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Disclaimer: All characters involved in sexual relationships are over 18 years of age, and no minors are sexually exploited in this content. In no way are actual events or persons depicted. The author of this story is not gay. Enjoy.
I grew up in a city without names. As a boy, I waited and watched with the other nameless children in filthy narrow rows between crowded shacks made of brown paper. Some whispered that it had been over a century since the war began, others that far longer had passed. The stone walls too high for us to see over were guarded by shadowy figures with horned helmets. Every day at dusk, more of the terrifying soldiers would storm in through the gates we weren’t allowed to go out. They wore silvery armor that made their limbs look skeletal and layered like those of insects with dark, translucent shells. The “daemen” as we called them, or “soulless ones”, would dump food and supplies wrapped by paper leaves before each flimsy door without a single word. Everyone would hide in their lopsided homes when they came, pretending to sleep. We children of the allies would cower together in the tightest nooks and crannies that could fit us between the low, box-like houses to avoid attention. Sometimes, stray kids were kicked out of huddles because there wasn’t enough room for everyone. When this happened to me, I would run about in circles frantically searching for a place to hide alone while my friends laughed and teased me about getting eaten from their safe haven. I would tell them to eat shit and die. Then I would run as far away as possible in the opposite direction of the daemen march. I remember one time, I twisted my ankle and collapsed in a dirty alley before I could find a hiding spot. I think it was raining, but it’s a fuzzy memory. Drops of water were falling on my hair and face, and I couldn’t move. I heard a lone daeman approach my cowering form. I looked up at it into sternly luminous eyes the color of blood. I could see the outline of its armor and strongly curved horns in the darkness. It dropped a bag of grain in front of me with a soft plop and marched past. The next day I shared my feast with the others, and I was never left out again.
What scared us wasn’t so much that the daemen only came at night. It was when they would herd, and rip, and yank everyone into the cleared out areas near the water wells within the city; threatening torches and triple pronged spears that could pierce solid trees through and snap rotten logs in half. But it wasn’t us they were after. They would leave all the children behind; tossing us aside like empty buckets as they marched through the city in perfect rhythm. So with the other orphans I would linger at the edges of the clearings after fleeing the monsters that plagued our every dream. They would line up all the adults in perfect order, looking for those to remove. Some daemen would go through the lines forcing open mouths to check the state of teeth and stripping off clothes to estimate musculature and health. Whoever dared rebel would usually be restrained in strips of black cowhide and taken away too. They took men and women; always the youngest and strongest. I think that’s why I had been alone all my life. No one who left had ever returned.
The daemen were not always peaceful and predicable. They also killed, but the first person I saw die wasn’t murdered by daemen. The nameless city was a violent place to grow up. I witnessed many despicable acts that no child should ever have to fix eyes on, in a perfect world. The first human I saw killed by daemen was a feeble, aged man who kept following the busy soldiers around begging for more food. They ignored him, but he just kept limping after them and blocking their paths to slide down on his boney knees.
“Please. Please. Everyone is starving to death. The young without parents keep stealing our rations.”
Daemen were stepping around him and marching on while he became more desperate. He snatched at the metal plates of a daeman’s legs, raising his weak, scratchy voice to a wretched scream.
“PLEASE! You don’t understand! We need more food!”
A pair of daemen wordlessly took turns spearing the old man with quick, efficient thrusts until a fork through the ribs finally stopped his shrieking. It did not fill me to the brim with terror and revulsion to see one of my own killed by those monsters despite all of my nightmares being centered on the horns, the armor, and the glowing red eyes of the untouchable daemen. Instead, I laughed. I couldn’t help it. Didn’t care that it was cruel. It started in the back of my throat as a low chuckle. I was remembering all the unpleasant times that stupid old man had demanded we give him our food, claimed we had stolen the food of others whether we did or didn’t, and had gotten groups of adults together to chase us with the threat of hurled stones. But once I started laughing, I couldn’t remember how to stop again. My giggles casino şirketleri burst into roars. I was laughing, snorting, laughing, wheezing, laughing, crying. Then I just couldn’t stop crying. The two daemen were approaching me from across the alleyway, but I still couldn’t stop. They halted before me like they had with the old man when he wouldn’t stop begging. They towered over me, and I was immersed in their converging shadows. All daemen had identical faces beneath the guards of their helmets like the drones of a hive. I shut my mouth finally and glared hardly up at them, but tears were still leaking from my swollen eyes.
