“I’m telling you NO!”
“Look, we can’t afford to turn any customers away! Let him in!” Sherri said, looking at Brian angrily.
“We don’t know didley about this one,” Brian muttered, “This is on you!”
“What else is new!” she muttered right back. She watched from behind the bar as Brian shambled towards the security door. It was hard to see into the pass-thru, but it was the only security that they could figure out, since the Whatever It Was that happened.
Just a few years earlier each of them had been sitting in their studios, doing their little blog-cast, having a grand ‘ol time talking about quesadillas and fudge with some wanna be writers, when their FB was shut down due to a rather vague National Emergency Broadcast Warning notification. The government hadn’t been real clear about the reasons but after she grabbed her coat, Sherri rushed to Brian’s own studio. She saw first hand that the world looked mighty strange that night.
She watched as what looked like another earth had appeared in the night sky above, and was actually blocking out most of the moon, but she could still see some of it, and it was this eerie looking red! As she drew nearer to Brian’s house, she was actually pulled over by the military, flashing lights, flood lights, and guns was all she really saw though. Terrified, she pulled over and rolled down her window as two soldiers began to walk over towards her car while two other soldiers leveled what appeared to be mounted machine guns at her.
As they walked towards her it was clear that the two of them were nervous as hell, and a bit too skittish to be carrying weapons, she thought to herself, but her observations were interrupted when she actually heard the officer say to the other guy,
“Don’t forget to look at her eyes! Don’t forget about that last one!”
“Shhhhush!” the subordinate said.
“Did you just shush me?” he asked, offended. But before he could get a reply the soldier stepped up to the window, shining a very bright light into Sherri’s eyes, almost blinding her!
“Please shut off your engine, ma’am,” instructed a solder with one thin little woven blue bar on his collar. A little to sternly, she thought.
“Ma’am, I’m Corporal Boggus, are you aware that martial law has been enacted? We need to ask you where you’re going. Do you have any ID?”
She reached over to the passenger seat and began fumbling around nervously for her purse, but she could hardly see anything because of that damn flashlight.
“Yes.” was all that she was able to utter, as the real concern about the overhead planet had kind of taken over her mental processes. Well, scared the hell out of her actually.
She located her purse and pulled it into her lap, rooting through it for her wallet.
“Do you need my insurance?” she asked, feeling stupid for asking that question the moment it had left her mouth.
“No ma’am. We’re not cops. Just have to make sure you are, who you say you are,” he said with a bit of a Texas drawl.
Funny that she would notice that, she thought to herself. Had the world gone mad? Had the North Korean actually gone and done something stupid? Nahhh…that couldn’t be it she thought as she located her drivers’ license, showing it to the man with the rifle.
He took her wallet from her, studying the picture on it closely.
“Sherri is it? What’s your last name?” he asked in what sounded like an ominous tone to her.
“Clip. As in, I didn’t clip that truck when I backed out of my driveway,” she replied.
“And where are you going, Ms. Clip?” he asked while looking towards the back quarter panel of her car.
“To my friends. I got scared at home by myself,” she said honestly.
“Could you keep looking at me while answering?” he directed, more than asked.
“I would but that damn flashlight is blinding me. Could you point it somewhere else?”
“I will, just as soon as we’re sure you are, what you say you are,”
“I said I will…”
“I heard that part…but you said when you’re sure I am, ‘what’, I say I am. I’m saying that the what is clear, don’t you think?”
“No ma’am. It’s been kind of a weird night. Please, just answer the questions.”
“Fine, I’m a very, very frightened woman, who just wants to get to my friend Brian’s house!”
“What’s your date of birth.” He asked authoritatively.
“She’s ok,” the lieutenant said.
“But, sir…our orders specifically state…”
“Stand down, corporal. She ain’t one of them.”
“I said STAND DOWN!” the lieutenant ordered.
The officer stepped a bit closer to the open window as he snatched the wallet from the corporals’ hand and offered it to Sherri.
“I’m sorry ma’am, but you can’t be out right now, there’s a lot of weird sh….” he stopped, catching himself, “…stuff, going on tonight. You’ve put yourself at risk by leaving your house.”
Sherri took the wallet from him, and with her index finger pointed at the planet that floated above them and said, “And my staying home is somehow going to keep me safe from that?” she said sarcastically.
“Can I go now? He lives just a few blocks up this road.”
“Yes ma’am. Have a good night, ma’am.” the lieutenant told her.
She threw her wallet into her purse and tossed that onto the passenger seat as she put her car into drive and began pulling away, trying to find the handle to roll up her window. But she was still seeing spots from the beam of that damn flashlight.
As she pulled away she quickly rolled up the car window, never realizing that she probably would have freaked out if she had heard the lieutenant shouting to the corporal about how if he couldn’t tell the difference between a human being and a freaking vampire, then he should probably find another line of work!
Brian was standing in his driveway after the emergency announcement and his loss of bandwidth. He didn’t really know what to do, so he had grabbed a radio to try to find out some information. “That’s odd”, he thought when he couldn’t find a single station that was broadcasting. He had then stepped outside into the front yard to see what was going on. He walked over to his car while fiddling with the wind up emergency radio and leaned against the trunk of it as the power had gone out shortly after the emergency notification. He turned up the volume but could only hear white noise, so as he kept twisting the dial back and forth trying to find a station that was broadcasting, he began looking up and down the street in front of his house. He didn’t see anything. Pitch black, no houses had any lights on except it still seemed brighter than it should, even for a full moon.
He looked up and nearly fell over, vertigo overtaking him. There was a freaking planet above him! It was like he was back in elementary school while Davy Hicks was pushing his face onto a globe in the library, but he could actually see lakes or seas, as well as rivers! Was that a city that was lit up? Because it looked as though an eclipse was happening up, (down), there. It was that damn close! He dropped the radio and grabbed onto the trunk of his car to keep from falling over. The headlights from Sherries’ car didn’t even bring him out of his sudden confusion and fear.
Sherri saw him staring up as she pulled into his driveway, holding onto the trunk of his car, like he had held onto that rail at the top of the Sears tower when they had visited Chicago. She realized he was just as scared as she was. The complete lack of any sounds crept her out. Nothing, no sounds of crickets, or traffic, or Saturday night get-togethers, or kids…nothing! She turned off the car and stepped out of it, and shut the door. It sounded like a gunshot in the quiet night. She saw Brian spin around, his red hair traveling just a tad slower than he had, coming to a crouch with his fists raised. His skin was whiter than normal, and that red goatee of his made him look like his mouth was one big “O” of fright.
