Making their way to Tranquil after leaving Limestone Mountain; Claire and Lucifer are greeted by three children right outside of the portal gate. After a brief conversation, the children run through the portal heading to Limestone as Claire and Lucifer head to the town of Seabell. Starving shortly after arriving in town, the two stop by a local restaurant for a meal, only to discover the outrageous prices for meals and are forced to hold back until able to find work. The two are overheard by the restaurant chef and owner; Eyern, who offers the two jobs as his new hunters so to kill and gather boar meat for his customers. Out of view from prying eyes, in his kitchen is large, heavily tattooed orc working as his apprentice chef. As a token of kindness towards his newfound employees, Eyern offer the two a free meal. As Claire and Lucifer enjoy their meal, Eyern and his orc apprentice; K’Lar’s private discussion is suspicious in nature as the two speak of regret and remorse for an upcoming situation involving the two.
Later; Lucifer rushes to prepare herself as a new hunter, purchasing a bow and new gear. Claire walks around the corner to catch up with Lucifer, but bumps into a little purple-haired girl with cat ears. Helping the little girl up; Claire is suddenly hit with a momentary flashback of two small children embracing her with hugs. The flashback puts her to tears for unexplained reasons. The little cat eared girl returns how to her mother, whom she informs of her brief encounter. Concerned, the young woman locates and spies on Claire and Lucifer as they hunt boars, but is relieved to know that they are not the people she first thought they were. As she leaves she notices a small group of bandits coming towards the two, but as she watches them another group approaches her home, where she left the little girl at.
Lucifer fires and arrow that tears through the air, nailing a boar between the eyes. As the boar hit’s the ground, Lucifer jumps up and down in excitement while Claire cheers from the distance. Lucifer then continues her onslaught of the boars, killing them one by one. Coming across the last boar in sight, locking stares for a moment until the boar suddenly charges at Lucifer at full speed. Lucifer then begins charging at the boar, but right before the two can reach one another she fires an arrow towards the ground; hitting the boar’s leg nailing it in place. Standing before the boar as it is unable to reach her, Lucifer takes a single arrow and fires it point blank into the boar’s skull, killing it instantly. The merciless act preformed by Lucifer startles Claire for a moment, but as Lucifer turns to look at her with a cheerful smile on her face Claire just waves and smiles back. Lucifer turns back to the dead boar, pulls the arrow out of its leg, then grabs it by the tusk, and starts to drag it. She doesn’t get far when suddenly she catches resistance and can’t pull the boar any further. Before she can turn around a foul toned voice is heard from behind her, where the dead boar is;
“Looks like we have ourselves an unauthorized hunt taking place on our turf.”
Every other word if followed with a disgusting hog-like snort as Lucifer turns to see small group of tuskar and orc bandits standing behind her. Lucifer looks at them with a blank expression on her face, then looks down to see the one tuskar’s foot on the tail of her dead boar. Lucifer looks back up at the group, and sets her sights on the one tuskar.
“What? Oh, I’m sorry, is this your kill?”
Lucifer says nothing as Claire rushes to her side with her shield and cross mace in hand. Claire glances her eyes at Lucifer as she still has a blank expression over her face. Her sight still set on the tuskar whose foot is on the tail of her boar. Claire looks back at the group and then gently places her mace against Lucifer’s chest in effort to hold Lucifer back;
“Don’t worry about it Lucy. We’ll take what we have. It should be enough. Let’s just go, we don’t want any trouble.”
“That’s the problem with weaklings, never looking for a fight. Quick to run away and cower in their houses. Know what I like to do when cowards hide in their houses and don’t want to come out?”
As the group stands their ground the one tuskar pulls out his sword and approaches Lucifer and Claire, as Claire makes her way between the tuskar and Lucifer. Holding her shield tightly as she makes a defensive stance.
“I like to reenact an old fairy tale called ‘The Three Little Pigs’, but with a twist. See, I smoke too much to be huffing and puffing down houses. So I just set them on fire and cut down the weaklings that come running out.”
Claire listens to the tuskar as he boasts about his acts of cruelty towards the weak and helpless and can’t but feel a sense of anger and disgust.
