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 Hunt the Dead #3

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Craigzilla
Hunter of Dead
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Posts : 268
Join date : 2009-03-05
Age : 41
Location : San Diego, CA

PostSubject: Hunt the Dead #3   Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:11 pm



Written by Craig DeBoard
Cover Art by Ash Jackson and Craig DeBoard





Chapter 1
"Stab you in the face!"


Three undead attacked Jade. She struggled against them and pulled away hard, her robes tearing off revealing her bare flesh. She had no armor to protect herself and fought against them naked. Primal instincts and rage took over and she was more animalistic than the zombies themselves. She was covered in blood from her tongue being torn out and had lost all sense of reason.

Jade, was quite insane.

"You're gonna burn!" Turk'en yelled tackling Jade from behind.

"Ehh ahh muh!" Jade blurted out as blood poured from her mouth where her tongue had been ripped out. She reached behind her and grabbed Turk'en by a handful of hair and tugged.

"OW! OW! OW! LET GO!" he yelled kicking the back of her knee.

Both rolled on the floor and got to their feet and squared off.

"Uh oh uh eh ooo," Jade mumbled.

"You do realize, I can't understand anything you're saying. Not a word," Turk'en replied smiling.

"AWAOOH!" Jade screamed rushing at Turk'en.

"AWAOOH!" Turk'en screamed at Jade mocking and making fun of her as he rushed to attack her.

Meanwhile Aldion stumbled holding his head. It pounded with pain from Jade trying to burn him alive from the inside out.

He tripped over James and Lopex.

"Th' hell???" he stammered.

"Aye, ye be needin' a lift?" James said looking up through the hole in the ceiling at the bottom of the Sky Palace.

"Yes. Very much so," Aldion replied, smiling.

Erron dove on top of Red tackling him over a broken pew.

"Stab you in the face!" Red yelled bringing up a dagger at Erron's face.

Erron grabbed Red's wrist and jerk snapping his bone in half.

"Ahhhhh!!" Red screamed in agony dropping the dagger and holding his broken forearm.

Erron punched straight down, his fist going all the way through Red's head and hitting the floor underneath, killing him.

"Stab you in fucking face," Erron said in disgust to the dead enemy.

Gerrin ran and climbed over a pew and swung his hammer at a zombie crushing it's skull. He was making his way toward Aldion.

"WE HAVE TA GET OUT OF--"

A group of undead tackled Gerrin all at once.

"GERRIN!" Aldion screamed. But it was too late. Aldion couldn't see much other than wet bloody meat flying in the air from the pack as they feasted.

Turk'en and Jade collided, with Jade palming Turk'en's face and causing him to feel heat with in his body as she forced his blood to begin to boil. Turk'en began pushing Frost Cutter against her cheek, freezing it and turning it a deep crusty black.

WHAM!

Erron punched Jade square in the face knocked her to the ground. Turk'en stumbled and then fell to his knees vomiting from the pain.

"No time, let's go," Erron said helping Turk'en to his feet.

They both fought their way through the church. Most of the Civil Agents of the Blood had fled to the sewers when the undead poured into the church. Aldion's new found friends of James and Lopex were their only hope.

"Where's Gerrin?" Turk'en asked.

"Dead," Erron replied as they made their way through the burning church.

A rope was lowered from the Sky Palace. Then another and then a third. Lopex was pulled up by one, while Erron and Aldion held the other, and James and Turk'en held the third. They were hauled up to the Sky Palace as they watched the church burn with the dead corpses of Gerrin and Hobmocker inside of it.





Chapter 2
The Crew


Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.

James, Lopex, Turk'en and Erron all had guns aimed at them.

"Tell me why we shouldn't make you three look like that stinky kind of holey cheese," a small voice said.

Turk'en looked around. He didn't see anyone. All he knew was that they stood on the deck of an airship, while it rained.

There was obviously a crew all around with guns aimed at them. But none of them seemed to be the one speaking.

"I said, tell me why we shouldn't blow all of you away!"

"Well..." Turk'en started, "maybe because we can't see you?"

"Is that supposed to be funny?" the voice said.

"No. I mean, well, we really can't see you. Unless one of you is a ventriloquist or something I--"

Then Turk'en saw the man that spoke. He couldn't do anything but stare with his mouth hung open.

"Do ye mind?" Hellcat said, noticing Turk'en staring at her breasts.

"Y-you're...you're breasts. They....they spoke to me," Turk'en said astonished.

"Yer an idiot," James said, reaching deftly between Captain Hellcat's breasts and pulling out an 8 inch tall man by the back of his shirt collar. He stood holding the man for a moment and then looked at Hellcat. He then looked at where he had just reached.

"My apologies Cap'n," he said softly and began to place the small 8 inch man back between her breasts.

"Don't," she said sternly.

James sat the small man on top of of Lopex's head, where he sat.

"You're so....." Aldion said stunned at the 8 inch man, not really knowing how to finish.

"Handsome? I know! The name is Cholley," the small man replied introducing himself.

"Captain," Erron said staring at everyone with their weapons still aimed at him, Turk'en and Aldion, "please tell you're men to lower their weapons."