“It’s you!” he said, relieved.
“I’m sorry! I didn’t realize…” she started to say, but they realized that they were both hearing something, something so strange, just a clop, clop, then two more quick ones, and it just kept repeating. It didn’t register for either of them, until they saw him.
It was a man in armor…armor! He was riding a freaking horse that was as black as midnight. The night air made it look like it was breathing smoke it was so cold.
“My good sir, a good evening to you and your lady! I beg you, could you tell me where the path to Idelwytch is? I seem to have lost my way.” He said in a strange sort of english.
Brian stared at him, dumbstruck, unable to answer. Sherri looked at him, realizing that she was probably in even worse shape than her friend; still, neither of them could process what they were seeing.
“Sir, my pardon. Do you happen to speak common? I could try in Kardolin if you prefer”, they heard him say, then he went on to speak in some sort of gibberish that neither of them could begin to comprehend. In his frustration, and as they watched silently as he urged his horse onward, in the direction that Sherri had just come from, until he simply disappear from view, down several blocks of darkness.
“Crap!” Sherri exclaimed loudly, startling Brian from his own shock.
“What?” he asked.
“He’s headed towards soldiers!”
“They had all kinds of guns!” she said, concerned. He might be a nut, but he probably doesn’t deserve to get shot, she thought to herself.
“We should go stop him!” she nearly shouted.
“And do what? Invite him in? In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t have a stable! The army will take care of him. He seemed harmless.”
“You don’t understand they’re freaking out as badly as we are! They’ll shoot him!” she said gravely.
“Nooooo they won’t, they just…”, his response was cut off as the military answered his question for him, with what sounded like minutes of automatic gunfire, but really had been only a few seconds.
Brian looked at Sherri, and nervously said, “I’m going inside. You coming?” and turned back towards his front door and began walking.
They huddled together in the dark of a back bedroom, ignoring the odd sounds, and screams, for most of the following week while checking the doors and windows often.
Much of the world had been destroyed by the, whatever it was. Whole buildings had disappeared, or simply appeared. Ones that appeared looking like nothing that anyone had seen for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Others had collapsed from the earthquakes, or sudden straight-line windstorms. Tornados had increased, and the flooding. It rained for days throughout the northeast, or snowed, or both. Power grids were knocked out, and there was strange creatures wandering about. Things never seen in Massachusetts before. Some of the creatures had never been seen on the planet before, ever. Because of the broken grids, no one had been able to get the power back on, so no one has had television, or electricity, since that night. They had learned of all of this from refugees.
Sherri thought it odd that before this happened the media had to name every hurricane, rainstorm, or freaking snowstorm something, but no one had figured out what to call this event. It was almost funny, really, so she just called it the ‘whatever it was”.
Soon, she and Brian realized how much they had to learn, just to survive. Not all of these beings and creatures were friendly, or benign!
Brian had a ton of junk food in his house, but not a lot of real food and so they had begun sneaking out, trying to make it to the Big X, but it had been raided by seemingly everyone so there hadn’t been much for them to pick from. They had, however, managed to find a bunch of wasp spray in the back of the store and Brian remembered how everyone always said to use that, since guns were so dangerous. Neither he nor Sherri hadn’t ever owned a gun, so they loaded up all of the bug spray into Sherries’ car. They had come in handy once the “other” refugees began pouring into town.
Not like regular refugees, more like, every fantasy writer in the world had mentally thrown up, all at once, type refuges. They had once been forced to fight off an orc who was trying to get into Brian’s house and that’s when they learned that wasp spray to the eyes worked wonders! Orcs didn’t care for that, since their eyes were so danged big! Not nearly as big as their tusks, but still, she was positive that the orc had also found out that it didn’t taste very good. That was the first “real” monster that they had seen, and others that were more dangerous, kept following.
Unable to connect with those they had known and been friends with, they sought to ensure their own survival, while wondering where most them had gone. It had taken them weeks to realize that they had do to something, and during that time Brian had concluded that since these creatures were coming here, then perhaps Americans were going there. It made sense, sort of, but it was the only way he could rationalize what was going on, to himself anyway.
They formed a plan and decided to search Brian’s neighborhood, gleaning from the empty homes whatever they could. They knocked on the doors to see if there were any people left, and if there was no answer they broke into the homes that were locked, which was almost all of them. They found tools, food, and a lot of what they figured they would need, but water was becoming a commodity that they had to have. So they began emptying the hot water tanks into whatever containers they could find from each home and transporting it back to Brian’s, stockpiling it, since they were both still too frightened to hit the road and find out what was going on.
During one of their excursions they heard a soul-shattering roar. A mixture of thunder and fingernails on a chalkboard, with a little bit of someone being tortured thrown in for good measure. It had brought both of them to a halt as they were carrying water to their car, and forced them to look around for its cause. They saw nothing around the homes they were looting, until they heard a flap of wings. A sound that was very like what loosely erected tent makes on a windy day, a popping then rustling.
They both looked up and saw it, something that they had only seen in movies.
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Sherri whispered, not from need, but from awe.
Brian wanted to looked over at her, but couldn’t. He was frozen. Neither of them, no matter how much they had read in preparation for their broadcasts, had ever heard of dragons fear. The debilitating fear that happens when something of that size, and ferocity brought, just by being in existence. Unable to move or speak, and only able to stare. Brian’s blue eyes began to tear up. It was the first time in his life that he had ever started crying from fear alone. He was not the only one of them, he found had out afterwards that Sherri had experienced it as well.
They both prayed that it wouldn’t look in their direction.
Still, it was a dragon! One so large, that to them, it looked bigger than an airplane! That’s when they realized that the military was still doing whatever it was that they were doing. The heard the sudden sounds of gunfire and watched as the dragon responded.
First, the beast had tried to avoid the weapons fire but realized it couldn’t, but was not afraid. It banked and then dove at the source of its pain. The view of the dragon disappeared from their sight, but they heard a sound that they couldn’t quite place, kind of like a harsh, brief wind. The gunfire slowed and then the dragon reappeared, circling the area, diving down repeatedly until they could no longer hear any of the weapons being fired. Moments later a huge explosion occurred, filling the sky with streaks of flaming phosphorous, billows of fire, and butt loads of smoke. It was then that the dragon let loose a roar that neither of them would ever forget.
They rushed quickly into the vacant home that they had been looting, to hide until they were sure that it had left! They also tried to hide under furniture and away from the windows.