“Men, women, children, doesn’t matter to me. I’ve killed my fair share of all and laughed while doing it at times. Kids are the most fun. Ever heard a child scream for its parents right before-”
Unable to take anymore of the tuskar’s boasts, Claire’s words interrupt him in mid sentence. The tuskar only laughs and snorts, placing his hand over Claire’s shield, he lowers it with his weight. Without hesitation, Claire swings her cross mace at the tuskar. Seeing the attack clearly, the tuskar reaches out to stop the mace. Before he is able to, an arrow pierces through the palm of his hand, causing him to be unable to stop the incoming strike from Claire. The mace smashes into the side of the tuskar’s face, breaking one of his tusks as it sends him spinning around a few times before he eventually hits the ground unconscious.
The assault catches the other bandits off guard and unprepared. As one of the orc bandits reach for an axe from his back, Claire rushes to them. Before he can even fully grip the handle of his axe, Claire’s mace charges with a golden bright aura, thrusting it towards the chest of the orc, it releases an golden energy blast. The blast sends the orc flying back a short distance. Another tuskar charges at Claire with his sword in hand. Claire raises her shield up to block the oncoming attack, but as she stands ready from the attack from the one bandit, two more come from each side. Realizing she’s outmatched, Claire struggles to figure a way out of an impending doom. Suddenly Claire is grabbed by her collar from behind and pulled. The bandits barely miss each other as they nearly collide. Claire looks behind herself to see Lucifer, who greets her with a usual ecstatic smile.
“That was a close one, sis.”
“Yes, yes it was. I’m-”
Before Claire and finish her sentence, the three bandits turn and charge at them. Claire builds up another aura of golden energy and with a forward thrust of her mace, a small part of the ground erupts under the feet of the charging orc. The orc is stopped in his tracks as his feet get stuck into the ground. Lucifer dashes in front of Claire at high speed, as she zooms across, between Claire and the orc, she fires three arrows at the orc. The arrows hit the abdomen, center of his chest, and forehead; killing the orc. Lucifer then ducks as Claire; from behind, swings her mace at the approaching tuskar, knocking him out as the mace hits him in the face. Before Lucifer can rise back up, the last orc swings a punch at Claire. Fast enough to respond, she blocks the attack with her shield, but the force alone knocked her off her feet. Lucifer turns to see Claire fall back onto the ground, instantly her eyes turn into a familiar black void. Grabbing a single arrow, she quickly turns and upper cuts the orc under the chin. With the arrow tearing into the orc’s head from where her fist made contact. The orc twitches while look in horror at her blackened eyes. She looks on, emotionless, and unbothered by the action at hand. Trickles of blood drop on the ground they stand on. The orc still struggles to lift his axe and cut Lucifer down with a single strike, but the attempt is interrupted by the sound of steel swiftly tearing through flesh. The orc’s eyes roll back into his eyes as he takes his last breath and drops his axe. The lower half of the orc falls completely on the ground as the mysterious black haired woman stands behind him, placing her katana sword back in this sheave.
As the upper half of the orc drops, Lucifer snaps out of her demonic phase and smiles at the mysterious woman;
“Thank you bunches.”
As Lucifer walks over to Claire and helps her up, the black haired woman; Slay, looks around at all the bloody remains of the bandits. She’s suddenly hit with flashes of herself, cutting down people with her sword. Her steel blade soaked in the blood of those who crossed her path. The sounds of flesh torn by steel, and overwhelmed by the screams of those falling before her. She stands with another, a woman also with a long katana sword. The two stand over all the dead, clothes drenched in blood. They lock in stares for a moment, but soon Slay is snapped back to reality. Coming to, Claire stands before her;
“Hi, I wanted to thank you for coming to our aid. I’m not sure what we would’ve done if not for-”
“You would have won regardless.”
Slay looks at Lucifer as she’s dragging her dead hog to the pile further up. As she continues watching Lucifer she speaks to Claire;
“I have been watching you from a distance up until this point. I feared at first you two were someone else, but to my relief neither of you were. Honestly, I felt compelled to make my presence known.”