"And why would I be doing somethin' like that?" Hellcat replied.

"Because I don't want to kill any of you," Erron said in a matter of fact tone.

Hellcat cocked an eyebrow. She was the Captain of this ship and one of the most dangerous pirates known across the continent of Nerin Toth. The pirates of Nerin Toth sailed on one of two types of ships. Sea ships or air ships. In the beginning all pirates used sea ships, but when The Ravaging first occurred and the undead rose, rumors of a gigantic kraken called The Rabia surfaced. Many pirates feared for their lives and sought out the dwarves. The dwarves of the city of Hillkhan introduced the pirates to a gaseous chemical they had discovered while mining for saltpeter called Helium. The gas would fill a large balloon, and in the case of the Sky Palace, two hot air balloons, and allow it to float high in the sky. Steam powered engines enabled forward momentum, allowing the ships to travel through the sky. Captain Hellcat was a known terror of the skies. She didn't take well to threats.

"Who are ye?" she asked, not backing down from Erron, but motioning for her crew to lower their weapons.

"My name is Erron. This is Turk'en and Aldion. We're all that's left of our group," Erron said.

"What th' hell was going on down there?" Hellcat replied with another question.

"Basically, we were set up. Civil Agents. Didn't end well for them either. Add to that a virtual army of undead down there. Look we don't want a fight--"

"Neither do we," Hellcat said interrupting, "but the fact o' th' matter is, yer on my ship. And being on my ship means ya follow my rules and not yer own."

"That's fine," Erron said.

"First of all th' crew. Ya have already met James and Lopex. James is our gunner. An expert marksman. Lopex is....well....Lopex is Lopex," she said. Lopex waved eagerly at Erron.

"Then ya have Browden," Hellcat said nodding to a large man with a pistol aimed at Erron and a large axe strapped to his back. Turk'en still stared at Hellcat's breasts. Browden put his fingers under Turk'en's chin and lifted his head to help him avert his gaze.

"Keep your eyes, elsewhere, darkling," Browden said jealously, giving Turk'en a stern look.

Hellcat smiled at Browden. Erron was sure he noticed an odd connection between Hellcat and Browden but wasn't sure really. It was odd.

"Next is Tommy Tallfellow and Ulak Thundermouth," Hellcat said nodding at a riverfolk and a dwarf both respectively.

Aldion took in a breath. He hadn't quite let in the fact that Hobmocker and Gerrin had died, sink in yet and seeing Tommy and Ulak stand next to each other brought his two friends to mind.

"We also have Bone Jack, my first mate," Hellcat said pointing at an old scrawny man who probably weighed less, wet, than he gun he held.

"And last but not least, Punky," Hellcat said, looking over at some barrels. A monkey sat on top of the barrels with a gun in its small hands aiming the gun at Aldion.

"Aim it else where," Aldion said sternly to the monkey.

"Arf!" the monkey barked at Aldion, then grabbed it's crotch making a rude gesture to the elf.

"Did it just bark at me?" Aldion asked Hellcat.

"He has....mental problems....be glad he he didn't hump yer leg," Hellcat replied.





Chapter 3
The State of Nerin Toth


The ship hovered over the city as the rain came down.

Aldion thought about how much the world had changed since The Ravaging had begun. The races of humans and elves and dwarves and riverfolk became more prejudiced against others. Not so much the riverfolk, as they were halflings who still tried to make the best of a bad situation. The hellfolk were an off-shoot bloodline of the riverfolk whose very blood was deadly poisonous to others. They became more frequent in cities as people grew more distrustful of others and hired them out as assassins. Darklings seem to start coming from the mountains. These dark elves sought the refuge of cities from the undead as well. The aniver, the half animal, half human people were already prominently in cities and even at one time ran the largest city in Nerin Toth called The Shining City. However once The Ravaging happened The Shining City was the first to fall and the animal people called anivers fled to other cities. The Shining City simply became known as Dead Town. The minotaurs (who were adamant that they were unrelated to the anivers) stayed mostly to themselves. They knew war would come when food supplies ran low and were very cautious when allowing anyone from another race into their cities of Azerath and Velnraak. The goblins seemed to thrive though. They could be found in any city, usually in trade and merchant areas trying to sell goods. The influx of people fleeing to the cities in fear of the undead seemed to only help business for them.

Yes, the world had changed much for the races of Nerin Toth. So much so, when The Ravaging occurred, oddly and mysteriously many continents vanished as well, which meant many people were inexplicably gone. No one knew if they lived or died. Including the people of Riddik, the city in which Erron and his wife and son, lived near. Even the Riders of Riddik could not protect the people. Everywhere but Nerin Toth vanished. The people of the continent of Nerin Toth had no where to go. Which meant the undead had all of their prey in one place. Nerin Toth became very dangerous. And not just because of the undead. Many factions surfaced. It became gang warfare. And if you weren't a part of a faction and if you were unaligned, it meant you had no one to fall back on for help usually. Nerin Toth now resembled more a nether realm of hell than it did a continent in a lush fantasy world.

