I awoke feeling like I was on fire. I didn’t feel like that since way before my first trial. Every bit of my body ached and screamed at me for using it in such a barbarous way.
Apparently, when I was at the death’s door, the beast parts tried their best to keep me alive. They didn’t let my soul flicker out of existence and go on to the next life. My form would often rippled, boiled down and reform edagain. I made no sound throughout the entire time, but I often stopped breathing altogether, sending my party into panic. At the end, my human form had some irreversible changes.
I was once again bigger, looking like I was eighteen now. My teeth were sharper, very feral. My skin was harder, closer to my beast form. My ears were now pointed slightly and curved back a bit, like in old movies about werewolves. They weren’t as cool as those elvish cute ones. I also had more hair, or perhaps better say fur on my body. My nails became very hard.
Later I also found out that my beast form became somewhat more humanoid. Speaking became easier and my features were less feral and smoother. I still was very deadly regardless.
I tried examining my soul, only to find that the flicker inside me had some red threads intertwined within. I had an idea of possible repercussions that might have on me, but I wouldn’t know until my next life.
When I tried to move, I couldn’t suppress a moan and awoke Elaya who was sleeping next to me, leaning on the bed. Very clich?. When she saw me get up, she jumped on me, kissing my face, saying something incoherent and crying. It all sent more pain coursing through my body but she didn’t care.
The others noticed the noise and immediately appeared by my bed. All six were here. Somehow, Leah knew something happened even before the messenger was sent. They quickly packed and went straight towards me, not even asking for permission. They have been staying by my side for the last two weeks.
When I asked what happened, nobody could tell me the entire story, just bits and pieces.
I just woke up in the middle of the night and charged toward the east. Meriden never saw anything move that fast. She and Elaya ran after me, fearing they would lose the track of me, only to follow a trail of craters. I leapt like a freaking Hulk, from one place to the next, with enough force to leave craters behind.
It took them two hours sprinting non-stop to reach wherever I was headed. At the end they found around fifty women and girls, hurdled together around something. Everything was bathed in blood; everyone present was red, drenched from head to toe.
There were also broken pieces of metal, rags, some scattered weapons, glass bottles and alcohol puddles on the ground and remainders of some bonfires. The girls had a quick thought that perhaps I lost it and beast really took over, but dismissed immediately – fiends don’t leave women alive.
When they pushed through the crowd, they could see Aedim clutching me with her arms. My body was clearly broken down, arms and legs bending in unnatural places at extreme angles. They had doubts I was even alive.
Meriden took me in a princess carry and sprinted to the closest outpost, leaving Elaya to calm everyone down and ask what happened. For a week afterwards, Meriden had sore legs from running at breakneck speeds.
While I was tended to at the outpost, it took Elaya and Aedim three days to bring everyone there.
The slaves all as one said they would have to follow me. They were all terrified of me, but they didn’t even think of going anywhere but where I was. For most of them they no longer had homes, the elves and dryads were all impure now, they were outcasts with nowhere to go. The humans and few demons had their families killed during the raids, so they also were left alone.
They all now revered me as some dark deity, who came to claim them as my own. The whole “shower of blood” was a massive sacrifice and initiation ceremony, marking them as mine. They didn’t dare to even think otherwise. They all stayed at the outpost, doing menial tasks and caring for me.
Well, I now have a cult.
Aedim also said her little side of the story. She walked some distance away to do her little bit of star-whispering, when she was suddenly knocked out. Whoever it was, he was a good rogue to hide so well, even if Aedim’s attention was somewhere else.
She was dragged off, gaged and bound by ropes. She couldn’t speak, so no spell casting. She remained calm and leveled all the way to the slaver camp. However, once she was there, once she saw all the abuse and rape, she began to panic. It only increased when her captors took some bottles of foul-smelling liquid and drank it while talking of “sampling” her as the ones who found her first. I broke some of my fingers why I heard this, clenching my firsts and grinding my teeth from all the anger I felt. I killed them too mercifully.
