B.3 Chapter 49: Bloody City (Part Two)
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Harald blocked the attack from William, using his left arm to take the hit head on. The sword slashed through the gambeson, leaving a nasty gash on Harald’s flesh. Yet the veteran pushed through the pain like it was nothing. He struck at the herald with his broken weapon, trying to do some damage. Even a cut would do, as long as it hurt William. However, life was rarely ever so convenient. The jagged blade scraped and slashed gambeson and steel, but it didn’t do a damn thing beyond scratching it.




William slapped the weapon away from Harald before stabbing at him once more. The champion’s blade barely missed Harald’s neck, only opting to scrape against the man’s shoddy steel plate. Harald took this opportunity and gripped onto the sword like his life depended on it. William would try to pull, but the veteran’s grip prevented him. Harald used this chance to stab at the champion once more, his jagged sword aiming at the other man’s neck. William noticed in time, however, and he countered with a formed rune.


“Flame Burst!”


Harald stopped his stab, his eyes widening in realization. He released the sword, kicking himself away from William just as the rune was formed. Flames burst from the champion before him, surrounding him in a fiery inferno. Despite Harald’s reaction, he was far from unburnt. The flames singed and cooked his fleeing body, leaving blackened steel and raw skin on his left side. The veteran rolled on the wet ground, instinctively yelling in pain. He felt hot, hotter than ever before. No amount of rain or cold air would soothe the sensations of burnt nerves.


“You fool,” William muttered out. The herald stepped towards the veteran slowly, his own body emanating with heat like no other. Harald knew William was currently suffering from the drawbacks of such a spell. Flame Burst was a casting that could very well cook your insides. The fact William had to use it meant that he was getting desperate.


“You’re the fool here,” Harald managed out. “You’re being led on. Lied to.” He looked up at the younger man. “Don’t you see it? The Lumen Kingdom is using you! Look at what they’re making you do!”


“I’m doing Azlene’s will! I am protecting this world from the marauders and the abominations your draugr has caused! What’s a city to the rest of this world!?”


“Sacrificing lives is far from what a champion should do,” Harald argued.


“What do you know about being a champion?” William asked venomously.


“More than you,” the veteran spat back.


William could only stare at Harald, his jaw clenching tightly. Without another word, the herald raised his heated sword, his eyes full of murderous intent. The old man could only watch. He knew Kate wouldn’t be able to come and save him. The young woman was fighting against the other soldiers, who had attacked the guardsmen after she interfered.


Harald knew they were all going to die without his help. Without his guidance.


‘Dammit! If only I wasn’t such an idiot! I let my emotions get to me!’


He had never let that happen to him. Ever since Harald was a youngin, he had been good at suppressing such emotions. Decades he had been fighting without such weight holding him back. Yet now his past had come and grabbed him by the throat. It had forced him to disregard his instincts and own advice.


Now here he was, about to watch his pupils become slaughtered, all because he was struck with guilt and emotion. Harald gritted his teeth, his hands clenching into fists.


‘Azlene… Please grant me the power to save what I’ve doomed. Give me the strength to save my pupils and this city. I shall be your servant once more and do whatever bidding you ask of me.’


No response.


‘Azlene!’ Harald shouted mentally.


‘Give me strength! I shall be your loyal dog if that is what it takes!’


His prayer was unanswered, leaving the veteran helpless as William swung his weapon down. Harald closed his eyes, his thoughts going out to the goddess one last time.


‘I beg of you. I know you are watching. I know you despise all this destruction. This death. Help me stop all this.’


Finally, the goddess answered. Thunder boomed in the sky, lightning following as it struck the ground near the two fighters. It caught William off guard, stopping his swing. The herald’s gaze moved to Harald. His expression had turned from anger to complete shock.


Harald could feel heat surrounding him, encasing him in a warmth he had not felt in years. Knowledge of his spells came back in a flurry, along with the words of Azlene herself. Her soft-spoken voice rushed past his ears, whispering to Harald everything. His debt and his job. The veteran stood up, his left hand raising. He could feel the runes on his chest burn with power once more, his wounds slowly healing from it all.


Harald had his old power once more. While it was not as strong as it used to be, it was more than enough for the veteran. Azlene had given him his chance. Harald had to use it well.


“No… NO!” William took a step back, his hands shaking with disbelief. “This is impossible! You’re not supposed to be redeemed! You’re supposed to die at my hand!”