Acaetus Nimius was quite possibly one of the most dangerous Assassin Guilds known across Nerin Toth.

Acaetus Nimius (The Death Dealers) stood as the most feared guild in all of Nerin Toth. None knew who the true founder of the guild was and as such no one knew who truly lead the guild either. With bases all through out Nerin Toth, in every major port city and capital city, each branch operated under a different guild master, all of which reported to the mysterious guild leader, that none, other than the guild masters had ever met. Acaetus Nimius were feared amongst other guilds and had rivalries with all of them, due to politics. Meaning that, whichever guild was strongest, was the guild who brought in the most gold, and was also the most protected. Acaetus Nimius were dedicated to the quick and silent elimination of those they were hired to do away with, service to any who had the gold to pay them, and above all else, to the ideal that a life, no matter who it was, was nothing more than coin. Oddly enough, there had been examples of heroism among Acaetus Nimius, although this was very very rare.

Portus the Wicked was quite possibly the most infamous assassin in the entire faction. He lead a group of assassins known as the Seven Feathers of Silence, all of which were dangerous on their own, let alone as a group. Portus was a child when he joined the faction, orphaned at birth, and adopted by the guild. His darkling heritage had always caused others to mistrust him and to fear him. Portus was known to use a whip and various poison tipped daggers as his weapons of choice, and was also rumored to be very well trained in various arcane arts.

More members were known to be a part of the Seven Feathers of Silence, however some members were still unknown of;

Jaslick Turner, a human female who specialized in dealing death with her seductive charms. She was known to frequent brothels where politicians spent their time, and used her seduction to lure them into privacy. Most politicians she had slain were found hanging from a noose or poisoned and dead, having choked to death on their own bile.

Oswald Humphrey Stonavlik Esquire, an ogre male, who unlike most of his race, had an amount of class and realness about him, that easily allowed him to infiltrate the most upscale of gatherings. Once inside, Oswald was usually known to get a victim alone and use his brute strength to end them quickly and silently.

Kallum, a hellfolk male, was probably one of the wildest and most unpredictable of the group. He didn't bother to hide the fact that he was a killer, and would willingly walk into a tavern full of Knights of Tomath, and shoot a general in the face with a flintlock pistol. He was extremely fast and agile and had more than once left an entire room of Civil Agents, broken, bleeding, and begging for mercy, simply to get to his prey.

The Black Tulip thieves guild was one of the most notorious guilds in all of Nerin Toth. With branches in most of Nerin Toth, they were quite possibly one of the most infamous guilds known. They had no problems going to war against other guilds and had rivalries with all of them, due to territory issues.

Founded by Almonous Everett, the guild initially began as a bakery in Medrath as a means for Almonous to retrieve moneys owed to him from customers, who upon good faith, never paid their debts. Almonous hired out to thugs and criminals, promising them a room to stay in, over his shop in a loft, for one month, if they acted as his muscle to deal with those who owed him.

Eventually Almonous soon realized many of the men he hired were thieves, yet each one was respectful and gracious enough to Almonous for hiring him, that none ever stole from him. Almonous soon understood that by charging those who owed him, interest, that he would not only receive the money owed to him, but would also receive payment enough to cover the hiring of his would be thugs. Later, Almonous decided to close down the bakery and put the criminals' talents to use. He expanded the building his bakery was in and provided a home to all criminals as long as they gave their spoils to the guild. By doing so, each criminal was given an equal share in the guild's earnings that month. Which meant no one went hungry, everyone had a roof over their head, and all made a profit.

Sometime later Almonous was killed in a knife fight with one of the criminals who soon after, took leadership of the guild.

Terrace el Tomath was cousin to a few Knights of Tomath but chose darker roads to travel than his kin. He had first sat in prison in Peregren for the rape of a young woman, and then spent time in the prison later for the murder of two noblemen as well. Eventually Terrace had escaped prison and fled to Medrath where he met Almonous. He was one of the first to join the Black Tulip Thieves Guild, and would later become the man who murdered Almonous and took control of the guild.

Later Terrace would die of rubella but not before having three sons, two of which became farmers in Medrath, and one whom followed in his footsteps.

Chevre' el Tomath's father was the son of Terrace el Tomath, who at one time led the Black Tulip's Guild. Terrace's son, Gandell died shortly after the birth of his daughter Chevre' in a vicious quarrel with his fiancee', Mariam Elhathon. Mariam was charged with the murder of Gandell and executed. Chevre' ended up as an orphan of the guild and soon rose in it's ranks to become the leader shortly after The Ravaging began. Chevre' was a beautiful young woman, with long blond hair, startling blue eyes, and a small nose, with full lips. Her amazing beautiful looks helped her move through the ranks, as she was able to bring in ridiculous amounts of gold to the guild, by what some would say, undignified actions of one who should be a lady.

The Tothian Mage Guild was located in the Ruins of the Arcane Sanctuary in Nerin Toth, with a second headquarters in Peregren, and a third in Greyshore.

