The Dead Man could sense her. The Human. She was coming for him. He retreated from the wall into his own quarters and sifted through some papers idly. Any minute now, and she'd be here. The level of bloodshed that she had absorbed made her presence even stronger.
So weak, these humans, the Dead Man thought to himself, So weak to pity those that die.
She was standing outside the door.
The Dead Man laughed and called, “Is that you, Human?” he put down his papers and drew his sword, “Come in. There's no need to hide. I know you're there.”
When he received no reply, the Dead Man sighed, “You can pretend all you want, I know you're there. Come out. Spring your trap.”
He strode over to the door, his patience thinning by the second, “Human-”
The door slammed into him at that moment, sending him hurtling back.
The Human rolled to a side, her Damascus drawn, “Who are you?” she demanded, slicing at a rising Dead Man.
He dodged the swing by an inch and got to his feet quickly, brushing aside the splintered door with his feet. The Human struck again, from above this time - the Dead Man caught the strike and threw her off. The hook covering the stump of his right arm crackled. He laughed.
“What does it matter to you, who I might be?” he said, “Only know that you are about to breath your last.”
The Human fell to a side as energy burst from the Dead Man's hook and took out the whole wall behind her.
The Human coughed and got to her feet, “I wouldn't count on it,” she said ducking as the Dead Man took a swipe at her head with his sword.
The Human kicked and swept the Dead Man off his feet. He grunted as he fell, but rolled out of the way as the Human plunged her sword towards him. He wasn't quick enough - the Damascus digging deep into his right arm. Black blood spilled from the wound as the Dead Man writhed. The sheen on his hook began to fade.
“I want answers,” said the Human, “Who are you?”
The Dead Man pulled off his hat and veil with his one hand, “I am one that has already seen Death and will not see him again.”
The Human, in her shock, rose and took a step back - staring into the decomposing face of the Dead Man, “You're the one they spoke about. Ethelred of Skye.”
The Dead Man scoffed, pulling out the Damascus from his arm and throwing it to a side, “Interesting thing...” he looked at his wounded arm, as it tried to heal but failed, “the sword... it counters the curse of regeneration,” he looked at the Human, “No matter. Fear seems to have wracked you. It should be enough for me to kill you.”
The Human stepped back as the Dead Man stood, his right arm limp at his side.
“I am befuddled by you, however,” he said, “You resemble one I know.”
“You know the Witch-Queen?” the Human asked, realising that prolonging conversation might prolong her life. She looked for a weapon from the corners of her vision.
“My mistress,” the Dead Man assented, taking a jab at the Human with his sword.
She dodged sideways. The Human's eye caught something, “Your... mistress?”
“Yes,” said the Dead Man, slicing at the Human.
The Human dodged back, watching the Dagger hanging in the Dead Man's belt, “Well, your... 'mistress' happens to be my mother.”
“And what demon possessed you to make it your ambition to fell the tree that bore you?”
“She killed my aunt.”
“Ah, yes, your commander,” the Dead Man laughed, “she did so by means of me.”
The Dead Man smiled with his withered lips, “My seed gave your mother the means to kill your commander.”
The Human visibly took a moment to be disgusted at the Dead Man's words. How low could one go? Then, as the Dead Man swung at her again, she leapt at him rather than away from him. The Dead Man fell beneath her, his watchful blind eyes widening in surprise. The Human tore the Dagger from his belt and stabbed him viciously in the chest several times.
“No!” cried the Dead Man.
“Don't you ever shut up?” the Human said.
“How cruel a fate - that I should be returned to my former state by the weapon that I helped create!” he said.
“How very poetic-” said the Human, stabbing his throat with the weapon, “-of you.”
“You will not live to avenge your commander!” the Dead Man rasped, light shining through the many fractures in his form. His hand grabbed the Human by the collar and pulled her forward, dust flaking away from the decomposing flesh, “Your dam with kill you and still you before you get within ten paces of her!”
With that, he turned to dust.
The Human rose on shaky feet, trying to brush the dust off of her hands. Taking her time, she picked up the Damascus and sheathed it back at her side. The Human looked at the Dagger in her hand.
The Dagger that had killed the Mercenary.
The Human looked away, water congregating at her eyes and took the Dagger's sheath from the Dead Man's belt. Attaching the weapon to her own belt, she sighed.
My mother will die, she told herself, And she will die in no less agony than Mariqah.
The Human took a deep breath and hollered the Dead Man's second death out of the room's window.