Terrified, the two of them absolutely refused to even peek out the window, until they could no longer hear the flapping of those giant wings, while trying to remain as quiet at possible. It appeared though that it wasn’t going to go away anytime soon. Sherri began looking around the room as she lay on the sour smelling carpet, and realized that the coffee table was not just a coffee table. She crawled over to it to take a closer look and saw that it was much to thick to be just a coffee table and began searching it, until she found a hidden latch, and the top of the table released, rolling back a half inch, or so.
Curious about what she had found, Brian crawled over to take a look as well.
“What did you find?” he whispered as she pushed the top back opening it all the way on a pair of rolling rails that kept the top from falling to the ground.
Sherries’ own blue eyes began to sparkle, when she saw what she had found.
With each of them in their own cushioned and formed cutout were several pistols, and a rifle of some sort, but since she knew very little about firearms, she could not even begin to guess their type or caliber, but she would learn! Whoever lived here had not wanted them easily found, so they had hidden them in the open, which seemed to have worked.
“Ohhh yeah!” Brian whispered, liking the thought of those much better than the bug spray!
“Do you think they’re loaded?” she asked.
“I don’t know. Let’s find out.” Brian said reaching for the nearest one and lifting it from within the once hidden space.
“How many of these do you think we missed?”
“I don’t know.” Brian said, ensuring that he didn’t point it at the only friend he had left.
While Brian examined the pistol he pulled out, Sherri began removing all of the rest of them and setting them on the floor because she had noticed a lift type tab, on the edge of the cushion that held the weapons. Once she got all the weapons out, she lifted the gray divider up, and saw that underneath were boxes, and boxes, of ammunition for each one of the weapons.
“I think the next orc that visits is going to have just a bit of a problem.” She said as she showed Brian.
“I believe you are correct ma’am!” Brian said giddily, happier than he had been, since whatever it was, started.
The jarring clank of Brian shutting the improvised security door pulled her from her memories of how everything had begun and concentrated on what was to come. She had learned a lot during the last seven years.
She checked to ensure that she could quickly get to her Glock .45 ACP that sat under the counter. She then watched the new customer, noticing that he was somehow different, but not sure how.
She had seen so many people from these other worlds passing through, looking to just find a way home, or simply for a safe place to stay. Yet they kept coming to Adams.
It was weird.
“How can we help you?” she asked the stranger.
“I saw your sign and I was wondering if you could help me.”
“What sign would that be?” Brian interjected as he walked over and stood next to Sherri, ensuring he could grab the AR-15, if he had to.
“The sign of the black.”
“Not sure what you’re asking us.”
“The black steel plate hiding the entrance.” he replied.
“And what is it you’re saying that means?”
“I’m just looking to find my own people or those from home. Everyone knows to look for the sign of the black. Well, anyone looking to avoid those soldiers out there anyways.”
“I can you get something to drink. ‘Cause that’s what we do here, food and drink.” Brian said, trying to trip him up.
The customer reached in his pocket and pulled out a gold coin and slid it across the bar towards them, then pulled down his cloak hood and began to look around the room.
The two broadcasters had learned that these refugees seemed to have a lot of gold coins, and those coins helped grease the wheels of people who were needed. Needed to help those in need of sanctuary.
Sherri recognized him immediately. He was a drinker, she could tell by the red and black eyes.
“I can offer you a cup for that.”
“Is it fresh?” he asked.
“Fresh enough to sate your thirst for a bit.”
“That’ll do,” he answered while turning to look around the room at its other occupants as Brian went to get the customer a cup.
The stranger watched as a warrior from Kalorin was eating a peanut butter sandwich, with some kind of blue jam and drinking a cup of coffee. He saw that his sword was polished, but old. “Family heirloom”, he thought.
The old lady by the lantern has to be a mage or cleric, he thought. But she was old, and it seemed that the Gods had all but abandoned those of the church during these dark days. She would be of little threat if she decided to do anything silly.
Then there were three surly looking dwarves staring at him, making him unusually uncomfortable. He knew that they despised his kind, but there was kind of a truce thing going on in this realm for those from Harrowlands, that were trapped here. He realized that they wouldn’t make a first move, but they would defend themselves if they needed to.
Finally there was the half-orc. He had been staring intently at him since he entered. Sallowfeer hadn’t even had to turn and look at him to know that. His kind had been feeding on orcs for centuries. They were ugly as hell, but they did taste oh so sweet!
Brian returned, putting the cup in front of the vampire, who looked down at its contents. In the dim light the contents looked almost black, but something else caught his attention within the cups content, so he raised it to his lips. He inhaled deeply instead of taking a sip though. Were he not a vampire, or a connoisseur, another customer might not have caught it, but he had. This was from a leecher.
“Why did you give me a bottom of the barrel vintage?” he asked them simply.
“Well, first, the leecher is willing, and second, we don’t have any toddlers for you to sip from. If you must know.” Brian replied, a bit too sarcastically.
“You could have at least told me that, before I paid.”
“Look, mister….” Sherri started to say, but was interrupted by the stranger.
“Sallowfeer. You may call me Sallowfeer.” He offered kindly, ignoring the attitude that so many from this world seemed to exhibit, knowing how uncouth they could be.
“What exactly do you want, mister?” Brian asked.
Sallowfeer took a small sip of his drink as Brian watched him, never understanding how any creature could drink blood and not get ill from it. But it was odd watching as the vampires pallor deepened, becoming a shade more lifelike from that little sip.
“I seek my own kind. I understand that you can help me.”
“We might be able to, but you didn’t come recommended. We don’t know you. Why would we risk bringing the army down on our heads for you?” she asked as politely as she could, while becoming nervous about his arrogance and his roundabout way of getting to the point.
She knew that an angry vampire was about the last thing anyone would want in a dark room, below ground, with only one exit, after sunset. She had at least learned that much during the seven years since the whatever it was, happened. But mostly she had learned that of all the creatures, in all the worlds, she hated it most when vampires walked through her door.
“Let us speak plainly then, madam. I wish to return to the Harrowlands, but since I cannot, I wish to be around those that hail from my own home world. I have discovered that you, and your friend there, can help me with that.” he said too softly for the other patrons to hear.
“Look sir, we’d like to help, we truly would. You must be aware that to help you, or any of you, escape to Maine is punishable by death?” Brian offered, “Why should we risk our lives for someone we don’t know? Or know of?”
“Well, we both know that you don’t have to actually die, now, don’t we? I could fix that,” he said as he grinned, “I’m joking! I know how you earthers feel about immortality.”
