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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5. Chapter five

Flames, destruction, death. A legion of fanatics screaming his name, falling upon defenseless people whose only sin was to deny his divinity. Why was this happening? Why was he incapable of returning everything to the times when he justly reigned over the whole of Creation?

 

With a shriek, the demon in the body of a man stod up, panting and covered in sweat. Where was he? He couldn't remember. Dawn was nearing, and he was on a tent, in the middle of a mild snow storm. Who was this woman that embraced him and whispered soothing words in his ear? Suddenly the memories came back, and with a curt shove he swept the young fae away “Be careful with you actions” he said “For many have died for far less” Erandiril stood there silent until the storm started to ease. Then, she went out of the tent.

 

The storm had left the outside covered by a thick layer of snow, white and pure. This made her remember the northern regions of the fae empire, which in turn brought back the memories of how her life had changed in just a few days. Her partners had died, she had almost been raped by humans, and now she was guiding home the very being she had sworn to destroy.

 

Suddenly, everything seemed trivial. In the depths of her soul, she could feel the calling of the South Tower, the colossal marble structure that for centuries had kept apart their dominions from the primitive but vigorous kingdoms of men.

 

A few decades ago they had started to make plunder expeditions to their most isolated villages. While these raids became bolder each passing year, never reached the terrible construction, for their superstitious ways made it fill their hearts with terror. According to their legends, the day one of them soiled it with their foot, one of the Seven would rise from their timeless slumber to scourge Creation once more.

 

She was lost in her thoughts when the Reaper finally left the tent, wearing the clothes of the soldier who had tried to kill him. Without a word, the huge man went into the frozen labyrinth that surrounded them, looking for prey that would ease their hunger: the rations taken from the bandits were starting to get scarce.

 

He didn't walk for long when he fell to the ground as if he had been struck by a terrible blade, wielded by an enemy a thousand times worse than the beings that roamed this world. So it was in his mind, for he was recalling the moment of his death, when his own blade, Foecleaver, had ran him through. It had been forged in the pits of Hell, and its blade was tempered by the blood of demons, but that wasn't what pained him most. What made the blow unbearable was that it had been struck by the one whom few minutes before the Reaper had called his most loyal retainer.

 

He tried to move, attack, spit on his treacherous counselor, but he knew it was useless. The sting that pierced him was too terrible, and the hand that guided it were too powerful to resist. It looked as if eternity fell upon his eyes, until he finally heard the voice of Death in the Wind whispering in his ear: “You were too soft with the mortal scum, my lord. Now I will be the one who takes decisions and leads our kind to true glory”. The Reaper then felt the blade leaving his body, spreading his bowels on the floor. His will was gone, he could see the gates of Hell opening to take his soul, but still he held death away long enough to whisper “Hell wont hold me forever, betrayor. The day will come when we will face each other again, and that day shall be your last”. Then everything went black.

 

Eternal ice, spreading further than the eye could see, scratched by the strongest winds in Creation, and more beautiful than any of the palaces ever built on it. In the middle of that frozen maelstrom laid the statue on the image of his most hated foe. He was laughing openly, daring the Reaper to find him and decide once and for all which of the two was worthy of been called Demon Lord. Then, the statue turned its back on him and started walking, in search of those who had betrayed the memory of their true master.

 

Seeing this, anger began to swell inside the Reaper's chest, threatening to flood through all his being. Incapable of restraint, he felt the pain grow inside until he couldn't resist, releasing a tremendous shriek.

 

When he once again took conscience of his own body, he was standing on the snow, watching the motionless body of a huge bear, and breathing laboriously because of wounds he didn't remember having suffered. At his side, Erandiril was pale, his face a mask of horror the like of which the Reaper had never seen in her, despite the many dangers they had faced together. Slowly, he managed to gather his last ounces of strength and asked “What happened here? I didn't know there was anything capable of frightening you”.

 

Without answering, she looked at the creature that laid at the Reaper's feet. Only then did he notice that it had been savagely ripped apart, by what must have been vicious claws. Fearing what he would see, he lowered his gaze, finding that his arms didn't finish in hands now: they now had the terrible tools of death that he had at the moment of his death, the claws that had taken the life of thousands of fools who tried to face him in combat.

 

The demon in the body of a man became petrified when he saw this. He stood there for a long time, until Erandiril broke the silence “The bear came when it heard your howl. When you saw it coming, you stood up and met him head on, taking the worst part of the fight. However, when the beast was about to finish you off, something incredible happened” She didn't speak for a few seconds, trying to pick the right words “You gave another howl, and a blinding light surrounded you. When I could finally look, you weren't there, but instead who you once were. I swear I saw the true majesty of the Demon Lord, just as I saw his bloodlust. You killed the beast easily, tearing savagely at it even when it was clear that it was dead. When your savagery was spent, you just stood there, and slowly recovered your current body”.

 

When she stopped talking, the Reaper wondered if he was more shocked by the story itself or by the complete lack of emotion on her when she told it. It wasn't important, though. Even if it was for a few moments, he had recovered his ancient splendour. Maybe it was possible to recover it in due time.

 

“Enough” he said “We won't accomplish anything standing around like idiots” Then, using his claws, he started to rip huge chunks of bear meat “This should be enough”. Still livid with fear, the young fae took what the Reaper gave her and started a fire to cook it. It wouldn't be a tasty meal, but at least it would keep them alive.

 

The next day the clouds departed. When the sun was high in the sky, both travelers continued their journey north.

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