The Tothian Mage Guild was founded in 154 B.R. by Oswald Topleboc, a powerful wizard who married the Duchess Evina Powtre of Greyshore. By 143 B.R. the Tothian Mage Guild had become the most powerful guild for arcane studies in the world. Since that time, it's members had remained as the foremost experts on all arcane studies.

After The Ravaging occurred the guild continued on stronger then ever, and formed commandments that they expected all mages to follow;

I. The Arcane is All. Every member of the guild shall be, at any time, willing to sacrifice everything for the guild's goal of reaching new heights in arcane studies. Even their own lives.

II. The Blood is Nothing. Every member of the guild shall refuse to learn, participate in, and accept the magics used by those who would learn from the School of Blood. Furthermore, all guild members are ordered to kill any and all Blood Wizards they meet on sight. Any guild member caught assisting a Blood Wizard is to be counted as a fugitive and put to death as well.

III. The Guild is Everything. Every member of the guild shall cooperate with all higher ranking officials in the guild.

Furthermore they shall show respect as well to higher ranking officials, and will dedicate their lives to the guild.

Within these commandments are laws the guild lives by.

1. A guild member shall never use a weapon, as weapons are for the barbaric and uncouth. However, guild members are allowed the use of the quarterstaff and dagger as a last means of survival.

2. A guild member shall apprentice a younger member, only if the younger member is first approved by the Cardinal.

The guild also had officers as well as was lead by Bishop Naomi Messer, Bishop Zebediah Hull, Arch-Bishop Frederick Chonsellten and ultimately the entire faction was headed up by Cardinal Jacques' deFlores.

The Knights of Tomath were created by the nobleman Kargin el Tomath, who was tired of watching groups of brigands and gangs push around the people who lived in the lands of Nerin Toth. After years Lord Kargin cleared the lands around the country and quickly set up outposts through out the major roads stocking it with supplies and soldiers bought with his own wealth. Later outposts were set up within cities.

Within 5 years, Lord Kargin had set up outposts throughout most of Nerin Toth and in Peregren and also Port Skell. Kargin set up a Knights training center in his own manor, teaching potential knights of Valor, Honor, and Integrity. Within 15 years Branches of Knights of Tomath were throughout almost all of Nerin Toth.

The Knights of Tomath had spread themselves completely over Nerin Toth, by the time The Ravaging began, constantly patrolling the roads and protecting the survivors of the war torn lands and from the growing power of the Civil Agents of the Fallen, and from the undead.

Kargin el Tomath perished during The Ravaging however shortly after an encounter with Captain Hellcat, to which she was currently unaware of. All that was known was that two darklings murdered him in his home.

Captain Hellcat herself was part of a faction called the Pirates League. The League had it's own rules and controlled the skies and seas mostly and ran the city of Port Skell as well as the main water way which cut Nerin Toth into thirds, called Parr Bay.

Naturalists of the world were druids who were protected by rangers and monks.

The Blood Wizards were a group of wizards who were hunted by the Tothian Mage Guild by practicing the forbidden lore of blood magic. And of course the groups of the Civil Agents of the Fallen and Blood were out there as well.

"Yes," Aldion though remembering his now deceased father and the recently dead Hobmocker and Gerrin....."things have changed so much."





Chapter 4
Origins and the many loves of Captain Hellcat


The group wandered through the town cautiously. As Aldion thought about how much the world had changed and how the races and factions changed with it, James thought about Lopex.

"I hate ye," he mumbled.

The rain came down through the clouds of the night sky as the two wandered looking for supplies. Lopex carried the severed arm of a zombie and used the fingers to point at James and make rude gestures.

Cholley was with Aldion and rode on his shoulder. The two watched the church burn to the ground.

"You gonna be OK?" Cholley asked in concerned tones.

Born in the small town of Alameir near the Kell Forest, Aldion was raised simply and bred to follow his father and join the House of Protectors, the armed guard of Azure. His mother, being a naturalist, trained him in the ways of the forest, teaching him the power of communing with the planet.

He was well trained by both, and left to decide for himself where he would go. Before he was able to choose, his mind was made up for him. The Ravaging struck and wiped Azure from the world. His father's troops stood up as best they could, but the city was over run from its own graveyard.

Azure no longer stood.

Aldion was forced to kill his own father and friends, but survived virtually unharmed. He found Reaver, a scythe of incredible power, his surprise inheritance, and vowed to one day return to cleanse Azure, if for no other reason than his family's memory.

With no Azure left to protect, Aldion became a disciple of Nature. He walked the planet alone for months before meeting Erron and Turk'en, along with a few others.

"Gerrin went out just the way he would have wanted. Fighting," Aldion replied thinking of when he first met his friends.

"And you're other friend?" Cholley asked.

"Hobmocker? Yeah. He had no place in this world. And he didn't deserve this hell we all have to live through," Aldion stated.

"You got Gerrin's gunpowder right?" Cholley asked.

Aldion looked down at the sack he was holding. He and Cholley had been able to rescue it from the fire before it had been too late and exploded. It was soaked with rain now however.