“And how is that?” Sherri asked, playing along for the moment.
“Well, to paraphrase one of your colloquialisms, its all fun and games until someone loses a soul. I mean, really, let’s be honest, it’s not like many of you humans actually know how to commit, to anything for that matter.”
“I’m not sure what you’re getting at, mister,” Brian stated.
“None of you humans are able to grasp the little nuances that …”
Sallowfeers’ comments were interrupted by the sound of sliding metal on stone, and everyone but Sallowfeer tried to peer into the pass-thru at the figure coming down the steps towards the iron barred door.
“Its just Brandylucke.” Sherri said.
Sallowfeer shuddered slightly, finally turning around to look.
Brian watched the vampire carefully after seeing his slight nervousness as he went to open the security door, for one of their benefactors.
Brian pulled the gate key out of his pocket, pushed it into the lock and twisted it, pulling the door open just as soon as he heard it click, allowing Brandylucke into the makeshift tavern.
Sherri watch with admiration as Brandylucke walked confidently into the room. The warrior searched the room for potential foes and strode with such grace that made her look like she was dancing. The rapiers that she wore, one on each hip was prominently exposed, letting any would be criminal know that she was armed and ready to deal with them. He black armor was silent, and it did nothing but enhance her pallor and gray hair.
Sherri hoped she looked that good when she was whatever age Brandylucke was. She only knew that she spoke in terms of generations, rather than years, like most of the rest of us.
Brandylucke walked over to the bar, taking a position so close to Sallowfeer that Brian thought that there was going to be trouble, so he quickly returned behind the bar and his rifle, nervous.
“Hello, Sallowfeer.” she said easily.
“If it isn’t the Executoria. I’d say it’s good to see you, my dear, but I’d be lying.”
“I knew you’d show up here at some point. You always were one that was ready to run.”
“I never run, madam. It’s unbecoming.”
“…tsk…tsk…tsk. Still the liar, too!” she said seething sarcasm.
Brian and Sherri watched the exchange, in fascination as well as concern. One did not often taunt vampires and leave whole.
“What brings you to this dung heap of a place?”
“I was going to ask you that exact question! Perhaps you can enlighten me as to the purpose of your visit? Actually, I insist!” she said as she placed a hand on the basket hilt of one of her rapiers.
Sallowfeer was quite aware that if he made a move, it would matter little. He knew that she was truly that fast, and formidable, in a fight. He might be able to move ten times faster than humans, but this one, well, she could put him to shame if she so chose to. He chose not to give her any cause.
“I simply wish to get to the safety of our peoples, and join something that somewhat resembles what our lives once were,”
“Last I checked that included feasting on them. Why would you seek to join with people that would just as soon kill you, as look at you?”
Sallowfeer chuckled, “Things have changed, my dear, or hadn’t you noticed in your blind pursuit of vengeance?”
“Justice is not vengeance.”
“To exact justice, dear, there has to be a crime. I’ve committed no crime, here.”
“Your existence is a crime. Feeding on the living is a crime. Terror is a crime. Theft is a crime. Refusing the change, that sir, is the ultimate crime. Shall I go on?”
“We no longer live in those kingdoms. Extradition is now impossible. That ties your hands, does it not?” Sallowfeer replied with a self-satisfied grin.
“Only if I choose to let it.”
“What do you want of me?” he asked, tiring of the wordplay.
“To assure you that I haven’t forgotten who you are.”
“My dear Brandy, even if I wanted to go through the change, none have been found that could perform it! I am a victim of this whatever it was, as much as you!” he pointed out, “Besides, only the beasts from our realm have continued their ways, but even they must eat. We have been forced to adapt to this sad, boring new world. It is barren of magic and mystery!”
“The time will come, but for now, I ask what do you want here? It’s my tavern after all,” Brandywine stated with a grin.
Confused, Sallowfeer looked at Brian and Sherri who nodded their heads in unison, with grins on their faces.
Sallowfeer grabbed his forehead then began shaking and rubbing it, in frustration.
Brian watched as his traveling companions readied themselves for the six hundred mile journey into what was once northern Maine. The coalition had prevented them from making any excursions for most of the spring and summer. He realized that they were going to have to push their normal pace since winter would be arriving in two months. Cars and trucks were now mostly non-existent except for those in power, and some of the military units that patrolled from the borders of Massachusetts and the Sundered Lands. It was going to be a long journey on foot.
There were few things worse than traveling through what had become known to everyone as the Sundered Lands. Whatever it was had broken the once pristine and beautiful forests and mountains of northern New England, along with most of eastern Canada into broken and ragged terrain. For some reason the peoples of the Harrowlands kept gravitating there, even the monsters and beasts. During their last trip they had gotten the opportunity to get a couple of riding mounts know as shaidaks to the locals who had been grateful for their help, but the beasts were unruly and didn’t care for the cities. They were basically like stags but their horns were straight, and they were very well muscled creatures with padded and clawed feet, instead of hooves. Hopefully there would be some waiting for them just across the border since it would make their trip much easier.
“Everyone ready?” Brandylucke asked.
The rest of them nodded that they were, while Sherri looked over at Shauna and said, “DON’T forget to feed the leecher! He gets testy when he has to move about to look for something to eat, and we need him. Thanks, hun!”
“I got it! Just go already, I’ve done this before!”
Sherri turned to leave and saw that Brandylucke, Sallowfeer and Brian were just staring at her. The others waited patiently, unsure of where they were actually going, but more than anxious to get started.
“I’m ready, already! Let’s go!” she said, ignoring their stares. She headed towards the security pass through, not waiting for anyone else.
Brandylucke slipped past Sherri and after moving the steel plate as quietly as she could, she left the basement tavern and headed up the remaining stairs. She paused to look for any of the patrols that sometimes swept through Adams. The patrols were always looking for any Harrow Landers trying to cross the border.
“It’s clear. Come on up,” she whispered, as she looked up and down the streets.
They began filing up the stairs of the building they had been secluded in.
Next came Sherri who quietly directed them to take kneeling positions along the base of the crumbling walls above the basement they had been secluded in, hiding in the shadows.
Sherri was followed by the half-orc, Krush Bone-Breaker, then the old crone who had said to call her Maron. Sallowfeer followed her, and then the trio of dwarves, Rootbeard, Marrel, and Phul. The last two, were the warrior that had failed to impress Sallowfeer who went by the name Hundrick, then finally Brian.
Brian fell into the last place along the wall and as Brandylucke began to move, silently as ever, they peeled away from the wall, following her as quietly as each of them could in the order they had left the tavern.
