My feet entered the barracks, the sole of my boots against the blood splattered earth. The only sound in the agonizing silence were my steps, and my ever quickening breaths. This wasn’t happening, this couldn’t happen. Everyone was dead, stabbed, impaled, scorched, eviscerated. My warband, my companions. For a brief moment I felt a stab of guilt, for wanting to leave them, for not considering what would happen if I had abandoned them. Would I have been able to stop this? Or would I have been within the carpet of bodies before me?
Garfas, I realized that I did not see him among the casualties. He was alive. I drew from my power, expanding my senses to perceive the life force that rampantly flowed through the room. None of it belonged to Garfas, but I did sense him, he was somewhere in the barracks. It was a dim flicker of life, a mere candle flame. He wasn’t dead but he was injured, my feet sprang forward, charging through the rooms. Only more bodies , some seemed to have been killed while tinkering with their equipment, they didn’t even have a chance to fight back. It was starting to make sense to me, but I didn’t want to come to a conclusion until I saw him. Itan. I continued to run, to Itan’s quarters, where incidentally I was sensing Garfas’ presence. I stomped on the door, allowing my magic to augment my muscles, urgency motivating me to be more wasteful with my energy.
“Garfas!” I ran to the collapsed white mass on the floor, not bothering to examine the room for enemies. I approached, noticing the myriad of knives lodged into his back, the gashes across his chest as I rolled him to his back, the stab wound in his stomach. “Garfas…” My voice trembled. He was in bad shape, I needed to get him to a doctor. My body became frozen as I heard him coughing, trying to force out words.
“Cub,” blood seeped out of the corners of his mouth. “Run. He’s still here.”
“Who is?” I asked, I stroked my hand on my husband’s head. Trying to comfort him, trying to make him ignore the pain.
“Itan,” my gaze shot up, across the room, to Itan’s desk. He was sitting there, all this time. He seemed different, his eyes glowed like embers, yet he seemed like a figure of smoke in the darkness of the barracks.
“I’m not leaving you, Garfas,” I said as I took off my coat and bunched it up under my love’s head. “Just hang on, for me.”
“Anavari…” he managed to release, evident objection in his words. He was scared for me, I could understand that. If Itan was able to bring down the whole warband, even Garfas, then he would pose a challenge. Far greater than anything the flame legion had thrown at us. I simply smiled at him, but as soon as I rounded to Itan my rage began to boil. Seething hatred for him, for everything he had done, for everyone he had killed. I walked around Garfas, and moved over to the middle of the room.
“So you’re flame legion,” I said, Itan didn’t respond. “Makes sense I suppose,” I said piecing everything together. “Being a legionnaire is a perfect spot for a spy, lets you recruit anyone gullible enough, and more importantly, it lets you bring down any possible threats. Masking your assassination attempt as failed missions. You’ve been trying to get me killed all along.” There was a silence between us, finally Itan stood up.
“Everything would have been much better, had one of my squads killed you earlier,” Itan walked around his desk, drawing out a set of daggers. “I did my best, tried to beat down these worthless cubs, make them hate the legions. Then you started getting popular. Then you saved their worthless skins with a single grenade, and all of a sudden you were all a little family.” The mocking tone of his voice made it harder for me to control my magic, it begged to be released, it hungered for a chance to run rampant. “You cost me so many troops, so many possible recruits, you stomped on so many plans. You and your blubbering idiot of a lover. I have no choice now but to—” I closed the distance in a flash, my sword swung at him as a mere blur of emerald light in the shadows. I didn’t anticipate the legionnaire’s speed, though. I didn’t know just how quickly he could fade in and out of the battlefield. I felt a solid kick at my side, the force connecting with such intensity that it launched me across the floor and knocked the air out of my lungs.
I scrambled back to my feet, and once again faced my opponent, coughing as I forced my body to regain its composure.
“Like I was saying,” said Itan. “I have no choice but to take you out myself, the legions will know it was me, but you’re too much of a threat.” Itan drew out a thin sword. My body began to shake, not from fear, but from rage.
“DEATH SHROUD!” The threads of shadow coalesced around me, veiling my body as I stood between the worlds of life and death. A sense of malice unlike any other had overcome me, Itan needed to die, No… he needed to suffer. I dropped my sword and gathered necrotic energies into my palms. I charged in, slamming my palms towards my target. Itan evaded my blows, knowing very well what would happen to him if I were able to establish contact.
He retreated with a backwards step, swinging his sword across my feet in a stabbing motion. The blade made contact, but my shroud granted me protection. I stepped forward, anger guiding my strikes, control guiding Itan’s defense. I could feel my mind becoming clouded, I couldn’t focus, my frenzy just drove me forward. I just wanted to feed the hunger, the desire for Itan’s pain, for his life force. He swiped his blade across my body, draining more of my life force reserves. With those two attacks I was already down to half. He knew where to strike, where it would cause the most damage. Rage was becoming panic. It was gradual, but I was becoming more aware that he had the advantage. It was at this moment that Itan decided to go on the offensive.
He dove in, a flurry of stabs punctured my form, nearly depleting my shroud. I dove back, to my sword. I took it and remained on the defensive as his onslaught continued. I felt my shroud collapse, I raised my sword to bat away the continuing stabs and leaped further back. I could feel nicks on my arms, a few on my thighs as well. He was preparing for another attack, he raised his sword and pointed the tip at me and lunged. I dived to the side but felt the edge dig in deep. I couldn’t move my leg as quickly now, there was little hope for being able to dodge, Itan now. I was running out of options, my strength was waning, Garfas was dying and the rest of my warband couldn’t help me.