"Yeah...it's ruined," Aldion said tossing it aside. He then turned, with Cholley on his shoulder and walked away hoping Gerrin and Hobmocker were now in a better place.

Erron and Turk'en were in the bar they were originally in.

"Anything else?" Erron asked.

"Some dry beans," Turk'en replied opening a sack of dry pinto beans. He pulled a large roach out and threw it to the side.

"Anything is better than nothing, Erron said."

They then left the bar.

Hellcat and Browden found a lone house and made their way in. They were alone. She was the captain of the Sky Palace. A hard-nosed captain that worked her way up and not on her back as others would have. She was well respected by her crew whom considered her family. Captain Hellcat grew up on the docks of Port Skell. Daughter of a fishmonger father, she spent most of her childhood watching the ships come in. She left her family when she turned 16 summers and stowed away on a cargo ship. She was found out by a crew member and as he tried to have his way with her she shot him with his own flintlock. She was taken to the captain of that ship who put her to use cleaning the deck and scrubbing barnacles from the ship's hull.

As she grew to adulthood she later became the second mate of the cargo ship until it was captured by pirates. Hellcat was taken under the wing of the the pirate captain. Not much was known of the handsome and charismatic man other than he and Hellcat became close. The two lovers took on another ship, hoping to form a small fleet. Captain Hellcat took control of one, The Sky Palace, an air ship, and the unknown captain stayed on his ship. While fleeing from Commodore Hagrin, who had been hunting the two pirates for some time, the two ships ran into a storm that threw them from each other.

Captain Hellcat had been searching since then for her captain. She pillaged the inlands as well as the coastlines bringing fortune and notoriety to her and her crew. She was the most sought after pirate of the Pirates League. Military groups as well as mercenaries had all tried to capture the elusive captain but to no avail. She had escaped from most prisons with the help of her crew.

Rumors state that her fortunes were buried on some distant shore of Nerin Toth. Some say that she was a creature of the sea. A Sea Witch as her name implied.

Still, one could see her ship sailing on the higher currents of air. Still searching for the greatest score and her long lost love.

But for now....Browden would suffice to satisfy the hole left in her heart. The two embraced and fell to the floor in passion.

Dead Town was once a beautiful and thriving city called the "Shining City". The anivers wanted somewhere to call home and adopted the minotaurs ideas of becoming the leading race. The Shining City came with plenty of political turmoil. The dwarves, minotaurs, and aniver fought amongst themselves over the "Shining City." Finally after everything was settled, the city was complete and the aniver were the leading race in Nerin Toth.

However, The Ravaging came, and everything changed. The "Shining City" was cast into darkness, and a new power took over. The city was no longer shining. It was dark, and dead. The Civil Agents of the Fallen had taken the city, now called "Dead Town."

"Do you think maybe after this we should head to Dead Town?" Turk'en asked Erron.

"And run into more Civil Agents?" Erron replied as the two left the bar.

"Well it's the next closest town before Port Skell," Turk'en replied.

"That's true. Do you think this Captain will take us past it so we don't have to deal with the Agents?" Erron asked.

"Let me talk to her," Turk'en said smiling.





Chapter 5
The Harbinger and Cholley's Origin


Elsewhere, the man simply known as The Harbinger, spoke with his group.

"So you see that's why Erron must be stopped," he said.

They were in a small abandoned building in Peregren.

The city of Peregren was, by far, the biggest in all of Nerin Toth. Its population fluctuated daily, so there was no exact number assigned to the population. The city was under strict guard, and few people left the city, well, few people who had any desire to return. Most people who left were given notice that they would be locked out, for fear of spreading the zombie infection inside the walls.

Prime minister, Zoei Fantasy, ruled the city both benevolently and efficiently, while her husband, the great Tommy Tallfellow, was a part of Captain Hellcat's crew.

"You know your assignments," The Harbinger said.

"Zoei is mine," Sabal, the darkling female said, smiling.

Her brother Mathias nodded.

The darkling twins Sabal and Mathias were two of the most feared combatants known in Nerin Toth. Neither were raised with other darklings. Both were abandoned as infants in the city of Greyshore. They were discovered by a young woman who was part of the Acaetus Nimius assassins guild. Raised in the guild, both learned various forms of combat and assassination techniques.

However, Sabal later fled the guild as a young girl.

She eventually met a young boy named Erron and helped him escape execution in Peregren after Erron had killed his abusive step-father for murdering his mother.

While on the run the two became fast friends, until a few years passed and Erron learned of the evil inside Sabal. He would find her killing small animals for fun, causing general mischief where ever they traveled and other things. However while in the small village of Nekrut, Erron learned how truly evil she was when she burnt down an orphanage with 15 children inside, just for fun.

Erron knew Sabal would not let him go, and so in the middle of the night he escaped her and her evil ways.

Sabal was later contacted by The Harbinger, who hired her and trained her more to be his right hand in all of his dealings.

Mathias' life took a different path but led to the same outcome. As he grew in the guild he and his sister worked together and confided in each other with everything. However, as chaotic as she was, she one day left. It was because of her leaving that Mathias believed his sister betrayed him, leaving him alone forever. Mathias grew to hate Sabal for abandoning him. And began training harder and learning newer and newer skills and even inventing new techniques to one day kill his sister.