“I hate you.”
One of them grabbed me roughly by a shoulder. The other followed suit in perfect unison. It was as if they had been made to be a single entity. As if all daemen were. They flipped me around and jarred me forward with their spears poking into my shoulder blades. I was astonished into speechlessness as they led me to the nearest clearing. I almost missed how much time had gone by. Finally I was a man, and it was my turn to be examined for selection.
I had never heard a daeman say anything at all before that day.
7 Years Later — The Eastern Border of Skaldia
The summer sky was hot and bright. I squinted at the serene blue hills in the distance from my high perch in a tall Hactle tree. I was crouched in the nook of a sturdy branch, hands clasped firmly below me. My dark green cloak was faded and dirty from use, but it blended nicely with the net of cone-shaped leaves surrounding me. No one would be able to look as high up as I was without the sun blocking a clear view. The winds were still, but occasionally a warm breeze from the west tickled my ears under my hood. I breathed in the heavy scent of wilting vegetation and dry earth. The dense forests of Skaldia were the best place to be for a wanderer at this time of year. They offered the most shade and the finest hunting. The greatest gift they tempted though was the promise of protection from bounty hunters. Why go to a crowded city filled with guards and noblemen when the darkness and anonymity of the Black Forests was right over the next hill? As long as you knew how to fetch your own meals, everything was free there. This is why the Black Forests had been used for generations as cover by local thugs in fear of the strict king’s hand. The unoccupied land around the Skaldia-Wretalor border was also famous for the trafficking of illegal magic related trinkets. Because of all this, honest folk could rarely be found mingling among the trees.
Speak of the plague.
Two tall, lumbering men came into my view. One was a bit shorter and heavier, but their builds were similarly bulky. They each had mud brown hair and scowling features, although the taller man’s beard was tinged with the grey of age. Still, they could have been brothers. From my earlier scouting, I knew exactly who the pair of bandits below me were. I had been following them for days, slowly catching up, and if they had noticed, they were doing an increasingly piss poor job of covering their tracks. Finally, I had managed to pass them. The execution of my plan was going as easily as I could have hoped. I lifted my bow into position with a silent smirk, following suit of the breeze to mask the motion in the rustling leaves around me. Just two shots. Possibly three. The second would be tricky, but for the first I would have to wait for slower conversation. Their gruff voices carried up to me, thick with Wretalorian accents. They were taking their sweet time hauling their asses past that creek. I drew the string with expert diligence and shot.
The slightest sound didn’t escape the first Wretalorian’s lips as he fell. His cohort turned around and jerked in startled awareness, but that was all he had time to do. The second criminal fell with an even more satisfying thud. I gracefully skimmed down the tree after them, bow in toe.
As soon as I hit the forest floor, I knew that something was very wrong. The first Wretalorian’s shaggy head lied at my feet. The jay feathered tip of my arrow protruded from his sunken eyeball. With the way he kept looking up and around, I had estimated it as the cleanest shot. It was the second one’s condition that bothered me. I had hit him in the neck. Despite the amount of blood seeping from the wound, this shouldn’t have been enough to kill him so quickly. He should still be choking to death with eyes wild for relief. I leveled my gaze with a realization that made my blood run cold.
My quick reflexes enabled me to dodge the ball of blue flames without receiving a direct hit, but as I pivoted to one side, the tail of the magic powered bullet singed my flailing cloak. I was now facing my mark Kutka, Ha’zok, risen from the dead with both hazel eyes intact and a huge, yellow grin set in his dark bush of a beard. Eerie blue smoke curled up from the plump fingers of his burly casino firmaları hand. Glancing down, I just managed to spot the butt of one of my used arrows sticking up harmlessly in the leaves before another fireball came my way. I rolled to dodge it and took up a low stance. The tree behind me was left with a hollow shaped burn that sizzled and crackled like a log in a camp fire.