That’s it! Itan had made a grave mistake, and I was about to exploit it to win. I allowed my body to fall to its knees, knowing very well that I wouldn’t be able to dodge the next attack in this state.
“And here I thought you’d be more trouble to put down,” said Itan. “Does that say more about you or the flame legion? No matter, it’s time for you to die.” He lunged once more and I waited until it was close enough, I jerked to the side last second. I felt the blade pierce my shoulder, with no life force I felt the agony of the blade digging into my shoulder and scraping some bone on the way through. I had him now. My still working arm wrapped around him, embracing him as tightly as I could and then I began to draw in power.
“You didn’t think in advance Itan,” I whispered to his ears, my rage returning. “You killed the entire warband and didn’t think… that it would be a bad idea to fight a necromancer, in a room with fresh bodies, and souls that want their revenge.” I began to channel the spirits of my warband, I began to channel them into my target, their rage, their desire for vengeance. I held on to Itan as he writhed in my grasp, as he screamed for release. A sinister pleasure crept up my body, a pleasure from hearing his agony, but it wasn’t enough.
Finally I released him, I allowed his body to collapse to the floor, still conscious, but barely. A mortified gaze was scorched into his eyes. The spirits continued to rend at his mind. I pulled myself over to him, meeting his vacant eyes, and placed my hands on the sides of his head.
“You’ll pay for what you did,” I said as my smile grew wide. I began to siphon his life, restarting his agony. I felt my strength return, and the life from Itan drain. His skin began to go dry, wrinkle, his eyes sunk. Finally he gave out his last breath, and I drew in his life force. It was over.
I struggled back to my feet, no longer feeling my nicks, deep cuts, and the sword lodge into my arm. I drew out the blade and tossed it aside, and sheathed my own sword. My body shivered, it wasn’t from the cold, nor was it fear or nervousness or anxiety. It was something different, something intoxicating. My thoughts returned to Garfas, the feelings immediately stopped as I remembered that I wasn’t the only one in danger.
“Garfas!” I ran over to him, kneeled to his side and cradled the back of his head in one hand. A bit of blood had seeped from his mouth. “Garfas he’s dead, we can get out of here!”
“Good work cub,” said the charr weakly. “Anavari… I’m not gonna make it, I can feel it now. I’ve lost too much blood.” My eyes traced down to the slowly growing pool of scarlet below Garfas, the shaking returned, but this time it was fear.
“I’ll- I’ll think of something!” I said, trying to draw in from my power, searching my mind for a solution. I had to have a spell, something that would help. I applied pressure on the wound, but there was no denying that his body was growing cold. I needed something, anything, but… I didn’t know any healing spell did I? Everything I learned, everything I had trained myself for, it was all combat. I didn’t know how to restore the blood that Garfas had lost. I couldn’t mend the tissue back together. There wasn’t enough time, I wouldn’t be able to carry him to a proper doctor fast enough, I couldn’t heal him, I couldn’t do anything. I was useless. My husband was dying and despite my best efforts I couldn’t do anything to save him.
This isn’t happening… This isn’t happening!
“Cub,” My eyes began to water, coming to terms with what was happening. “Leave the Citadel, I’m sorry I can’t join you for the adventure, I’m sorry I can’t be there for you.”
“Don’t say that,” I said, trying to stop the tears from flowing. “I should be apologizing. I should have been stronger.”
“Don’t blame yourself, cub,” Garfas smiled at me. “Please go without me, live without me. I want your big blue eyes to see the world. Do that for me, cub, live, find someone to share your heart with. Make them happy like you did me.” I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I pulled Garfas in close to me, I gave him one last kiss and began to sob into his shoulder. “I love you, Anavari.”
“I love you too, Garfas.” I said as I heard him breathe his last breath, and I felt his life force be absorbed into my body. Then there was darkness, quiet, agonizing, darkness. “Garfas…” I called out to the void, but it didn’t answer back. “Garfas!” I called louder. “GARFAS!”
I was lost in my own sorrow, broken by it. I remained there, holding my love for hours. Reality slowly creeping into me that I wouldn’t feel his warmth, hear his voice, listen to his heartbeat. I was too lost when I felt a hand on my shoulder, when Thoc returned, Ferris and Tai were with him. Fumus joined shortly after. Finally Mara joined as well. It was only until she pacified me, that I was able to leave the barracks. I was still in disbelief, still distraught. Nothing had gone right, it wasn’t supposed to end this way. Amidst the chaos, the darkness, the sorrow, the hunger returned. What had been a mere tepid flame had now been something devastating. Something that wanted to consume all. It was strong enough to force me out of my sorrow. To snap me back to reality.
It had been days, days where I had been staying with Mara, doing mostly nothing but surround myself in my own woes. At that moment I felt a vicious desire, one that grew by the second. I found myself staring at the grave of my husband, of the one who held all my love. I could sense something had changed in me. A chaotic embrace that had driven me to continue. Time began to race, images of me packing my belongings, my weapons.
“Where are you going?” I remembered Mara shout to me. And I remember her taken aback by the manic smile I gave her.
“To get my revenge.”