As they left the wall, they heard a repetitive thudding sound of wood on stone and they each stopped and looked at Maron. From decades of habit, Maron was using the staff she carried to help her walk. Everyone froze.
Sallowfeer whispered harshly, “If you need that to walk, I can carry you, but you might get lighter as we go!”
“Try it and watch what happens, Neckbiter!” she replied just as harshly.
“No more talking!” Brandylucke ordered in a commanding whisper, “Do not speak again, until I give you permission! Put away that staff, and let’s go!”
“Oh brother, it’s going to be one of those trips!” Brian thought to himself, while looking at Sherri, who was having a very similar thought.
The troupe began moving again, quietly, and watched, as Brandylucke would rush ahead of them for a short distance then check around corners, making sure that they did not stumble on any patrol that might be hidden in the shadows, waiting.
Brandylucke’s vision from the Harrowlands worked just as well here. Even if a patrol were hidden she would be able to see the heat of their bodies. It was something that seemed to shock the locals, once she had befriended a few of them.
She led them uneventfully to the edge of the city and once the cover of buildings became sparse, she signaled the rest of them to kneel while she took her time searching the fields and tree line. Not seeing any patrols she began to move forward and froze. She didn’t see anything, but she knew when she was being watched. She quickly slipped back, signaling that someone was watching then. Sherri moved across the street taking a position on that corner while Brian slipped forward, coming to a stop behind Brandylucke.
“What have you got?” he whispered.
“Someone’s out there. I don’t know where, yet, but they are.”
Brian had learned over the course of several of these journeys that of all of the people that he had ever met that Brandylucke had an awareness that bordered on the “mystical”.
“What do you want to do? Sun’s going to be up in a couple of hours, and we need to be across that demarcation line!”
“I can go look for them while you & Sherri take them out, or we can backtrack and circle back to the route we planned.”
“We trust your judgment. Go with your gut.”
“I say we go. Just be ready for anything.”
The both of them moved back to the group, and Brandylucke told them of the perceived hazard that might lie ahead, assuring them that they needed to keep their eyes and ears open as they began to move towards the border.
Sallowfeer sighed in exasperation, walking close to Brandylucke and asked, “How about I go look?”
She looked at him, curious as to his motivation, “Why would you, you hungry?”
“Because I can do things that you can’t.”
Realign the truth of that modest statement she simply said, “No feeding!”
“It’s not like I enjoy it, it’s just what I am.” Sallowfeer whispered as he began moving away from them silently, deeper into the predawn shadows.
Sherri had listened to the exchange with a degree of trepidation. She hadn’t ever traveled with a vampire before, by choice. They made her nervous. She had no desire to risk becoming one, so she had declined the others that had asked for help, while Brandylucke had supported her decision. Why she was now letting Sallowfeer travel with them was a bit of a riddle. Why allow someone so obviously dangerous to travel with them? She would have to ask her at some point.
Sherri moved forward leading the troupe of refugees, following Brandylucke over the field and into the trees. The armor that the dwarves were wearing sounded like clanking tin can alarms, in the early morning hour.
“Muffle that armor, boys, it’s too loud.” she whispered back towards them.
She patiently listened to the typical muttering that accompanied such instruction. She knew that dwarves were not particularly stealthy, nor did they have the inclination to be such. She took it in stride while hoping that whatever Sallowfeer was hunting, was alone. They wouldn’t be able to hold off a full squad of Stalkers. The Canadian and American military had formed them after the whatever it was had happened and had armed them well. They were a coalition force with the sole purpose of eradicating all of them, because of their so-called “danger to the public and democracy”. The stalkers were finding out that it wasn’t so easy to combat beings that thought so differently and had matured in a realm that was so much more visceral.
The now quieted troupe began moving quickly, following Brandylucke. They quickly covered more than a mile without any indication that they weren’t being tracked or followed, but Sallowfeer hadn’t yet returned. That fact alone told her that the stalkers were probably out here with them. She shuddered slightly, realizing the risks they took each time they undertook these trips.
Her thoughts were interrupted when the complete line of refugees came to a halt, stopped and turned to look in the direction that gunfire was coming from.
Brian quickly took a position behind one of the few remaining large trees and began scanning the shadows in the direction the gunfire was coming from.
Sherri quickly moved to join him.
“Get them out of here, Brandy! Now!” he said loudly, but not shouting.
Brandylucke looked to the troupe and started moving quickly towards the border, knowing they might only have minutes before air cover arrived, and they would be screwed.
Sherri watched, as they left, no longer caring about the noise from everyone’s armor or of their weapons being drawn. She dropped down into a kneeling position when the sounds of additional gunfire began and they heard dim shouting happening in the distance. Brian looked at Sherri and began moving forward, both of them wanting to buy Brandylucke and the others some time. Sherri followed quietly, not wanting to give their positions away. Time to stalk the Stalkers!
They heard a scream of terror, doubtful that it was erupting from Sallowfeer’s throat, but rather from that of another.
Brian looked at Sherri, without words to one another they rushed towards the sounds of gunfire and predawn terrors.
The two came upon their earlier entry point and discovered numerous body parts strewn about the clearing. Blood covered the ground, violently splashed everywhere.
Brian began scanning the area, looking for other stalkers but did not see anyone.
“Can you see anyone?” he asked.
“No. Where’s Sallowfeer?”
“Right here,” he said, suddenly appearing next to them, “Let’s go. That’s all of them.”
“How do you know?” Brian asked.
“Because I made sure of it.” he answered as he walked away, turning back towards the Sundered Lands and began walking.
Sherri looked at Brian with a look of caution in her eyes, telling him that he should tread lightly.
The two of them fell in behind Sallowfeer, following him positive that he would lead them back to the group.
Sherri let out a sigh of relief as she saw the troupe ahead, watching them as well. Brandylucke had the small band stop and wait for them to catch up.
Sherri watched Brandylucke eyeing Sallowfeer as they drew nearer under the dawns rising light.
“No worries, Executoria, I did as you asked.” Sallowfeer said using Brandylucke’s formal title, as he stepped past her.
“What happened?” Brandylucke asked.
“I did what we do best. Removed the threats.” he said simply without looking at her.
Sherri shuddered at the calmness of Sallowfeer’s manner. “The Harrow Lands must be a dark place,” she thought to herself.
“Suns going to be up in a bit,” Brian offered, “could be a problem for him.”