The wannabe sorcerer chuckled lowly. “For a bounty hunter, you sure are stupid. Inexperienced?”
I narrowed my coal black eyes at him coolly. Why did magic casters always prefer to banter to the point of pouring their guts out? Even the ones whose only skills had been acquired through stolen tomes and cursed artifacts never knew when to shut up. But of course I hadn’t forgotten about Kutka’s partner in crime. I was certain the fool was crouching in the bushes somewhere, plotting a second ambush while his partner distracted me. One of my daggers hissed from its sheath and flew out toward Kutka’s face in a fluid ark. Snarling, he batted it aside with his hand, which ignited into a pale azure flame upon contact. The jackass caster looked proud of himself as he laughed again. It was such an arrogant and smug response, it made me grit my teeth. How. I. Hated. Fucking. Magic. Why fight like a man when you could simply block any attack with a flaming fist or shoot a jet of venomous snakes out your ass?
“What’s under that hood, boy? You trying to hide your-“
I jettisoned my feet forward and tossed a volley of smaller knives from between my fingers. He continued to flap his mouth between blocks.
I had advanced to less than a punch’s throw away. He flung both his hands at me with a shout. As his fists hit the ground, a ripple of flames blasted from his strike. I effortlessly leaped over and above him, aiming another knife down at his neck. I barely managed to see the fireball coming at me from behind. In a split second, I abandoned my target and spun sideways to avoid a direct hit. In midair I launched my knife in the direction of the new fire ball’s caster. Despite my agility, I wasn’t quite fast enough to avoid being smote on the hip, and I was knocked down off my own momentum. The searing pain caused a gasp to catch in my throat. I could not have hated casters more at that point. I was lying face down in the leaves, my body contorted into a particularly flexible position with one arm bent far beneath me. My quiver had spilled arrows, but my trusty bow was still handy in my right hand’s tight grasp. I could smell burnt flesh. Kutka’s annoying, cocky laughter was almost as unpleasant. Almost.
“Well well, who be this? Hope ei did’t break yer new toy, Zok?” the thick lug who had struck me babbled, forfeiting his invisibility spell. It seemed my tossed dagger had been easily reflected by Razo, Nortahn as well.
I discontinued breathing for a moment. I began meditating on the switch in my mind that would shut off the relentless burning sensation. It was my only defense against magical attacks, for which I had not the slightest talent. That was another thing I hated about magic. There seemed to be a misconception floating around that the more intelligent a person was, the greater talent for casting they possessed. In my experience, this couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Either you were born with the ability to use magic, or you were born an ordinary bastard. There wasn’t much else to it than that.
I sucked in a gasp of air once, slowly, deliberately. I was focusing on exiling the pain. It was something I had been taught though a series of agonizing drills that I do not wish particularly to recall. I had never been the best at it either. My body was sensitive.
“No harm done here. Although, he does have a tasty looking flank. What do you say Nortahn?”
“Now yer makin’ my mouth water.”
I took another deep breath. I could hear the energy crackling from Kutka’s magic bound hand as he approached.
One last deep breath. That was all I needed. I flipped over and dashed toward the pair of thugs. I was forced to weave around several close range fireballs. While flashing between them, I struck at the broader, fatter Razo’s boots with another dagger.
“Little worm!” Kutka hissed.
Razo grunted in pain and jammed his uninjured leg forward. He wielded a heavy longsword with foreign symbols woven in scarlet lettering across the thick silver blade. The stolen Wrath of the Sun, I presumed. The blade would have been a formidable threat in the hands of a competent caster familiar with Angelic magic. However, it was long and weighty, and would also require a great deal of strength in order to be wielded. Size and muscle were not strong points for most magic users, because they wasted their time studying and practicing their magic bullshit instead of training their bodies. In short, only an Angel would be able to effectively use such a weapon. I thought güvenilir casino that I was fortunately stuck with those two clowns. I suppose I had underestimated my marks gravely that day.
