it now, such dark auras, its so evil that it makes me sick. I grant that you are smarter then I thought, I expected you to die on entrance from guards, but appears that i was wrong . Makes no difference, you can’t kill me fast, and guards should feel your aura soon enough. –
*distant laugh appeared in my head. – He is so clever, maybe i should’ve borrowed some of my powers to him instead? Ah well. What done is done. Go now . Kill him ! Wield my power Seth ! *
I could feel it. So much, too much.
- Are you so certain that you will leave this room alive? –
I got into light range, white teeth smiling, red eyes gleaming, with rest of my body burning with dark flame, and that huge black scythe sucking in all the light around, it looked almost as if it bends space around it.
Trying to hide surprise on my face, i spread wings for better effect, and gliding few inches above the ground, moved slowly as I could towards him, closing space between us, feeding on his emotions.
From such certainty, to horror in matter of seconds. From such odacity to begging.
He could no longer bear it. Pressure was too much, and moments after he was on his knees, hands on ground, with bowed head, like a dog .
- Please, I beg you, let me join you, take me as your squire, I will clean your armor, and that beautiful scythe, spare my life It will be worth to you much more.
After he said that, i fealt his aura dissapearing. Gods left him too.
He sensed it too, and shuddered and started to cry even harder.
- PLEASE. NO! I BEG YOU ! I’LL DO ANYTHING!
- Tell me where is Cedric and others , and your death will be quick.
I have put scythe bellow his head, with blade close to his neck. I felt life leaving him. This scythe was meant for nothing other than that.
Almost relieved he said – They are locked down in dungeons, on second level, with some bread, and prayers for them to realize that our path was right. They didn’t agree to any of this. Please let it be quick, you promised.
*- Are you sure that quick death is what he deserves? Become my creature, and I will keep his damnation lasting trough centuries after his life goes away. *
With a swift pull of scythe upwards i sliced his head off, and it tumbled down the stairs.
- I won’t lie,otherwise I would be no better then him. I told that quick death awaits him if he told me what i wanted. -
*- You still are not suited for this power. In time maybe. However this was fun. If you survive all this, maybe one day we may meet again. *
After i heard that, I felt a wind swiping off everything on me, dark shroud of flame withering away, and scythe fading and vanishing.
I smiled. Did i just cheat a devil? Or did he use me as he wanted? Nevertheless my plan was fulfilled. I wonder how much till guards come in.
Then it hit me. With powers gone, my auras should be down too. Even if my intent to kill is strong, hopefully they wont detect my evil intentions.
I walked to doors, smiled wide, and opened them.
Same guard waited outside .
- Ha-ha, look at you, smiling . How was it, tell me all about it, what did they say? –
- Oh you should’ve seen him, like a chicken "but but but but but, you can’t wear that here " I nearly pissed myself –
- Ahaha, I just wish that I could see it. Let me see his face now –
- No no, they said noone is to disturb them , but you should see them when they get out, I bet he will still have same look –
- Oh yes, I bet he will, come lets grab a drink –
- Nah, not now, I have something to do –
I walked out slowly, still not believing how smooth this all went, grabbed my armor from dirt,but somehow my sword was missing, so I grabbed a dagger from ground and made my way to dungeons.
Luckily, only one guard was there.
- Orruns sent me, prisoners are to be released. Deed is done, they can now do no more harm.
- Noone is to get in or out, until master com ….- I stabbed a dagger, right trough his eye into the skull.
With key from his pouch, I went inside.
Passing next to cells, I seen my former brothers praying, cell by cell.
Finally, deepest inside on second level, Cedric sat on ground, and unlike others, not praying. Total darkness filled the inside, yet he knew that it was me.
- What wrong did you do brother? – he asked me in a sad voice.
- I did what had to be done. I am not sorry that i slew them, If given chance I would do it again, and probably will. I will hunt the hunters. –
-They are but lost souls that need guidance. –
- We have different views of guidance. I will slay them, and let the gods judge them. Heaven or hell, something awaits them.Hell hopefully.
-You changed so much brother. I am sorry for you, I am sorry I couldn’t be there to help. They…they didn’t let me . I could never harm a brother, there was nothing I could’ve done.
I wanted to stop them, but it was too much. –
- I know, and I understand. You were only brother I ever had. You will be a fine leader.
Become a leader, hunt me down. Let our swords clash again.
Here, take the keys, and free others that got locked also. They probably got locked inside because of the same reason. Farewell my brother.
With that said, I walked out and flew far away.
I discarded my armor, cloaked myself, and slew most of humans that I came to, that by judgement shared the hatred toward strix. When i wasn’t slaying them, I was hunting bounties as a mercenary. Only thing i carried was a scythe. Somehow i grew fond of it, as i grew fond of my new name.
One night after a long hunt, after wiping my scythe i got tired enough to disregard fact that i should look for a better hideout , closer to sky as I usually would, I dozed off bellow a tree.