“I’ll be fine. All of the stories you’ve heard are not true. The sunlight will not kill me, but I’ll be nearly blind and weak. Able to do no more against any future threat, until the sun sets.”
The group stared at Sallowfeer; all except Brandylucke had been unaware of his weaknesses.
“Then we move. They’ll be sending out drones and find what happened to their stalkers.” The Executoria offered.
“Let’s get going then.” Sherri said.
“I’ll take point for a while.” Brian offered, not really wanting to be around the vampire.
Sallowfeer watched him as he slipped into the brush, as if aware of his thoughts.
Brandylucke took the lead and each of them fell into line, in the order that they had left Adams and resumed their journey to the Sundered Lands.
As the sun rose higher, and Sallowfeer grew weaker, it came to no ones surprise when no aid was offered to him. Sherri witnessed this develop with a very slight degree of compassion realizing that the simple things that she took for granted, empathy and kindness was something that the vampire could never expect, nor did he show any signs that he ever had. Sherri realized that she could feel sorry for him, if he hadn’t killed innocents to survive.
The group traveled several hours, in silence until they reached the Shattered Hills, the official border between the Sundered Lands and rest of the country. Sherri hoped that they would find a welcome, and some shaidaks would be appreciated!
“Damn it’s cold here!” Maron said in her aged voice.
“Not everyone is lucky enough to come from the Andar Isles.” Hundrick replied with a smile.
“How did you know that’s where I’m from?
“Your accent, I picked up on it while you were trading barbs with the vampire.”
“You’ve got a good ear! I thought I lost that when I moved to the Kalorian capital.”
“It’s mostly gone, but I was a posted as part of the Counts guard, when I was young.”
“Which of the Counts?”
“The only one that really mattered.” Hundrick chuckled, causing Maron to smile, for reasons unknown to everyone else.
“What about you, dwarves? You from the same clan?” Hundrick asked.
“Actually we’re brothers.” Marrel answered.
“We’d probably still be there, if we hadn’t listened to Phul, though.” Rootbeard interjected.
“I only said we needed to check out that tunnel! We were waaaay below quota!” Phul nearly shouted, “Don’t be goin’ and blamin’ me again!”
“Here we go!” Marrel said, frustrated, “After all this time didn’t we agree that it was nobody’s fault? We just got caught up in this whatever it was, like everyone else! Or have ye fergotten about that?”
Everyone turned to stare at the orc walking just ahead.
“You speak common, Orc?”
“I do…” Krush said without turning, hiding a small grin, “…usually just before I bash them good.”
Best to keep them on their toes the orc thought, hiding his grin.
“Not sure I like that.” Maron whispered to Hundrick, taking hold of his arm.
“Those wars are now over, Miss Maron. No need to worry yourself, now.” Hundrick said, patter her hand.
“So what do you do now, knight?” Rootbeard asked.
“I had been given the gate, when this whatever it was happened.”
The brothers looked at one another, wondering what the knight had done to lose his flag.
Knowing the thoughts of those around him he simply said, “One does not oppose their lordship without consequences, regardless how righteous the objection may be.”
The dwarves were visibly relieved by his comment, assuming he was telling the truth of the matter. Given the gate was what knights called it when they had been stripped of their right to serve a liege lord. Once stripped, it could not be regained.
With those simple words, each of them walking realized that Hundrick was not to be trifled with.
Turning his attention to Maron, Hundrick asked her, “What is your trade, if I may ask?”
“I’m a maker of potions, now. But once, long ago, I was a sorceress.” She said smiling at him.
“Ah, the mystical arts! I was always fascinated by your kind as a child. Always wondering how you managed to learn all the things one must, to practice those arts!”
“It’s little different from your skills I’m sure. After all the great warriors were not born, they were molded. How many times did you swing that sword in practice before swinging it at flesh?”
“Many times, my dear, too many times! Until I could swing it no more on most days!” Hundrick laughed.
“No different for us. We practice and practice, over and over, just as you did. Otherwise we would be as useless as a tavern wench.” Maron said.
“Whoever says tavern wenches are useless, has probably never used a tavern wench properly!” Phul interjected.
“I don’t think that’s appropriate, dwarf!” she said glaring.
“No…no…no…I’m sorry, it’s not what was meant!” he said, trying to apologize.
“I don’t care what you meant, I only care about what you say!”
Rootbeard looked at Phul, as Merrill lightly slapped the back of his head.
“I told you that humans use them differently! Your really have to pay attention, brother! Else ye’ll get us into a fight!”
The light discussions of each of their past continued until they stopped to make camp for the night. They had managed to cover more than twenty miles since their departure. Sallowfeer and Maron were the worse off for it. Sallowfeer would recover as soon as the final rays of sunshine disappeared in a few minutes, but Maron would need to rest.
Brandylucke figured that everyone could have pressed on, but Sallowfeer and Maron would only be ruined for the next days march.
The spot that Brandylucke had picked for them to shelter in was an overhanging rock face that would hide them somewhat from any drones that the coalition might send in. She didn’t think that they would, as they were becoming harder and harder to replace she found out, so they risked them less and less. An arrow might not do much to harm one of them, but a mage or beast could take them right out of the sky.
Brandylucke watched as the rest of her new acquaintances found spots that were comfortable enough to provide a semblance of rest. She watched as Hundrick helped the old woman, smiling at his kindness. He must have once been a grand knight, she thought.
Sallowfeer shambled over towards Brandylucke, growing stronger with the nearing darkness.
“We have company, I don’t know where they are, but something is watching us.”
“I know. It’s been following us since we left the tavern. I haven’t been able to spot it either.”
“Should we tell the others?” Sallowfeer whispered.
“No, I’ve decided to hunt it myself, once it grows dark enough. I’ll need you to watch over them, should I fail.”
“Why would you trust me to do that?” he asked curiously.
“You’ve never been the type to harm the innocent. Why do you think I haven’t killed you?” she replied matter of factly.
Surprised at that response he asked, “And how would you know that?”
“You posture and pretend while you play your role of vampire Sallowfeer, but I know my prey. That’s what makes me so good at the only thing I know how to do. I’ve tracked you for nearly a hundred years and in all that time, you’ve never once, even when it cost you dearly, preyed on beings of heart, only those of the dark. I don’t think you’ll start now.”
“You give me too much credit, Executoria.”
“I don’t think so. I only give back to you what you have already earned.” Brandylucke said, staring at him.
Understanding that she had just given him “grace”, he realized that he had nothing more to fear from her. She had made her decision. However she justified it was fine with him. But she didn’t know everything, and he was not going to offer otherwise.