Harald spat onto the ground, before he took a couple steps to William. “You’re right about one thing. I’m not redeemed. Not yet.” The veteran looked at his broken sword, its dead runes now flowing with magical life. “I gave my life to Azlene. Offered everything to protect this city and my students,” Harald explained. “Until that debt is repaid, I shall be her loyal servant. One that will no longer serve leaders. Neither Jarl nor King can tell me what to do.”


“What are you on about? The goddess chose me to save this world! Not you!” William sounded hysterical, his breathing growing quick and heavy.


“She did. Back when we first fought,” Harald explained. He thought back to the whispers the goddess had spoken into his ears. “Now however, she believes that you’re not fit to carry the heraldry.” The veteran raised his jagged sword to William. “On her behalf, I am to dispatch you and cleanse this city of the marauder and lumen threat. That is her will and I shall serve it.”


“You lie! If she wanted to dispatch me, she would’ve taken the heraldry herself!”


“You know she cannot do that,” Harald pointed out. “It can only be done by a worthy successor or chosen apostle. I am the latter and she will get her way, William.”


William stared at the veteran in disbelief. “No… No no no!” He pointed his sword to Harald. “Lies! All lies! You’re using tricks! That’s it! All tricks!” William sounded like he was on the verge of a breakdown, his eyes wide with fear and his hands shaking like crazy.


Harald readied himself with his broken sword. “William. I shall give you one last chance to surrender. To call your men off. We can end this peacefully.”


William stopped for a moment at the sound of the veteran’s calm voice. He shook his head, his weapon raising once more. “I am going to kill you, Stroud. Whether it’s the last thing I do!”





Deimos stomped on the last of the thieves, his boot squeezing the life out the little bastard’s throat. “Worthless bugs,” he muttered. These thieves were clearly inexperienced in combat, as evidenced from the bodies that surrounded the Red Death. They had only landed a mere few nicks on his armor, far from what the orcs had done. Deimos stepped through the next room of the guild house, his gaze peeking the corners. No one was left in here it seemed.


Deimos had entered the guild house, hoping to find a much more suitable fighter. Instead, he found cowering thieves and hiding city folk. Of course, no one was spared, but that had done nothing to scratch the man’s itch for a challenge.


“You would think this city would have much more suitable fighters and defenders,” Deimos muttered as he entered another room. This one was much bigger, with a balcony to overlook it. Banners were hung everywhere, showcasing a hand picking up a valdora piece.


“What is this?” Deimos asked himself as he walked around. It looked to be a meeting room, one that probably housed any and all gatherings of those filthy thieves. As Deimos examined the intricacies of the guild house, footsteps rang out from the hallway he came from. The Red Death turned to the sound. Were more thieves coming to avenge their fallen brothers? No, that would be too much to expect from these bottom-feeders. This was something else, judging from the heavy steps that rang out.


‘Steel plate boots. Knights I presume?’


Deimos found himself grinning as more identical steps sounded out.


Soon enough, these footsteps culminated in steel clad figures filing out of the doorways. Swords and spears were drawn and pointed at the Red Death, their respective users surrounding the man in black armor. Deimos eyed them all, recognizing the red wax stamp they bore on their chests. All but one person had this, that being a young witch that was already forming runes with her fingers.


“I suppose this isn’t a surrender?” He asked the group of knights.


“Deimos of the North!” One knight called out. He stepped forward, his sword at the ready. “You have committed atrocities to Delphine and her people for far too long! For decades you have done nothing but revolt and fight us! Murdered and pillaged our towns and islands for nothing more than greedy gain! I shall put you to the sword myself!”


Deimos sighed. He had heard this spiel far too many times. “Yes yes. I know. However, I have a question.” He raised his ax to the witch. “You are not like the rest. Interestingly enough, you’re a dark magic user. Why do you face me so with Lumen bastards at your side?”


The witch could only stare at him, her emotions turning from disgust to rage. “Five years ago, you raided a small town north of Yorn’s territory. Rykestead. You killed someone there.”


Deimos raised his eyebrow. “That town? I do remember taking it over. I don’t remember killing anyone but… Oh.” The chieftain chuckled. “The lone guardsman at the docks. Called me a disgrace to the Valenfrost. Who was he to you? Lover? Father?”


“Brother,” the witch answered through gritted teeth. “I swore since that day I would take your head. This is my one chance.”


Deimos laughed at the young woman’s words. “Such vigor in your voice! I do hope you put up a fight. I know your brother didn’t.”


“You fucking scum! Night Spray!” The witch’s words were accompanied by a flurry of purple fireflies, all of them flying towards Deimos.


“You idiot!” One of the lumen knights called out to the witch, his feet stepping back to avoid the spell. Deimos took the chance to rush the affected knight, his hands swinging the ax in his grip.