“Compelled to? Why?”
Claire asks in a moment of confusion. Slay then turns to face Claire with a sense of concern;
“Do you not feel it when you are with her?”
“It’s, it’s hard to describe. Like madness and serenity combined somehow.”
Claire looks on at Lucifer as she thinks back at the short time she spent with her. Knowing exactly what Slay is referring to, but too nervous to reveal such things to her. Claire then reaches her hand out to greet Slay;
“My name is Claire by the way.”
Slay looks at Claire’s hand for a moment and then in to her blue eyes. After a short moment, Slay reaches her hand out and shakes Claire’s;
“My name is Slay.”
“As for my unique friend, her name is Lucy.”
The two then walk in the direction to Lucifer as she drags the boar carcass through the ground, leaving a trail of blood behind. As Claire and Slay approach, Slay then places her sheaved sword in her belt and speeds up to her. Grabbing the back end of the dead boar, Slay picks it up catching Lucifer off guard as she quickly turns around. The two lock stares for the moment, Lucifer’s blood red eyes locking into Slay’s darkened blue eyes. Lucifer shares a quick smile and turns back around, Slay for a second is caught off guard by a questionable vibe and then helps Lucifer carry the dead boar to the back of the restaurant. The backdoor opens up and a large muscular, green, heavily tattooed orc walks out the door. Caught by surprise, the orc freezes as Lucifer and Slay drop the boar and reach for their weapons. The orc backs himself up against the wall with his hands up. Lucifer and Slay lock on to the orc, but remain still as Claire catches up to them. Seeing the situation, Claire places her hand on Lucifer’s shoulders;
“It’s ok, its Eyern’s cook.”
Lucifer looks at Claire and gives her a questionable look as Slay looks at all three and then turns her attention solely on the orc. She walks past Lucifer and Claire and stands in front of the orc;
“If you really are just a cook, show me your brand.”
The looks at Slay and then Lucifer and Claire. He gives a heavy sigh and turns around, lifting his shirt up. Revealing to Slay and the others, a tattoo that stood out from the others; a blackened eagle head tattoo with a deep and painful scar made across it. As if crossing it off. Slay puts her hand close to the tattoo and then pulls her hand back and walks away from the orc. The orc lowers his shirt and turns around before Slay walks away;
“We weren’t always like this, you know? Wasn’t until Ketak took over the gang did things get so far out of hand.”
Slay stops for a second and turns her head, to ask a question;
“What made you desert your fellow members?”
K’Lar takes a breath as he leans against the wall in an effort to relax;
“The Eagle Gang was always a pirate gang, yeah, but we never were about killing. At least not killing women and children, sure we looted ships out to sea. Committed a few crimes, but never like this. Captain Rorek was never this vicious, but then Ketak takes over. Promises of power and all this and all that. Gets the men all riled up and eager to do stuff we never thought of doing.”
Sudden the flashback of a large pirate ship out at sea comes to K’Lar’s mind. A ship filled with orc and tuskar pirates sailing the seas. The images of the Eagle Gang engaging in war with other pirate ships. Cannons firing across the ocean, tearing through the wooden ships, tearing through the bodies of enemy pirates. Orcs and tuskars furiously slaughtering their enemies, leaving none alive. K’Lar describes the many sin’s his crew committed upon their brethrens of the sea alone. Covering the ocean with their blood. With Ketak making his victory roar amongst the massive gang. K’Lar continues on about Ketak in general and his desire for power and war, his plans of ruling Eden from the seas, to the lands, to the very sky itself. The most vicious of ogres, who turned the free spirited Eagle Gang into a bandit guild of heartless monsters. Those who stood again Ketak were branded traitors and slaughtered by his own axe. The flashbacks of K’Lar’s fallen brothers only fuels the rage in his heart as he describes the horrific violence Ketak would take in killing traitors. The sicken joy of dismembering them as they still lived, to feel the supposed pain they were causing with their treachery.