“As you wish, my dear. I will look after them until your return.” He replied, owing her that. He turned and began to shuffle towards the growing shadows of the cliff’s shelter.
“Take the first watch, Sallowfeer…” She said before he had gone too far, “…and keep your ears open.”
Sallowfeer nodded his head and weakly waved his hand as walked away.
Mora’desh watched them from a distance while trying to determine which one it was that he needed. His search for the one that had banished his mother had brought him to the tavern, and so, he had followed them as they had left.
The Helicon watched them as his anger grew at the loss of his mother. Not because of any love or care, but because she had been his greatest supporter and one always needed powerful allies to keep a grip on power.
The half-man/half demon, son of a succubus, could not hear what any of the group was saying. He had been watching the tavern for weeks, waiting for the opportunity to find who deserved his revenge. One of his rare gifts was that he could smell magic. For him the scent of a person’s magic was like when that person farted, it stank! Magic’s stench followed its caster, and was always carried by the user. He could tell who had created it just by the way it smelled, if knew the individual. Otherwise he was like a dog with a scent. He would have to chase them down.
This was the case with his mother’s attacker. He had been leading a war party when she had been banished. One of these ten people that he now watched had been the cause. He had lost his throne because of them! They would pay soon enough though.
Mora’desh began creeping slowly and silently towards a small outcropping of rock. He knew he stood a better chance of sneaking into the camp, if the vampire was not there. Vampires knew when there were others of darkness around. He could hide from him, but he would always be alert for him, meaning the moment he appeared it would probably attack since they usually didn’t sleep during the nights.
He could ignore the dwarves, they held no magic, neither within themselves nor with the weapons they carried. If you could call them weapons, two picks and a break rock hammer. He looked at the two that carried what he called loud spears. They had to be from this realm, natives. He could probably eliminate the orc since he had never heard of an orc using magic, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t be the first. After all, who had ever heard of a vampire that refused to feed on the living?
That eliminated half the group. The knight, the old lady, the vampire, the orc, and the gray haired woman with the swords were all that remained. Odds were it wasn’t the knight, as magic and armor didn’t mix, he suddenly remembered. The knight could be posing to be someone he wasn’t, couldn’t he? He would have to get closer to find out.
He looked around and realized that full darkness had fallen. He could move in the shadows just as easily in the darkness as the vampire. That was good, especially since he would take him out first if the vampire wasn’t going to go find something to feed on!
Brandylucke moved as silently through the underbrush and stone filled environment a silently as a snake, even with both of her sword out of her baldric. Her century of hunting down some of the most dangerous beings in the world had honed her skills well. The magic she had been taught served her well, too. But it was her own senses that served her best of all. It was those senses that were leading her in the darkness towards whatever it was that had been following them. Whatever it was kept moving closer to the camp, creating a small bit of anxiety within her. Had the coalition found something that was willing to track down those seeking to escape? There were many in The Harrowlands who had betrayed their kind for coin back home, and here as well, already.
She quickly refocused her attention on the task of finding their current stalker, before someone got hurt. She stepped carefully down onto the dry brush, as lightly as she could, cautiously setting each foot down. She was moving downwind of whatever it was, just as it was moving downwind of the camp. Her ability to see the faint glow of its footsteps still sitting on the sand, with her prenatural eyes accustomed to seeing things others could not. It had also lain down behind an outcropping as well, the length of its body’s warmth outlined still slightly. It was closing in on the camp whatever it was!
Mora’desh counted the people in the camp, as a precaution, as he began to sneak into the camp. He only counted eight of them! Where had the vampire and the swordswoman gone? He panicked momentary, then thought that he would be able to eliminate eight of the ten if he could get in and out undetected, or he would be able to surprise who he needed to, and kill them.
Brandylucke drew closer to the camp, and still could not see their pursuer! It must be invisible since there was no place left to hide!
“Lo! Enemy in the camp!” she shouted.
Mora’desh heard the swordswoman shout out her warning from behind him, and grew angry at his carelessness! He had allowed a human to sneak up behind him! Undetected! What else what she capable of? Unsure he quickly spun about and rushed to close the distance between them, then lashing out at her with the only weapons he had ever needed, his unnaturally long and sharp fingernails.
Brandylucke didn’t actually see her attacker but she felt the fabric of her shirt being torn, along with the flesh of her arm. Her warm blood quickly began flowing down her arm. She darted quickly away from where she had felt the attack come from, and with a blur of speed she began cutting at the air with the thin blades of her rapiers towards, she hoped, her invisible attacker.
It was then, just as one of her blades made contact that the creature appeared in the dark, in front of her, now wounded. She pressed her attack.
She watched as a Helicon, was beginning to rage, now that it had been wounded.
“I going to kill you, woman!” he whispered, and was immediately rewarded with another slice to his face from the tip of one of her blades.
Brandylucke continued her attack, parrying the demons attacks with counters of her own, trying to find an opening that was slow enough for her to get a deep thrust in between, but he was fast. Faster than the last demon she fought.
“What do you seek with us, demon?” she asked.
“I had only intended to kill one of you, but now, I think will kill all of you!”
“I doubt that, monster!” she hissed, increasing her attacks, to keep him occupied as the others gathered themselves from being awakened, realizing that this demon sought one of their refugees!
“Have no doubt, woman! I have slain many, and will slay many more!” Mora’desh hissed.
“Come then, demon. But you must try harder than this.”
Brandylucke grinned at him realizing that his arrogance was going to be his undoing.
So occupied on parrying and seeking her opportunity to thrust one of her rapiers into his skull, she failed to see the shadowy figure that rushed at the demon and took him to the ground.
Sallowfeer had been hiding in the dark, in his misty form, able to evade the demons view. He took his more natural form as he launched himself and filled Brandylucke’s vision with nothing but shadow, hiding her foe as he wrapped himself around the demon.
As she was growing accustomed to the sights within her dark view, bright light suddenly filled the surrounding area, and she heard Brian shouting.
“Do you see them?”
“Over there! There’s Brandy!” Sherri yelled and rushed towards the Executoria, followed by everyone that had been sleeping.
“Shine that light there!” Brandy pointed with the rapier in her left hand, readying the blade in her right hand.
Brandy watched as both of the natives turned their flashlights towards where she had pointed, lighting up both Sallowfeer and the Helicon.
“I don’t have a shot! Move Sallowfeer!”
“I can’t!” he groaned while still struggling with the hellicon.
