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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36. Chapter thirty six

The city’s defense had turned into a rout. Holtz abandoned any pretense of honor or heroism, moving through the streets, trying to catch demons that were alone, and savagely stabbing them in the back. He wouldn’t survive this battle, but he would take down with him as many as he could.

 

 Up in the walls, a tenuous semblance of order was maintained thanks to the concerted efforts of both the Wise One and the Blood Sultan. It was just a matter of time, however, before being overwhelmed. The demon horde had already entered the city, putting to the torch the buildings they could and slowly murdering the soldiers they caught. The demons had restrained their savage nature for too long, and now they abandoned any pretense of discipline, maiming and dismembering every human they could get their hands on.

 

 As the orgy of death expanded throughout the city, the red hue in the sky became brighter, sending a chill through the spine of the two defending demons: the barrier between this world and the fiery pits of Hell was quickly weakening.

 

 At that moment, the main force entered the city as a huge writhing mass. Despite the chaotic movements of thousands of creatures, there was one that stood out, chanting in a language that was old when the world was young, calling for the merging of realities and for the denizens of the underworld to manifest themselves.

 

 The Wise One knew there was only one chance of stopping the ritual, or at least hinder it. Even though there were few souls to fuel the ritual, the demonic blood called the demonic blood. Right now, Death in the Wind’s forces were nearly unstoppable. Should he manage to double them, all hope would be lost. Closing his eyes, he concentrated on the flame that lived in his withered heart. Fully aware of the risk he was taking, he started to sing a slow melody, opposing the Vermin Lord’s deep clamor for the merging of worlds. His willpower was greater than his enemy’s, but the death and horror unleashed by the demons greatly enhanced the summoning. Thus, the clash of wills became a battle that could decide the fate of Creation.

 

 The ritual’s energy became stronger as the demons spread through the city, filling it with horror and bloodlust. The Wise One was slowly burning inside, but didn’t stop his singing: if he did, Death in the Wind’s army would be invincible, and his lord would be unable to achieve his righteous vengeance. The old demon would probably return to the twisting insanity of his realm, but it was a price he was willing to pay for his redemption.

 

 His voice rose, unimpeded, as his skin burned and fell to the ground. The Vermin Lord’s howling could be heard throughout the battlefield, but still it couldn’t break the Wise One’s voice.

 

 While inside the city the demons rampaged freely, those around the two clashing figures seemed to be frozen by their colossal clash of wills. Taking advantage of this, the Blood Sultan spread his wings and went for the kill. Directly engaging the demons would have been useless: he was a powerful warrior, but not even Beast or Brother Battle would’ve been able to face so many and survive. So he aimed for the defenseless heart of the army: the Vermin Lord.

 

 He knew he would die, that his essence would abandon this world perhaps never to return, but it wouldn’t be in vain. He flew over the motionless demons and dove for his prey.

 

 The ritual was almost over. The city was shrouded in a red mist, its energies contained only by the will of the Wise One. Somewhere inside the city, soul-tearing howls could be heard. It wasn’t only the death cries of the soldiers and inhabitants of the cities, but something more: the lords of Hell had accepted the sacrifice, and as a sign of favor sent their legions through the weakened boundaries of reality.

 

 Many of them managed to cross into Creation when the Blood Sultan fell over the Vermin Lord. Barely aware of anything but the strain of fighting his enemy, the summoner never knew what was it that caused his body to surrender the soul. All it took was a single strike, shattering his skull and throwing blood and gore all around.

 

 With the spell suddenly broken, the demons turned to the Blood Sultan. He fought with abandon, but in the end he was overwhelmed and his body torn to pieces. He managed to kill a few of them before his fall, but fall he did. Despite the pain and sadness, his face showed a warm smile before it was maimed beyond recognition by a fierce claw.

 

 He had fulfilled his duty.

 

 The ritual was disrupted before both worlds could completely merge. Without the energies that sustained it, the bridge that led the demons to the site of the massacre was broken. Many demons managed to cross the barrier, but the howl of the thousands that fell in the strange places between the worlds could be heard for days on the smoking ruins of Brügenmord.

 

 The Wise One, the Blood Sultan and the Vermin Lord. The three were ancient beings that came to Creation when its now dominating races were barely more than uncouth savages. They had made war, they had served different masters through turbulent times, and had ruled as tyrants over vast tracts of land.

 

 But death had cast its shadowy veil over them now, and the world would go on without them.

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