“Power Strike!” His casting pushed his ax towards the knight’s head in hopes of a quick kill. Instead, the knight saw it coming. He dodged, avoiding a strike to the head. Still, Deimos wouldn’t end it there. He used all his strength to redirect the ax, trying to keep it on course. The ax-head instead smashed into the knight’s shoulder, cutting through enchanted steel and gambeson. It wasn’t ideal, but it was enough. Deimos quickly forced the knight to the side right after the hit, using his body as a shield against the Night Spray spell.


The knight screamed in pain, his body squirming and shuddering in Deimos’ hold. When the smell of cooked flesh and burning steel reached his nostrils, he knew he was safe.


“Lucard!” one knight called. Another of the armored fool rushed in, his spear aimed for Deimos. The chieftain saw it coming, his hands shoving Lucard’s body in the way. The spear pierced raw flesh, giving Deimos an opening. Avoiding Lucard’s screams, he rushed ahead with his ax, swinging at the spearman’s head.


Cold steel made contact with the fleshy exposed neck, and the spearman’s shouts were soon gargled. Even without castings, Deimos’ swing was deadly. The Red Death kicked the body away, letting it bleed out as he rushed at the next knight.


“Needle Shot!” The woman’s shout was accompanied by a casting, her left hand forming a rune. Deimos quickly jumped aside, avoiding the arcane spell. However, it also left him open. Another knight came in right after, exploiting his folly.


“Precision Strike!”


The knight’s sword struck Deimos on his side, piercing through the small gap in his armor. The chieftain winced in pain, his teeth grinding as he grabbed at the bastard’s sword. He held it in place, his left hand forming a rune.


“Arcane Bolt!” Deimos’ spell flew at the knight at top speed, colliding against the steel chest piece. Unfortunately, the spell did nothing but leave a sizable dent. It appeared that the fucker’s armor was enchanted. Before Deimos could form another rune, the female knight from before rushed in, accompanied by another ally of hers.


Deimos defended himself, using his armored gauntlet to block the sword attacks and spear pokes. Still, sharp bites of pain still came through, cutting and slicing through flesh and gambeson. Deimos would soon have enough, his hands grabbed both spear and sword. The knights before him struggled, but the chieftain held onto the weapons tightly. As a result, the third knight came in from the right, his hand brandishing the marauder’s ax. Deimos expected this, his grin growing as he released his grip on both the spear and sword.


“Temporal Parry.”


Steel flashed, and magic was spent. In just a second, Deimos had his ax back, his body burning with an intense heat he had not felt in ages. The knight who had tried to strike him was now nothing more than a corpse, his head mangled and his armor horribly scarred. Deimos looked to the last two knights, who stumbled back in shock. Deimos rushed ahead, throwing his ax at the woman with the sword. The knight hurried to block it, her weapon raising. This left her ally alone for a second. A second that would prove fatal.


The knight would try to use a spear to fend off Deimos, but the chieftain simply grabbed the spear’s shaft and pulled hard. The knight stumbled forward, his eyes visible through the small slit in his helmet. He was terrified. The chieftain’s hands moved to grab the knight’s armored helm, his voice turning ethereal for a moment.


“Adrenal Surge,” Deimos chanted, his body gaining a burst of strength in response. In that split second, the Red Death used all his power to crush the knight’s head inwards.


Without wasting time, Deimos grabbed the dead man’s spear and threw it with all his strength at the last knight. She had just avoided contact with the ax; her gaze moving to Deimos at the right moment. The Lumen Knight could only manage a small shout of fear before the spearhead pierced through her helmet, its shaft running half its length through her skull. The knight’s body stumbled a bit as a result, her hands reaching out to the thin air. Soon enough, she would fall back, her twitching cadaver going limp.


Deimos stood up straight, his breathing hard and his body burning. For the first time in a while, he had bled.


“Interesting,” he panted out. “Now… for the wit–”


Deimos blinked. The room he had been in was gone. Instead, he was standing in inch high water. It ran for miles, the only horizon being the oblivion that blanketed the sky. Mist slowly rolled in, surrounding his ankles. Deimos raised his eyebrow, his gaze moving to the bodies that had stayed.


His heart dropped at the sight of the corpses. They were no longer knights. Instead, they had changed to the form of other people. A man in a light red cloak and light gambeson. He bore the symbol of a tree on his chest, a symbol Deimos had not seen in decades. Another body depicted an elderly man with a similar garb, his eyes staring at the red death with a look that showcased accusation. Another was a young boy, his chest caved in and his eyes pulled out. The last one was someone he did not want to look at.