He advanced through the ranks of the guild and grew into a man who was one of it's most feared killers outside of it's core group the Seven Feathers of Silence.

Sabal later returned to Greyshore and found Mathias. Before he could attack however, The Harbinger made himself known to Mathias and The Harbinger and Sabal together helped convince Mathias to join with them.

Not many ogres were known of in Nerin Toth. But the few there were, were feared tremendously. They stood roughly ten feet tall, weighed hundreds of pounds, were grotesque to look at, and were dumb as hell.

Thokk was feared more than any other ogre.

No knew of his origins save for the fact as a small ogre boy he was chased out of the city of Peregren after killing a man's cow by punching it in the head repeatedly.

Thokk fled to the Toi Swamp and lived there for several years. When The Ravaging occurred, the Toi Swamp became one of the deadliest places in Nerin Toth. Undead roamed the swamp and many times would discover Thokk. Each and every single time, Thokk would rip them apart with his bare hands.

It was this undeniable strength that led The Harbinger to recruit Thokk.

In the slums of Peregren, a young, little boy would spend his days following men and women with long flowing robes that carried the smelliest of things. The boy was fascinated with these people that could use the arcane and demonic magics.

A few times, the friendly ones would show him tricks and powers. The more he saw, the more he tried to imitate. Finally, the young boy, Sarsethok, met a wizard named Gerald.

Gerald worked with Sarsethok and trained the boy in the arts of magic. Sarsethok was dedicated like no other mage. His desire for more learning was inspiring to Gerald. Unfortunately, Sarsethok’s need to learn eventually became a need for power.

Sarsethok left Gerald after a heated argument, and found his way into the Tothian Mage Guild. He felt at home for most of his stay. After The Ravaging hit, Sarsethok returned to a new branch of the guild that opened in Peregren, just a few blocks from the slums where he spent his childhood.

However, Sarsethok’s gluttony for magic led him to explore the powers of the blood wizards: vitae. The magic was a taboo to the Tothian Mages Guild and they took quick action against him. Since Sarsethok never actually learned or used any vitae magic, they decided not to kill him, but instead cast him out of the guild, permanently.

After being cast out, Sarsethok traveled throughout Nerin Toth. He met a dwarf by the name of Irongut. The dwarf and his clan befriended Sarsethok and admired the human’s arcane abilities. Irongut swore to assist the sorcerer if Sarsethok was ever in need of the dwarf’s help.

The Ravaging was still young and Sarsethok was nervous about the dangers of the undead. One day, while out between towns, Sarsethok found he was surrounded by undead. A darkling and a strange man appeared and seemed to have no fear of the undead. The female darkling’s name was Sabal, and the man’s name: The Harbinger.

Sarsethok was recruited by The Harbinger and they began working to fulfill The Harbinger’s goals. Sarsethok called upon the dwarven clan of the Ironguts. They swore their allegiance to the sorcerer, but not The Harbinger. Sarsethok once again felt at home. He was able to expand his magical talents as far as he wished, so long as The Harbinger didn’t feel threatened.

Irongut Irongut of Clan Irongut was a large, fat dwarf who had a mean streak. A master with a double headed battle axe, he also was armed with a sawed off shotgun, and several other small firearms.

He hated everything and everyone and even made it a point to get up 15 minutes early every morning just so he could hate more people.

Raised in the dwarven city of Hillkhan in the kingdom of Krest, he was a bully as a child and beat up on many younger children constantly. As he grew he joined the saltpeter mines which were used to develop gunpowder. It was this that led him to be attracted to the explosive material. Later as he grew he became a raging alcoholic and treated female dwarves with no dignity at all. He would get what he wanted from them, beat them, and leave them and move on to his next pursuit.

Many wondered at the time what could cause a boy to grow into a pre-adult who was so incredibly hateful and mean.

The answer: there was none. Sometimes there wasn't a trigger that set off a series of horrible situations that a person created. Sometimes a person was just rotten. And that was Irongut Irongut of Clan Irongut.

As he grew more and became an adult he became one of the lead foremen of the saltpeter mines and was feared by his subordinates. He would come to work quite often, drunk and just angry at the entire world. It was these days, his subordinates would feel a whip crack and tear open the flesh of their backs. And forbid anyone ever referring to him by anything other than his given name. No one was allowed to call him "Sir", "Boss", Mr." or even just "Irongut". He would constantly yell "My name is Irongut Irongut of Clan Irongut", before delivering a stiff right hook to the jaw of the person who had made the verbal mistake.

Eventually Irongut Irongut of Clan Irongut tired of the saltpeter mines. Some say it was because eventually workers learned tricks to not be abused by the dwarf, like getting his name correct each and every time. Others say he just wanted to find more people to hate.

And so he left the mines.

He traveled for a short time as a mercenary and eventually met the mage Sarsethok who took him on as one of his personal bodyguards.

The Harbinger himself.....was a mystery.

"We have to stop Erron," he said.

