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.


27. Chapter twenty seven

Captain Hakon of the shadow warriors was astonished. Freezing wind smeared his face with snow, making his vision blurry and unfocused. At his sides were the six soldiers who had joined him, barely enduring the chill that seeped into their bones.


 Whispering curses against the strange sorcery that got them to this place, he covered himself in his cape and signaled his men to keep advancing. He had no doubt that somehow they were in the frozen north, but exactly where he couldn’t guess. Their only hope of survival, however, was to keep moving.


 After a few minutes walk they had to take their armor off, for the chill and weight of the metal were too much to bear. Below it they wore padding clothes that, though inadequate for this climate, at least protected them from the wind. As they walked, their advance became slower and slower, until the fatigue turned them into a bunch of crawling, wretched creatures, passing the time until death came to claim them.


 They didn’t have to wait long: half an hour later, Bolgor and Varendal fell to the ground. Possessed by the drowsiness that came with extreme cold, they lay to rest for a little while, and they never got up again. They were joined a few minutes later by Parnac, Orel and Angdoral, leaving only the captain and Daindu, barely moving.


 What was it that kept them going? Why did they struggle to keep walking when they knew they couldn’t survive? Maybe it was loyalty to their lords, or perhaps the horror they felt at the unknown realms that lay beyond their earthly existence. It was impossible to know, but still they went on and on.


 The wind froze their bodies, while the hail lashed at their exposed skin. Their hearts wailed under the fatigue, and their minds were about to surrender to the sweet lullaby of madness.


 And still the kept moving.


 A loose stone made Daindu lose his balance and fall, and his body refused to keep going. Death claimed one more of the shadow warriors, and Hakon went on, beyond any care on the mortal coil. By now his eyes didn’t see and his skin didn’t feel. Not even the fear of the worlds beyond weighted in his heart when he noticed something had changed. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the fierce howl of the wind diminished its intensity, until it was barely more than a breeze.


 Only when the ice and snow gave way to a lush prairie did he allow himself to acknowledge the changes and smile. Finally, the Lords looked kindly upon him. It couldn’t be otherwise, for he deserved it. He had murdered hundreds, he had put to the torch buildings with women and children inside, all in the name of the Lords. He had tortured nordheim, humans and even other fae without flinching, and now he was receiving his just reward.


 He was so fascinated that his smile didn’t abandon his lips when a spectral hand turned his heart to ice.


 After countless years in exile, the Great Hunter took his first victim.

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