Brandylucke rushed forward, seeing an opportunity as they rolled on the ground, and her speed allowed her to drive the tip of her rapier into the neck of the Helicon who responded with a shout of pain, and rage!
They all watched as the Helicon, in his fit of anger, tossed the vampire off to the side and reaching up to the wound on his neck with a bloodied hand, eyes aflame!
A deafening roar was heard as both Brian and Sherri opened fire at the demon, striking him center mass, wounding him. He quickly began retreating, having never been wounded in such a manner before. Causing him to feel something he had mostly brought to others, fear.
Brian fired several more times, missing him, but forcing Brandylucke to move to try to avoid getting shot by him.
He slipped past Brandylucke before she could stop him, firing his weapon into the darkness as he gave chase.
“No!” was all she was able to shout out to him before he disappeared into the darkness!
“Damn…” she thought, “…the lights screwed up my vision!
“Brian, do not go after him!” she shouted out to him.
“I’ll go!” Krush shouted, and began chasing the glow of Brian’s lights as it bounced through the darkness.
“Brian, stop! Get the hell back here!” Sherri shouted after them.
Knowing she would be able to track the Helicon, Brandylucke turned to go after them, shouting as she did so, “See to Sallowfeer! All of you stay here!” and she too, slipped into the darkness.
Sherri rushed over to Sallowfeer, rolling him onto his back and seeing that his chest had been ripped open and recoiled in horror.
Maron rushed in, pushing her aside awhile beginning to recite prayers to whatever gods might be listening. She spun her knapsack around and reached in to it while also lifting Sallowfeers intestines from the bloody ground and pushing them back into his open wound.
Hundrick watched Sherri as she reacted, realizing that this was the first time she had seen such a wound! He quickly grabbed the flashlight from her and began pointing it where it was needed for Maron to do her work.
The dwarves gathered around them and not caring to watch the gruesome task that Maron was performing they each turned outward. They quickly formed a protective wall around them with their mining tools, ready to strike any that would dare attack them.
“Pour this over the wound once I start pinching it closed! Just follow my hands!” Maron said, handing the glass vial to Hundrick. She then reached down and began pulling the vampires wound closed.
Hundrick bit down on the cork and pulled it from the vial, spitting it onto the ground. He quickly began pouring the viscous liquid onto the part of the wound Maron was holding closed. The thick bluish salve somehow held the wound closed as Maron began working her way along the wound, her bloody hands finding it difficult to grab the bloodied flesh of the vampire.
“Could you please put out that godforsaken light?” Sallowfeer uttered weakly, throwing up his arm to shield his eyes.
Maron stopped, looking incredulously at the vampire, who should at the very least be unconscious.
“You should be dead, neckbiter!”
“Yet, I’m not, sadly.”
Using his other hand he removed Maron’s hands from his chest and then reached down to feel his wounded chest.
“Crap! He ruined my vest!” he said as he pulled his cloak up and over his torso, hiding the wound.
“How is that possible?” Sherri asked with shocked surprise.
“THIS? THIS is my curse!” he said angrily, trying to sit up, “Rid me of that damn light, will you?”
Hundrick offered the flashlight to Sherri, “Here, I don’t know how to.”
Sherri took the flashlight from him, and turned it off, confused.
Brian continued to rush through the scrub of the Sundered Lands, aided only by the light of his long carried emergency flashlight, unsure of what he was actually chasing. He had only seen a shadow, and eyes, as whatever it was flung Sallowfeer aside. But he was going to kill it by god!
He thought he heard the cracking of dried brush ahead of him and fired twice more.
“Crap!” he said aloud, and slowed. He hit the release button on the AR. The empty magazine fell to the ground. He quickly shoved the flashlight under his arm as he slowed to grab another, to reload.
Mora’desh stopped to let the native to come to him. He realized that he was running from a human! The wounds to his chest were hurting him still. He had never suffered a wound such as this and hoped that he never would again! He watched as the human pointed the loud spear and two flashes of light erupted from its tip. It was then that he saw the human come to a stop and point that lantern behind him. Knowing an opportunity when he saw it he rushed at the human.
Brian quickly shoved the magazine into the receiver, locking it into place and was reaching up to charge the weapon to load a round when he sensed something rushing at him from the darkness ahead. Out of reflex he looked up, only to see two fiery red eyes and the form of a devil, dimly lit as his flashlight was under his arm, then he saw no more.
Brandylucke rushed past Krush in the darkness, trying to get to the light Brian carried as quickly as she could. She listened as he fired his weapon two times then stopped, the light suddenly blinding her, causing her to slow.
She slowed, not wanting to trip and fall realizing that she would do little good laying on the ground, helpless and unable to aid anyone.
As her eyes began to adjust she started forward, realizing that Brian was but a few dozen steps away. She watched in horror when suddenly the Helicon demon seemingly appeared from nowhere, surprising him. The demon grabbed his head, snapping his neck violently as he twisted his head neatly backwards. Brian slid to the ground with a quiet thud, while the Helicon smiled at her and again disappeared into the darkness.
She watched as Krush ran past her to Brian’s aid, ignoring his own risk. Realizing what the demon had done, the orc let loose the fiercest war cry of his life, challenging the demon. She watched sadly as he hefted his battleaxe high into the night, again daring him again to come fight, knowing the demon would not.
She made her way to Brian, and reached down and closed his eyes, his shock still registering within their dead gaze.
She uttered a prayer and stood, looking at Krush.
She watched as the orc leaned down and easily picked Brian up and began walking back towards their camp, leaving the Executoria to pick up his belonging that lay scattered on the ground. Tears beganning from her eyes as she knelt down and picked up Brian’s flashlight and rifle while realizing she had just lost one of the only two friends she had in this realm.
“I will find you demon, and execute you for this.” she vowed softly.
Mora’desh had determined two things from this evening, he thought to himself while looking up at his home world.
The first was that he was not seeking the vampire, the dead human, or the orc. If the orc had any magic, he would have used it. That left only the knight, or the old crone; since the magic that the Executoria wielded was not that which he sought either. Second, those loud spears could kill him, requiring that he avoid them in the future.
The third thing that he should have realized, but hadn’t, was that the Executoria, well, she had never broken a vow, ever. She began searching for those little traits that all of her prey left beind, their scent, their footprints, and occasionally some physical evidence of what or who they were.
She returned to camp, just before sunrise. Happy and shocked to see Brian sitting up and smiling, next to a campfire that they had lit.
Sherri rushed towards Brandylucke, wrapping her arms around the Executoria.
“You never told us about clerics!”, she said joyfully.