“What is this?” Deimos murmured.


“Sigrid,” a soft female voice called out. Deimos blinked and turned to the source. It was her. The source of the voice was a young woman, one that was in her late twenties. She had black hair that flowed freely to her shoulders. Her skin was like fair ivory, her eyes a faint green and blue.


“You,” the chieftain called out. “How…?”


“You were having a horrible dream,” she explained. The young woman stepped forward, her hand raising to Deimos.


Deimos accepted it, his larger hands gently caressing them. “A dream,” he repeated.


“Yes, a dream,” the woman confirmed. “Sigrid, please stop this. This death and destruction.” She sounded worried, as she always was. “Let us live in peace, like we’ve always talked about.” She begged softly. Deimos was quiet as she came closer. Her hands crept up to his horned helmet, her fingers gently grazing the blackened steel. “Take off this armor and that symbol. Let us be at peace, Sigrid.”


The chieftain slapped her hand away from his helmet. “My name is Deimos.”


“What? What are you–?”


Deimos interrupted her, his right hand grabbing at the illusion’s throat. As soon as he did so, the world around changed back to normal. The woman he had once loved transformed in that moment, changing into the witch from before.


“What?! H-How?!” The witch gasped out in shock.


Deimos grinned. “It shall take much more than sweet words and images of the past to take me down.”


“But… I showed you what you wanted? How could you kill the one thing you loved the most?”


Deimos only chuckled, his other hand moving in to grab the witch’s throat much more efficiently. “I’ve already killed what I’ve loved. That is why such illusions will never work,” he whispered to the witch. With that, Deimos squeezed slowly, watching with sick glee as the witch’s life was snuffed out of her eyes.






Dimitri did his best to make not one sound. The rest of his crew were doing the same, their eyes full of primal fear and shock. They had all sat by as Deimos massacred the Thieves' Guild hideout.


The shipmaster and his crew had arrived at the hideout at the worst of moments, right when Deimos had found it. They were wise enough to stay hidden and quiet, watching as the chieftain slaughtered thieves and knights alike. They stood no chance against him.


Dimitri could hear how Deimos threw aside the witch’s corpse, her body making a light thud on the floor near his hiding spot. The shipmaster was currently tucked into a tight corner of the guild storage rooms. Piles of silver and valdoras littered the room, making it even harder for the man to move around quietly. The rest of his crew sat nearby, their gazes fixed on the entrance to the storage room. While the entrance was hidden well, they could still catch the glimpse of the outside world.


Dimitri had the better viewpoint, his eyes watching as the Red Death strolled around the room. He caught glimpses of the chieftain, who was covered in wounds and dents. Deimos wasn’t even healing himself, yet Dimitri could see how the man’s bloodied wounds were slowly healing.


‘His armor… It can’t be…’


It was. The shipmaster was witness to the process of healing runes, enchantments that are far from common. Deimos’ armor was home to such magic, the effects of it healing his battle wounds and reforming the dents and nicks in his armor. While slow, Dimitri couldn’t help but feel as if the Red Death was unkillable. Can James even stand up to such a monster?


As the shipmaster contemplated, he heard the telltale clink of a valdora hitting a pile of silver. His heart dropped at the miniscule sound. One of his crew had accidentally knocked the coin over a crate. Deimos’ stroll stopped immediately at the sound, the chieftain’s body shifting to the storage room. While Dimitri couldn’t see his face, he knew Deimos was smiling.


He could only watch as the Red Death approached the room, his boots echoing one by one. Dimitri felt all the hope in his body drain away. There was no winning this fight. Not against Deimos. His crew all seem to realize this, as their gazes turned to Dimitri in despair. Even Liam looked like he had lost all hope for living. After everything they had gone through together, this was where Dimitri’s luck had ended.


I’m sorry, Dimitri mouthed. He felt guilt weighing him down, his body losing all control as he slumped against the wall. He could only count the seconds as Deimos grabbed at the storage room’s door.


Suddenly, thunder boomed above. It wasn’t any ordinary boom, no; it was one that was surprisingly close to the guild house. It was much more different from the regular lightning as well, its echo much more pronounced and deafening.


‘Magic?’ Dimitri questioned. Deimos stopped his movements, his body still. Dimitri watched in slow agony as the chieftain contemplated. After what seemed like forever, the Red Death stepped away from the door, his body turning for the stairs.


Even after Deimos would leave, it would be a long time before Dimitri or any of his crew made a sound. Once they did, it was out of relief and fear, their voices overlapping as they comforted each other.