The Monster from the Maelstrom

There is a man who endlessly stalks the Badlands. A region of the world where chaos is rife and warlords constantly vie for power. This man seeks dangerous criminals and tyrants the likes of which most men wouldn't dare to face. He does this for a reason no man has ever been able to ascertain and he will continue to do so as long as he lives. But there is one thing you must know about this man. The quarry he hunts are not what they seem and neither is he.

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5. Inferno

“Stand aside!” boomed Zainif who then turned to his steel clad bodyguard. “Check the body.”

The bodyguard nodded and jogged over to where the man’s body lay. He removed his glaive and placed his hand and the man’s neck.

“He’s dead.” he called back before hoisting the body up by the collar. “You see this?” he yelled, presenting the man to the indoctrinated horde.  “This is what happens when you defy lord Zainif!”

Zainif shook his head at his bodyguard’s pointless action. He’d been feeding these people Maelstrom tainted food for months now. They were far under his spell.

“Who do you think he was?” asked his bodyguard as he looked at the man’s face to see if he recognised him.

Zainif shrugged his shoulder and dissipated his bow. “Some idiot trying to be a hero.”

Zainif’s bodyguard was about to respond when a sudden laughter cut him off.

He and Zainif both spun round to see the man’s body now convulsing with laughter as it pulled itself to its feet. His body guard drew his sword while Zainif himself re-summoned his bow.

“Oh I’m no hero.” chuckled the man as he looked at Zainif with a pair of cold, black eyes.

“What are you?” he asked while taking aim with his bow.

“That’s rich coming from the sorcerer who can conjure up a bow out of thin air.” the man quipped.

“Answer me!” bellowed Zainif.

The man flashed him a smile that made Zainif shiver in his very core. “There’s an old story people tell each other late at night. It’s about a demon who can take human form and who is feared by both humans and by his own kind alike. They fear him because he, at the behest of his master Karg a lord of the Maelstrom, hunts those who make pacts with his master but then don’t honour those pacts. It is said that he carries a flaming sword which sets alight anything it touches and due to that fact they call him the same thing you may call me. Inferno.”

At that moment Zainif fired a tainted Maelstrom arrow at the man. He simply sidestepped it. Zainif’s bodyguard then charged forwards his weapon drawn. Suddenly the skin on the man’s right arm burst and disintegrated revealing a huge muscular arm that grabbed Zainif’s bodyguard by the head mid run and picked him up as if he weighed nothing. Then with contemptible ease the man closed his fist and there was a loud pop as the body guard’s head exploded in a flurry of blood and gore as his headless corpse dropped like brick. Zainif reeled back in horror.

“Kill him!” he shrieked to the horde. “Kill him!”

The horde did as commanded and descended on the man who made no attempt to flee or even move. After a while they surrounded him he became blocked from Zainif’s view but that was short lived. Suddenly a bright light flickered amongst the horde and flames began to engulf them. As they tried to put themselves out a bright orange blade carved into them and dispatched them with inhuman speed and before long all that remained of them was smoking chunks of meat. What stood in front of Zainif was no longer some nondescript intruder no this was Inferno the seven foot tall behemoth who was the stuff of legend and nightmare. He was now clad in a pitch black cloak that seemed to shift and move of its own accord.

“Zainif, Zainif, Zainif.” he said as he turned to face the mortified warlord, his black eyes boring into Zainif’s soul. “You’ve been a very unfaithful business partner. My boss gave you both wealth and power yet you squander it on this-” he spread his arms out wide to indicate the estate. “- and don’t offer a tribute in six months.”

“I c-can explain.” spluttered Zainif. “I-I must have-”

Inferno raised his hand as to indicate for him to stop talking. “There’s no need to explain. I’m going to kill you regardless.”

“No!” howled Zainif who fired another arrow.

Inferno didn’t even bother to dodge this one he simply raised his flaming sword to block it. The arrow exploded in a plume of purple energy that engulfed Inferno. For a brief second Zainif thought he might’ve actually done it but then a second later a figure rushed towards him at such speed that he didn’t even have time to register its presence. He burst into flames as Inferno’s sword entered his chest. Inferno pulled his sword from Zainif’s chest and turned away as the warlord screamed in agony, his flaming body sinking to its knees.

“Oh by the way.” he said while flashing Zainif one last smile over his shoulder. “Karg says hi.”   

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