K’Lar the describes the specific night that catches Slay’s attention closely. A night when the Eagle Gang finally crossed the wrong pirates and were over powered. By this time Ketak commanded a small fleet of pirates. A ship unlike any ever seen was spotted one night; black as night, with red insignias patterned all around it, black sails with a horned skull and crossbones. Drunk with power, Ketak set and instant attack at the unknown ship. As his cannons fired from all directions, from all his ships, at this single mysterious vessel. It suddenly vanished in the smoke filled air, unable the see the ship anymore, Ketak commanded a cease fire. Waiting for the smoke to clear, the fleet stood on standby to view the wreckage. It was then a single blast tore through the smoke; a red beam of energy. Hitting one of the ships, it instantly blew to pieces, leaving not a single soul alive. Soon after, the sound of laughter could be heard. It echoed through the smoke and into the hearts of all Ketak’s men as another blast shot and destroyed another ship. Determined to win this battle, Ketak commanded his fleets to attack into the smoke. As cannon blast after cannon blast hit into the smoke, none could see what was happening on the other side. Sudden a red energy blast from the sky hits and destroys another ship and other ships begin to follow down the path of destruction ad Ketak sees the ship, now airborne. The remaining ships take aim as their crews reload for a final assault, one last hopeful effort to take down an overwhelming adversary. As the crews of the fleets finish preparations, the sound of clockwork gears moving fills the area. Locks snapping in place as sudden the airship unleashes a mass of unique, technical cannons, building up energy in seconds as to the minutes it would take for the fleets to fire. The airship unleashes and onslaught of red energy blasts, tearing through every ship in its sights. With no other choice, Ketak orders for his fleets to retreat and regroup.
Unfortunately, Ketak’s mysterious foe continues the slaughter. Destroying everyone as they retreat. As a diversion; Ketak order his last two ships to stop, catching both ships. The sudden order catches the ships off guard and they stop, only to be destroyed as Ketak’s ship escapes. The airship is never seen again and the Eagle Gang crashes off the shore of Tranquil Hill. This event leads to the senseless slaughter of a farming colony in Fort Verdure; a name that hits close to Slay as she clinches her fist. By then, K’Lar as well as a few other have had enough of Ketak’s madness and attempt to stop his violent, senseless assault on the colony. Only to fail and retreat with what survivors they could save.
K’Lar suddenly stops with his story as his attention is taken by something else;
“What the Hard is that?”
Lucifer and Claire turn to look as Slay looks as well. Thick black smoke rises from a far distance. Slay instantly realizes where it’s coming from and rushes off without saying a word. Lucifer rushes off after her as Claire runs with K’Lar. The group eventually makes it to the source of the black smoke; a familiar house has been set ablaze. Slay watches in shock as the house is completely engulfed in flames, she runs closer to the house and is stopped by Lucifer. In reflex Slay strikes her across the face to let go, but doesn’t as the house crumbles down in the blaze. Nothing more she can do, Slay looks at the burning remains of her home and drops to her knees. Claire and K’Lar arrive a moment later as Lucifer simply places her hand on Slay’s shoulder as a vision comes to mind. A black armored hand on the shoulder of a woman as a house is burned to the ground. The calm voice of the armored black knight says;
“And so ends the life we once had. May it sit still with her now, my love. We shall create a new life, a life of vengeance upon all he took from us.”
“Do you really think this was his doing?”
“Even if he didn’t cast the first stone, he didn’t even stop the last. That alone makes him just as guilty.”
As the scene returns back to the present situation, Slay looks up at Lucifer as her eyes turn a bright golden color. In a trance she says with no knowledge of others hearing her;
“So he’s turn his back on his own blood for the sake of others? Maybe, maybe there’s a reason for-”
Pausing in the midst of her sentence as if interrupted, she simply responds to the soundless voice;
“I’d follow you through the plains of earth and into the depths of Hard, and even into the heavens themselves. I miss her, I miss her so much.”
Slay simply looks back at the blaze as Claire and K’Lar remain in distance. Slay hesitates for a moment, her hand hovering over Lucifer’s that remains on her shoulder. Her breathing becomes unsteady as her hand drops on Lucifer’s she lowers her head and cries.
“Let this be the first in many fires. Until someday, we set the whole world ablaze.”
To Be Continued…