I was woken up by pain, with flail hit on my shoulder, surrounded by soldiers in black/red armors. They spoke language that was close to one i knew, but i couldn’t understand everything. I understood that i am to be kept for entertainment of some sort, as a slave.
While I dreamt of being led to a rich princess searching for an exotic strix fuck, I got so disappointed when i ended up in a huge cell trapped with so many more of slaves then i ever imagined were. Slaves were rare where i come from, but here apparently someone was gathering a lot of them.
As i learned, we were to fight each other soon, very soon.
I was led there during the night, and as light rose, we were woken up, and shown out in a huge circle yard. Then i realized, it was arena. Few of them had some weapons, one guy wore a full armor and a huge polearm.
After horn was released everyone charged. Blood splattering everywhere, some running to edges, some trying to climb huge walls, just to get shot.
Then i noticed how much guards there was, my eyes adjusting to light. And sounds i heard weren’t just from slaves that fought, there were people watching all around.
Haha, oh sweet smell of death, sooo much death. I could escape, with hardly any scratch with a bolt or two in my back, but that would hardly do anything to me, not even a threat to my life.
But why would I, this is all I need. For this I was born.
I spread my wings and charged onto a guy with full armor . I grabbed him picked him up, and tossed to a wall in full speed. he slammed into it, then slid down 5 meters and i could hear sweet sound of bone crushing under all that armor. I took his weapon, and charged to kill more.
After some time, few of us were left, and we were confronted by guards to end fight, and led back inside.
As i understood, that armored guy was a former champion and if he won this battle, he would be released.
Day after that, I was chosen among few to start the challenge again.
I fought each day, against more and more opponents.
I only wanted a scythe, It was given to me a bit later, but when i got it, there was nothing stopping me.
Crowd was yelling my name, I bathed in blood and I brought death to many.
Nothing was more thrilling. One night some of them came into my corner. She unlashed my wrappings and slid a warm hand inside. It was first time in my life being touched like that, I moaned like an idiot and spilled my seed into her palm. She only giggled, and continued, and before i knew, she was on top of me riding me like an animal that I was.
Her body was so warm I remember, but I remember the shivers also. She was scared I could feel it. At last second i grabbed her wrist, before a dagger could slit my throat.
With other hand i grabbed her neck and knocked her on the ground, switching positions, still inside her, leaning on her neck. I continued to fuck her, choking her , closing to her face, looking at depths of her eyes, and filling her insides the moment life left her.
Dagger clanked as it hit the ground, with no other sounds but my breaths to break the silence of the night.
My first woman, enveloped in death. It seemed only right.
More and more days passed by, without a count, and more enemies i fought.
Crowd was loving me, as I was a bringer of death, with wings I was something that they never seen before , something they feared, something they adored, something they respected.
Final day I was brought more armor, and a new scythe, as I used my last one to nail my last enemy onto a pole arching over arena, high above the crowd.
I spoke language easily enough now. Tomorrow I fight 300 enemies, and if i win a reward and freedom awaits me again.
I wanted more death I told them, but guards only smiled at that.
And so the battle started. Commotion was same as when I was first time here, noone knows what is happening, some of them know they need to fight me, some don’t, and I go trough them reaping their lives away, on foot, flying, tossing around, biting, screaming, screeching at them , charging from above, trying to stab more of them onto spikes near edges of arena, simply enjoying everything.
At the end , none was left, and my last enemy got tossed from high up in air, to become a splash of blood in pit of sand soaked with blood so much that it became red. This was farthest up that i flew, and i noticed a huge red stone in the middle of the town before i landed.
Crowd loves me as usual, and I was escorted back into cells. This time i got a separate cell, a bathtub filled with hot water, and fresh set of clothes to change into.
I had 2 guards guarding me, but none of them answered my questions.
No matter, they can’t kill me without entering, and if they do, I will take at least one more life with mine.
I bathed, it felt so nice, also a fresh set of clothes.
When night came, 4 more guards came, spoke something to two of them, and I was escorted out of dungeons, then out of arena. I had chains all over, so there was literally no way to escape. We walked and walked until we came into a palace, and after that into a huge room, with few lights around, but for me it was no difference. There was an table, and one man on end of it, eating.
- Get him out of chains, he is no longer a prisoner here . He is our champion –
Chains were taken of,and after that all the guards that brought me left, leaving only few inside, scattered near edges of the room.
- Come closer, sit and eat. –
It was as if i didn’t even think about it, I came closer, and sat on a chair closest to his, and grabbed something to eat.
He offered me immortality, he offered me joining his personal guard, he offered me a lot, and all he asked was that I do it in name of his god.
Does it always have to come to gods ?
It was an evil god, I could feel it, it was unspoken and we both knew it. What kind of savage would pick his personal guard from a winner of slaughter.
Good, I like this.
-I will accept your God, and cherish it as only one for time being. –
- For life –
- For life -