Return of the Reaper

Thousands of years ago, the Reaper, Demon Lord and ruler of all Creation, was betrayed and his empire turned to dust. Now he has returned, and is looking for revenge on the one who betrayed him.


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18. Chapter eighteen

A rain of arrows was launched, but he was too ancient and powerful to fall to such paltry weapons. So ha advanced and murdered, his daggers dripping with the blood of the dead. The archers weren’t capable of facing him, but neither could they face the shame of retreating to a single enemy. Thus, they stood their ground, unsheathed their swords and fought till the bitter end, despite seeing their death in the demon’s countenance.

 

 A few minutes later, the mutilated bodies of the fae archers lay on the ground, their blood staining the grass. With a movement practiced countless times, the Night Prowler cleaned his daggers, observing the massacre.  Why did they do it? Was it a twisted sense of duty that made them lunge towards an unavoidable death? As if she could read his mind, Erandiril stood at his side, looked sadly at the corpses and said “They weren’t themselves anymore. The Dream Lords have many means at their disposal, to ensure the loyalty of their servants, especially those bred for war like these.” Without giving her attention, the demon started advancing, flowing through the ground as if his feet never touched the earth.

 

 It was the first time they had trouble. They had been lucky so far, walking a whole week without encountering anyone. They were well on their way to Erohim, the fae empire’s capital city, from which the dreaded Dream Lords controlled it through terror and blood. The three travelers had barely spoken to each other, each absorbed as they were in their own thoughts.

 

 It was obvious that the Lords had found their whereabouts, for it was otherwise impossible for them to encounter a squad of archers in the middle of nowhere. Yet this raised other questions: Why hadn’t they sent troops earlier? There were many places where even the two demons would’ve had trouble facing a well organized ambush. Also, it didn’t make sense for them to send such a weak force against two enemies whom they knew were capable of going toe to toe with their best forces and prevail. Were they goading them into a false sense of safety? Filled with doubt, they started to tread more carefully, walking by night and hiding by day.

 

 The Reaper was staring at the horizon. They had almost reached the city, yet the roads were empty, without a single soul travelling through them. It was odd: Erandiril had told him the city was always busting with activity, no matter what time of day and night. It was now almost dawn and he had been watching for a long time. Still, he hadn’t seen even a single horse on the road. Erandiril and the Night Prowler had already hidden themselves, and he had walked a little more to examine their surroundings.

 

 Suddenly, he felt movement in the nearby bush. Immediately alert, he walked towards it with a slow pace, as if he hadn’t heard anything. The same sound came. When he was a few steps away he lunged forward, destroying the bushed with his claws and revealing a sight that left him paralyzed by surprise.

 

 The noise had been made by a small fae child, who looked at him with curiosity. She was dressed at the old style, and her white hair reached a bit below her waist. She was caressing a small black cat, who was purring in pleasure. Before the Reaper could react, she left the cat o the ground and, holding the demon’s stare, told him “Time is running out, demon lord. Death in the Wind wishes to summon the legions of Hell to Creation. Once he does, you will be the only one with a chance of stopping him.”

 

 Only then did the demon recognize her true self. With barely contained fury he raised his claws and took a step forward. Glaring at the child, he said “I recognize you, envoy. Have you come to reignite the war between our people, or you just want to mock me in my disgrace?”

 

 A thin smile crept on the child’s features, revealing a wisdom older than Creation. She spoke to him, and her voice seemed to go straight to his heart “This world will be ours sooner or later. Death in the Wind’s presence would only be a hindrance to us, so we have decided to give you our assistance. With the Vermin Lord at his side, the one who betrayed you wants to summon the hellish legions to Creation.” She stopped for a few seconds, entranced at the beauty of the dawn “The only hope of survival for fae, nordheim and humans is to be led by a powerful commander who knows the way demons fight. With the army that Death in the Wind wants to raise, the only victory chance you have is having a truly powerful army at your orders. I will accompany you and force the Dream Lords to listen to you. That’s all I’m willing to do, for now.”

 

 The Reaper stood there in silence, carefully considering the words of the girl. Finally, he raised his head and said “It shall be as you say, for I don’t want to stray from my vengeance. Join us, then, but if I suspect for a moment that you will betray us as your kind is so wont to do, you shall die at my hand, even if that means sacrificing my revenge and renewing the war between Heaven and Hell. Do not reveal your true nature to the Night Prowler, for he still harbors bitter memories from the war, and I don’t want him to die at your hand.”

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