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.


44. Chapter forty four

 Holtz opened his eyes, still too weary to feel surprise or pain, feeling his body heavy as lead. Above him, the sky was covered by dark clouds. With an effort he felt akin to moving a mountain, he put the corpse that imprisoned him aside and looked around.


  He wished he hadn’t survived.


 At the distance, he could see that the city in which he had fought was barely more than ashes and dust, from which raised thick tendrils of smoke. When had he gotten so far away? He tried to remember what happened after drinking Beast’s dark blood, but he could only find glimpses of fire, ice and, permeating all, an invincible sense of dread. There were many corpses around him, most of them chewed or maimed. A sudden hunger seized him and, without thinking, approached a somewhat intact corpse, checking his clothes until he found a knife. He was about to put it to the flesh, when he heard a weak cough a few yards away.


 This weak reminder of humanity stroke like a thunder. Stepping aside, he threw up the meager contents of stomach. He could now see the price for becoming stronger than a man had a right to be: he was not only risking his body, but his soul as well. He looked around to find the source of the cough. It was an wrinkled old man, with almost no flesh left over his bones. He wasn’t wearing any uniform, so he was probably a farmer or a citizen fleeing from the destruction the demons wrought.


 As he checked him for injuries he noticed his hands and started shaking visibly.


 Their color had changed, from mild tan to a dark red. He lifted his sleeve and the legs of his trousers, confirming the extent of his change: all of his skin had turned color. He turned to survey his surroundings, and a third surprise struck him: what in his unconsciousness he had thought to be the corpse of one of his comrades, turned out to be the one from one of the invaders, an enormous monstrosity he shouldn’t have been able to drag, much less to move.


 A new bout of cough from the old man brought him back to reality. He couldn’t leave him here, it’d be the same as killing him. If they wanted to survive, they had to get north, while avoiding the demons. He lifted the gaunt old man with ease and started trotting. It would be a long journey.

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