Anyone familiar with my online presence may recognize ‘Xallion’ as a name I’ve used in the past. Currently it is the name I use for my Orc Warrior on World of Warcraft, but his origins come from something really close to my heart.
I’ve mentioned the comic “Fate Martyr Sapheire” by Alice J. Gheiss before on my blog. The prequel bboard RP continuous story “Ki-Rainelle” is set in the same world. This story wouldn’t be possible with out it. Unlike Ambrosia, this story is staying close to the subject matter. If I pursue it there’s even the potential of the reader meeting Nell and Culvir in their original form. Xallion is quite different in this story and I start in the middle of his adventure in the original format.
I’ve been doing a lot of non fantasy stuff. That’s changing today.
Rage of the Cursed
The stench of still blood hung thick in the air. Xallion stepped into the destroyed Rhialnan camp. He glanced back to the bushes, raising a closed fist. Whoever did this is long gone. He kept a hand on the hilt of his sword, using the other to shoo away the gathering flies. He controlled his breathing, kept his anger in check and crouched near one of the bodies strewn on the forest floor.
The cool air of the L’kavrik north nipped at his face. Harsh winds carried the scent of removed entrails. The men were fully armored, but whoever killed them cleaved through steel like hot butter. The typical L’Kavrik scrambler would go for throats and vitals. The victim’s armor had been as sturdier than his custom light plate.
This appeared to be the work of an animal.
Xallion stood, sighing, and ran a hand through his slick black hair. As if war isn’t enough. Now nature is trying to kill us. He turned, signaling Ane to come out of hiding. She knew more about wildlife than he, and perhaps they could lay this mystery to rest.
Ane Garu walked through the break in the trees, shouldering her long bow, and cupped a hand over her nose. Leaves stuck to her padded armor and leather chest guard, but she paid no mind to them. Ane had always felt close to nature and never cared it if left its mark on her. She scowled at the carnage, taking in her surroundings with her dull brown eyes. She crouched to boot prints, running a slender hand on the outline.
He averted his gaze, resisting the urge to stare. Ane wasn’t a glamorous woman, some might argue she wasn’t that pretty either. She had pale skin, a slim build with average height, and a round face with a weak chin. She formed the epitome of Cerenish modesty and from that she drew her charm. The Rhialn army recruited both of them. Yet he had no nation to call his own. His dark skinned golden eyed brothers and sisters were close to instinct. He may have even been the last to carry his curse. He cleared his throat. “So, find something?”
“This isn’t a Rhialn soldier’s print. Looks like a crude animal leather boot. Whoever left it is a big man.”
“Not a woman?” Xallion said. “I’ve seen plenty of burly women up north.”
“No. Weight distribution is different for men and women. I can tell from the pressure put on the print. What do you see on the bodies.”
“They were mauled, probably a stream-crossed beast. It’s too savage to be a man, too sloppy.”
Ane glanced around, stepping closer. “I don’t see any animal prints. Gods. Look at this.”
Xallion shrugged. “I did. It’s nothing new with war. The bodies might be chewed up a bit more, but death is death.”
Ane put a hand on Xallion’s shoulder, shaking her head. “No. This is different. This is the work of someone who enjoys what they do. We need to find them and stop them.”
Xallion narrowed his eyes at her. “You mean kill them. You don’t bargain with people like this.”
“I suppose not.” Ane lowered her gaze, sighing. Her short brown hair hooded her eyes with shadow. Seeing her sulk brought about annoying sensations.
“We’ll try anyway.” Xallion lifted her chin with thumb and forefinger.
She smiled at that.
He turned away and surveyed the rest of the camp. No survivors, no one died the same way. The massacre peppered the camp with blood and gore. Cool air slowed the rot, but did little to control the smell. What a battle this must have been?
With Ane pointing out the print, Xallion picked it out from his knowledge of fighting. He painted the path he carved through the camp. It hadn’t been a sneak attack, not one of the men died in their sleep. “It’s like he called them to fight him.”
“This camp had twelve men. Why would anyone be so stupid?”
“Whoever did this is stupid or crazy.” Xallion stooped over and found an opened satchel. Three crumpled balls of paper sat around conspicuous patch of dry land. Blood surrounded it. “Someone sat here. There’s blood, but no one died here.”
Ane walked to join him, confirming it with a glance. There were no nearby bodies. “Perhaps one of the Rhialnin soldiers was writing a letter when the mad man attacked? But then again, why do the killer’s prints lead to this spot.
Xallion stooped over and plucked a crumpled ball of paper from the ground. He unrolled it, eyeing the script. “Old tongue.”
“What does it say?”
Xallion frowned down at the paper. He knew some of the language, required learning from his studies as a Knight, but he wasn’t very good. “It’s hard. The handwriting is terrible.”
“Try,” Ane said.
Xallion eyed the paper, scowling at the first few words he could make out. Kill. Cut. Chop. “This reads like a recipe. No. It’s a threat, I think.”
Oddly enough there was a sort of uniformity to the letter.
He read it aloud under his breath, confirming his suspicions. “This is a poem.”
“A very violent one.” Xallion grabbed another crumpled ball of paper. A single line sat in its center. He could make it out. “My axes made music today. Squish. Squish.”
“That sounds horrible,” Ane said.
“Yeah. This guy needs to be stopped.” Xallion crumpled the letters and cast them aside. “War is one thing, but we can’t let a guy like this get to a village, looks like we have a new prerogative.”
Rage bubbled within him. He let it do so, focusing on the type of person who could kill and enjoy it as a sport. What sort of monster thought of killing as an art?
Ane took a step back and swallowed hard. “Are you sure? Perhaps Rhyys could come up with a plan. There’s no reason to rush into this, Xallion.”
“There’s every reason,” Xallion said, reaching to his armor to loosen it. “Go find him and tell him I’ll probably need him to calm me down. I’d want you far from me when I do this.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t do it, then. What if you run into L’kavrik soldiers, or some of ours?”
Xallion narrowed his eyes at her. “They should have sense enough to stay out of my way. Besides, I’m not doing this because I enjoy it. I’m doing it because it needs done. To kill a monster, sometimes you have to become one.”
He released his rage. He gave into it. His body twisted and boiled, the curse unleashed. His muscles swelled and thick black fur burst from his body. His jaw stretched and became a muzzle filled with razor sharp teeth. He stooped over on all fours, struggling against the pain of the transformation. His body became longer, leaner, and more dangerous.
He stood on two legs, letting out a bone chilling howl. The black beast, Loki, returned.