I attempted to string an arrow, but when my fingers missed their hold, I glanced down to see that the bow string had been snapped during my tumble. I continued to flick knives in counter of Kutka’s errant fireballs but dodged and hid as often as possible. After watching him block perfectly several times, I realized all he had to do was move his hand remotely close to a thrown knife for the pesky living fire to leap from his fingers and knock it aside. Meanwhile, Razo twisted his hands around the sword’s handle and clenched his teeth until the blade started blushing blue. It suddenly burst into flames, and a volley of fireballs was launched in random directions at Razo’s shout. Because why the fuck not? Kutka attacked at the same time, not fearing his partner’s magic that harmlessly floated around him due to his own tap. I swept behind a tree in time to avoid being cooked alive, but my cloak suffered another heavy hit. I was beginning to think that my mistakes and carelessness that day had begun to turn the the tables out of my favor.
Razo had stumbled and fallen. I tucked another dagger at him, but Kutka blocked it with a surprised little shout and slammed his fists mercilessly to the steaming forest floor once again. I high tailed it up the tree before blue flames could blacken the base of the trunk. I used the cover to jerk a fresh bow string from the pocket tied to my belt.
“Fast little motherfucker. That one should have killed you!” Kutka bitched aloud.
I was getting sick of his pointless insults. He may have been broader and taller than me, but I wasn’t “little”. Swinging around a heavy low branch to face them again, I winced as pain twinged in my side where I had been previously hit. I launched an arrow bound with a little surprise at him. Kutka grinned wickedly as he propelled his fist forward like a bat. An explosion derived from clashing magic sounded, and the arrow head split from its tail and ricocheted, grazing me on the shoulder. Kutka was knocked onto his back by the force. My arms gave out, and I stumbled. My feet clambered at the tree’s trunk as I tried to stay off the ground.
“I’ve had it with your games, boy.” Kutka growled.
He kneeled off the ground, clutching his smoking hand. ‘I’m not a boy, jackass.’ I thought, glaring at him.
“My kill. My eat.” Razo sneered, limping forward.
The hulking Wretalorian didn’t seem to have enough energy of the spiritual variety left to conjure more fire from the sword, but he could still swing it around like any blundering idiot. I rolled to avoid his strike, angling my wounded shoulder away. He lifted the blade again and with a rumbling shout and brought it down with all the grace of a blacksmith. Clearly he favored clubs or spears. I kicked dirt at him with a spiked boot.
“Ha ha, I’s gonna enjoy this. Maybe even eat you raw.”
Without warning, I struck him in the jaw with a bag of spice powder. My hand had faltered, and I had missed his eyes directly.
He yowled in pain as the irritating dust burnt his eyes and mouth and pulled back. I used the opportunity to get up and attempt to compose myself, but he swung his blind blade furiously in my direction. I gulped in a sharp gasp when I was nicked on the back. The most shameful injury any warrior could receive. I clattered against a tree and would have been struck again, possibly to my end, but something had hit my opponent. An intense shuddering zap, like a bolt of lightning flung by a god from the skies. I collapsed. What happened next is difficult for me to remember. My vision was watery and blurred, but I could make out two figures standing in the distance. One was Kutka, wearing his thick garments of grey and white wolf furs. The other was a tall, dark shadow.
My head felt woozy as if I was very drunk. Beyond drunk. I grasped at my belt. Only a single dagger was left, on my left side where I kept my poisoned knives. It was a bad idea to use poisoned blades in a fight with magic casters, but I had run out of the normal variety. A lot of various trick arrows had also mingled in the half spilled quiver. I realized I was dying of my own dipped arrow. I had accidentally strapped the bomb pouch to a poisoned bird before using it against Kutka. Although, I was also bleeding profusely from all of my wounds. In the distance, the mysterious shadow was moving forward.
“Who do you think you are, sheep fucking bastard!?” Kutka shouted at it.
“I was just passing through. Thought I would break up the bitch fight.”
I weakly slipped the remaining dagger from my belt. My muscles were beginning to go limp, and it was a chore to even keep my eyes open. Pressing the hilt against a tree root, I angled the point toward my neck. I moaned weakly from my efforts. I wasn’t paying attention to what was happening around me. There were screams and other loud noises. I focused on the dagger. Every bit of my energy went into its purpose. I was struck in the back of the head and blacked out before I could complete my small task.
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