Sarsethok smiled. After this he could return to his original goals. Finding Cholley.

Some time before the current age, in a forest outside of Jemeroth, an elf naturalist called Leif, was enjoying a walk with his animal companion. While walking through the trees, the elf found a darkling woman, bleeding and dying. With his healing powers, he was able to rescue the woman. That woman's name was Sabal, once a childhood friend of Erron who had later become a mortal enemy against him and Turk'en. She had been in a fight with Erron. The man intended for her to die there in the forest.

During Leif and Sabal's travels, Leif was approached by a man called The Harbinger, whom Sabal seemed to have an odd business relationship with. Leif was given a book to chronicle history. Leif did so, chronicling the actions of everything and everyone. Eventually, Leif was taken captive and forced to share his knowledge of history with a sorcerer who worked for The Harbinger named Sarsethok.

Eventually, Leif had enough of being captured. He tried to escape. As punishment, Sarsethok shape shifted Leif into an eight inch tall man named Cholley.

Cholley later escaped The Harbinger and Sarsethok and the traitorous Sabal. As Cholley, he traveled with Captain Hellcat and had no past memory of being Leif.

Sarsethok wanted to change all of that. He wanted Cholley to remember being Leif. He wanted Cholley to suffer, knowing he wasn't who he believed he was. He wanted Cholley to know of loss. Sarsethok hated Cholley.





Chapter 6
Turk'en's Request


Nerin Toth was a small planet, and only contained one continent. Many years ago, there were many continents that provided trade and territories. However, when The Ravaging occurred, only the continent of Nerin Toth remained. The rest of Nerin Toth simply vanished. With only three islands closely neighboring each other, and with the always present danger of undead and infection, the battle over land and resources was fierce. Nerin Toth was a planet filled with undead, political wars, and meddling adventurers.

On Nerin Toth, Peregren, was the largest of the remaining cities. It was located near the center of the continent and was the headquarters of the Knights of Tomath. Violence was prohibited, and all who broke this decree would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

The small villages of Riverbend and Nekrut were in between Peregren and the Toi Swamp and rested along the rivers that flowed through Peregren. Both villages were small with less than 100 people. The populations were as varied as Peregren's were.

Dexxer's Grove was a small farming community along the northwestern shores of Nerin Toth. It was a relatively small community with only a few houses, a church that was also used as a school, a mayoral office and a shelter from natural disasters. The only other notable landmarks in Dexxer's Grove was the guardhouse which citizens took turns occupying to keep watch for undesirables and the dock in the town that was primarily used for fishing for Dexxer's famed red snapper trout.

It was originally named after Alfred Dexxer, a farmer who at one time claimed the land where he would plant apple groves. Alfred poured his life savings into the project and hired farm hands who moved to the area. However before his vision could get off of the ground, Alfred died from heart failure. The village remained however. When The Ravaging came, Dexxer's Grove was left with no defense against the hordes of undead. So the townsfolk did what they thought best. They stayed quiet. As a citizen who manned the guardhouse would see undead approaching, they would alert the other families in the grove and everyone would hide and wait it out until the undead left the area.

Yelamakay was another nearby farming community to the east, roughly the same size with the same type of population as Dexxer's Grove, however Yelamakay had no church or docks as it was more inland.

Azerath, the Minotaur kingdom with a sister city called Velnraak was not as large as Peregren but was easily just as populated.

Krest, the kingdom of the dwarves was actually several cities surrounded by a 70 foot high wall and the sea. Those cities consisted of Greyshore (which was also controlled by the assassin guild known as Acaetus Nimius), Hillkhan (the primary source of saltpeter on the continent, the primary ingredient to creating gunpowder), BattleMead and BattleAle.

The various sky ports for air ships were found floating over Port Io, Port Skell, and Greyshore.

The Hulderk Mountains, located between Jemeroth and Dead Town, were south of The Black Desert.

The Frozen Wood and the Frozen River, between Ft. Fiel and Chetheron, were north of The Chetheron Wood. These areas were heavily patrolled by Naturalists.

The Teseron Ruins, located on the south side of Teseron Isle, were near the cities of Teseron and Ut. These areas were heavily patrolled by the Naturalists. Kelfet Peak was also on Teseron Isle, it was one lone mountain in which the Naturalists were seen frequently.

The Eastern Keys, were located to the east of Port Skell. Port Skell, was one of the largest sea ports in Nerin Toth. It was the hub of most sea trade and the largest land port and controlled by the Pirates League.

It was this final location, Port Skell, that interested Turk'en the most.

Booze, brothels, and bastards. The three B's avoided by most vacationers. It was a city where the law puts on a show and the criminals heckled the show's cast. The city was controlled by the Pirates League. The Knights of Tomath had a headquarters there, but they had no power over the pirates. The only laws enforced were the ones made up by the pirate captains.

Port Skell was previously under management of Captain Hellcat but she had left the port as she often did, in search of her long lost lover whom she had replaced temporarily with Browden.

