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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19. Chapter nineteen

 The man stifled a yelp of pain when the branch hit him. Struggling to keep a firm grip on his own, he lunged forward, turning his pain in anger, which in turn gave strength and speed to his strikes. His opponent smiled while he parried the storm of strikes and stabs. With a shout, Holtz redoubled his efforts, forcing the demon to take a step back “Very good.” He said “But it’s still not enough.” Taking advantage of an overextended lunge, Beast quickly sidestepped and slapped Holtz in the forehead, making him fall to the ground.

 

 Laughing, the demon jerked him on his feet, waiting as he recovered. Once he had rested a bit, the demon made as if he was going to attack, causing him to raise the branch to protect himself. Seeing this, the demon spoke again “You are learning quickly, child. You would be no match against a demon, but perhaps someday you will be.”

 

  Holtz let go of the tree branch and sat on the ground. It had been a couple weeks since Beast had started teaching him, and he felt he was quickly getting better at it. It was like a piece of drift wood in the sea, something he could hold on to in order to avoid being swallowed by his own sorrow and self pity.

 

 “What I still don’t get,” he said “Is why you are helping me. Your people made slaves out of every other race they encountered.” He looked at the stern face of the demon, wondering if he had made a mistake “Why do you care whether I live r die, or if I learn to fight?”

 

 Beast also sat down on the floor, his massive bulk dwarfing his apprentice. He thought for a long while before answering “Times are different. Once we had fierce enemies, proud races who would face us in battle and force us to fight with all our might in order to vanquish them. Thus, their conquest brought us honor and proved we were the best warriors. Now, however, the world is a shade of what it once was. To try and conquer it again would be as easy as turning a hand, or slitting a sleeping man’s throat. Death in the Wind means conquest just for the sake of conquest, so he has to be stopped. As for the bandits,” he gave a humorless grin “I’ve never really liked people who can’t do their dirty business on their own.”

 

 “What a charming tale.” Said a voice from the woods “The powerful demon regretting the wicked way of one he once called brother, struggling so a barbaric race can win a hopeless war.” The very trees seemed to make way for the stranger. He was a tall and stout nordheim, wearing a brown tunic and leather boots. His long white hair fell below his waist, and he was smiling warmly, which was quite disturbing, since it was a smile cast in a face with features that seemed sculpted in stone.

 

 Beast laughed loudly “Welcome, stranger.” He said “Come here and share with us, it’s been too long since I’ve found a mortal who isn’t afraid of me.”

 

 “In that case, you’ll be disappointed, my friend.” Answered the nordheim, stepping closer “For I am no mortal. I bring ill news: Death in the Wind and his undead army will soon fall on another city, and they plan to sacrifice it so the hordes of Hell can once again enter Creation.”

 

 The demon smiled, raised his hands and immediately Hellscreech was in it. Pointing its tip towards the newcomer, Beast thundered “I don’t like being manipulated, stranger! Tell me what you want or else, mortal or immortal, I shall send you to Hell to greet those legions.”

 

 The stranger’s smile didn’t flinch for an instant. He took a step towards the demon and said in a soothing voice “I’m not trying to manipulate you, ancient one. The old covenant prevents me from directly attacking Death in the Wind--” He flinched as he saw Beast raise his sword again, but luckily he refrained from striking  “but nothing stops me from helping those who can. The city lies to the west, passing the hills and the small valley that lies beyond” Upon saying this, he turned around and hastily left, while Beast trembled of rage.

 

 The moment the herald disappeared, the demon made a gesture and his sword disappeared once again. Then, without uttering a single sword, he started hacking away at the trees, turning them to splinters with his massive claws. It was a long time before he calmed down. By then, the clearing in the woods had noticeably increased its size.

 

 “Should have killed the bastard.” He said, ignoring the confusion in Holtz’s eyes, he turned west and started walking towards both redemption and revenge.

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