Aedim was struggling on the ground, trying to get them off her, when suddenly a shadow appeared and within a minute killed every single raider. Only after no scum was left alive, that the shadow stopped, embracing the girl and passing out in her arms. After that she just clung to me, crying, with slaves gathering around us until Meriden and Elaya came.
They then forced me to tell my side of the story. I told them about the thundering drumbeat, about charging towards it and then losing control of myself. They didn’t understand why I would suddenly hear Aedim’s heartbeat, when Elaya told them about me listening in to the girls heartbeats when they were far away. This made the three girls break down crying for some reason. I then concluded that I seem to unconsciously be listening to their hearts, so I would know if something happened.
“You really do love us…” What was pretty much all they said then, something about going great lengths for them? Man, I still didn’t get any engagement rings, now that would be going the extra mile.
I guess I have to deal with the consequences now. But first, I need to get off the damn bed. My bones seem to all be intact, I should be able to stand up, but damn it hurts. Trying to stand up, I can’t muster enough strength to stand straight. Meriden offers her shoulder, which I gladly latch onto. With great difficulty, but we manage to stand up and even walk around some. Still pain is too much.
I decide to not push myself just yet, my body can withstand a lot, if it is this hard to stand, and perhaps I am not prepared. Instead I just lie down for a little while longer.
While I was in bed, with girls happily chatting amongst themselves, the leader of the outpost came by once he heard I woke up. He thanked me for getting rid of those slavers. They seemed to have been a large group, too much for a single Val man to handle. They have already attacked couple of other patrols and killed some of our fellow men.
He also said he was very impressed by me, even thought I was a fiend, such power was beyond anything he heard of.
There now was a bit of bad news. After the slaves all left for the outpost, some groups that were out doing their own tasks came back to the remains of the camp. Seeing the hell that I unleashed there, they fled back to the capital to get some help. Now an investigation looked at the area and declared us murderers and demons. They didn’t care about those men being slavers or killers; we killed their fellow citizens, so we must be executed.
It seems they are not going to ask about who was it that attacked them, or the circumstances of the attack. They didn’t even bother contacting any of the leaders. They just declared war on us and began to amass their armies. King didn’t seem to be too smart, although he did secure yet another way to steal money from general populace. War efforts always require extra taxation.
Nothing can be done now. Not a single person of the Val tribe is willing to give me up to human kingdom for “justice”. They already heard Aedim’s story and whatever else slaves had to say.
Elves also learned about the situation and they were pissed. There were some disappearances, but nothing pointing to kidnapping. Now with some freed slaves, they had evidence of human kingdom’s crimes. They are now deciding if they wish to participate in the coming war. The people we freed are not all who disappeared previously; there were some more attempts to take freedom of their fellow kin, which were repelled with extreme prejudice.
The demon empire also got some news from us. Their reaction was rather mild, as slavery was a part of their everyday lives, but they did not like how humans broke their agreements. It seems that human kingdom tries to piss off everyone on purpose. They broke most of their treaties and agreements and tried to shift the blame on us. They actually thought that none of the slaves survived, so they got very surprised once they learned of fifty people denying our guilt.
It seems like human kingdom is going to have some problems in the near future. We have no intention of meeting them head on; we don’t need their territories or their money. If they come to us, we will utilize everything we have at our disposal and show no mercy.
I am going to be bedridden for the foreseeable future, a week or two, perhaps a month. If the fighting doesn’t start immediately I may be able to join the fray, but I’ll be more of a mascot or a hidden trump card. Even with all my amazing strength, I fell apart after killing two hundred humans. It is an impressive feat I admit, but it can’t be compared to taking on an army. I might hold my own against a dozen of soldiers, but I doubt I’ll be effective against thousands.
Even if you say that killing two hundred is impressive, they were all untrained, distracted and drunk people, barely civilians who were taken by surprise. If I would attempt to do the same with the army, I’d be easily repelled, and then fall apart in the middle of their ranks.
Not a good thing for sure.
There also was notification, that once I get better I will travel back to meet the elders. Preparation for war will require my assistance. We will need to think how to use me best if the fighting will happen. For now I need to rest.