"And so we would like to travel to Port Skell. If we could avoid Dead Town it would be perfect. We've had our fill of Civil Agents for the time being and would rather avoid that place," Turk'en said to Captain Hellcat as they sat in her quarters on the Sky Palace.

The crew had collected all it could from Jemeroth and didn't care to bother with the Civil Agents who had fled to the sewers. The crew just wanted to leave the town as soon as possible. Only Aldion, Cholley and Erron remained below in the city doing one final check to see if anything else could be found.

"I don't see it as a problem," Captain Hellcat replied to Turk'en, "We're headed there ourselves."

"Wonderful," Turk'en replied.





Chapter 7
Clean Up in Aisle Four


Erron watched as Aldion and Cholley made their way back up to the ship, being pulled up by the big man Lopex. He was leaving Jemeroth. They all were. And he hoped it would be forever. He didn't feel sad for the loss of Gerrin or Hobmocker. At least he tried not to. It was hard though. Between his wife and son dying....and the world going to hell....and losing traveling companions....Erron was beginning to wonder if it wall worth it. And then he saw her.....

A blackened charred Jade, bleeding from the mouth where her tongue had once been crawled from the wreckage of the church.

THUNK!

The bolt embedded itself directly into the back of the knee of Jade. She fell to the ground in a slump.

Erron walked up slowly.

The rain poured and dripped from him as he knelt down and began reloading the crossbow.

"You killed Hobmocker.....it was because of you, that Gerrin died," he said in a cold manner.

THUNK!

He shot her in the back of the other knee.

She began to let out a scream but he quickly dropped the crossbow and slapped his hand over her mouth, smiling.

"Shh shh shh. If you scream.....I make this last, and I make it painful, and I make it slow. But if you're quiet.....then it's not going to be as bad."

She reached up grasping his wrist, but not in time. He planted his fist into her nose, breaking it, splattering blood across her charred face.

"Struggling, will make it worse too, by the way."

He then grabbed her by the hair and began walking, dragging her through the muddy, watery street, as the rain poured down.

She grasped his wrists trying to escape and kicking her feet. She didn't think to scream for help. She was too busy trying to get away.

Once they were about 200 yards away from the where the ship floated overhead and down the road, where no prying eyes would see, he let go of her hair letting the back of her head hit the stone roadway hard.

He then pulled out his cross bow and planted his foot across her throat. She began to choke.

He reloaded.

A few zombies noticed them but they were still pretty far off.

He then aimed.

THUNK!

He shot his bolt directly through one of the palms of her hands.

He reloaded.

THUNK!

The other hand became incapacitated.

He knelt down.

"Scream for me," he whispered.

He pulled out his khopesh.

"I want you to. I want you to scream like Hobmocker did. You see....I'm not like Turk'en or Aldion. They continue to fight on, hoping for a better tomorrow. Me? I merely exist. And I exist now for only one reason...."

"To kill."

"To kill zombies--"

SHLUKK!

He stabbed into one of her wrists. She screamed.

"To kill Civil Agents--"

SHULKK!

He stabbed into her other wrist, and she screamed louder.

"To kill whoever is responsible for this whole mess--"

SHUNK!

He stabbed down through her thigh. She screamed again.

"And to kill anyone who disgraces, the memory of my wife and son."

SHUNK!

He stabbed down through her other thigh. She passed out.

"WAKE UP!" he yelled slapping her across the face.

She opened her eyes and everything was blurry. She could hear it was still raining. She estimated she had been out cold for maybe five or ten minutes. She was tied to a wagon by her wrists. She attempted to move her fingers in hopes of undoing the knots. Her fingers were broken. All of them, each twisted and bent at odd angles.

"I want you awake for this. You killed Hobmocker. You used Aldion. You attempted to lead Turk'en to his death. And you did it all with a smile. Your stupid--"

WHUD!

"CROOKED!"

WHUD!

"SMILE!"

He kicked her two times in between his words snapping ribs. She didn't scream. She was too weak. She coughed up blood.

"You threatened our lives....when all we wanted to do was come to this forsaken place to try to find some damn food!"

He stomped her shoulder, hearing it snap. This time she screamed.

"I'm sorry....did I say I would make this painless? I lied. And we aren't even near being done. You endangered everyone of us, YOU CIVIL FUCKING AGENT!!"

He kicked her in the face, snapping her head back against the wagon she was tied to. Blood began to pour down her head.

"YOU BITCH!!"

He punched her in the jaw knocking out two teeth.

SHWAM! SHWAM! SHWAM!

He kicked her head into the wagon three times.

"YOU SICK FUCK!!!!" he yelled.

"WAKE UP" he screamed slapping her again until she woke back up.

"I want you alive......and awake for this."

He then turned toward a zombie nearby and fired with his crossbow, clipping it in the shoulder. He did that four more times.

All five zombies began shambling toward Erron and Jade.

"Enjoy our company," he said...."your going to be awake for the whole thing....and they look hungry."

As the zombies slowly shuffled closer, he walked away toward where the Sky Palace floated overhead, smiling in the rain.

And then he heard her screams as she was ripped apart.

Jade was dead.

"Rot in hell."

TO BE BE CONTINUED

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