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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38. Chapter thirty eight

 Even though many days had passed, the screams of the dead and the stench of blood still filled her senses. Incapable of sleeping, Erandiril left her bed and started to wander through the castle. The welcome they’d been given hadn’t been very warm, but at least they had heeded king Dieter’s message and were already preparing for the worst.

 

 Withour realizing, she went further up and up through the castle, until she got to the lookout from which all of the city of Sinuessa could be seen. A few guards saw her, but none of them was willing to pester one of the queen’s guest. Specially if she was part of the king of Brüngenmord’s retinue, and if her travelling companions were creatures that made the heart shiver just by looking at them.

 

 Only once she was up there did she manage to free herself from the weight that lay on her soul. Despite the stench that seemed to be common to all of men’s cities, the wind helped her relax, and the stunning view certainly helped. She could see the light from thousands of torches, signaling the abodes of people who had probably never left the city for more than a few days of travel, and who had lived their lives in peace until the Reaper appeared like a crow announcing storms. Maybe those lights had once represented the hope of the city’s inhabitants, but now Erandiril could only see flames that trembled in the wind, flames that could easily be blown out.

 

 “It’s a truly saddening view, don’t you think?” Said a deep voice behind her. Frightened, she turned around and saw the Night Prowler was almost touching her, looking towards the city. The young fae was about to answer when she noticed the expression on his face, a deep sadness, as if he were the embodiment of nostalgia instead of a merciless killer. She knew immediately what was it that lay so heavily in his heart: two immortals had left this world, and so Creation became a little bit less than it used to be. Since the Reaper had surrendered his spirit thousands of years ago, never had death dared touch those beings, the most powerful among a race that had once been invincible.

 

 Not daring to intrude in the demon’s mourning, she stepped to one side and lay her elbows on the cold stone. Her thoughts then flew to the far north, to those who had once been her people. Her old father Erandros would probably be seated by the fire, both of his sons forgotten, crying over and over again the death of his wife so long ago. She also thought of Aeldros her brother, with a mix of hate and sadness. He still lived, but she hadn’t been able to contact him before her forced travel. Rumor had it that his sanity was mostly gone, becoming obsessed with martial perfection, both in strategy and hand to hand combat, to the point even the other shadow warriors seemed ill at ease in his presence. As the Reaper had turned his face into an unrecognizable mess of scars and hanging skin, he had taken to wear a silver mask, so he could hide his shame at least in a small degree.

 

 “It’s so pathetic it’s almost funny,” Said the Night Prowler “I have slain dozens, perhaps hundreds of thousands, in the most diverse circumstances and with any weapon you could possibly conceive. Many times I was close to dying, but in the end I always prevailed, whether it be by skill or by luck.” He turned his grief-ridden countenance towards Erandiril “But it’s been too long ago since last I truly knew death could catch any one of us.”

 

 Surprised by the demon’s loquacity, Erandiril let a few moments pass before replying “Us mortals have only one certainty in this world, and it is that sooner or later we shall pass on to the next. I’m terrified by the idea of dying in this war, but if I let fear take hold in my heart, I wouldn’t be better than a mouse that freezes on sight of a cat. I know I’m not very useful on the Reaper’s quest, but my place is now at his side, and it is by his side that I plan to stay until either this war ends or it claims my life.”

 

 The Night Prowler’s sudden laugh was strangely comforting. His face was still heavy with sadness, but there was a small gleam of hope on those eyes that seemed so cold and grim “You have given me a pleasant surprise, little one, and that is no small feat. I hope things turn out for the best in the end, and the Reaper gets the revenge he deserves.” Saying this, he turned around and left the lookout, leaving her alone with her thoughts.

 

 She knew well the expression the Night Prowler had when first he spoke to her, for she had seen it many times. It was the look of one who has suffered and caused much grief, who had gazed at Death and spit in her face. It was the look of those whose soul was drowning on the blood of his victims, slowly drifting away from this world. Those who had that look didn’t last long: either they killed themselves, or they let themselves be killed. But after their brief conversation, that creeping doom had gone from the demon’s countenance. The thought brought a smile to her lips.

 

 Perhaps even mortals who didn’t know how to fight could fulfill a role on this war.

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